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Colorado Insurance Blog

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

Renters Insurance 101

Insurance 101 – Renters Insurance

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

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

What does renters insurance cover?

Personal Property

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

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

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

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

Liability

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

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

Loss of Use

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

Valuables

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

How much does renters insurance cost?

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

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

Sources:

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

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.

Flood Insurance 101

Beginner’s Guide to Flood Insurance

When I ask clients if they would like to get a quote for flood insurance, I am almost always met with the same answer: “no, my home isn’t in a flood zone.” The truth is: Every home is in a flood zone.

You’re not required to purchase flood insurance if your home isn’t determined to be in a “high-risk zone.” But every home has the potential of flooding.

After talking to many clients, I’ve learned that most people fall into one of the following categories:

1. They think their homeowners or renters policy will cover any potential flooding.

2. They feel confident their home will never flood because they don’t live by a body of water.

3. They assume they don’t qualify for flood insurance because their home isn’t in a “high-risk zone.”

That tells me that the insurance industry hasn’t done a great job educating people about flood insurance.

Our mission here at Integrity First is: By operating with Integrity and focusing on education, we will change the perception of the insurance industry.

It’s important to understand your risks and your coverage, not just pay for insurance because you have to. If this blog can help even one person understand the risks of flooding and how flood insurance works, I’ll consider it a success.

Continue reading “Flood Insurance 101”

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”

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?”

Home Insurance FAQs

Common Home Insurance Questions

Does my home insurance cover flooding?

Simply put, probably not.

Most homeowners policies exclude coverage for flooding. That can include a flash flood, water accumulating in a window well and seeping into the home, or anything between.

 A select few carriers now offer an optional endorsement to add flood coverage. But, with most carriers the only way to get coverage for flooding is to buy a separate flood policy.

What is a deductible?

Continue reading “Home Insurance FAQs”

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