Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Insurance And The End Of The World

As I'm writing this, the end of the world is just a few days away...IF you believe the Mayan calendar. And IF you're like most folks out there, I'm sure you're asking the rather obvious question on most people's minds, "will my insurance cover my cars and house if they're destroyed by the end of the world"? You may also be concerned that your life insurance wont' pay a death benefit if you don't make it through the end of the world events. Here are a few things to put your mind at ease when it comes to your insurance:

  1. Most insurance policies specifically list things that are excluded from coverage and the list can be easily found in every policy that you buy. Check you policy and you'll most likely find that the end of the world is NOT listed as an exclusion of coverage. I know what you may be thinking, it's the stuff leading up to the end of the world that you'll need to have coverage for, such as meteors, sun flares and super volcanoes that erupt in Yellowstone National Park. Don't worry, you probably won't find any of those disasters listed as an exclusion either.
  2. Even things that ARE excluded can still be protected if you're willing to spend a few extra dollars. Earthquakes and floods, two real possibilities for the upcoming doomsday, are typically not covered by home insurance policies. However, you can usually add an earthquake endorsement to your home insurance and buy flood insurance through the National Flood Service.
  3. If your neighbor also survives the apocalypse but then breaks into your house to steal your survival gear, your insurance company will replace it under your policy. If they steal your 4x4 in order to get to higher ground, that's covered to as long as you carry comprehensive coverage. Insurance companies don't ask why something was stolen or refuse to replace the item just because the theft had to do with the end of the world.
  4. If a zombie attack makes your home unliveable, your home insurance should have coverage for "additional living expenses" that will pay to put you up in a zombie free hotel until your home can be repaired. Most home insurance policies cover vandalism, even if caused by the walking dead.
  5. If your house isn't damaged but an EMP blast has knocked out power to 1/2 the continent, don't worry about the hundreds of pounds of food you've placed in the freezer in preparation. Most home insurance policies have coverage for loss of power resulting in food spoiling. Simply eat your freeze dried food and the fruit from your sustainable garden until power is restored. Then, call your insurance company and file your claim. Your home insurance should provide you with the needed money to restock the freezer in you underground bunker (minus your deductible).
  6. If you purchase the right type of life insurance (non accidental death), about the only two types of death that may forfeit the payment to your family are suicide (within the first year or two, depending on the state you live in) and fraud. If it's pestilence, being swallowed hole by the ground beneath you, a falling asteroid or even a falling plane that was hit by a falling asteroid, your policy will pay your beneficiary the death benefit so they'll have plenty of money to stock the underground bunker they plan on living in.
The chances of the end of the world taking out your home or car may be increasing, but there's not much need to worry about your insurance policy not covering the damage. And if that doesn't help put your mind at ease, you can always forget your car and house and settle for living on the personal ark you built for your family in preparation for the floods.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Home Insurance Guest Medical Coverage

I'm writing this during the spooky season of zombies, ghosts and goblins - Halloween. But, there is something even scarier out there than Jason, Freddy and Michael Meyers combined...paying for your guests medical bills!

What happens if your Friday night pumpkin carving party turns into "Attack Of The Kitchen Knife" and one of your guests has to make a visit to the emergency room? Who is responsible for the bills your guest incurs from things that go bump in the night? The answer is, it depends! Every situation is different and I cannot tell you which will result in your being responsible and which will not, but if it turns out you DO have to pay for the medical needs of a guest, where is the money going to come from?

Hopefully (if you've got the right kind of home insurance coverage), it will come from your home insurance policy. Most home insurance policies have Coverage F - Guest Medical Coverage. The limit of coverage you choose is up to you and typically ranges from $1000-$5000 in coverage. Meaning if your guest is injured on your property your home insurance would pay the first $1000-$5000 of guest medical bills, depending on what limit you chose for your policy. Here is how a typical insurance policy explains guest medical coverage:

We will pay the necessary medical expenses incurred or medically ascertained within three years from the date of an accident causing bodily injury. Medical expenses mean reasonable charges for medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, prosthetic devices, and funeral services.

This coverage does not apply to you or regular residents of your household other than residence employees. As to others, this coverage applies only:
1. to a person on the insured location with the permission of any insured; or
2. to a person off the insured location, if the bodily injury:
a. arises out of a condition in the insured location or the ways immediately

b. is caused by the activities of any insured;
c. is caused by a residence employee in the course of the residence employee's employment by any insured;
d. is caused by an animal owned by or in the care of any insured."

What happens if you do NOT have guest medical coverage, or if you do not have enough coverage? Here's the scary part, you still owe the money! Your insurance policy does not assume responsibility and liability for you, it simply pays the amount you owe, up to the policy limit, and then stops paying. That is why I recommend increasing your guest medical coverage to the maximum offered under your home insurance policy. The price is minimal for the extra coverage.

