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Colorado Insurance Blog

10 Things You Should Know About Insurance In Colorado

1. Extreme weather impacts insurance rates in Colorado.

Hail and heavy rains can cause damage to cars, homes, boats, motorcycles, etc. Many claims are filed when there’s a big storm, which leads to the average insurance rates to increase.

2. Car insurance is more expensive in Colorado than in many other states.

The average car insurance rates have increased by more than 50% in the past 10 years. There are plenty of reasons that car insurance is increasing across the country, and more specifically in Colorado.

Read more about the increasing rates in Colorado in our blog 5 Reasons Insurance Rates Keep Increasing in Colorado

3. Population increases lead to rate increases.

The rapidly increasing population and crowded roads in Colorado has led to more accidents and higher car insurance rates.

4. The minimum liability limits to legally drive in Colorado are $25K/$50K/$15K.

Although you can legally drive with the minimum limits, they aren’t enough to protect your family and your future. Higher limits can save you a lot of money in the long run.

3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Personal Injury Attorneys

5. Homeowners in Colorado are more likely to file a roof claim than those in most other states.

Between 2017-2019, Colorado had the second most hail claims in the US. The only state with more in that span was Texas. With such severe hail storms in Colorado, most residents will file a roof claim in their lifetime.

6. As of 2019, 16.3% of drivers in Colorado are driving without insurance.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national average in 2019 was 12.6%. Colorado is well over the national average, which is why our Uninsured Motorist coverage rates are on the rise.

Want to know more about the importance of Uninsured Motorist coverage? Check out our blog Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage If I Have Health Insurance?

7. Wildfires have a big impact on insurance in Colorado.

Homes in wildfire-prone areas are difficult to insure and come with a big price tag.

Here’s more information about the impact of wildfires on insurance in Colorado: What You Should Know About Wildfires and Insurance

8. Even though Colorado is a landlocked state, there is still risk of flooding.

Flooding doesn’t only happen near large bodies of water. Rapid rainfall or runoff from areas previously damaged by wildfire can cause severe flooding. You can add a flood endorsement on some home policies in Colorado, or buy a separate policy to cover your risk.

Read about flood insurance here: Flood Insurance 101 

9. Vacation rentals, like AirBnb and VRBO are becoming more popular in Colorado.

Colorado is an ideal vacation destination for many in both the summer and the winter. That means the demand for vacation rentals is skyrocketing. Renting out a second home or even a room in your current home is a great way to bring in some extra income. Luckily, there are plenty of options available for insuring homes used as a vacation rental, but it’s important to get the right coverage.

Vacation Rental Property Insurance: What You Need to Know

10. Rental car rates often skyrocket during hail season.

After a big hail storm, many people need a rental car while their car is getting fixed. With a limited inventory, most rental car companies sell out and the rates become inflated. Check your car insurance policy to make sure you have enough rental car coverage to account for higher costs associated with hail season.

10 Things to do to Prepare Your Home for Fall

Fall is a wonderful time — if your home is ready for it. So enjoy the last few weeks of warmer weather, but do a little preventative maintenance while you’re at it. You’ll fix small problems before they become big, and big ones before they become catastrophes.

Here are 10 tips to help:

