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IPS / Lighthouse Insurance Group Blog: livonia

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Michele in JailMichele Bowman was arrested at the office of INSURANCE PLANNING SERVICE at approximately 2:00pm on Thursday, April 26, 2012. 

Members of Livonia's finest were all business as they stormed in and escorted Michele out the front door.

Claiming to have been framed, Michele is already said to be one of Livonia’s most notorious jailbirds. She is fervantly hoping that friends will help post bail with tax deductible donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  We need her back at the office so please help her out by making a donation to her bail.  Here is the link to her personal fund raising page: 

http://www2.mda.org/goto/Mbowman.

Good luck Michele!


Attic TreasuresViewers are tuning in at astounding rates to the latest fad in Reality TV, specifically shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars. Both shows, which feature garage-sale finds gone high-value collectibles, brought in over 3 million viewers for each episode in 2010. What do both shows have in common? Each episode features an everyday person who comes to find that items they’ve been holding on to (i.e. an old coin collection, a rare WWI soldier uniform, etc.) is actually worth a great deal of money.

Media analysts attribute the success of these types of shows (others include Cash in Attic and Roadshow) to the economic recession.

“Not all of us are going to hit the lottery, but all of us have something laying around the house,” says independent media analyst Shari Anne Brill. “The beauty of these shows is they can help you assess if the junk you have is actually worth something.”

And across the country homeowners insurance agents have been seeing a related trend as well. Over the past few months we have seen a rise in inquiries surrounding coverage for collectible items like these. “Is my antique guitar covered under my homeowners insurance?” “Does my home insurance cover my rare stamp collection?”

And we think these are great questions to ask.

Contents Coverage, or Coverage C, is the portion of a homeowners insurance policy that protects your personal possessions inside of your home. There are limits and exclusions to this coverage, however, and it’s important as a homeowner to know what in your home is protected- and what isn’t. For example, most standard home insurance policies place a $200 or so limit on coins. Likewise, there is usually around a $1500 limit for loss by theft for jewelry, furs and other such items.

The good news is, you can typically schedule an endorsement (or a rider) on your policy to cover a specific item of high-value. All in all, your best bet is to call your insurance agent, ask them specifically about the item in question and find out what you need to do to be completely covered.  Call the experts at Insurance Planning Service today to schedule an endorsement or discuss the coverage of items in your home by calling us at 800-220-5582 or using our online contact form.

Source: Homeinsurance.com

PerscriptionGenerics account for 75 percent of meds prescribed in America. Do you know the real costs?

Are generic drugs cheaper?

Not always, and not by as much as you might think. 

"If you check drugstore.com, the difference is huge—say, $30 for generic versus $200 for brand name," says Dr. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist for RTI International, an independent research institute. "But if you have insurance, the difference may not be so big—maybe $3 versus $12." 

With some drug plans, brand-name meds may actually cost less than their generic equivalents. This happens, for example, when major drugmakers negotiate deals (often after losing their patent) to offer meds at a discount, Kamerow says.

Your move: Use a prescription drug calculator, available through your insurance provider, to easily compare prices for your plan. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan offers a Top 100 Generic Drugs Calculator.

Are generic and brand-name drugs the same quality?

Usually. However, "most of our generic drugs come from large overseas manufacturers in India or China," says Kamerow. "There may be questions about the integrity of the product—whether it is what they say it is." 

For example, in 2009, the FDA took action against the generic-drug company Ranbaxy Laboratories for lying about test results at a facility in India. It's largely an issue of logistics: The FDA would need 9 years to inspect eligible foreign facilities once (at the 2009 rate of inspection), according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In a 2009 survey of pharmacists, 95 percent said they feel a generic drug's country of origin affects its safety.

Your move: You can check the FDA's MedWatch (fda.gov/safety/medwatch) to see if any quality issues have been reported for your medications. If you're concerned, Dr. Kamerow also suggests inquiring about "branded generics," or generic drugs produced by brand-name drug companies; these make up about 25 percent of the global pharmaceutical market.

Do generic and brand-name drugs use the same formulas?

No. They have the same active ingredient but sometimes contain different inactive ingredients. "It's uncommon, but a patient may have an allergic reaction to the inactive ingredients in one and not the other," Kamerow says.

"Or, more likely, the active ingredients will be absorbed in your body slightly differently." For drugs that require precise blood levels—such as certain antifungals, antibiotics, and blood thinners—even a small difference in absorption might alter their effect, he says.

Your move: Ask your doctor if your drug has a "narrow therapeutic window." If it does, Kamerow suggests that you avoid switching from a brand name to a generic and vice versa—or even from one generic to another—unless you have blood work done to establish a new dosage.

Your doctor is always the first person to talk to when discussing medication.  However, the health insurance experts at Insurance Planning Service can help you determine if your health insurance policy covers certain medications, both name-brand and generic.  Call us at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form today!

Read more: Fox News Health


Office ClutterTell the truth—does your home office look a little untidy, cluttered, disorganized? Do you plan to get it under control as soon as you can find the time, but worry that the “time” will never come? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64 percent of self-employed people do at least some work at home. For these entrepreneurs and small-business owners, it can be challenging to keep paperwork under control when there are so many other priorities on their to-do list. And it’s not just a matter of knowing where to put what. Being organized also involves making sure that your business has everything it needs to run smoothly and profitably.

Why not belatedly celebrate “Organize Your Home Office Day,” March 8, by getting your business environment under control. It’s only a few days late!  Start by physically improving your space and then go one step further, reviewing how that space—and by extension, your business—is protected.

