Protecting Your Business During Civil Unrest & Riots

Civil unrest can create unique challenges for Michigan businesses. Specifically, business owners face the risk of vandalism, stolen or damaged goods and extensive property damage. With this in mind, it’s crucial to take steps to mitigate the risk of potential damages to your business during periods of civil unrest.
Review the following guidance to help keep your business protected in these situations.

Stay Informed
First and foremost, make sure you stay informed via local Detroit or Grand Rapids authorities, news outlets and social media on potential events or issues that could lead to civil unrest within your community. This practice will allow you to be more aware of when civil unrest is most likely to occur and take a proactive approach to protecting your business.
Assess Property Vulnerabilities
Next, it’s important to assess your business property for potential vulnerabilities. In doing so, you will be able to better determine where to focus your mitigation efforts.
Be sure to conduct a thorough inspection of both your own property and the surrounding area—including neighboring businesses, parking lots, alleys and streets—for specific risk management issues (e.g., gaps in security measures, potential traffic or crowding concerns, the type of property at risk and concerns for employee and customer safety).
Protect Your Property
After assessing potential vulnerabilities, make sure you implement adequate security measures to help keep your business fully protected. Potential security practices to consider include:
• Utilizing security cameras
• Implementing an intruder alarm system
• Boarding up property windows and doors
• Ensuring proper locks on all windows and doors
• Installing motion-sensing external lighting and glass break sensors
• Hiring security guards
Remove Valuables
Try to remove as much cash, merchandise and high-value supplies or equipment from your property as possible. In particular, if your business utilizes a fleet of vehicles, consider moving them to a temporary, secure storage location. This way, you will be able to proactively minimize your losses in the event that your business is targeted.
Further, consider utilizing signage to communicate that money and high-value items have been removed from the premises to help deter potential thieves.
Alter Business Hours
If you suspect that that civil unrest could take place near your property, consider temporarily altering your business hours (e.g., opening or closing earlier than normal) to avoid putting your employees and customers in a dangerous situation. However, make sure you properly communicate these changes with your staff and customers to prevent any confusion. In some cases, it may make sense to temporarily close your business.
Avoid Unnecessary Conflict
In the event that civil unrest takes place while your business doors are open, it’s crucial to educate your staff on how to respond appropriately and avoid unnecessary conflict. Establish an evacuation plan that allows for employees and customers to safely leave the area during a dangerous situation. Designate specific staff to be responsible for securing the property (e.g., locking doors and boarding up windows) before evacuating.
If a potentially dangerous individual confronts any of your employees before an evacuation can occur, encourage them to react calmly and avoid using violence or responding aggressively. Designate specific staff to be responsible for contacting the local authorities or emergency services, if necessary. If the individual attempts to loot or rob your business, allow them to do so—no items are worth the risk of an employee injury or fatality.
Consult Local Authorities
Be sure to express any concerns you have regarding civil unrest in your community with local authorities—including the police department, fire department and government officials—and utilize any resources or guidance that they provide. Consider requesting additional police presence or temporary street closures near your business if you are particularly concerned about the threat of civil unrest.
Secure Proper Insurance
Apart from these loss control methods, you can ensure ultimate protection during periods of civil unrest by securing proper commercial insurance coverage. For additional risk management guidance and insurance solutions, contact PKIG today.

COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program: What You Need To Know Now

Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the U.S. Treasury Department has established a $349 billion fund that is available to help small businesses and the millions of small business employees across Michigan and the United States. The goal is to keep as many people employed during the pandemic shutdowns as possible. The program provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million, through approved lenders, to companies with less than 500 employees.

