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Colorado Insurance Blog

Thinking About a Side Hustle? Check Your Insurance Policy First!

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, need some extra money in addition to your other income, or just want more flexibility in your life, you might be able to find a side hustle to make money in your spare time. There are tons of options out there to make some extra cash.

Before jumping in with both feet, you should consider talking to your insurance agent or reviewing your policies to ensure you have the coverage you need.

Renting out your house

Whether you have a second home or just a room or floor in your primary home that you plan to rent out, it’s important to make sure you have the correct coverage on your home insurance policy. Even if it’s only rented a few times a year, you may still need specialized coverage.

Most insurance companies consider short-term rentals a business venture.  Home insurance doesn’t often cover business activities, so a standard policy might not suit your needs.

Each insurance carrier has their own way of covering a vacation rental, so talking to a licensed agent is the best way to ensure you have the correct coverage on your policy.

Read more about insurance for vacation rentals in our blog Vacation Rental Property Insurance: What You Need to Know

Rideshare

Another popular way to make some extra money is to drive for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. Most rideshare companies require that you have your own car insurance, and some provide extra coverage once you have connected with a passenger.

There is an additional risk when you’re driving for a rideshare company, so insurance carriers exclude coverage for driving for hire. Luckily, many insurance companies offer a Rideshare endorsement that you can add to the policy.

In most cases, Rideshare coverage is inexpensive, and it covers a gap that would otherwise leave you exposed. If you don’t have the proper coverage you could be left without coverage if you get in an accident. Your personal auto policy may also be cancelled for violating the terms and conditions.

The best way to find out if your policy offers Rideshare coverage is to call your agent and ask.

Check out our blog, What Uber and Lyft Drivers Need to Know About Insurance for more information about Rideshare coverage.

Freelancing from home

If you have a special set of skills, freelancing may be a great opportunity to make some money in your free time. Being able to work wherever you are is a huge plus to freelancing. You can write a blog on the beach, teach a class from your living room, or build a website from your bedroom.

One important thing to consider when working from home is safety. Make sure you don’t have cords laying in high traffic areas that could cause someone to trip. If you’re going to be working quite a few hours, you may want to invest in an ergonomic work area. Good posture, a solid office chair and a workspace that is the appropriate height can go a long way to prevent injury.

Another aspect to consider is your homeowners or renters insurance. If you have expensive equipment, you may need to increase your coverage limits. Your policy may also have certain guidelines or limitations regarding foot traffic in your home, so if you have people coming in and out of your house for business purposes, talk to your agent.

Our blog Working From Home: Safety and Insurance Risks provides more information about working from home safely.

DIY, Crafts, Upcycling, Selling Products (like essential oils, clothing, or makeup)

Making and selling items is a fun way to express your creativity while earning some cash. If you have products in your home, you may need to look over your insurance policy to make sure you have coverage for those items.

Most home or renters policies don’t automatically cover property related to a business. You can often add an endorsement to your policy to extend the coverage that you need. If your policy doesn’t have enough coverage for your situation, you can also consider a commercial property policy.

If you have any questions about what coverage your insurance policy offers in relation to your side hustle, give us a call. We’re happy to review your coverages and find a policy that will fit your unique needs!

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Each year Spring brings new life, nice weather, some rain, and often the motivation for some deep cleaning. It’s an opportunity to get a clean slate for the rest of the year. Consumer Reports suggests tackling the following home maintenance projects each Spring.

1. Clean Household Filters

Clean or replace the filter of any appliance with a water or air filter. You can prolong the life of your appliances by keeping up with the proper maintenance, including changing your filters.

Here’s a list from Consumer Reports of filters in your home that you should be changing:

  • Window ACs
  • Over-the-range microwaves
  • Range hoods
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers with manual filters
  • Vacuums
  • Refrigerators
  • Water filters
  • Air purifiers
  • Gas furnaces

2. De-Grime Countertop Appliances

Appliances can get pretty dirty sitting on the counter, especially the ones that are near the stove. I know my toaster gets really greasy overtime, probably because it’s right next to my range. Scrub any grease that has built-up one your countertop appliances.

Appliances to consider cleaning:

  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster
  • Toaster oven
  • Blender
  • Food processor
  • Microwave
  • Air fryer

3. Wash Windows

I have 2 dogs and a toddler, so the bottom half of my windows get really dirty and smudged. I definitely can’t get away with only washing my windows once a year, but I will admit that I only wash the outside of the windows in the Spring. It’s the perfect time to get the windows sparkling clean so you can watch the world coming alive outside.