Keep in mind, you could have some additional coverage (emphasis on could) for guest medical under your liability limit, but do yourself and your family a favor and remove as much of the scary stuff as possible. Increase your Coverage F - Guest Medical Coverage to the max allowed. It should only cost you a couple of extra dollars a month and it's money well spent.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lessons Learned - Medical Power Of Attorney and Living Will

If we've talked lately, you already know that my dad spent a week in the hospital last month. Fortunately, he's getting back to normal and recovering nicely from 2 scary heart attacks, but the time he spent in the hospital taught me a few lessons that I needed to learn for my own family. I had not considered - and did not have - a Medical Power of Attorney or a Living Will set up for wither myself or my wife. Both are free, easy and take effect as soon as they are filled out, signed and witnessed by a 3rd party. I learned how important they are and now have it all taken care of. Here are a few things you should know:

1. Medical Durable Power Of Attorney: A Medical Durable Power Of Attorney (MDPOA) is a document you sign naming someone to make your healthcare decisions if and when you are not able to. The person you name is called your healthcare agent. Your MDPOA can become effective immediately, or you can make it become effective only when you are unable to make your own medical decisions.

You can appoint anyone to become your healthcare agent as long as that person is at least 18 years old, mentally competent, and willing to be your agent.Your agent should also be someone who can confidently deal with lots of healthcare providers over what could be a long time. It is preferable to pick an agent who lives in the same state or even city as you do,and it's also a good idea to appoint one or two back-up agents, in case your first choice is not available or able to serve.

Your healthcare agent has all the powers of decision making you do: He or she can consult with healthcare providers, review or get copies of your medical records, and make all necessary healthcare treatment and placement decisions. The agent must act according to his or her understanding of what your wishes and preferences would be. He or she must set aside his or her own values and preferences and do what you would do.

You may put instructions into your MDPOA document to help guide your agent and your healthcare providers so they are better aligned with your wishes. A MDPOA can be printed by clicking here: Printable MDPOA

2. Living Will: A living will is a document you sign telling your doctors to stop or not start life-sustaining treatments if you are in a terminal condition and can't make your own decisions or if you are in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). A terminal condition is one that is incurable or irreversible and for which life-sustaining treatment will only postpone the moment of death. PVS results from a severe brain injury and generally means that the person is alive and may appear to sleep and wake, but is completely unaware of his or her surroundings; cannot speak, drink or eat; and may not be able to feel or react to pain.

A living will only goes into effect 48 hours after two doctors certify that you are in a terminal condition and can't make your own decisions or you are in PVS. Your doctors must make a good effort to notify persona close to you that this certification has been made and they will withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment within two days. You can include a list of persons to be notified in the living will document, with their contact information. You can also include a list of persons authorized to talk to your doctors about your condition and care. These persons are not authorized to make any decisions about your care.

In Colorado, you may also designate in your living will that your doctors should stop or not start any tube feeding and other forms of artificial nutrition and hydration, once the terminal or PVS certification has been made, unless they consider it necessary to provide comfort or relieve pain. You may also include other instructions about your care, but these instructions will only go into effect at the same time as your living will. You can print a Living Will by clicking here: Printable Living Will

No one likes to think about these types of things happening to them, but it is better for you to give it a little thought now while you can clearly state what you would like to happen instead of leaving it up to your family who may not know what your wishes really are. They will already be dealing with a lot of stress, there's no reason you can't make things easier on your family by taking 10 minutes to fill out your MDPOA and Living Will today!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Review: Crave Burger

 What does a "3 Little Pigs" burger from Crave Burgers have to do with insurance? Absolutely  nothing! But, since I've been focuing on "A Taste Of Colorado" throughout the year and giving away gift cards to Colorado based restaurants, it seemed like a good excuse to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, a cheeseburger!

However, calling the "3 Little Pigs" a cheeseburger is kind of like saying the Mona Lisa is "just a painting." As far as cheeseburgers go, this is more of a masterpiece! For starters, it's made from scratch when I order so it was super fresh. Not only is it fresh, I can tell by looking at my burger that the ingredients are all top quality.

Speaking of the ingredients, as the name implies the "3 Little Pigs" burger is topped with 3 different, yet equally delicious, types of pork. PLUS, they piled a mound of onion strings in top too (my mouth is watering again just writing about it!). Even the bun was awesome.

The burger itself is bigger than my mouth , super juicy and super tasty. My plan was to cut it in 1/2 and save the other 1/2 for dinner but I wasn't ready to quit eating after I made it through the first 1/2 so I ended up eating the whole thing. I will, however, be skipping dinner!