A well-organized office is more efficient, more productive and ultimately, more profitable. And carrying the appropriate types of business insurance protects that profitability in the event of unfortunate circumstances or life events. Insurance and other employee benefits can also be attractive incentives to help you recruit the best talent as well as retain and compensate your most valuable team members.

While you may think that property and liability insurance. policies are all you or your company needs, you should be aware of other equally important types of business insurance.

~ Business Continuation - The goal of business continuation coverage is to safeguard your family and your business in the event of adversity. Options include individual insurance, key person insurance and buy-sell agreements.

~ Individual Insurance— As a business owner, you need to carry sufficient insurance to cover any business debts secured by personal assets. Otherwise, your family may be forced to sell or liquidate the business—possibly at a loss—to pay off those debts, which may leave little or no money for their ongoing living expenses. (Not sure how much you need? Use LIFE’s Life Insurance Needs Calculator.)

~ Keyperson insurance— Depending on your business, obtaining keyperson insurance on certain employees can be beneficial, since it helps make up for lost sales or earnings or covers the cost of finding or training a replacement should that staff member become disabled or die.

~ Buy-Sell Agreements— In a business with shared ownership, a buy-sell agreement allows the co-owners to buy another owner’s share of the business in the event of death, disability or retirement. Buy-sell agreements are typically funded with life insurance policies, allowing remaining business owners to buy the company interests of a co-owner’s share, if he or she were to die, at a previously agreed-upon price. Business owners should also insure against the risk of becoming disabled and unable to work. In this case, disability buy-out insurance would fund the buy-sell agreement, allowing the disabled owner to be bought out, typically after a one-year waiting period.

~ Employee Benefits— When weighing job offers, candidates review both the pay rate and the compensation package, which can include life, health and disability insurance as well as retirement plans. If you want to recruit and retain the best employees, discuss all the benefits package options (including voluntary benefit programs) with your insurance advisor to make sure you have the right mix.

~ Executive Compensation—Executive compensation plans, designed for your most valued employees, provide a higher level of benefits and compensation along with significant tax advantages. Options include deferred compensation plans (including SERPs), section 162 plans and supplemental disability income insurance. Again, rely on your insurance advisor for recommendations and information.

While all this information can initially seem overwhelming, your agent at Insurance Planning Service can walk you through the details and help you develop a comprehensive plan for protecting your business as well as those who rely on it. Use “Organize Your Home Office Day” as an incentive to arrange a business policy evaluation with your insurance advisor. Then you can relax and enjoy your well-ordered office space, knowing that everything, including your insurance coverage, is well organized and on track.

Check in with us at Insurance Planning Service to painlessly go over the details of your business insurance policy.  Call today at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form.

Source: LIFE Foundation


When it comes to buying a home, many first-time buyers mistakenly believe that the sales price of the home is the only cost they need to worry about.  Those that have purchased a home before, however, know that there are other costs involved that need to be taken into consideration. The best thing a first-time home buyer can do is to know what all of the costs are up-front so that there aren’t any hidden surprises down the road. 

Taxes: Property taxes can vary greatly from one neighborhood to the next so it’s important when shopping for a home to know what the property taxes are for each individual property. Also be sure to find out if there are additional village taxes that may apply to a certain property as well. You should be able to call your county tax office for up-to-date tax information on any property.

Inspections and Appraisals: Once you’ve found a home that you want to purchase you will need to have the home inspected and the bank will almost always order an appraisal. The homeowner is typically responsible for all of these costs. An inspection should be carried out by a licensed home inspector and costs can typically range anywhere from $300 to $600. Sometimes the bank will choose the appraiser they want to use and for a basic appraisal you may be looking at a cost of around $500. Shop around where you can as you may be able to save a few hundred dollars just by doing so.

Property Insurance: The cost for homeowners insurance will vary depending on the home and the location. The size and building style of the home, for example, will determine the replacement cost of the home which will affect how much dwelling coverage you need. Also, homes closer to the coastline or a body of water may be required to be covered by a flood insurance policy.  

Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees: If the home you are purchasing is located in a private community or development (as is often the case with condos, apartments and townhomes) you may be required to pay HOA fees to the community. These fees typically cover costs associated with maintaining the neighborhood such as landscaping and community buildings and pools. If one of the homes you are considering is located in a private community be sure to ask your real estate agent about any possible HOA fees that you would be responsible for.

Closing Costs: Finally, when it comes time to close on your new home there will be closing costs involved that must be paid to the lender, the title company, the insurance company and your attorney. Your closing costs also typically include reserves for your escrow account which are typically a few months’ worth of homeowners insurance and property taxes paid up front. These costs are paid usually by the buyer although sometimes the seller will pay part of the closing costs as well. Your lender should be able to give you an estimate on your closing costs as you get closer to your closing date.

In a recent blog post, we discussed how a home insurance agent can help you estimate the home insurance costs depending on the area and neighborhood the home is located.  Your agent can also help you estimate these unexpected costs by looking at similar situations in the same neighborhood. 

The professionals at Insurance Planning Service are ready to help you get a free home insurance quote.  Call us at 800-220-5582 or contact us today!

Source: HomeInsurance.com


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Lighthouse Group Main Office in Grand Rapids, MI
Mailing Address | P.O. Box 530009, Livonia, MI 48153

Phone: 734.421.9900 | Toll Free: 800.220.5582 | Fax: 734.421.9911

Also serving these Detroit area communities in Michigan: Livonia, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Southfield, Plymouth, Canton, Westland, Northville, Novi, Dearborn, South Lyon & Walled Lake