Life Insurance can be overwhelming.  Choosing the right type of policy, selecting limits, obtaining quotes and reviewing coverages can be a daunting task.

However, life insurance is one of the best ways to protect your family if you were to unexpectedly pass away.  It will give your family the financial security needed to pay the mortgage, college tuition, loans, and other family expenses.

What about when you already have a policy?  We have found there are certain life events that should trigger a review of an existing policy to ensure you still have the right policy and coverage for you needs.

If you have any questions or concerns about life insurance, please feel free to reach out to our office.

Top 5 Life Triggers
1. Births, deaths, divorces and marriages: Whenever there is a significant life event in your family it makes sense to review your life insurance coverage.
For example, when your children become independent, your financial burdens are reduced and you might not need as much life insurance. Likewise, if your spouse lands a great job, that might also reduce your need for life insurance.

2. Change in financial situation:  Changes in your financial situation could signify a need to adjust coverage limits or policy type. For example, the loss of a job may signify the need to change from a whole life policy to a term policy.  Whereas, if you were to sell a property or business, you may be liquid enough to reduce the current amount of coverage you currently have.

3. Retirement:  The goal at retirement is to have enough passive income generated by investments and pensions. Depending on your situation, that might mean you don’t need life insurance anymore. On the other hand, if your spouse wouldn’t have enough to income if you were to pass away after you retire, you might actually need more life insurance.

4. Tax-law changes: Right now, very few people need to worry about estate taxes, but that could change anytime. If you end up having a taxable estate, life insurance is a great way to solve that problem.

5. Every two years:  Unfortunately, many of the situations that predicate a need to change life insurance are impossible to predict.  And even if you know something is going to happen, you can’t guarantee that you’ll be insurable when they do.

That’s why the most important trigger is time. Insurance is meant to protect your family against possible future risks.  This is why we recommend regular to reviews to ensure you have the right coverage and policy all the time.

Do I Really Need an Umbrella Insurance Policy? Here Are Some Things to Consider
Standard auto, homeowner’s and boat insurance policies cover liability a person may have for bodily injuries or property damage for which you are negligent.  while limits of $100,000 to $250,000 may cover you for most accidents, there are cases where those limits simply aren’t enough.   And if you have personal assets above those limits you may be jeopardizing those assets.

To cover financially devastating events like these, insurance companies offer personal umbrella policies. These policies provide additional protection when an accident uses up the amounts of insurance provided by the other policies. They may also cover some types of losses these other policies do not cover.

In order to determine whether or not an umbrella policy is right for you, you should answer the following questions:

First, do you have items that put you at a higher risk for a catastrophic loss? For example, do you have multiple cars or inexperience drivers in your household?  Household attractions like swimming pools, trampolines, and swing-sets present an exposure to severe losses. Boats, like cars, can cause serious injuries and damage if the operators are inattentive, intoxicated, or inexperienced.

Next, do you have any exposures that do not involve potential physical injury or illness or property damage or that might require different coverage? For example, do you or any members of your family participate in social media websites or online discussion forums? Does anyone coach a youth sports team, belong to the governing board of a non-profit organization, write computer code as a hobby, or give music lessons? These activities present different exposures to legal liability.

Third, do your underlying policies have high enough limits? How high are the liability limits on your homeowners and auto insurance policies?  Does your homeowners insurance cover any business activities? Does it cover family members accused of slander, libel, or defamation of character in online postings?

Lastly, an umbrella may cover things like volunteer activities, statements made online, and certain business activities that a homeowner’s or auto policy might not cover.

Normally, the insurance company will require you to pay a deductible amount (such as $250 or $500) before it will pay for a loss that one of these other policies does not cover.

If you have any other additional questions on whether or not an umbrella insurance policy is right for you, please contact our office.

One of the most frustrating things can be when your insurance company cancels or nonrenews your policy for what feels like no reason at all.   While there are a number of regulations in place with states to avoid random cancellations, there are still a variety of reasons for why your insurance company may nonrenew your policy.

