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Colorado Insurance Blog

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.

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