Here are some window washing tips from Consumer Reports:

  1. Before you start on the windows, clean dirty frames by vacuuming or wiping away the accumulated dust. Using a slightly damp sponge to apply the window cleaning solution, start from the top down.
  2. Wipe across the window with a dampened squeegee blade, then wipe the blade.
  3. Follow with a rinse of clean water applied with a chamois cloth. Polish off any remaining moisture with the dry cloth.

4. Prep Your Lawn Mower

If you have a lawn mower, you should consider some routine maintenance each Spring to prolong its lifespan and keep it running well. Gas mowers may need an oil change or a top off.

You should also check the spark plugs as they need to be changed every 100 hours of operation. Lastly, change the air filer to help the engine run more efficiently.

5. Spruce Up Your Lawn

Clean up dead leaves that may be left over from the fall or winter. If the grass is covered by dead leaves, the sun won’t be able to reach it and it won’t grow as well.

You can also clear walkways and driveways from dirt and debris and seal any new gaps or cracks to protect concrete from further water damage.

6. Get Your Gas Grill Ready

It’s finally grilling season again! Time to get the grill hooked up to the propane line and clean it up. Clear away spiderwebs, dirt, and debris that may have built-up during the winter. Clean the grates and inside if necessary.

Check for any gas leaks before you reconnect the propane tank and light the grill.

7. Pressure Wash Your Deck

Remove everything from the deck and sweep away any leaves, dirt or debris that might have accumulated. Pressure wash the deck, using a deck cleaner if there are tough spots.

Washing your deck each Spring will prevent dirt from building up overtime and help with the longevity of your wood.

8. Organize Your Garage

Set your summer up for success by getting your garage in order. Don’t waste the sunny days and nice weather hunting down your tent, camping chairs, or other summer supplies. Take the time in the Spring to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore by either throwing them away, donating them, or throwing a garage sale.

Once you’ve narrowed down the things you intend to keep, get them organized and make sure everything has a place. Utilize hooks on the walls and ceiling, along with shelves if you have the room.

If you are able to park your car(s) in the garage, they’re less likely to be damaged by hail when it inevitably falls in the summer months. That can save you the hassle of having to get your car fixed, along with the money you’d have to pay for your car insurance deductible.

9. Check Your Tires

Check the air pressure and add air if needed. Rotate your tires if you haven’t done so recently. Check the tread to make sure your tires aren’t too worn and one side isn’t wearing significantly more. If you notice uneven wear, consider taking your car in for an alignment.

If you put snow tires on your car, make sure you replace them with your all-season tires.

Sources:

Farrell, M. (2020, January 26). 12 filters you should be changing at home. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.consumerreports.org/home-maintenance-repairs/filters-you-should-be-changing-at-home/

Consumer Reports. (2020, March 19). Chores to get done if you’re stuck at home. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.consumerreports.org/home-maintenance-repairs/projects-to-do-when-youre-stuck-at-home/

Life insurance FAQs

If you think it is time to look into life insurance and have lots of questions, you are not alone. Taking a "How to choose life insurance" course would be great if such a thing existed. But since it doesn’t, you have to count on the internet or your local independent insurance agent. In Colorado, Integrity First Insurance has a team of knowledgeable agents who can help you make this critical decision. 

What type of life insurance should I purchase?

The type of life insurance you purchase depends on what you want from it. If you are looking at a long-term lifetime financial plan, then whole life is a good option. If you need a large amount of insurance for a period in your life, then term life insurance fits the bill. 

How much life insurance do I need?

You need enough life insurance to provide the protection for your loved ones they will require. This is a very personal decision and depends on many factors, including how much you can afford to pay. If you have small children, that increases the amount you will need to get them through to adulthood. 

Does being a smoker affect my ability to get life insurance?

Being a smoker won’t stop you from being able to get life insurance. However, it will affect your premium. The good news is, if you quit smoking, you can change the classification on your policy and likely lower your premium. 

What can cause my life insurance to be canceled?

The most common reason for life insurance policy cancelation is failure to pay the premium. If you are having financial difficulties, contact your carrier. They may be able to work with you to get you through a difficult time. If you put untruthful information on your application for life insurance, and it is discovered, your policy will be canceled. 

Contact Integrity First Insurance in Colorado for your life insurance needs. 

Do You Have Enough Coverage For Your Belongings?

One coverage included on home, condo and renters policies is Personal Property coverage. If there is a covered loss on your home that results in your belongings being damaged, your Personal Property coverage will extend to help cover the costs to replace your property.