I also had some home cut fries and a wonderful chocolate shake (I'm glad I don't eat like this every day!) with my meal. By the time I was done, I could hardly move, but I was very satisfied. Crave's burgers are all unique, they're all gigantic and they're all delicious. I've tried 3 of their masterpieces so far and I'm already looking forward to my next adventure in burgers. If you're not really the burger type, they've also got sandwiches and salads on the menu for you.

If you'd like to give Crave Burgers a try, make sure you introduce some of your friends and family to our office first. We'll reward you with a Crave gift card so you can go check out one of their amazing burgers on us!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Home Inventory - Do You Know What You Own?

It sounds like a pretty easy question which should have an easy "yes" for an answer, but reports show that people who have a total loss at their home (ie. a fire) often find that they are unable to replace everything they own. The problems, they either cannot remember everything they have or they do not have everything properly covered, can both be solved with a simple home inventory and an annual review with their insurance agent. Here is what the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association has to say about home inventories:

"Before a catastrophe strikes and you're faced with a loss, make a home inventory - lists, pictures or a videotape of the contents of your home. After all, would you be able to remember all the possessions you've accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
According to a 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), more than half of Americans don't have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage, should severe weather strike.
  • Survey results show 59 percent of consumers have not made a list or inventory of their possessions. Of those individuals with a home inventory, 48 percent do not have receipts; 27 percent do not have photos of their property; and 28 percent do not have a back-up copy of the inventory outside the home.
  • Additionally, 59 percent of people with inventories have not updated their inventories in more than a year, meaning new purchases and gifts may not be covered.
Taking Inventory
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals.
  • For clothing, count the items you own by category pants, coats, shoes, for example - making notes about those that are especially valuable.
  • For major appliances and electronic equipment, record their serial numbers usually found on the back or bottom.
Don't be overwhelmed! If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you've been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it's better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases and then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
Big ticket items: Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately.
Take a picture: Besides the list, you can take pictures of rooms and important individual items. On the back of the photos note what is shown, where you bought each item, and the make. Don't forget things that are in closets or drawers.
Videotape it: Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or, do the same thing using a tape recorder.
Use a personal computer: Use your PC to make your inventory list. Personal finance software packages often include a homeowners room-by-room inventory program.
Storing the list, photos and tapes: Regardless of how you do it (written list, floppy disk, photos, videotape or audio tape), keep your inventory along with receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. That way you'll be sure to have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind."

To download a home inventory that can be printed and filled out, click here: HOME INVENTORY.
You can also use a FREE online tool from the Insurance Information Institute that will allow you to create a free account and use an online inventory OR download the app for your phone and take pictures of your stuff and attach it to your inventory. You can access the tool by clicking here: Know Your Stuff

If you're going to pay for insurance, you may as well make sure it does what it is intended to do, make you whole after a loss by replacing or repairing your property that is damaged or destroyed. One of the best ways to make sure that happens is by having a home inventory and meeting with your insurance agent every 12-24 months for a quick coverage review. If you've not reviewed your policy in a while, even if we are not the company you use, please make an apointment with us today so we can make sure you'd be okay - financially - if your home was destroyed. Call us at 685-8585 for a Professional Insurance Review.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wildfire And Your Home Insurance, Important Things To Know

With a large number of wildfires burning throughout the state and a number of my clients under a mandatory evacuation of their homes, this seems like a good time to share a few pieces of information about your home insurance in regards to wildfires. As I'm writing this, the entire north-east side of Colorado Springs is covered in smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire. If you find that the fire is moving in your direction or your ordered to evacuate your home, here are some things you should know (and do):
  1. Home Inventory: There's no time like the present to update your home inventory. Although many insurance companies do not REQUIRE a home inventory, it is very wise to document what personal property you have in your home. You can run a vide camera through each room, take pictures or fill out a home inventory record (print one here: ). Whichever method you choose, keep it somewhere off primses. Preferably, send it to your insurance agent and have them store it at their office.
  2. Mandatory Evacuations: Most insurance companies WILL cover the expenses incurred from a mandatory evacuation, such as hotel and food costs. However, you must reach your deductible first. If you have a $1000 deductible and you incur $800 worth of addidtional living expenses, you would most likely not be reimbursed by your insurance company because the amount is below your deductible (your deductible is the amount of the claim you are required to pay). Keep all of your receipts for your extra living expenses in case you need to file a claim. If you get home and find you have other damages, such as smoke damage, it would be added into the same claim and be covered under the same deductible.
  3. It Is Probably Too Late To Change Your Coverage: Once a neighborhood has a wildfire moving in it's direction, it is most likely too late to make any changes to your home insurance. Raising coverage, lowering deductibles and adding special items such as art or jewelry is usually prohibitted by the insurance company after a wildfire has been declared in the area. Presently in Colorado Springs, most insurance companies have issued a non-bind order for any property west of I-25, meaning there are no increases in coverage allowed and no new home insurance policies can be written until the non-bind status is removed. My advice, review your coverage with your agent BEFORE your area is affected! An insurance checkup should be done every 12-24 months to make sure your coverage is set up properly.
Hopefully the Waldo Canyon fire here in Colorado Springs and the rest of the wildfires burning across the state of Colorado will be brought under control soon with minimal loss to property and no loss of life. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a mandatory evacutaion situation. Just keep in mind that if you are facing an evacuation or damage to your property, you do have help available from your home insurance company.