Take Advantage Today

Any small business that affirms that “current economic uncertainty” makes the aid necessary to support their “ongoing operations” is eligible.
Aid will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis until the fund is exhausted – the application window opened on April 3rd and loans are already being disbursed, but there’s still time! It’s also possible the fund will be supplemented by further government action.
The loans are forgivable and will allow small business owners to pay for up to eight (8) weeks of payroll costs if they use the money to retain workers or hire back positions they had to cut. Other expenses like your mortgage interest, rent, and utilities are also eligible for forgiveness. Some restrictions apply so make sure to check out the resources below and confirm the terms of forgiveness with your lender. Many of the usual requirements for these loans have been cut to streamline the process. There is still quite a bit of paperwork but we think it’s more than worth it for this unique offer.

How to Get Started

You have to apply through a bank or other lender, so contact yours today and mention the Paycheck Protection Program or do an online search for their application.
If your current bank is not an eligible lender, contact a nearby eligible bank using this search tool. More key information on who can and how to apply can be found here.
Gather your documents—each lender will have their own application, but you should begin collecting records of payroll, rent, and utilities.

Here is a short video our own Christina Welch with more information.

PKIG Winter Driving Tips

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for travelers. Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  Drivers should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies.  PKIG urges drivers to be cautious while driving in adverse weather.

PKIG & AAA recommends the following tips while driving in snowy and icy conditions:

Cold Weather Driving Tips
•Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.  Stop in to our office for a scraper or car emergency tool.
•Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
•Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
•Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
•Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
•Stay home if you can and only go out if necessary.  Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
•Drive slowly.  Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
•Accelerate and decelerate slowly.  Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight.  Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
•Increase your following distance to five to six seconds.  This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
•Know your brakes.  Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
•Don’t stop if you can avoid it.  There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling.  If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
•Don’t power up hills.  Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin.  Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top.  As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
•Don’t stop going up a hill.  There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
Tips for Long-Distance Winter Trips
•Be Prepared: Have your vehicle checked by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility before hitting the road.
•Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route and when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.
•Stay Connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
If you get stuck in the snow:
•Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.  Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
•Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
•Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible.  It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
•Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud.  A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
•Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold.  This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.
•Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill.  This will help to conserve fuel.

Michigan Auto Insurance Reform Update

Some Michigan auto insurance reform changes have already gone into effect.  Others start in July 2020.  With so many drivers unaware of the impact of the new law on their current car insurance policy, now is the time to review coverage.  To help identify potential coverage gaps, please consider these questions:

• Are there drivers listed on your policy that do not reside with the named insured?
• Are there residents in the home that are not family members?
• Are there resident family members of driving age that are not listed on your policy?
• Is any vehicle on the policy owned by someone other than the named insured(s), spouse or resident family member?
• Does any driver not listed on the policy have regular use of one of the vehicles?
• Are any vehicles used for business purposes such as Uber or Lyft?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” your existing policy may have a gap in coverage and needs to be reviewed immediately.  Please call us at 248-682-7445 to begin your policy review today.

Michigan’s Overhauled No-Fault Insurance Laws Take Effect July 1, 2020

On May 30, 2019, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill that will bring sweeping changes to the state’s no-fault auto insurance laws. The primary goal of the new legislation is to reduce auto insurance premiums, as Michigan has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation.

Though the new legislation provides numerous changes to the auto insurance industry in Michigan, the following are the key takeaways:

•Drivers will no longer be required to purchase unlimited no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which guarantee lifetime medical benefits for catastrophic crash injuries. After July 1, 2020, and through July 1, 2028, drivers may select their own no-fault PIP coverage. Under the new law, drivers may choose between $50,000 coverage (if enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare), $250,000 coverage, $500,000 coverage or unlimited PIP coverage.

•Once the new legislation takes effect, drivers could enjoy an auto insurance premium cost reduction depending on which PIP coverage they select. Note that all savings are limited only to the no-fault portion of a driver’s auto insurance bill (typically around 40% of the total premium), not the entire bill. Furthermore, the legislation does not address what the insurance providers may charge on other portions of insurance bills.

