Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't let your home become a victim this winter

There are a lot of increased dangers for homes during the winter season, and if you're not careful your home could fall prey to winter perils. Here are the top 5 tips to keep your home (and your family) safe all winter long.

Top 5 ways to keep your home (and family) safe this winter

1. Prevent Christmas fires: Between electrical problems with the tree, chimney fires and furnace problems, winter time sees a large spike in home fires. Since cold weather and the holidays are officially under way, make sure you follow these quick and easy home safety tips to guard your home from fires:
  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected to make sure everything is in working condition for the cold months ahead.
  • Double check your flu to make sure it is open before starting your first fire of the winter, and consider having your chimney swept at the beginning of each wood burning season. Be careful with decorations above the chimney that could hang too low and catch fire.
  • Christmas trees are the leading cause of winter home fires. Here is a great link full of christmas tree safety tips: Christmas Tree Safety Tips 
2. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: 15,000 Americans per year suffer from carbon monoxide exposure in their homes, most of which occur during the winter. Cold winter nights lead to a lot of extra heat pumping into your home. Protect yourself by installing carbon monoxide detectors. It's inexpensive and easy, and it can save your life. BE ONE OF THE FIRST 2 CLIENTS TO STOP BY THE OFFICE AND ASK ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS AND WE'LL GIVE YOU A FREE DETECTOR FOR YOUR HOME!

3. Stop pipes from freezing: Frozen pipes can be an extremely expensive problem for your home during the cold winter nights. The red cross has some great safety tips for frozen pipes: Red Cross Tips, but here are some tried and true favorites.
  • Leave a faucet dripping
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air around the plumbing
  • When leaving town, be careful how low you set your thermostat
4. Prevent home break ins: Crime is on the rise every Christmas season, and with the economy in the tanks many cities are expecting a lot of extra burglaries this year. You can find a full list of ways to stop thieves from ruining your Christmas at the following link: Prevent Home Burglary, but here are some of the top tips:
  • Tighten up your locks: door locks can come loose over time making them easier for thieves to get through. Tighten up or replace old and worn door locks
  • Don't hide a key outside your door. Instead, leave a key with a trusted neighbor
  • Don't post on facebook or twitter that you'll be out of town
  • Use timed lights when leaving town
  • Use window locks or bars
5. Stop lawsuits - keep your guests from getting hurt on your property and keep yourself out of court. It's much easier for guests to slip and fall during the winter season. Make sure you shovel and salt your driveway and sidewalk to prevent ice and snow build up.

It only takes a little time and effort to prevent damages to your home and injuries to your family and guests. A little prevention can also help keep your insurance rates lower by avoiding unnecessary home claims. For a free Better Homes and Gardens "Home Safe and Sound" book full of ways to keep your home safe, be one of the first 5 clients to stop by the office and request your free copy. (must choose between book and carbon monoxide detector - cannot receive both).

By Robert Edgin

Other Popular Winter Time Posts:

8 Links to Keep You Safe on Colorado Wintery Roads

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My roof is brand new, why can't I get home insurance?

Like everyone else your neighborhood, your home got beat up by a hail storm this summer. And like everyone else in your neighborhood, you got a nice, shiny new roof. Unfortunately, that brand new roof may put you in a spot where you cannot buy home insurance – or keep the home insurance you already have. Insurance companies are tightening their belts when it comes to who can, and cannot, have home insurance, and your new roof could be a red flag. Here’s why:

Building codes allow for differing amounts of roof layers (each layer of shingles is considered one layer) depending on where you live. In Colorado Springs (where I’m posting from), you can have a maximum of three layers. It's what happens after you reach your 3rd layer that has insurance companies running for the hills – or sending you packing (insert your favorite analogy).