  1. Look up. Examine your roof closely. Moss should be removed and debris cleared from gutters and downspouts. Repairing damage is crucial before fall weather is in full swing.
  2. Look down. Check for signs of animals and insects around your home and garage, including the basement and crawlspace. If you need help getting unwanted guests out, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional.
  3. Keep things warm. Heat escapes through leaks around windows and doors, so seal up any drafty areas. Outside, put covers over faucets before temperatures drop.
  4. Keep things dry. Drain outdoor hoses, faucets and irrigation systems. Look in the basement and crawlspace for wet spots. And make sure your water heater or boiler aren’t leaking.
  5. Clear the air (or vents and filters, at least). When’s the last time you checked your dryer vent? You should take a look at attic vents and exhaust ducts as well. And change that furnace filter, too!
  6. Take a walk. Cracks in your driveway or walkways will only get bigger, so get them fixed soon. If your deck has signs of wear, make repairs while the weather is still good.
  7. Get a tune-up. You or a professional should clean and tune your furnace, boiler and/or water heater, as well as your oven and range.
  8. Don’t play with fire. Before building your first fire of the season, check for soot or creosote build-up.
  9. Don’t play with fire extinguishers, either. But check them to ensure they still have pressure. Don’t have fire extinguishers? Put them on your shopping list, ideally one for each floor.
  10. Don’t forget those smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Replace batteries when needed, and test regularly that alarms are working.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Lali Masriera.

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/

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 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.

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.

Are Your Underground Pipes and Utility Lines Covered?

A common misconception is that either the city or the utility company would repair damage to any utility lines. In most situations, it’ll actually fall on the homeowner to repair damaged pipes or lines.

If you’ve ever had to replace a sewer line or repair underground wiring, you know how expensive that job can be. It can cost thousands of dollars just to dig up the damaged line to determine what the issue is.

What are Service Lines?

The underground lines and pipes that connect your home to the main line.

Examples of Service Lines:

  • Power lines
  • Cable lines
  • Fiber optics
  • Sprinkler piping
  • Compressed air lines
  • Drain piping
  • Heating lines
  • Sewer piping
  • Water piping
  • Natural gas lines
  • Steam piping

Where does the city’s responsibility end and yours start?

You’re responsible for any utility lines that run through your property. Once the underground line crosses the line between city owned property to your property lines, it becomes your responsibility.

Does your homeowners insurance cover damage to Service Lines?

A typical homeowners policy does NOT include service line coverage. Many insurance companies now offer an endorsement that you can add to the policy to get coverage for such losses.

How much does Service Line coverage cost?

The exact cost depends on your insurance company, but the average cost is $25-$50 per year. That’s less than $5 per month. With an average cost of $30/year for $10,000 of coverage, it’s a beneficial and affordable coverage to have.

Most companies also offer a lower deductible for Service Line coverage. Rather than having a deductible over $1,000, you can often find an endorsement with only a $500 deductible. That means if you have a service line loss, you’re paying even less out-of-pocket than you would for other claims.

What is generally covered under a Service Line endorsement?

Service Line coverage will usually extend to the following causes of damage:

  • Wear and tear
  • Rust or corrosion
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Freezing
  • Tree or other root invasion
  • Collapse

If you have a Service Line endorsement, your policy will cover the excavation costs to dig up the damaged line. It will also pay to repair or replace the damaged line and restore the landscaping after the repairs are complete.

Many insurance companies also provide additional coverage to replace your damaged lines with more eco-friendly options. In some cases they will pay up to an additional 50% if you choose to use materials that are more environmentally friendly and efficient.

In some cases, your insurance company may also pay for additional living expenses you incur if you are unable to live in your home during the repairs.

What losses typically aren’t covered by a Service Line endorsement?

  • Water well damage (depending on the carrier)
  • Heating and cooling systems (except geothermal piping in some scenarios)
  • Fuel tanks
  • Septic systems

Real life Service Claim examples:

  • A late freeze caused a buried water pipe to burst, requiring excavation to repair. Total claim payment: $3,700
  • Root invasion led to the collapse of an underground sewer line. In addition to the sewer line repair, temporary living expenses were incurred by the homeowner. Total claim payment: $7,800
  • Electrical arcing occurred in two underground conduits that provided home electrical service. Total claim payment: $10,000

What You Should Know About Wildfires and Insurance

The 2020 wildfire season in Colorado was the worst in state history. Not only is it heartbreaking to see our beautiful state burning each summer, but there are also more homes and businesses being impacted by fire than ever before.