What is the difference between a cancellation and nonrenewal?

Nonrenewal: A standard auto insurance policy last from 6 to 12 months, and at the end of that period, your insurance company can decide to your renew your policy and coverage or not.  If they choose not to renew your policy, they will provide you with a notification of nonrenewal.

Cancellation:  An insurance policy cancellation will usually happen during the initial part of the policy (first 30 to 60 days), but may still happen during the middle of the policy even though it is very rare.  In fact, most insurance policies that are cancelled in the initial phase are usually cancelled because the insurance company finds out that your application was incorrect or misrepresented.

Even if you have a bad accident or multiple tickets, your insurance company cannot cancel your auto policy until it comes up for renewal.

Ways to get your car insurance cancelled

  1. Nonpayment of premium. The most common way to have your policy is cancelled is for nonpayment of premium.   Even then, your insurance company must provide you with adequate notice to bring your payments up to date before they can actually cancel the policy.
  2. Misrepresenting your application.  An insurance company can cancel your policy if they find out the information provided on the application was incorrect or untrue.   For example, if they find out you have a teen driver in the home that was not stated on your application, they could cancel your policy.
  3. Fraudulent activity.  If the insurance company finds out that you are behaving in fraudulent activity (arranging for your car to be stolen or totaled), then they will cancel your policy and have no obligation to make any claims payments.

Post-cancellation options

Nonpayment of premium.  If your policy was cancelled for nonpayment of premium, then most insurance companies will reinstate your policy if you bring the premiums up-to-date.

Note: Most insurance companies will reinstate you back to the date of cancellation; however, some insurance companies will only reinstate your policy on the date payment was made, leaving you with a lapse in insurance coverage.   This lapse of coverage can lead to fines and other issues with the DMV.  Additionally, they will not pay for any claim that happens during that lapse in coverage.

Having your insurance policy cancelled may make obtaining a new insurance policy much harder to do.   In fact, you may have to purchase your insurance from an “assigned-risk” pool where you are assigned an insurance company at much higher premiums.

If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance policy being cancelled or nonrenewed, please feel free to give our office a call.

Did you know that vehicle ownership is actually declining, especially for people who live in urban areas?  Many people now prefer to use a car-sharing service or just rent or borrow a car.

The problem that arises is what to do for insurance in these instances where you don’t own a car, but use one a regular basis.

Some insurance companies offer an insurance policy now called a “nonowner” policy.  This auto insurance policy will provide liability coverage to protect you and your assets in the event of a claim.

The vehicle doesn’t provide comprehensive or collision coverage because you don’t actually own the vehicle – that coverage would be provided by the owner of the car.   One of the great features of this type of policy is that it will cover you for any type of vehicle that drive during the policy period.

Additionally, if you regularly rent a vehicle, this policy will be much cheaper than any policy you purchase directly from rental car company.

When should you consider a nonowner car insurance policy?

You rent cars often. If you rent cars for more than 40 to 50 days a year, then a nonowner policy will be much cheaper for you in the long run.  Keep mind this only provides liability coverage, though.

You belong to a car-sharing service. Car-sharing services are becoming much more popular, especially in urban areas.    And while the service will usually provide some insurance, you should still consider carrying your own policy in the event you are named individually in the lawsuit for an at-fault accident.

You borrow other people’s cars often.  When you borrow a vehicle, the owner’s auto insurance policy does cover you; however, there are instances where the person may have let their insurance lapse or they don’t carry vehicles limits high enough to adequately protect you in the event of a claim.  A nonowner insurance policy would eliminate all of those concerns.

You have a problematic driving record.  Some states require individuals carry an auto insurance policy even if they don’t own a car, but have had major driving violations like a DUI or DWI..