Good luck to all of the fire fighters out there and thank you for your hard work and efforts to keep us safe.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Be Prepared For Emergency Evacuations

I've just spent about 2 hours watching the most recent forest fire to hit Colorado spread at a very rapid pace. Forest fires are always a scary thing, but this one  - right at the edge of Colorado Springs and threatening many, many homes - really drives home how important it is to be fire safe and evacuation ready if you live anywhere near a wildfire or high-tree area.

The pictures I'm using for this post were taken by my wife and I, from my driveway and areas right around my home. Fortunately no homes have burned so far, but with mandatory evacuations taking place across the front range, our city is getting first-hand experience of just how dangerous and fast-moving a wildfire can be.
The first thing to do is make sure you're signed up for emergency notifications with your local 911.  Registering your cell phone for emergency notifications will help insure you get the message if you need to evacuate your home and head towards a safer area. In El Paso and Teller counties, you can register your phone at
If you do receive the call (or just feel it's the prudent thing to do) to evacuate your home, here are some important tips and things to remember to keep your family safe:
  1. Know how you are going to get out: The first step is to make sure everyone in your family knows the escape route from your home as well as your neighborhood. If you have a home fire, everyone should know the quickest way to get out of your home, and if your neighborhood has a disaster, everyone should know the best way to leave the area. Take the time to practice, as a family, your escape route and have a backup route in case your first way out is blocked.
  2. Know what you are going to take: Have an evacuation preparedness bag ready for everyone in your family. Keep a few days worth of clothes and medications inside so you don't forget them if you are in a hurry. Have a gallon of water for each person as well as a bit of non-perishable food ready in case it takes a longer amount of time to get to a safe area. Know where your important financial and family documents are and be ready to gather them up if needed. If time allows and you are wondering which items from your home you should take, start with things that are irreplaceable. Your insurance policy will help you replace your TV if it is destroyed, but your old photo albums, baby books and mementos are a completely different story.
  3. Know what you will do with your pets: Make sure your pets are ready for travel as well. Have a few days worth of pet food ready to go and have a plan for pet shelter in place in case your pet or animal is unable to stay with you.
  4. Know where you are going to meet: If your family is not together when an evacuation happens, everyone should know where they will be meeting, and it should be somewhere that is a safe distance from your home. If local phone service were interrupted or cell phones were down, you may not be able to reach everyone in your family at the time of an evacuation.
  5. Know when it's safe to go back: Stay informed with local authorities to know what is happening in your area. Phones, TV and power may all go out in an emergency, so keep a hand-held radio with your emergency kit. If your radio is battery powered, keep an extra set of batteries on hand as well.
Natural - or man made - disasters can happen at any time. Being alert and prepared to deal with an emergency will help keep your family safe and protected. Have the conversation about emergencies with everyone in your family as soon as possible (before an emergency happens) and practice dealing with an emergency 1-2 times per year. Evacuations can be scary for kids but if you practice and prepare for what to do they'll handle things much better if a real emergency were to occur.

For a complete list of items to keep in your evacuation bag and other tips on emergency preparedness, visit the Red Cross emergency preparation page at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dealing With The Insurance Company When Your Car Is A Total Loss

My daughter recently crashed her 2002 GMC Envoy, damaging the left door, front left quarter panel and front bumper. I thought the damage would be repairable (which it is), but the insurance company decided to total the car instead of repairing it. As you can see from the picture, the car does not look totaled. The estimate for the repairs came in at about about $6000.  The truck is worth about $9,500, so why would the insurance company choose to total it instead of repairing the damage? I'll answer that question and give you a few tips if you find yourself working with a claims department on a vehicle they consider a total loss.