Why insurance companies may not sell you insurance with a brand new roof:

If you have a three layer roof, the next time you file a roof claim you will have to remove all layers on your roof and start over (go back to one layer). This dreaded “tear down” adds thousands of dollars to the bill, which the insurance companies are on the hook for. Think about it, you’re an insurance company with 100,000 home insurance policies. A major hail storm wipes out 10,000 roofs that have three layers, and you get stuck with the bill for an extra $20,000,000 for tear down. In case you didn’t count all the zeros, that’s twenty million dollars…EXTRA…just to get the roofs ready to be re-roofed!

What is the EASIEST way for an insurance company to remove the risk of paying for your tear down? You guessed it, not let you have insurance on that shiny new roof of yours – if it has three layers. If you are buying a new home it is becoming increasingly important to have the home inspector check for the number of layers on the roof. IF it has three layers, have a conversation with your insurance agent BEFORE you buy the home. It may be important to negotiate for a new roof with the seller; and if it’s time to replace an old or damaged roof and you ALREADY have two layers, make sure to discuss a tear down with your roofing company to keep you from reaching your 3rd level. Even in situations where your insurance company just paid to put another roof layer on your home, it is still VERY possible to find your policy non-renewed because it now has three layers.

Insurance companies are becoming increasingly picky with who and what they insure due to the economic environment. Do a review with your local, professional agent every 12 months to make sure you’re staying up to date with the changes.

By Robert Edgin


The 5 NEW ways to save money on your home insurance
When NOT to file a claim

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

5 New Ways To Save Money On Your Home Insurance

"Top 10 ways to save money on your home insurance." I know you've seen this article a hundred times before, and it always sounds the same...raise your around...get multi-policy discounts...blah blah blah. IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME, but in case you need a reminder I have included links to 5 articles that all have the same advice on lowering your home insurance premium (there are some good tips in case you've been living in a cave for the past couple of years).

Finally, there are some NEW ways to save money on your home insurance, and out of the 75,000,000+ links Google came up with, the next 5 tips weren't on any of them (that's right, I checked all of them).

  1. Check your fire protection district: Insurance companies are getting more sophisticated, which means they're coming up with new and improved ways to figure out how much you should be paying for your home insurance. One of the newest methods being used is software that determines EXACTLY how long it would take for a fire crew to respond to an emergency at your home. Unfortunately, they don't always line up the right fire departments with the right houses, causing you to pay higher premiums than you need be. Ask your agent what your protection class is. Usually, the lower the number the better. If you're near a fire department, make sure you're getting credit for it, and if you're buying a home call your agent and find out which protection class you are in.
  2. Replacement Cost Estimator: Another improvement in insurance technology has been the introduction of more sophisticated software that evaluates how much it would cost to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss (like a fire). The software itself is a good thing; the problem is that most companies do NOT have the correct information about your home. Incorrect information often leads to an increased estimate of your home's replacement cost leading guessed it, higher insurance rates. Review your home's information with your agent and make sure it is correct.
  3. Check Your Endorsements: Most home insurance policies START with a lot of bells and whistles right out of the gate. I'm NOT saying to remove endorsements you need (a conversation between you and your agent), but there are often endorsements that you can remove and save money with. For example, a lot of insurance policies come with extra coverage for jewelry. If you don't have any jewelry, it's just an extra cost. Ask your agents if your endorsements are optional, and discuss which ones you need for your personal situation
  4. Update Your Home: If you're like most Americans, you used the good economy and easy HELOC's of 2006 and 2007 to do some home improvements - a new roof, new water heater or furnace, etc. Did you remember to tell your insurance agent? Insurance companies LOVE shiny new things and they reward you for putting them in, or on, your house. If you are considering doing some improvements, check with your agent to see what kind of discounts different improvements will get you. One more piece of advice, if you're considering putting on a new roof and you already have multiple layers of shingles, BE CAREFUL! Most companies are starting to dislike homes with 3 layers of roofing (dislike = no insurance) because it is an extra cost to the company to replace your roof if they first have to remove the old layers.
  5. Just Ask: Over the past few years, companies have been using new technology and more sophisticated software to develop new types of policies with lower costs. Unfortunately, most agents are too busy to call you out of the blue and mention it to you. Call your agent and ask them if there are any new policies which could save you money or any new programs that can lower your premiums. You may be surprised that all you had to do was ask.
Now for the old-school, you've heard it a hundred times, basic ways to save money on your home insurance, check out the following links:

MSN Money: 15 ways to save on home insurance
Insurance Institute: 12 ways to save money on your home insurance
Home Buyer's Information Center: 12 STEPS to SAVE MONEY on your homeowners insurance
Insure-Net: 10 ways to save money on your home insurance
Mortgage101: 12 ways to save money on your home insurance

If you read through the articles, it may have seemed like it was the same piece on different web sites, but they are all written by different folks (at least I think they are). Combine the old methods with some new ways, and you've got a great opportunity to save yourself some money.

By Robert Edgin

Monday, November 16, 2009

What You Can Learn From A Comic Collector's Home Fire

When I talk to new clients about why they're shopping for home insurance, I often hear "because I have to get it in order to close on my new house", and I think to myself...doesn't anyone get it?!? I realize that no one LIKES to pay for insurance, but most people forget what their home insurance is really for. Not Rob Snell, however. This is a picture of some of Rob's books and comics that were destroyed when he lost his home to a fire.

Rob is a normal guy - a business man and comic collector - that wrote a great account of the lessons he learned about his home insurance when he lost everything he owned in a house fire. Check out his story: "5 things I wish I knew before my house burned down." It's a great way to learn from someone who has already been through it, and see which parts of your home insurance you should pay extra attention to.

The best way to protect your assets from loss - whether fire, theft, water or anything else that may happen - is to sit down with a local agent and have a conversation about what you own. Get some good advice from a professional that's in the business of knowing how to properly protect you.

A local, professional agent may not be able to control the situations that life throws at you, but they can provide solutions no matter what the circumstance.

By Robert Edgin

This is part four of the four part series PROPER INSURANCE PROTECTION
1. Saving 15% on your car insurance could cost you more than you think
2. 3 car insurance coverages that will save your life
3. I'm being sued, call my insurance company!

Please leave me a comment, I'd love to hear from you

Sunday, November 15, 2009

8 Links to Keep You Safe on Colorado Wintery Roads

You’ve heard all of the dos and don’ts for cold weather driving, but sometimes tips and tricks just aren’t enough. Below are 8 links to keep you safe while on Colorado roads this winter season. Download a winter handbook, check the road conditions and travel times, know how to prepare if you’re stranded, and a whole lot more. Winter is here, and it’s time to get prepared for the crazy weather and road conditions that get thrown at us every year.

Before you get to the experts’ links, here’s our top tips for winter driving:

1. Choose your expletives ahead of time: Nothing is worse than being in the car with young ears and dropping an unexpected “holy @$#%” while doing a 360. Pick a word NOW that will allow you to express yourself AND not send your kids’ jaws dropping to the car floor. After you’ve picked it (bull shark is one of my favorites), repeat it ten times to get it stuck in your mind.

2. Remember 4 wheel drive does not mean 4 wheel stop: Ice is ice, and just because you can get going on it with your 4WD, does not mean you’re going to be able to stop on it. Drive as if you don’t have brakes, and when it’s time to have to use them you won’t find yourself having to refer back to tip number 1.

3. Don’t be stupid: I know this should be obvious, but slow down and stop driving like an idiot! If you’re always in a hurry – like me – leave early instead of trying to drive fast to get there.

4. Just don’t go: Have you noticed how nice your fireplace is looking? How good does a cup of hot chocolate sound right about now? If you can wait to go out, just don’t go!