Many people move to the foothills or the mountains for the breathtaking views and the relative seclusion from the noise and crowds in the city. Unfortunately, those luxuries often come with a much greater risk of wildfire damage.

According to an article from the Colorado State Forest Service, “The number of people living in areas at risk to the effects of wildland fire increased by nearly 50 percent from 2012 to 2017.” As of 2017 approximately 2.9 million people in Colorado, approximately half of the state’s population, live in areas at risk of being impacted by wildfires.

What does this have to do with insurance?

Simply put, the more structures that are impacted by wildfires, the more insurance companies are paying out.

While wind and hail claims are the most frequent, fire and lightning claims are the costliest. Since fires cause significant damage and result in much higher payouts than other claims, insurance companies have strict guidelines when it comes to insuring homes in high risk areas. As a result, it can be difficult to find insurance for homes in risky wildfire zones.

Most insurance companies use a FireLine score to determine the wildfire risk of any given home and will use that to decide if the home is eligible for coverage with that company. Some carriers are willing to take on greater risks, but they will often require certain mitigation efforts to reduce the risk to the home.

What factors do insurance companies look at when determining the wildfire risk of a home?

  • Responding Fire Department-Insurance companies look at the proximity to the responding fire department, as well as if it is volunteer or paid and what kind of equipment they have available.
  • Roads leading to your house– Are they paved or dirt roads? Are they wide enough for a fire truck to get through?
  • Proximity to neighbors– Are there neighbors within eyesight of your house to report a fire if you are away?
  • House materials– A log home is a much greater risk in a wildfire area than a brick home.
  • Trees or bushes surrounding the home– Many insurance carriers will require that there are no trees within a certain distance of the home and no branches hanging over any structures on the property. This is considered a “defensible space.”
  • Slope– Steeper slopes can increase speed that a wildfire spreads.

How can I find homeowners insurance if my home is in a high risk area?

Give us a call! This will save you a lot of time and effort because we can quote your property with many carriers rather than you having to call each one separately.

More importantly, we have strong relationships with the carriers work with. We have put in the time and effort to demonstrate to our insurance carriers that we operate with honesty and integrity.

While this may not seem important, it gives us the opportunity to advocate for our clients and often times we can get them to make an exception when they otherwise wouldn’t. Before you go to a non-standard carrier or waste hours of your life calling insurance companies or getting quotes online, give us a chance to work for you.

Tips for preventing a wildfire from destroying your home (from Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association):

  • Create a 30-foot defensible space around your home by removing as much flammable material as you can. Replace flammable vegetation with fire resistive plants.
  • Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas by spacing native trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart. On trees taller than 18 feet, prune lower branches within six feet of the ground.
  • Remove branches overhanging the roof or coming within 10 feet of the chimney. Clean all dead leaves and needles from the roof, gutters, and yard.
  • Install a roof that meets a fire classification of “Class B” or better. Cover the chimney outlet and stovepipe with nonflammable screening no larger than half-inch mesh.
  • Install dual- or triple-paned windows, and limit the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.
  • Put woodpiles and liquid propane gas tanks at least 30 feet from all structures and clear away flammable vegetation within 10 feet of those woodpiles and propane tanks.

Sources:

Half of Coloradans Now Live in Areas at Risk to Wildfires. (2018, November 26). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://csfs.colostate.edu/2018/11/26/half-of-coloradans-now-live-in-areas-at-risk-to-wildfires/

Wildfire. (n.d.). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from http://www.rmiia.org/catastrophes_and_statistics/Wildfire.asp

Insurance Guide: Sending Your Kid to College

Insurance 101 – A Parent’s Guide to College Student Coverages

At the end of every summer, many parents are packing up their recent high school graduate and sending them to college. This is the start of many big life changes for everyone, which can also bring a lot of stress and questions.

As a parent, you’re probably not thinking about insurance in that moment. It’s important to consider what coverage your kid will have when they go off to college.