Why would they total the car if it's cheaper to repair it? Insurance companies always choose the route that will cost the company the least amount of money. If a car needs repairs reaching 65% or more of the vehicles total value, it is often times less expensive to actually total the car instead of repairing it. The reason for this is the salvage value of the car. Once an insurance company pays you for the loss of your car, they turn around and sell it for it's salvage value, recouping a portion of the amount they paid you. When you subtract the salvage value from the amount paid out, it is often times less expensive than actually repairing the car. For example, if the salvage value on my daughter's Envoy is $3,500, the insurance company's cost is back down to $6,000. Then add in other factors like storage costs of a car before and after repair, rental car costs during repair and the possibility of finding more damage once a car is torn apart and you can see how they can save money by actually totalling a car instead of repairing it.

Tips for dealing with a totaled car: If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a totaled car, there are some things to remember that will help you get the most accurate payout from your insurance company. Chances are you won't like the first offer made to you for your car, so it's your job to help the insurance company give you the right amount. Here's how:
  1. You're in this together: Remember that the claims adjuster you're dealing with is human, and wants to be treated as such. Lots of people forget that the claims adjuster is on your side and they really do want to be fair with you. It's not you against the insurance company and the claims adjuster is not looking to cheat you. Kindness and common courtesy can go a long way! Your claims rep is probably dealing with a hundred or so claims in addition to yours. They've got a lot of work to do and they probably have a lot of people yelling at them. It's a stressful job and they really appreciate dealing with clients who show a little patience and understanding.
  2. Do your homework: These days, insurance companies don't just look at the book value of your vehicle. In fact, the book value is one of the lesser considerations when determining what your car is worth. Claims adjusters will be shopping online for a car just like yours to see what you could buy it for today. Make yourself a log of every car for sale within 75 miles that matches your vehicle. Check on Ebay, Craig's List, Autotrader, Kelly Blue Book and maybe even the local classifieds. Keep track of which site each car came from, the price and mileage of the car, the model (in case it is different than your's) and any differences that would make your car worth more or less. This may sound like a lot of work, but it should take you no more than an hour, and that hour will probably put some extra money in your pocket! When I was researching 2002 GMC Envoy's to replace my daughter's, I found 11 within a 75 mile radius.
    1. Make sure the adjuster is using the right information: Claims reps have a lot of work to do and they may forget to add in features that your vehicle has, or they may pick the wrong model all together. They're not doing it on purpose, but they are working fast and they are not as familiar with your car as you are. Make sure you tell them about any thing they may have overlooked, like a sun roof, 6 disc changer, power seats, etc. My claim adjuster picked the wrong model of Envoy and the original estimate for my payoff was $2000 less than the final amount.
  3. Don't forget the extras: If you've recently replaced the tires, gotten a tune up or an oil change or done other service work to the car, make sure your claims rep knows about and takes it into consideration. The same is true of any extras you've added to the car like after market rims or stereo systems (some insurance companies require that you add in the extras to your policy in order for the to be covered. Check with your local agent for the specifics on your policy).
  4. It's okay to negotiate: The first offer they bring you may not make sense to you, but there's no reason you have to accept it right away. The claims adjuster will break down the offer and give you a detailed explanation of how they came up with the amount your vehicle is worth. If it doesn't sound right (or fair), let them know you'd like to take a day and research things a little bit. Let them know that you appreciate their work but things sound a little low. You're not required to accept the offer they make you, but keep in mind, if you cannot reach an agreement you will most likely have to go to mediation.
  5. You can still keep the car: If you decide that the damage causing your car to be a total loss is just cosmetic and you'd like to keep the car (or even if it's not cosmetic but you'd like to keep the car and repair the damage yourself) the insurance company will allow it. There have been plenty of hail storms here in Colorado lately that leave a car pitted, but otherwise in perfect driving condition. If you don't mind the hail dings, just let the insurance company know you'd like to keep the car. They'll adjust their offer to you by subtracting out the salvage value (the money they would get for selling the car to a salvage yard) and pay you the rest. Keep in mind, the car will not be allowed to have comprehensive and collision coverage because it has already been deemed a total loss, but you can still keep it insured and drive it for as long as you'd like!
It's never fun dealing with an insurance claim, but it doesn't have to be a bad experience either. Remember the positives, hopefully no one was seriously hurt in the accident (the most important thing) and you've got an insurance company working with you to help get you back to where you were before the accident. Yes, there will be some out of pocket expenses, like your deductible, but it's a whole lot better than if you had no insurance at all. Keep a good attitude and you'll be back on the road before you know it.

Robert Edgin

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colorado Hail Season Is About To Begin!