Most homeowners, condo and renters policies default to Actual Cash Value coverage for personal property.

That means if your belongings were damaged or destroyed in a loss, your claim payout would be the original value minus depreciation for age and wear & tear. That’s not going to go very far when it comes to replacing your things.

At Integrity First Insurance, we always try to write policies with Replacement Cost coverage instead of Actual Cash Value. With Replacement Cost coverage, our clients are given the full cost to actually replace an item, rather than the depreciated value.

How do you know if you have enough coverage?

One way to account for the personal property you have in your home is to fill out a Home Inventory Checklist. Having an inventory of your belongings is a great way to speed along the claim process if you have damaged property. You won’t have to spend hours trying to remember every little thing, and it’ll help your claim adjuster verify what you had prior to the loss.

It can also be helpful to take photos of any valuable or unique items you have. That makes it easier to prove what you have if any questions arise during the claim process.

How to create a home inventory:

Here are some tips from the Insurance Information Institute for creating a list of your belongings:

  • Pick an easy spot to start – A contained area—like your small kitchen appliance cabinet, your sporting equipment closet or your handbag shelf—is a great place to get started.
  • List recent purchases – Another way to start is with recent purchases—get into the inventory habit and then go back tackle your older possessions.
  • Include the basic information – In general, describe each item you record, and note where you bought it, the make and model, what you paid and any other detail that might help in the event you need to make a claim.
  • Count clothing by general category – For example, “5 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of sneakers…” Make note of any items that are especially valuable.
  • Record serial numbers – Usually found on the back or bottom of major appliances and electronic equipment, serial numbers are a useful reference.
  • Check coverage on big ticket items – Jewelry, art and collectibles may have increased in value and may need special coverage separate from your standard homeowners insurance policy. While you’re making your home inventory list, check with your agent to make sure you have adequate insurance for these items before there is a loss.
  • Don’t forget off-site items – Your belongings kept in a self-storage facility are covered by your homeowners insurance, too. Make sure you include them in your inventory.
  • Keep proof of value – Store sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals with your list.
  • Add significant new purchases to your list – Make it a habit to add the item information and receipts to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
  • Store a copy of your paper inventory outside the home – Keep it—along with applicable receipts and appraisals—in a safe deposit box or at a friend’s or relative’s home. Make at least one backup copy of your inventory document and store it separately. An easy way to make digital backup copies of your paper list is to take pictures of it on your smartphone.

Sources:

How to create a home inventory. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.iii.org/article/how-create-home-inventory

Do You Need Umbrella Insurance?

To really feel secure about protecting your assets and your future, you may need the extra level of protection provided by a personal umbrella liability insurance policy.

In today’s society you can get sued for just about anything. An umbrella offers an extra level of protection from lawsuits.

What is an umbrella policy?

An umbrella policy provides additional layers of liability protection. If the liability limits are exhausted on your home, auto, or other underlying insurance policy, your umbrella insurance policy takes over and provides you with additional protection. The cost is minimal compared to the comfort of knowing you’re covered.

Once the liability limits are exhausted on your home, auto, or other policy, your umbrella policy takes over and provides a second layer of protection of at least $1,000,000.  Higher limits may also be available.

See 5 Real-Life Insurance Claims that demonstrate the value of an umbrella policy.

Do you have enough liability insurance?

Imagine what would happen if your dog was to bite a neighbor’s child, or if there was an accident on your rental property. What would happen if a fire in your condo spread to other units?  If any of these things happened to you, there’s a good chance your current liability limits wouldn’t be adequate to protect your assets, or your future earnings.

An umbrella insurance policy also pays some claims not covered by your home, auto, or other underlying insurance. The policy covers not just you, but your spouse and all family members living in your household, anywhere in the world. Legal defense fees are also paid.

Read more about the importance of liability coverage in our blog 3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Personal Injury Attorneys.

The right coverage for you is unique. Talk to one of our agents today to find out how to protect yourself, your family and your future with the right personal umbrella insurance for you.

What You Need to Know About Landlord Insurance

As a landlord, you want insurance that’s tailored specifically to protect your rental properties. A Landlord Protection policy, also called a Dwelling Fire policy, gives you choices when purchasing the insurance coverage you need.

Rental properties can be a great investment, especially if you protect your assets with excellent coverage. Make sure that you and your property are covered when choosing a landlord protection insurance policy.