Usual cost of nonowner car insurance

The cost of nonowner car insurance is much cheaper than a standard auto insurance policy.   A nonowner policy assumes that you will be driving much less than someone who owns a vehicle; and, because you don’t have to carry comprehensive and collision coverage, there is a decrease in the premiums there as well.

Most nonowner insurance policies will start at $200 to $250 for a six month period.

If you live in the Denver metro area and are interested in a nonowner insurance quotes, please give our office a call at your earliest convenience.

Did you know that insects like termites cause over $5 billion in structural damage every year?

Even more important to note, though, is that most insect damage is NOT covered by your homeowners insurance policy.  Most policies actually contain an exclusion that will not pay for damage caused by insects or rodents.  It will, however, most likely pay for any collateral damage associated with the infestation.

For example, if termites destroy a central pillar to your home’s frame and the roof caves in, the damage associated with the falling roof will likely be covered, but the damage to the home’s frame will not.

As insurance protection is limited against infestation, we have provided some information below on preventing insect damage to your home.

Infestation Prevention Tips

The following tips will help prevent an insect infestation in your home:

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  • Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
  • Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.
  • Have a qualified pest control company regularly inspect your home.

Did you know that for Arvada and Denver metro residents adding a teenage driver to your auto insurance policy can cause your premiums to jump anywhere from 50 to 100 percent?

Teenage drivers have a disproportionately high amount of traffic accidents and tickets.  In fact, auto accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 15 to 19.

Thankfully, there are teenage driver discounts available to help you save on your premiums.  This post is dedicated to top 5 premium discounts available to the parents of teenage drivers.

Discount #1: Good Student Discount
Most insurance companies will provide discounts for your student good grades.  The requirements vary, but basically if your child is able to achieve inclusion on the dean’s list or honor roll you may qualify for premium discounts anywhere from 15 to 35 percent.

Discount #2: Defensive Driving Course
Knowing that teenage drivers are at a much higher risk to be involved in an accident, many insurance companies are now either offering their own defensive driving classes or coupons that give you admission into a local class.   These classes have proven to improve teens’ driving, and they will also qualify you for an additional 5 to 15 percent discount on your premiums.

Discount #3: Distant Student Discount
If you have a child who has moved away from home to go to school, then you may be eligible for another discount on your premiums.   Some insurance companies will decrease your auto insurance premiums if your child has moved a certain distance away from home (usually 100 miles) and is attending school without his or her own vehicle.

While the discount is nice, we recommending working with your agent to review the details of this discount.   Some insurance companies will actually remove and exclude your child from the policy, which can create a serious risk if they temporarily come home and use one of the vehicles in the house.

Discount #4: Driving an Older Vehicle
Buying your child a used vehicle will typically result in lower premiums than new vehicle.   In evaluating a vehicle for your child, it’s also important to pay attention to the safety features provided by the vehicle.   While the older vehicle have cost less to insure, a slightly newer vehicle may come with safety features that will do a better job of protecting your child in the event of an accident.

Discount #5: Take Advantage of Technology
One of the ways that insurance companies are helping keep teen drivers safe is by providing electronic devices that actually monitor their driving habits.   For some companies it is a device that is installed on the dashboard while for others it is simply installed into the power outlet in the vehicle.

The device then monitors the drivers habits and creates a report that families can monitor.  The report will typically show how many miles the car is driven, how fast it’s driven, and how often the brakes are applied hard.

For drivers that drive safely with the monitoring device, they can qualify up to an additional 30 percent discount in their premiums.

If you would like to find out more about how these discounts can help save money on your teen drivers please feel free to give our office a call.

One of the questions we often receive is in regards to how auto insurance policies respond to personal items that are stolen from your car.  We want to spend this post providing some insight into this question.

Please keep in mind that every insurance policy is different and the information below may or may not address how your policy would specifically respond. 

What If My Laptop or Other Personal Items are Stolen from My Car?

Auto insurance does a good job of protecting, repairing, or replacing your vehicle if there is a claim.   It does a very poor job, though, of providing any type of coverage for personal items inside the vehicle.   In fact, most auto policies actually exclude coverage for personal items.