It's that time of year again - hail season - the scariest time of year for Colorado insurance companies. Hail storms are unpredictable, devastatingly expensive and, unfortunately, way too common of an event here in southern Colorado. Read the article below from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association and it'll be pretty easy to see why home insurance rates have been on the rise throughout the state:

The largest recorded hailstone in U.S. history fell on July 23, 2010 in Vivian, South Dakota, measuring
8 inches in diameter and weighing 1.94 pounds. The prized stone is now on ice at the National
Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The previous record hailstone fell in
Aurora, Nebraska on June 22, 2003 and measured 7 inches in diameter and weighed 1.67 pounds

Colorado Hail Statistics

Colorado’s damaging hail season is considered to be from mid-April to mid-August. Colorado’s
Front Range is located in the heart of "Hail Alley," which receives the highest frequency of large
hail in North America and most of the world, so residents usually can count on three or four catastrophic (defined as at least $25 million in insured damage) hailstorms every year. In the last 10 years, hailstorms have caused more than $3 billion in insured damage in Colorado. As a result, up to one-half of your homeowners insurance premium may be going toward hail and wind damage costs. If you carry comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, hail damage is covered by almost all insurance companies. Comprehensive insurance is optional, but if you live in a hail prone area, the insurance industry recommends this coverage.

Colorado's Most Costly Hail Storms

With the exception of the May 22, 2008 Windsor tornado and the hailstorm that hit Pueblo on July 29, 2009, Colorado’s ten most costly hailstorms were centered in the Denver Metro area (which makes sense, because that’s where the largest concentration of property in the state is located).

What To Do After A Hail Storm

First, if a hailstorm strikes, don’t go out in the storm to try to protect your
property. You could be injured.
Download RMIIA's "Hail Damage Fraud" brochure.

Assess the damage.
  • Check trees, shrubs and plants around your house. If they are stripped
    of their foliage, there is a possibility that your roof is damaged. You
    should also check for roof damage if patio covers, screens or soft
    aluminum roof vents are dented.
  • Check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass.
Protect your property from further damage.
  • If you find signs that hail has battered your property, take immediate steps to protect it from further damage.
  • Cover any broken windows and holes in your roof so that no water can enter and damage your home’s interior.
  • Cover any broken glass in your car to prevent damage to the interior from rain and remove glass from the car’s interior to prevent cuts in upholstery and carpet.
File your claim
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you notice damage. Practically all homeowners policies cover hail damage. You car will be covered if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage.
  • If your agent or company requests you to do so, follow up your call with a written explanation of what happened.
  • Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Select a repair company.
  • After an insurance adjuster has surveyed the hail damage to your property, select a reputable roofing company or auto body shop to make repairs.
  • Allow only the insurance adjuster and roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.
  • Be wary of out-of-town roofers who move into an area and set up shop following a storm. While most of these firms are reputable, some have collected money from homeowners and moved on to the next storm site without paying suppliers or leaving work unfinished. This can leave homeowners holding the bag for those additional costs. It’s a good idea to select a company with established credibility and local references. Word of mouth is still your best guide.
  • Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they don’t, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured or if they damage a neighbor’s property.
  • Don’t make final payment to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected and you are satisfied.
Use hail resistive roofing materials.
  • When building a new home or replacing your roof consider using hail-resistive roofing products. The insurance industry has an Underwriters Laboratory standard ranking, the UL 2218 standard. The standard has four impact-level designations that will help you compare products. Roof coverings that show the most resistance earn a Class 4 rating; the least, a Class 1 rating.
  • Impact-resistant Roofs: Smart Steps to Reduce Hailstorm Damage is a free, online learning experience that consists of four self-paced learning modules. It teaches homeowners and other consumers about the benefits of installing impact-resistant residential roofing products. Click here for more information.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your Home's 3 Values

Are you selling it, paying taxes on it or insuring it? The answer will determine which one of your home's 3 values you should be using. You want one to be high, one to be low and one to be very, very accurate in case you ever need to use it. Let's look at the different values and what they mean for your home.
  1. Real Estate Value: This is the value that your home would sell for. Unless you're planning on selling your home (or trying to refinance), this value is irrelevant. You obviously want this value to be as high as possible but you really only need to know this value a few times during your home ownership.
  2. Assessor Value: This is the value your taxing entity places on your home and determines how much property tax you will pay each year. Most counties use their own formulas for determining the value of your home (plus any attached/detached structures) and then send you an annual tax bill according to the appreciation or depreciation of the value compared to the previous year.
  3. Insurance Value: The insurance value determines how much it would cost to rebuild if your home was totally destroyed. It is very important to make sure you review the value that your insurance company has placed on your home. You don't want it to be higher than necessary, which will cost you more in your annual premiums. However you don't want it to be lower than needed to completely replace your home. Statistics show that 60% of homes are underinsured, meaning they would not have enough insurance to completely rebuild if they were destroyed. Although the insurance value does not include the land, it is often higher than the real estate value (especially in the current environment) for a number of reasons:
    1. There is more involved with RE-building than with building from scratch. In most cases it actually costs more to rebuild than to build.
    2. You have to tear it down first! In order to start re-building you must first remove the remaining debris from the home. This is a very expensive task and can cost upwards of $25,000 or more.
    3. Building codes with the city, state and county can - and do - change, adding extra costs to the rebuild.
    4. Material and labor are constantly changing, and usually not in the same direction as the real estate market. For example, last year the price of concrete went up 5 times due to a shortage caused by the chineese buying all of the US concrete for building projects in China.
While all 3 home values are important, only one will make sure your home is completely rebuilt if it were destroyed. Knowing each and making sure the insurance value is accurate is something that should be reviewed and kept up to date every 12-24 months. If you make any changes to your home, such as remodelling or adding rooms, make sure you meet with your agent to update the information about your home. It could mean the difference between rebuilding the home of your dreams or getting stuck with an incomplete home because you run out of insurance money!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Get Your Tree Off Of My Roof!

