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Colorado Insurance Blog

Who needs to have a life insurance plan?

In the state of Colorado, the average resident will have various insurance needs. A type of insurance that all people here will need to think about getting is life insurance. This type of coverage will pay out an insurance benefit if the insured party passes away during the term of the policy. There are various situations when someone in this state will want to have this coverage. 

Who needs to have a life insurance plan?

Those that Want to Protect Dependent’s Financial Future

One of the reasons that someone will want to have a life insurance plan in place is so they can protect the financial future of their dependents. If you have people that rely on you as a source of income, it is important that you protect them. A great way that you can do this is by investing in a life insurance plan. With this coverage, you can build a plan that is curtailed to meet your dependent’s needs. 

Those Looking for Alternative Investment

You should also consider getting a life insurance plan as a way to diversify your investments. Through the use of whole life insurance, you can enjoy a conservative investment that is a good addition to any plan. With this type of coverage, some of your payment builds into an account with interest that you can close and liquidate in the future.

Contact Integrity First Insurance today

As you are looking for a new life insurance plan in Colorado, you can quickly find that there are a lot of options to consider. Due to this, speaking with the team at Integrity First Insurance is helpful. The professionals with Integrity First Insurance understand the value of this coverage and can help you evaluate your needs and options. This can ensure you are able to build a plan that is ideal for your situation. 

How to Avoid Contractor Fraud

When there’s a catastrophe, like a fire or hail storm, the likelihood of contractor fraud increases immensely. Here are some tips for picking a reputable contractor and avoiding fraud.

1. Only work with contractors that are licensed

Colorado doesn’t require contractors to be licensed on the state level, so don’t assume that every contractor you encounter has a license. Many counties and cities have specific requirements, but not all local governments require contractors to be licensed.

Licensed contractors are required to have a certain amount of experience and pass an exam. That helps ensure they are qualified in their field.

You can verify the license of a professional you’re considering here: Verify a Colorado Professional or Business License

2. Find a contractor that is insured

If your contractor isn’t insured, you could be responsible for any injuries that occur while they’re working on your property. Request a Certificate of Insurance from any contractors you’re considering to verify their coverage.

3. Work with local contractors when you can

Local contractors have a better idea of the rules and regulations in your area. Not only does that help ensure work is done to code, but it also speeds up the process. If you hire a contractor from another state, there’s a chance you could be waiting longer for them to get permits pulled and inspections done.

A contractor that is local is also less likely to take payment and leave town without completing the work. If you have any issues with the work done, you can often get a local contractor to come back and fix it whereas someone from out of town might leave you high and dry.

4. Check references and reviews

If multiple people have complaints about their experience with a specific contractor, there’s a good chance you’ll also have issues with them. But if you find glowing reviews online and get good references for them, you’ll likely have a better experience.

5. Don’t get pressured into making a hasty decision

You don’t have to sign a contract immediately. Take your time, gets bids from multiple contractors, and make sure you understand the contract before you sign it. If you’re being pressured to sign something on the spot, that might not be a contractor you want to work with.

6. Get everything in writing

According to Travelers, the contract should include:

  • A detailed description of the work to be completed and the price of each item.
  • A payment schedule – for example: one-half down and one-third when work is partially completed, and the balance due upon completion of repairs.
  • The estimated start date and completion date on larger projects.
  • Any applicable guarantees, which should be written into the contract and clearly state what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee, and how long the guarantee is valid.
  • Signatures from both parties. You should never sign a contract containing blank sections.

7. Don’t pay in full for incomplete work up-front

Paying up-front increases the risk of a fraudulent contractor taking your money without completing the work. It also opens the door to poor workmanship and cutting corners because they don’t have to meet certain expectations in order to get paid.

When paying a contractor, pay by check rather than cash. Make the check out to the company rather than an individual.

8. Keep all records together in a safe place

Any paperwork you receive regarding the job should be kept together. Then if you need to reference anything you can find it. It also helps your case if there are any disputes.

This can include anything from the contract, any changes to the contract, estimates, invoices, certificates of insurance, correspondence, etc.

9. If you’re filing a home claim, file it and talk to your adjuster before starting on any work

If you’re repairing your home because of a loss that might be covered by insurance, make sure you file a claim before starting any work.

The insurance company needs to verify coverage before they can approve a claim. If you begin the repairs before an adjuster reviews the damage, your claim could be declined.

10. Report any suspected fraud

You can call local law enforcement, the National Insurance Crime Bureau 1-800-TEL-NICB, or FEMA disaster fraud hotline 1-866-720-5721 to report any suspected fraud.

Sources:

Hiring a contractor checklist and tips. Travelers Insurance. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.travelers.com/resources/home/renovation/checklist-for-hiring-the-right-contractor

Colorado general contractor license and Insurance Requirements. Next Insurance. (2021, December 15). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.nextinsurance.com/blog/colorado-general-contractor-license-and-insurance-requirements/

Top 4 Reasons Insurance Rates in Colorado are Increasing

1. Volatile Catastrophe Trends

In the insurance industry, a “catastrophe” is a disaster that is unusually severe and meets or exceeds a loss threshold. As of December, 2021, the current dollar threshold to declare an event a catastrophe is $25 Million, according to Insurance Information Institute. Some examples of catastrophic events include tornadoes, hailstorms, high wind, flooding, hurricanes and wildfires.

