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Colorado Insurance Blog

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/

What Colorado condo owners need to know about insurance

Integrity First Insurance is here to serve the insurance needs of our friends and neighbors in the great state of Colorado. Having the right condo insurance in place is a great way to protect your home and belongings. Find out more about your options today.

We know Colorado insurance.

Many people who are unfamiliar with condos before buying one have a lot of questions when it comes to insurance. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation swirling around the topic. Because of this reality, it is always a good idea to learn more about the topic before it affects you.

Contrary to popular belief, the condo board insurance policy will not protect individual unit owners. Should an incident occur in your unit, you bear the responsibility of correcting any damage. 

Before purchasing a condo, take the time to find out your responsibilities and how you can best protect yourself, your home, and your belongings.

There are many condo insurance policy options available to residents in Colorado. Sitting down with an agent is a great way to remove some of the stress associated with the condo insurance policy selection process. When you have the right insurance policy in place, you will be living the dream!

Find out about your condo insurance options today!

If you are a Colorado resident and have questions about condo insurance, Integrity First Insurance is here for you! Give us a call today to schedule an appointment to come in and review the condo insurance policy options available in our state. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Create a Home Inventory

We all hope we’ll never have to file an insurance claim on our home, but the recent fire in Superior and Louisville was a reminder that bad things can happen in an instant. If you’re prepared with a home inventory, it can help make things go more smoothly if disaster strikes and you have to replace everything.

One simple way to create an inventory of your belongings is to do a video walk through of your home. Press record on your cell phone or camera and walk from room to room panning over your belongings. You can narrate what you’re looking at and open any cupboards or drawers where valuables might be kept. Once you have a video of your possessions, be sure to upload it to cloud storage or email it to yourself or someone you trust to ensure you can still access it if something happens to your phone or camera.

Another option is to fill out a Home Inventory Checklist. If you want a more itemized list that you can easily add and remove items from, you can download an app to help you create an inventory. Some options include Home Contents or Everspruce. Both apps have a free version, or you can elect to pay a fee to unlock additional features.

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 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

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.

3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Personal Injury Attorneys

If you watch TV or listen to the radio, chances are you’ve seen or heard a commercial from a personal injury attorney. You know the ones- “I called (name of law firm) and they got me $700,000!” The frequency of these commercials means you’re more likely to get sued if you are at-fault in an accident.

The fact of the matter is, there are people out there that see a big payday if they get in an accident. Insurance is there to pay your medical bills paid and get your vehicle fixed. When the injured party wants to pocket extra cash, it drives up rates for us all.

Read more about Colorado’s increasing rates in our blog 5 Reasons Insurance Rates Keep Increasing in Colorado.

If you’re at-fault in an accident your insurance company will only pay up to your liability limits. Anything beyond that is your responsibility. If you don’t have that money laying around, they can take your home or garnish your wages.

Here are 3 ways you can help protect your family and your financial future:

Continue reading “3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Personal Injury Attorneys”

10 Insurance Terms Everyone Should Know

When it comes to insurance, there are many confusing terms. Here is a list of 10 common insurance terms that it’s important for everyone to know.

1. Deductible

Your deductible is the amount you have to pay before your insurance company will payout for a claim.  The insurance company will generally subtract the deductible from the total payout.

Example:

You file a claim for roof damage. Your deductible is $2,500 and the roof replacement will cost $10,000. The insurance company will pay $7,500, are responsible for the remaining $2,500.

Continue reading “10 Insurance Terms Everyone Should Know”

Vacation Rental Property Insurance: What You Need to Know

What you need to know about vacation rental property insurance

A few years ago, vacations rentals were few and far between. These days they seem to be on every other street, especially in large cities and mountain towns. Companies like Air Bnb and VRBO have exploded in popularity, and for good reason.

There are many benefits to choosing a vacation rental over a hotel. More privacy, wider location availability, and access to a kitchen are just a few perks. 

Continue reading “Vacation Rental Property Insurance: What You Need to Know”

Save Money by Bundling Your Home and Car Insurance

What are the benefits of bundling?

Until recently, there were countless options available for homeowners insurance in Colorado. In the past few years many carriers applied stricter underwriting guidelines. We have even seen some completely pulling their business out of the state of Colorado. Many carriers won’t write a home policy unless the car and home insurance are bundled.

Catastrophic hailstorms cause significant damage and cost a lot of money. That makes home insurance a huge risk for insurance companies in Colorado. 

Insurance carriers in Colorado have been in the negative (losing money) for years now. As a result, there are very limited options when it comes to a “standalone” home policy.

There are more options available when you bundle.

Continue reading “Save Money by Bundling Your Home and Car Insurance”

Ski Accidents: Will Insurance Pay?

Who pays the bill if you hurt someone while skiing?

Many of us in Colorado get excited after Halloween. That means the holidays are just around the corner and it’s almost ski season!

Ski season is the best time of year for some of us. But, it’s also the time of year when the liability risk skyrockets.

The roads become more treacherous when we start to see rain and snow mixed with the cold weather. Skiing or snowboarding down the slopes also presents a very real risk.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared.

Continue reading “Ski Accidents: Will Insurance Pay?”

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