So then where do you get coverage? Your homeowners or renters policy will typically pick up the claim for stolen or damaged personal items located in your vehicle.  Keep in mind, though, the claim will be subject to the policy deductible, which will typically be either $500 or $1,000.

Our best recommendation is to avoid leaving items in your vehicle as best you can.   If you do have to leave items in your car, be sure to keep them out of plain view. Thieves will typically target those items that are easiest for them to get to.

Are My CDs Covered by Insurance if They’re Stolen from My Vehicle?

While CDs are quickly going the way of cassette tapes and being replaced by iPods or other portable electronic devices, this is still a common question we receive.

Unfortunately, the answer is your auto insurance most likely does NOT provide any coverage for CDs if they are stolen from the vehicle.   Some companies, though, will now allow you to purchase an endorsement on your policy that will provide limited coverage for the CDs.

Your best chance of finding coverage for this type of claim is to submit a claim through your homeowners or renters policy.   Many policies will provide $1,000 in coverage for “electronic apparatus, while in or upon a motor vehicle.”  However, before you rest easy thinking you are protected in the event of a claim, many insurance companies have interpreted “electronic apparatus” to not include CDs and will deny the claim.

Due to the ambiguity in regards to coverage for your CDs, we have a couple of suggestions:

  1. Check with your agent to see how your auto and homeowners policies will respond if your CDs are stolen.  It is so much better to know ahead of time how the policy will likely respond rather than waiting for the actual claim.
  2. Ask about the possibility of purchasing a coverage extension through your auto insurance company.
  3. Keep a digital copy stored on your home computer or an external storage device as a backup.
Last week we provided some discounts for auto owners with eco-friendly cars.  This week, we are going to provide the insurance discounts available to homeowners who have taken green initiatives within their home.


Insurers are helping to promote sustainable building practices by offering green homeowners and commercial property policies, including:
  • LEED Certification. For homeowners who have met the stringent efficiency and sustainability standards like the LEED Certification program will qualify for premium discounts of up to 10 percent on their homeowners insurance premiums.
  • Eco-Friendly Materials. Some homeowners insurance polices are offering endorsement to rebuild your home after a loss with more eco-friendly materials including replacing items like appliances with Energy-Star devices.
  • Solar Power.  For homeowners who generate their own geothermal, solar or wind power and sell any surplus energy back to the local power grid, there are now policies that cover both the income lost when there is a power outage caused by a covered peril and the extra expense to the homeowner of temporarily buying electricity from another source. Policies generally cover the cost of getting back online, such as utility charges for inspection and reconnection.

If you would like to find out more about the other homeowners insurance discounts available, please feel free to contact our office.

Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous hazards on the road, especially among teenage drivers.   With auto insurance rates already high for these young drivers, it’s important that you try and avoid any potential insurance claims.

Chubb Insurance just released an article that highlights some of the available technologies to help your teen drivers avoid distracted driving and stay safe on the road.  Some of the apps actually put a lock on the texting function while driving, while others monitor the driving behavior.

Here are some of the apps listed within the article:

DriveMode: This is a free app for Android and Blackberry users that actually responds to all incoming texts with a short message that the recipient is driving and will respond to them soon.

Canary: Canary is an app for both the iPhone and Android that allows parents to monitor their child’s cell phone usage in real time while driving.  It records the times the cell phone is used and actually notifies parents if the child attempts to disable it.

TextBuster: Is a hardware device you actually install in your car the temporarily disables text messaging, email, and internet access while the driver is in the vehicle.  It does, however, allow the phone to still make and receive phone calls and use the GPS.

iGuardian Teen: This is an Android app that actually shows parents what their child is doing in the car.  It monitors driving speeds, distance traveled, and phone usage.
If you are in the Denver Metro or Arvada area and you are interest in how using these apps will help you qualify for insurance discounts, please give our office a call.