The recent windstorms ravaging the front range of Colorado have been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, and with good reason. The pictures of downed light poles and trees on the tops of roofs makes for some pretty good visuals, like this one:

But what should you do if you come home to find your neighbor's tree on the top of your house? Who's responsible for the clean up? Who takes care of the damages? Who needs to call the insurance company? Unfortunately, the answers to all three questions is YOU about 99% of the time.

Unless your neighbor has neglected the tree (it was rotten and ready to fall down and they left it there anyway), it's not their fault that a giant windstorm came through town and knocked their tree over. It's not their fault that their perfectly healthy tree could not handle the hurricane force winds and ended up on your house. And since it's not their fault, they are not liable and since they are not liable they are not responsible to pay for the damages.

Think about it this way, a tornado comes through a town and picks up a large tree out of your yard. It carries the tree 10 miles down the road and drops it off in the next town - on someone's house. They would have no idea who the tree belonged to, but even if they did it's not your fault that the tornado passed through and took your tree with it. The same is true if it lands on your neighbors house. Just because you know the tree belonged to them, it doesn't mean they are responsible for the damage.

Luckily you have home insurance. Your home insurance will help you with the damages (minus your deductible). It will count as a claim against your home insurance even though it was not your fault and it may have an impact on your rates, so make sure you discuss it with your local, professional agent if you find yourself (and your house) sitting under a tree.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Meet the Allen family, our clients of the month!

Custom Homes, Kettle Corn and Triathlons - Meet Doug and Janelle Allen - Our Triple Threat Clients Of The Month!

At first glance, the Allen family looks like every other typical family in Colorado Springs. But get to know a little bit about Doug, Janelle and their 3 girls - Ruby, Jaden and Dalia - and you’ll find out pretty quick that this family is anything but typical. In fact, they're pretty amazing!
Doug is an award-winning custom home builder, Janelle owns a kettle corn business selling unbelievably delicious kettle corn for the Broncos games, the Falcons games, and the CU Buffaloes (among other events) and BOTH Doug and Janelle run triathlons in their spare time!

I asked Doug how they manage it all and his response was great: “If you want to make sure something gets done, give it to a busy person.”

Busy indeed! Janelle’s kettle corn business operates at about 200 games and events per year. Chances are if you’ve ever eaten the kettle corn at the Broncos or Falcons football games you’ve seen them in action and tasted some of the best kettle corn west of the Mississippi!

Janelle purchased the kettle corn business about 12 years ago and quickly turned a small operation into a very successful family business. Make sure you grab a bag the next time you’re at one of the football games (or the World Arena where they also operate) and make sure you say a quick hello!

Exterior Photo Of One Of Doug's Award Winning Homes
On top of helping Janelle with her business, Doug has an amazing, award-winning, custom home building company called AllenTown Homes. His homes have been featured in numerous Parade of Homes and are truly a sight to behold. He also does custom remodeling work for clients who really want to set their home apart. Check out some of his work at and be prepared to be blown away.

And if two successful businesses weren't enough, both Doug and Janelle compete in triathlons. “Preparing for and competing in triathlons is our chance to escape” says Doug. “We have the kids help us with some of our training and we use the events as little family vacations.”

Doug and Janelle train 15-20 hours per week during their busy season and have some pretty awesome goals, including making it into the Iron Man competition in Hawaii! “Competing gives us a goal and something to be proud of.” It also keeps their family in fantastic shape. Swimming 2.5 miles, biking 112 miles and then running 26 miles is a pretty good workout! Doug admits that Janelle is more likely to make the cut for the Iron Man. “She’s very fast and very disciplined” adds Doug but if you ask me, I’d say they’re both pretty disciplined.