Be careful, and just as importantly, be prepared. Here are 8 great links to help keep you safe:

1. Current Colorado Road Conditions
2. Real Time Speeds and Travel Times
3. National Weather Service: Current Weather and Warnings
4. What To Do If Stranded On The Road
5. FEMA: Preparing Kids For Winter Storms
6. CDOT Winter Driving Handbook
7. CDOT Winter Driving Video
8. CDOT Winter Driving Tips

When the weather turns, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Be prepared and be safe, or even better, just stay at home.

By Robert Edgin

Friday, November 13, 2009

Contact My Insurance Guys

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Insurance Is Sexy Too, Isn't It?

"You may have a hard time getting followers and readers with a subject like insurance" my wife says to me. I tell her she's INSANE, and her response..."insurance is just kind of...boring." Boring? BORING? We'll just see about that!

That was two weeks ago; fast forward to today.

Over the past two weeks, My Insurance Guys have been working day and night to spread the good word about the exciting world of insurance. We built a facebook page, started tweeting on Twitter and have posted fascinating blogs such as:

3 Car Insurance Coverages That Will Save Your Life
I'm being Sued - Call My Insurance Company

Now I ask, what's NOT to get excited about? Feelinng pretty good about myself (and my 49 facebook fans), I proceeded to tell Kylah she was obviously mistaken about the exhilirating world of insurance. "After all, the results speak for themselves!"

When I get over zealous, as I often do, my wife is always kind enough to remind me to be a little more humble (although not always appreciated at the time, always well deserved). As a simple reminder this time, she decided to start a Facebook page for her business, Stage It! Redesign It!. That was 2 days ago; the result...

46 fans in 2 days! She's not blogging, tweeting, or even really promoting her page. She tells me she has a more interesting, "sexier" subject. How can that be, insurance is sexy too, isn't it? We do all sorts of cool things in our office; we rebuild houses when they burn down, we buy new cars when they're stolen, we replace incomes when a loved one dies...that's exciting stuff!

"That is all IMPORTANT stuff" Kylah tells me, "that's all NEEDED stuff" she says, "but EXCITING is just not the word that comes to mind when people think about insurance."

Although I'm not able to prove it, I'm pretty sure my wife figured out some special Facebook trick to inflate her numbers. After all, that's the only explanation that makes sense, isn't it?

By Robert Edgin

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top 10 Photographic Reasons To Have Car Insurance

Here's some pretty convincing evidence for the need to carry insurance...or become a better driver!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm Being Sued - Call My Insurance Company!

Here’s an obvious statement for you; Americans are sue-crazy! How do I know we live in a sue-crazy country? The same way you do – TV, news, commercials…every time you turn around you hear about another crazy lawsuit. There is a lottery mentality in America that makes people believe the best way to get ahead financially is to win the lottery – or a lawsuit.

Do you need protection from all the crazies out there that are filing frivolous lawsuits, that see you as their big pay-day, that are looking to you for an early retirement? YES, YES, AND YES! The good news is that you already have some protection from lawsuits with in your auto and home insurance policies. The better news is that if you don’t have enough coverage, it is a relatively inexpensive problem to fix. But first, a look at the sue-crazy people and why they’re so dangerous to your finances.

Top 10 Video Stories of Crazy Lawsuits:

1. 7-year-old boy sued over minor skiing collision
2. Driver at fault for accident files claim against victim
3. Bike-riding doctor sues roller-blading 11-year-old
4. Volunteer youth baseball coach sued by a 12-year-old player
5. Pool store owners sued over migrating wild goose
6. Drycleaners discuss $54 million pants lawsuit
7. Message board sued for user-posted message
8. Customer sues for refund after using lawnmower all summer
9. Lawsuit over bathroom mirror 2 inches too high
10. Customer misuses product, then sues company that sold it

Top 10 Crazy Lawsuits In Recent News:

1. Convicted Thief Sues Store He Robbed
2. Couple sues neighbor over back-yard smoking
3. Shopper who forgot to pay for pajamas sues Wal-Mart over her arrest
4. Lawyer sues over gym's obese bully
5. Judge Rejects Attempt to Claim Damages for Injuries Horse Lover Suffered on Date
6. Supreme Court to hear gambler's lawsuit
7. Florence women sue Applebee's, Weight Watchers
8. No Joke, Comedian Sued Over Mother-in-Law Humor
9. Mich. lawyer sues, claims mouthwash stained teeth
10. Disparaging eBay comment sparks lawsuit

Liability protection is the part of your auto, home, boat or motorcycle coverage that protects you from lawsuits if you are found to be at-fault (liable) for someone else’s injuries or damage to their property. It makes sense that if you cause the damage, you should be responsible for the repairs, and that is what your insurance is there for…up to a limit.

Every insurance policy has a limit where it will stop paying – the policy limits. But what happens if you cause a 5 car pileup and only have enough coverage to pay for 2 cars? I’ve heard lots of people say “They’ll only sue you up to your policy limits, so keep your coverage low and save the money.” Wow, how does that make sense? Who pays for the other three cars you caused the damage to? YOU DO! Just because you don’t have enough insurance does not mean you’re not responsible, it just means the rest of the money comes out of your pocket!

Most financial experts agree that if you have some assets, you need enough liability coverage to protect those assets from lawsuits. Liz Weston, @lizweston, has written at least 9 articles for MSN Money educating the public about carrying liability limits to protect your assets. Personally, I think you should carry the proper coverage if you fall into the category of folks who DON’T have lots of assets – the category of hoping to have assets in the future. Why? Because most states are tort states that do whatever is necessary to collect judgments against you; can you say wage garnishment? So how DO you protect yourself, and do it at a reasonable cost?

Umbrella insurance is a liability insurance policy that gives you extra protection from lawsuits in all you personally do (hence the name umbrella). Car accident, slander, hunting accident, home injury, water skiing incident – pretty much everything you can be found personally liable for is covered under an umbrella policy.

An umbrella policy is an extension of your other personal insurance policies, so any lawsuits that would be covered under your auto policy, as an example, would also be covered under your umbrella policy. Umbrella insurance typically starts at $1,000,000 worth of coverage and goes up from there. And here’s the best part, even if a lawsuit is frivolous or just plain crazy, you’ll get the protection you need to keep your assets, and your earnings, safe.

Umbrella insurance typically costs around $15 - $20 per month for most folks, well worth the price for the peace of mind. Most companies require certain limits in your auto and home insurance policies before you can buy an insurance policy. Talk to your local insurance agent to find out what your current limits are in case you get sued, and make sure you’re protected from the lawsuit crazed neighbor that sees you as their winning lottery numbers!

By Robert Edgin

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on proper insurance protectionn

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

3 Car Insurance Coverages That Will Save Your Life

Car insurance is one of the few things in life you pay for every month and hope you never have to use. After all, to use it you have to have something bad happen; sometimes something very bad. Car crashes, theft, vandalism…none of it makes it to the list of “things I hope to experience this year.” But if you are going to pay for it – like all good, law-abiding citizens do – than you need to make sure you have the right coverage and proper limits. After all, it could save your life…your financial life that is.

1. Bodily Injury: Pays for medical bills, rehabilitation, work loss and pain and suffering to other people if you injure their bodies - that's why it's called bodily injury! In most states, he who causes the accident is responsible for any and all expenses that result from that accident. In other words, if you crash into someone, it is your responsibility to pay to get them fixed up. If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, Trauma, or any other medical shows out there than you know how expensive that can be. The ambulance ride alone can cost upwards of $10,000, and that’s just to get you where you’re going. Add on the hospital bills, lost wages and an attorney seeking pain and suffering, and you’re staring down the barrel of a ½ million dollar lawsuit!