Colorado does see some flooding and tornadoes, but the largest losses come from wildfires and hailstorms. Colorado has the 3rd highest wildfire risk in the US and had the 2nd most hail claims filed between 2018-2020.

Wildfire

Insurance Information Institute reported that as of October, 2021, Colorado has 373,900 properties with “high to extreme wildfire risk.” That makes up 17% of the properties in the state. With so many properties at risk of being damaged or destroyed by wildfire, insurance companies have to plan accordingly.

Colorado’s highest catastrophic payouts since 2017:

May 8, 2017 Denver Metro Hailstorm: $2.3 Billion

2018 Front Range & CO Springs Top 3 Hailstorms:  $276.4 Million, $169 Million, $172.8 Million

2020 East Troublesome Fire: $543 Million

2021 Marshall Fire: Over 1000 structures destroyed and estimated $1 Billion in damages

Catastrophe Facts and Statistics- RMIIA

The high wildfire risk in Colorado means higher rates across the state. But insurance companies charge more for insurance on homes that have the highest risk. They do this by assigning each property a Protection Class (PC) or Brushfire Score, which determines the risk of fire and the responding fire department’s ease of access and resources. The higher the PC or Brushfire Score, the higher the premium charged to insure that property.

Read more: What You Should Know About Wildfires and Insurance

Colorado has the 3rd highest wildfire risk in the US and had the 2nd most hail claims filed between 2018-2020.

Hail

Hail has been a problem in Colorado for as long as I can remember, but the number and severity of claims have increased significantly over the past decade. Part of that is due to the increasing population in the state. The more homes that are built on the Front Range, the more targets there are for hail to hit.

Between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019, Denver and Colorado Springs were in the top 5 cities for hail losses, with Denver at #2 and Colorado Springs at #3, according to an Insurance Journal article. Insurance companies in Colorado pay out hundreds of millions, if not over a billion dollars for hail damage every single year. Most companies have higher deductibles for wind and hail losses to help mitigate the risk. They also have to charge an adequate amount for both auto and home insurance.

2. Traffic Accidents

There are three major factors causing the number and severity of traffic accidents to rise in Colorado: Booming Population, Impaired Driving, and Distracted Driving.

Population Growth

It’s no secret that the population in Colorado is increasing at a rapid rate. According to U.S. News, the 2020 Census showed that Colorado was 6th fastest-growing state from 2010-2020, with a 14.8% growth. Unfortunately, traffic infrastructure has not kept pace with the population growth, leaving many roads on the front range gridlocked more frequently than not. More cars on the road directly correlates with accident frequency.

Distracted Driving

In addition to the heavier traffic, dangerous driving activities are becoming more common. Nearly everyone has a smart phone, and most people don’t put their phone on “Do Not Disturb” when they get behind the wheel. Distracted driving can include anything that takes focus away from the road, including texting, talking on the phone, eating, reading, and more.

According to CDOT’s 2021 annual survey:

91% of participants reported driving distracted in the past seven days.
54% admitted to reading a message on their phones.
Nearly 50% talked on a cell phone while driving.
41% sent a message while driving.

CDOT also reported that in 2020, 10,166 crashes in Colorado involved distracted drivers. Those accidents caused 1,476 injuries and 68 deaths.

Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is also contributing to more severe and frequent accidents. The total number of fatal crashes has increased by 37% from 2011 to 2021. Fatalities involving drivers that tested positive for drugs increased by 39.3% from 2015 to 2019. Drivers with a BAC over the legal limit were involved in 8.6% more fatal accidents during that same time.

From 2020 to 2021, the number of DUIs involving marijuana went up by 48%. While not all DUI incidents end in an accident, the increase in risky driving behavior certainly impacts the frequency of crashes.

With impaired and distracted driving causing more crashes, injuries and fatalities, insurance companies are paying out more for auto claims in Colorado. Higher medical costs are also impacting the higher payouts for auto accidents. Berkley Accident and Health reported that treatment costs increased by 6% in 2020 and another 7% in 2021.

Unfortunately when accident frequency and severity increases, we all pay the price. The more insurance companies pay out in claims, the more rate increases they are forced to take in order to remain solvent in the state.

3. Supply Shortages

There have been worldwide supply shortages since the pandemic started in 2020, which have led to inflated prices across most industries. Since the materials for home construction and auto parts are more expensive, insurance payouts are also inflated.

Auto Part Shortages

According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of auto parts have increased by 14.2% from March 2021-March 2022. Insurance companies generally consider a vehicle a total loss if it will cost more than 70% of the vehicles value to repair the damage. That means more cars are being totaled because of the inflated repair costs.