Even with all they’ve got going on, Doug and Janelle still find time to keep the girls busy with their own activities, lots of family time AND the girls have even competed in junior triathlons of their own. Doug and Janelle are a real inspiration and proof that you really do have time to accomplish all of the goals you set for yourself. I’m proud to be working with them and taking care of their family’s insurance and financial needs.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 Least Expensive and Most Expensive Cars To Insure

In case you're getting into the mood to do some car shopping for 2012, I thought I'd share the results of an annual study that lists the most and least expensive cars to insure. Most of the list probably won't surprise you much, it's just common sense that a V10, 2 seater, $160,000 sports car should cost quite a bit to insure. But the list of least expensive may come in handy when you're out there deciding between a few different models.

Least expensive vehicles to insure (2012)

RankVehicleCyl.Nat'l annual avg. rate
1Toyota Sienna LE4$1,111
2Toyota Sienna4$1,114
3Jeep Patriot Sport4$1,116
4Jeep Compass Sport4$1,118
5GMC Sierra K1500 Regular Cab6$1,121
6Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab6$1,125
7Dodge Grand Caravan SXT6$1,129
8Ford Escape XLS4$1,137
9Toyota Sienna6$1,139
10Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab6$1,143
11Dodge Journey SXT6$1,143
12Honda Odyssey LX6$1,146
13Kia Sportage4$1,151
14Hyundai Santa Fe GLS4$1,152
15Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport6$1,154
16Nissan Frontier S King Cab4$1,162
17Nissan Frontier SV King Cab4$1,163
18Hyundai Tucson GL4$1,166
19Ford Escape XLT4$1,167
20GMC Canyon4$1,167

Most expensive vehicles to insure (2012)

RankVehicleCyl.Nat'l annual avg. rate
1Audi R8 Spyder Quattro Convertible10$3,384
2Mercedes CL600 Coupe12$3,307
3Mercedes S60012$2,948
4Audi R8 4.2 Quattro Coupe8$2,903
5Porsche Panamera Turbo8$2,738
6BMW 750i Hybrid8$2,701
7Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible6$2,674
8Porsche 911 Turbo S Convertible6$2,674
9Mercedes CL65 AMG Coupe12$2,669
10BMW 750Li Hybrid8$2,641
11Mercedes SL63 AMG Convertible8$2,615
12Mercedes CL63 AMG Coupe8$2,613
13Jaguar XKR Supercharged Convertible8$2,585
14Mercedes S63 AMG8$2,542
15Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe8$2,532
16Audi A8 L Quattro12$2,513
17Mercedes SL550 Convertible8$2,458
18Nissan GT-R Coupe Turbo6$2,457
19BMW 750XI8$2,446
20BMW 750i8$2,430

If you've got the money for one of these top 20 most expensive cars to insure, you've probably got the money for the insurance as well. However, if you're on a budget (like most of us) and trying to keep insurance costs a little bit lower, give your local, professional agent a call when you're deciding between cars and find out which one will be the easiest on your pocket. There can be a big range in costs to insure those new vehicles you're thinking about. Make sure you factor the insurance cost into your decision!

Robert Edgin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What I Didn't Teach My Daughter About The Wind Cost Me $250

Don't make the same mistake I did, teach your new drivers how to deal with the wind and save yourself $250!

I've been living in Colorado and dealing with the high winds pretty much my entire life, so when my daughter got her first car it didn't dawn on me that she might not know how to handle hurricane force gusts blowing across the plains. The result - 2 broken doors, almost ripped completely off!

Make sure your teen drivers know a few important tips about keeping their (or your) car safe when driving and parking in high wind conditions.
  1. Park facing into the wind! It will make the doors more difficult to open, but far easier to keep them under control and protected from the wind ripping the door out of your hands (and possibly off of the car).
  2. Only open one door at a time! If you can't park facing into the wind, take turns getting out of the car if you have passengers. Don't try to open multiple doors at once and get out at the same time, it creates a vacuum effect that pulls the doors out even faster (this is what caused the damage I had to pay for) and can damage both doors at once.
  3. Watch out for debris! Keep an eye out for flying debris while you're driving and flying shopping carts when you're parked. If possible, park between a few other cars and let them play defense for your car against high speed shopping carts that have escaped the bin.
A few easy tips I should have shared with my daughter BEFORE it cost me $250 in door hinges can help prevent your teen from getting into the same situation. Make sure you share them before our next big wind storm (which seems like it could be pretty much any day of the year).

If you do find yourself dealing with wind damage, remember it's considered a comprehensive claim and you'll be stuck either paying for the damage out of pocket or paying your comprehensive deductible if you want your insurance company to help pay to fix the damages.

Robert Edgin