2. Property Damage: Pays for the repairs or replacement of, you guessed it, any property you damage. Remember the classic "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"? If you run into any one of them (or all of them if you happen to be making one of the "Die Hard" sequels) this is the coverage that pays for the damages. Make sure you have enough to replace at least a couple of new cars - real cars that cost $25,000 each. If you only have enough in your policy to buy one car, the other car comes out of your pocket!

3. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury: In case you've been in a cave for the past year or haven't noticed, the economy is less than perfect lately. With a poor economy comes higher unemployment, and with higher unemployment comes a MUCH higher rate of drivers who do not carry insurance. It's not that they're bad people; they've just decided to spend their money on other things - like food! If someone runs into you and they do not have insurance, you're uninsured motorist coverage pays the damages that their insurance would normally pay. Specifically, your medical bills, rehabilitation, work loss and pain and suffering.

While there are numerous other coverages - all of which being important - it is the bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist claims that most often lead to the largest losses. Talk to your personal agent and make sure you have the proper coverage to protect your family. After all, that's why you have insurance.

By Robert Edgin

This is part two of a four part series on Proper Insurance Coverage

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saving 15% On Your Car Insurance Could Cost You More Than You Think

“15 minutes could save you 15%.”  It’s catchy, and obviously a good slogan; after all, who wouldn’t want to save 15% on their car insurance? But what do you get for your 15% savings, that’s the real question. The insurance companies advertising on TV these days focus on one thing and one thing only, cheap insurance. Cheap insurance is great, but so is protecting your assets!

Insurance was originally intended to build you a new house if yours burns down, fix your car if it is damaged in an accident, and keep you from being sued and losing your assets if you run into someone. Most insurance companies forgot their mission, duties, and responsibilities to their clients and now only know how to say two words – cheap insurance.

Geico’s goal is to save you 15% in 15 minutes; Progressive wants you to name your own price. Even Allstate and State Farm have taken the “we’re only here to save you money” approach. I’m not suggesting you should pay more than you need to for insurance. I am, however, suggesting that auto, home, and life insurance are MORE than just necessary evils. Insurance is MORE than just shopping around for price and completely ignoring your coverage. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for!

When shopping around for the best price, try to get someone on the other end of the phone that knows more than just their company slogan. Try to find someone that’s interested in protecting your assets JUST IN CASE you have a teenage driver that makes a mistake and wipes out an SUV with a family of four inside. Spend 15 minutes deciding what the PROPER coverage is for your family before you spend 15 minutes comparing prices. After all, you’re paying a company to put your financial life back together if something breaks it into pieces.

A while back we came across a family insured with an 800# company that carried enough insurance to pay the first $50,000 for any injuries they caused others, and $25,000 to repair anyone’s cars that they may damage. The family made a good living and had some assets, so their protection was raised to $1.5 million to make sure they were properly protected. 6 months later, their son was killed in an accident on a way home from a ski trip. The accident was his fault. The accident also killed the driver of the other vehicle, and put 6 more people in the hospital. Total medical bills, lost wages of survivors, car repairs, lawsuit settlements, etc.: $1,200,000. Total out of pocket expense for the grieving mom and dad dealing with the loss of their son: $1,000. The total out of pocket with their old insurance company would have been $1,175,000, or bankruptcy and garnished wages in order to satisfy lawsuit awards.

These types of costs and lawsuits are NOT uncommon. According to a report the NHTSA estimates the economic cost of a critically injured survivor is $1.1 million dollars. Your insurance company will pay up to the contracted limits of your policy, but if it goes above that you’re on your own for the rest.

No one wants to pay too much for their car insurance, but sometimes paying to little now costs you everything in the end.

Starting with the proper coverage BEFORE shopping for price…now that’s progressive. Price is important, and saving money is always a good thing, but it’s not the only thing. Look instead for the best VALUE – the proper protection for your family at the best possible price.

This is part one of a four part series on PROPER INSURANCE PROTECTION

By Robert Edgin