Both new and used cars are also much more expensive than they were a few years ago. Supply chain disruptions have made it harder for manufacturers to produce enough new vehicles. There were 7.7 Million fewer vehicles produced in 2021, largely due to the microchip shortages. The shortfall of new vehicles directly impacts the price of used vehicles.

Price increases from March 2021 – March 2022:

New Vehicles: 12.5%

Used Vehicles: 35.3%

Motor Vehicle parts and equipment: 14.2%

*According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

As the values of used vehicles increase, the payouts for total losses get higher. With insurance companies paying out more, the cost of insurance also goes up.

Building Material Shortages

On top of the rising costs impacting auto insurance, the costs of building materials have also soared because of supply chain shortages. Lumber prices jumped 42% in the first year of the pandemic, and steel mill products rose 81% in the first three quarters of 2021. Throughout 2021, the price of materials for new construction increased by over 18%.

The inflated cost of materials alone has led to much higher prices for rebuilding homes that have been damaged. Just like with auto insurance, higher home claim payouts leads to home premium increases.

On home policies, insurance companies are increasing rates to keep up with the amount they are paying out for claims but premiums are also rising due to higher coverage amounts. Since it costs more to rebuild a home, the amount of coverage you have on your home policy is likely also increasing.

There’s a good chance that if your policy was written more than a year ago, you don’t have enough coverage to rebuild your whole home.

You may have been able to rebuild your home for $150/square foot 4 or 5 years ago, but now it might cost closer to $275/square foot. As a result, your dwelling coverage (Coverage A) needs to increase to ensure your home is properly insured.

Many homeowners found out they were underinsured after the Marshall Fire, which is largely due to the rapid inflation seen in the past several years. If you haven’t review your home coverage with a licensed agent recently, I highly recommend you do. There’s a good chance that if your policy was written more than a year ago, you don’t have enough coverage to rebuild your whole home.

Read more: If Your Home Burned Down, Would You Have Enough Coverage?

4. Labor Shortages

You can walk into almost any business and see a “Help Wanted” sign on the door. It’s no secret that there are labor shortages across most industries. The shortage of workers has directly impacted the supply shortages, but even when the supplies are available many industries don’t have enough people to actually do the work.

Auto Technician Shortages

There’s currently a deficit of trained auto technicians to work on repairing damaged vehicles. To keep up with demand, there needs to be 3 times as many qualified technicians. The shortfall of auto technicians is causing higher auto repair costs and longer repair times.

When it takes longer to repair a vehicle, the insurance companies end up paying for a rental car for longer which also increases the claim payout amount.

Skilled Construction Labor Shortages

When it comes to home construction, there’s a shortfall of at least 200,000 skilled trade workers. That has led to more expensive bids for both home repairs and new construction. Not only are skilled workers charging more for their labor, but the amount insurance companies are paying for Additional Living Expenses is much higher.

Most home policies come with coverage for Additional Living Expenses, so if you can’t live in your home due to a covered loss they will pay for the additional expenses you incur as a result. That includes a hotel or long-term rental, restaurant expenses if you don’t have a kitchen to cook in, dry cleaning bills if you don’t have access to a washer and dryer, and more. If takes 6 months longer to rebuilt your home after a loss, the insurance company is paying those expenses for longer.

At the end of the day, the amount insurance companies pay out for claims directly impacts the amount they charge for insurance. All of the reasons listed above are causing insurance companies to pay out more than they have in the past. As a result, the cost of auto and home insurance are increasing accordingly.

Sources:

Boyd, S. (2021, January 29). Marijuana Dui Arrests Up 48% In Last Year Across Colorado. CBS Denver. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://denver.cbslocal.com/2021/01/29/marijuana-dui-colorado-arrests-alcohol/

Catastrophe Facts & Statistics. RMIIA. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from http://www.rmiia.org/catastrophes_and_statistics/catastrophes.asp#:~:text=The%20most%20destructive%20wildfire%20in,and%20auto%20insurance%20claims%20filed

Davis Jr., E. (2021, April 28). 2020 census shows America’s fastest-growing states | best … U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/these-are-the-10-fastest-growing-states-in-america

Distracted driving. Colorado Department of Transportation. (2022, April 4). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.codot.gov/safety/distracteddriving

Facts + Statistics: Wildfires. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-wildfires

Spotlight on: Catastrophes – Insurance Issues. Insurance Information Institute. (2021, December 13). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.iii.org/article/spotlight-on-catastrophes-insurance-issues

Top states, cities for insurance claims for hail damage. Insurance Journal. (2020, April 28). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/04/28/566579.htm

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, April 12). Table 7. consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city average, by expenditure category, 12-month analysis table – 2022 M03 results. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t07.htm

Unni, C. (2021, November 29). The Pandemic’s Lasting Effects: Medical Costs Projected to Rise 6.5% in 2022. Berkley Accident and Health. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.berkleyah.com/the-pandemics-lasting-effects-medical-costs-projected-to-rise-6-5-in-2022/

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