For starters, make sure your property is on the correct type of coverage form. In many instances, landlords will purchase a property, spend a little time fixing it up, then will rent it out after the repairs are complete. This is perfectly fine; however, it’s in your best interest to fully disclose the extent of the anticipated renovations with your agent because a special form dwelling fire policy (which is commonly used to insure residential rental properties) has a couple of key conditions in it:

  • While freezing is indeed a covered peril, coverage only applies if you have maintained heat in the building or shut off the water supply and drained all systems and appliances of water. This is obviously a huge problem during the colder months, so pay a little extra to your utility company to keep the heat on in the house. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a large water-related claim go uncovered due to frozen pipes.
  • Vandalism, malicious mischief, and theft are all covered as long as the house isn’t vacant. If the dwelling has been vacant for more than 60 days prior to a loss caused by one of these perils, coverage is excluded.

If you plan on taking several months to renovate a property, your property may need to be written with a specialty insurance company until renovations are complete. In many cases, vacant properties are only eligible for basic form coverage (which means you are only covered for a small list of specified perils); however, there are some options in the marketplace to expand the list of covered perils for vacant properties. Once the renovations are complete and a tenant is about to move in, you can put the property back on a standard rental dwelling insurance policy.

In addition, keep in mind that water-related losses such as flood and water backup of sewers and drains are not covered in any type of rental property policy (vacant or occupied), so additional coverage will need to be purchased to properly address these perils.

Lastly, it’s important to protect yourself with liability insurance. Landlord Protection liability insurance options protect you and your spouse or domestic partner against personal injury, wrongful eviction, or wrongful entry as well as other non-bodily injury claims such as libel and slander.

The more assets and exposures you have, like rental units, the more important it is to have adequate liability insurance. I recommend getting an umbrella policy to go above and beyond all of your underlying policies, including your auto, home, landlord, and any recreational vehicles. With an umbrella policy, you can get an extra million dollars or more of liability coverage for only a few hundred dollars a year.

If you’re a landlord or are considering purchasing a rental property, give us a call. We’ll get to know you and your unique risks so we can tailor an insurance package to fit your needs.

What is Condo Insurance and What Does it Cover?

One of the questions we receive at Integrity First Insurance is whether one needs condo insurance if they own a condo in Colorado. Purchasing a condo is the first step towards homeownership. The next step is to purchase condo insurance to protect your investment. Even if your condo comes with condo association (COA) insurance, covering common exterior damages like roofs and walls, you need an individual condo insurance policy (HO-6).

What to find out more about condo insurance? Please read on.

What does condo insurance cover?

When you purchase condo insurance from Integrity First Insurance, it will cover the below areas:

Interior coverage

Whether it’s your flooring, kitchen cabinets, fixtures, or drywall, your condo insurance should provide coverage in many case of damage from many possible causes. Ultimately, everything that is attached to your premises makes up interior coverage. It’s often referred to as “walls-in” coverage, because it covers everything from the walls inward.

Liability coverage

Whether somebody gets injured in your condo or damages someone’s property in the neighboring condos, liability insurance covers damages and medical expenses arising from these unfortunate events. Without liability coverage, you are left exposed to potential lawsuits and would be responsible for paying legal fees and judgements against you out-of-pocket. 

Personal property

Condo insurance protects your personal belongings from theft, fire, and other risks. If you opt for replacement cost protection, your insurance will have to indemnify you for goods replaced after theft or damage. Personal belongings covered by your policy include clothing, furniture, electronics, and jewelry. 

Loss assessment

It’s inexpensive yet commonly overlooked. When your COA has high deductibles on their master policy or when short of cash in their reserve account, COA places a loss assessment on each condo owner. 

Considering this optional, cost-friendly insurance could save you thousands of dollars in liability costs, medical costs, and property damage not covered by your COA master policy.

Colorado condo insurance

Do you own a condo and are unsure of the coverage you need? Please talk to Integrity First Insurance for more information. We have been serving condominium owners in Colorado and surrounding areas for many years. When you visit us, we will discuss your condo insurance needs and recommend a policy that you are comfortable with.

How to Clean Your Gutters

It’s important to clean your gutters every spring and fall to remove any debris that might have built up. If you don’t clean your gutters frequently, it can prevent water from draining properly.

When water doesn’t drain correctly, it can cause damage to your roof and fascia. It can also pool near your foundation and cause damage or seep into your home. Water that seeps into your home isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, so any resulting damage can be devastating to homeowners.

Water damage is avoidable with some simple steps.