Are they covered under your homeowners policy?

Many homeowners policies provide coverage for your college student while they are away at school. If they’re living in a dorm, your home policy might cover their personal liability and personal property.

Carriers can vary in how much personal property extends while away at school or away from home. The average for property covered away from the home is 10% of the personal property limit.

If your child decides to rent an off-campus apartment, they might need a renters policy. Even if their personal property isn’t worth much, they still need renters insurance for the liability coverage.

College students don’t always make good choices. If your kid throws a party, they are at risk of a lawsuit. Someone could get hurt and sue. Or a guest could drive drunk and injure someone, leaving your child responsible because they served the alcohol.

Liability coverage offers legal protection from those types of situations. A renters policy can help protect the future your child is building.

What about their auto insurance?

Auto insurance is pretty specific about who can and cannot be a driver on a policy. Most insurance carriers only allow “household members” to be drivers on a policy. While your child may not be living in your home daily, most insurance carriers consider college students a “household member.”

As long as your child is in school, you should be able to insure them on your auto policy with most insurance providers. Once they have graduated and have their own permanent residence, they’ll need to get their own auto policy.

While they’re still on your policy they may be able to qualify for a few discounts, like Good Student and Distant Student.

Most insurance carriers offer the Good Student discount if your student maintains a B average (3.0 GPA) or higher. You may need to provide a report card showing their grades each policy term to keep that discount.

The Distant Student discount can vary, it’s usually available for a student that is attending college more than 100 miles away from home. Most carriers specify that they can’t have a vehicle at school with them. Some insurance companies will provide the discount if they have a vehicle, but it’s more common to see the “without a vehicle” stipulation.

Dorm Do’s and Don’ts for your college student

Over the next few weeks, your child may be getting a taste for living on their own for the first time. That can be scary to think about as a parent. Below are some safety tips to share with college students to help keep them and their belongings safe during the school year.

DO keep your dorm room door locked at all times.

Many kids will keep their doors unlocked when visiting a friend a few rooms away, thinking that no one will enter their room if they’re only gone for a few minutes. This can’t be further from the truth.

Many electronics are small and portable and can be stolen in 30 seconds if left unattended. Whether you’re making a quick trip to the restroom or hanging out in the room next door, keep your door locked.

DON’T leave candles/incense unattended.

Candles and incense are big on college campuses. Small rooms crammed with at least two people can smell a little funky, so many students use these items to help freshen up the air.

Leaving these unattended while lit can be a huge fire hazard. The flame is not the only issue with candles and incense. The heat from the candle and the ash from the incense are enough to start a fire.

DO remove dryer lint from lint trap before running dryer.

Many students are used to Mom and Dad doing their laundry. Living at college is their first real experience with washing and drying their clothes regularly.

Dryer fires are common on college campuses because many students don’t clean the lint trap in the dryer and dispose of the lint properly. Dryer lint is like kindling and can catch fire from the heat put off by the dryer. Be sure to clean the lint trap before turning on the dryer every time you use it.

DO plug electronics into surge protectors and frequently save all work.

There is nothing worse than being up until 2:00 a.m. finishing a 20-page paper only to have your computer shut down or short out before you’ve saved your work. Surge protectors will help keep your electronics from being fried due to an overload from your neighbor’s hair dryer. Saving your work frequently will help prevent a late-night meltdown if you encounter computer issues.

DON’T post when you will be away on Facebook or other social media sites.

In today’s social media-crazed society, many people think nothing of posting their plans, even when it means they will be away from their home for a weekend or longer. If you post that you’re going home for the weekend, this may give someone who sees that post an opportunity to break into your room and rob you blind.

Posting on social media is not like telling your friends your plans. It’s more akin to posting your plans in the newspaper.

Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but they are all derived from actual incidents. Many people have that old “it won’t happen to me” mentality. But these situations can and do happen, so it doesn’t hurt to have a quick conversation with your college student.

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