•A no-fault fee schedule was established to regulate the rates charged by medical care providers (e.g., doctors and hospitals) regarding medical care associated with auto accidents. Note that the fee schedule will not apply for the entirety of the first year the law is in effect.

•Drivers who choose any PIP coverage lower than unlimited will pay reduced fees to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), an entity that bears responsibility to pay catastrophic injury benefits.

•Insurance providers will be prohibited from considering “non-driving factors” when determining insurance rates. Those factors typically include sex, marital status, educational level and occupation. However, providers can still set rates based on “territories” of the state. For example, providers could set higher rates for those who live in a region in which there are heightened instances of accidents or car thefts.

We will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

Please contact us at (248) 682-7445 or for more information.

Michigan Auto Insurance Reform (PIP) Part 1

You’ve probably heard that the Michigan legislature recently passed significant changes to our no-fault auto insurance laws. You may have questions as to what the changes mean for you and your family’s insurance plan.  We have answers and will continue to publish updates over time.

Most of the changes do not take effect until July of 2020 but the first change is effective now.  The reforms revolve around the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of the no-fault policy.  In Michigan, PIP basically means medical payments required as a result of car accidents.  The coverage is expansive though and can cover things such as renovations to a primary residence to make them accessible to the disabled, physical therapy, transportation to medical appointments, etc.

The first amendment clarifies the definition of the insured for PIP coverage to:
•the named insured(s)
•the named insured(s) spouse
•resident relatives (must be both a blood/legal relative and a permanent resident at the primary address)

Common situations that this will directly impact would be a boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance, children that no longer reside in the household of the insured parents, etc.  Those individuals, if uninsured, would be limited to $250,000 medical coverage through an entity called the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.  Regular coverage has no dollar limit.

If you think you might be affected by these changes (whether you are insured by PKIG or not) please give us a call and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.  If you have any other questions, please call for clarification.  Stay tuned to this space and our social media for further updates and crucial information.

(248) 682-7445

Should you convert your term life policy?

Should you convert your term policy?

Term life insurance makes sense for many of us. Specifically, this coverage option provides low-cost protection to the loved ones who would be affected by the loss of your income and other household contributions.

But what happens if you’re approaching the end of the pre-decided term with less financial security than you thought you’d have by now?

Find out more about a step you can take to help keep your family safe:

When does converting your policy make sense?

Medical bills, a job loss and other circumstances sometimes limit wealth accumulation. Thankfully, an easy solution — converting your term policy to whole life — might be within reach if your timing is right.

How does a conversion work?

Most term policies provide a window to convert before your term expires or before you reach a certain age. You typically won’t have to qualify medically, which may get you a lower rate on whole life.

What are some of the long-term benefits of converting your term policy?

A whole life policy lasts for your entire life (as long as you pay the premiums), allowing you to leave money to heirs or charity. Whole life can also support a lifelong dependent, such as a sick or disabled child or spouse. It can also be a tool for mitigating estate taxes.

You may also borrow against the accumulated cash value of a whole life policy for any reason. Just note that policy loans accrue interest, and loans outstanding at death reduce the policy’s death benefit.

What else should you know?

Whole life tends to be more expensive than term because of the additional policy benefits and guaranteed payout. Partial conversion can be a more affordable option.

Have questions? Please reach out to discuss your options if you’re concerned your term policy may be too short.

Polar Vortex 2019: Preventing & Thawing Freezing Pipes in Michigan

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are:

Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

How to Protect Pipes From Freezing
Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations:

Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Tips by the American Red Cross

7 ways to make the most of your health benefits

We all know that health insurance is a significant monthly expense. But it’s worth the cost, as it enables access to the care you need and reduces your risk of medical debt.

Here’s how to make sure you get the most for your money this year.

1. Don’t skip preventive care. You may have access to an annual physical, vaccines and screenings at no cost before meeting your deductible. Preventive care can keep potentially serious health problems at bay.

Click here for 2-6…