Tips for cleaning your gutters:

  • Use a ladder instead of cleaning them from the roof
  • Make sure your ladder is on solid, stable, level ground
  • Use hooks to attach a bucket to your ladder for tools or debris
  • Wear work gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects
  • Remove debris near the downspout first
  • Remove loose debris and flush out the rest with a hose (try not to spray under your shingles)
  • Flush out the downspout and reattach
  • Use a level to make sure your gutters are sloping down
  • Fix any leaks with gutter sealant
  • Consider adding gutter guards to keep most debris out of your gutters

Cleaning your gutters is a simple project that is well worth the time and effort. If you don’t feel comfortable or are unable to clean your gutters yourself, you can hire a professional to help you maintain them.

In Denver, you can expect to pay anywhere from $125-$300+ on average. Your cost will depend on the square footage of your home, the number of stories, and the pitch of your roof. The more stories and steeper the pitch, the more difficult and dangerous the job is, so that will cost more.

Coverage Options to Consider For Your New Car

Coverages you should consider when you buy a new car:

New Car Replacement

If your brand new car is totaled within the first year, you’ll be paid the full value of the car you lost or a comparable model. Without this coverage, you’d be paid Actual Cash Value, which would subtract depreciation. New cars depreciate the second they drive off the lot, so this coverage can save you thousands of dollars if you have to replace your new car in the first year.

Loan/Lease Gap Coverage

If you finance a new car through a lease or a loan, this covers the gap between the Actual Cash Value and the amount you owe. Without Gap coverage, you’d be on the hook for paying the difference between your loan/lease amount and the depreciated value of the vehicle.

Original Equipment Manufactured Parts (OEM)

Most leases require that you return the vehicle in good condition, with original equipment manufactured parts. For example, if you have a BMW, the lease may require that you only use BMW parts for repairs.

Most auto policies will pay for aftermarket parts if your car is damaged, which may not be from the same manufacturer as your car. With OEM coverage your policy will pay to replace damaged parts with new OEM parts. This coverage is important if you have a lease or if you would prefer brand new OEM parts.

If you’re investing in a new car, make sure you have the protection you need. Give us a call or Request a Quote to get coverage tailored to your needs.

Renters Insurance 101

Insurance 101 – Renters Insurance

Whether you’re renting a home, apartment, condo, or even just a room, renters insurance is worth considering. One of the benefits of renting is that most of the upkeep and insurance costs fall on the landlord. The owner of the property is responsible for insuring the building or home, but their insurance doesn’t cover your belongings or liability risk.

Renters insurance offers financial security by protecting both your belongings and your liability risk.

What does renters insurance cover?

Personal Property

The average renter has around $35,000 worth of personal belongings, but 60% of renters don’t have renters insurance. You may not think you have that much but once you factor in clothes, shoes, dishes, furniture, electronics, medicine, jewelry, and more, it adds up.

Without renters insurance, your belongings wouldn’t be covered if there was a fire, theft, or other loss. Renters insurance provides the peace of mind that if something happens, you can replace your possessions without paying for everything out-of-pocket.

If you leave any of your property in your car and it gets stolen, your renters insurance can also pay to replace what was stolen. Most auto insurance doesn’t cover property stolen from a vehicle, so homeowners or renters insurance is the best option for that coverage.

Many renters policies will also extend a percentage of your personal property coverage limit to belongings that are kept in a rented storage unit.

Liability

Another important coverage offered by renters insurance is Liability protection. This will help pay for defense costs and judgements against you if you are found legally responsible for someone’s injuries or property damage.

If someone gets hurt while in your home, your dog injures someone, or your kid hits a baseball through someone’s window, you could be responsible for paying for those medical bills or repairs. The Liability coverage on a renters policy would help defend you and pay for those damages so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket.

Loss of Use

If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss, your renters policy will pay for the additional living expenses you incur. That can include paying for a hotel or long-term rental, restaurant bills if you’re unable to cook in the hotel, laundromat costs, etc. Your renters policy can even pay for some of your gas costs if you have to drive further to work.

Valuables

You can add extra coverage to schedule valuable items on your policy. If you have jewelry, a comic book or fine art collection, or some other item of value, you can purchase coverage to have it insured at a higher limit and for more causes of loss.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Renters insurance costs an average of $16/month. If you have higher limits of personal property coverage or add optional coverage, that cost can increase. But in most cases, renters insurance is extremely affordable.

Given the benefits it provides for a relatively low cost, I think it’s worth it to have renters insurance.

Sources:

Sachon, L., & McGinley, K. (2020, February 4). Do I Need renters insurance? Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.policygenius.com/renters-insurance/who-needs-renters-insurance/

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