Auto insurance claims can be some of the most expensive claims you can face as an individual.  Therefore, implementing some safety tactics while on the road can go a long way in preventing potential claims and disaster.  The following six tips will hopefully keep you safe:

1. Stay focused on defensive driving

  • Keep 100% of your attention on driving at all times.
  • Use defensive driving techniques and be aware of what others around you are doing and expect the unexpected.
  • Don’t use a cell phone or any other electronic device while driving.

2. Practice safe driving tips

  • Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls, or other business.
  • Adjust your seat, mirrors, and climate controls before putting the car in gear.

3. Prioritize car safety

  • Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion. Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
  • Have items needed within easy reach, such as toll fees, toll cards, and garage passes.

4. Make the time for driving safety

  • Pullover to eat or drink. It takes only a few minutes.
  • Practice defensive driving and give yourself time to react. Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you − 4 seconds if the weather is bad.

5. Slow down

  • Don’t speed − it gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.

6. Think safety

  • Always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.

Content insurance protects your personal property when you rent an apartment, a condominium, or a home. The owner of the property is responsible for insuring the building itself and any appliances or fixtures provided to you as a renter. But, unless you buy contents or renter’s insurance, you will not have protection for damages or loss of your personal possessions.

What will Content Insurance cover?

As a renter, you need coverage for your personal property and liability protection if you’re responsible for injury to someone else. Content insurance pays for damage to, or the loss of, your personal possessions that are located within your residence. Some policies will also cover your personal possessions, such as laptops or golf clubs that you might have in your car. A renter’s policy will also include liability coverage for injuries. For example, if your dog bites your neighbor, you might need liability coverage.

Saving Money on Content Insurance

  • Buy only as much coverage as you really need. Content coverage is for the actual replacement cost or your property’s actual cash value, not what you think it is worth. For example, a “priceless” family heirloom may have deep sentimental value, but your insurance will only pay for the cost to repair or replace it. Unfortunately, not all items can be replaced.
  • Consider higher deductibles. If you are willing to accept responsibility for a larger part of each loss, your insurance premium will be lower.
  • Reduce your risk. A sprinkler system or alarm system will reduce rates for most policies. And, if you have a dog that’s considered a “dangerous breed,” be aware that you may pay more.
  • Ask for a discount on your auto insurance.  Many auto insurers will give you a 5 or 10% discount on your car insurance when you insure your home or apartment with them. It’s worth it to check!

Complete a Home Inventory today

You’ll be surprised at what you have. A home inventory is the best way to document your personal property. Digital pictures or a quick video of each room and closet will help you get the most from your insurance policy if you ever have a loss.
If you would like to find out more about home contents insurance, please feel free to contact our office.

We are often asked about the available home insurance discounts for Arvada residents.  With that in mind, we thought we would share a list of the common discounts associated with homeowners insurance:

Policy Discounts

  • Multi-Policy Discount: If you have more than one policy with the same insurance company, you may qualify for a multi-policy discount that gets you comprehensive protection and additional savings.
  • Exclusive Group Savings: Insurance companies will often offer exclusive group savings on home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 employers, groups, credit unions, or alumni associations.
  • Claims Free Discount: You’ll save on a new home policy if you have not filed a claim with your previous insurance carrier for five years or more.
  • Safe Homeowner Program: You don’t need to be a new customer to be rewarded for being a responsible homeowner. If your policy remains claims-free for three years, you could save on your premium.
  • Early Shopper Discount: Save on your home insurance when you request a quote before your policy with another carrier expires.

Home Discounts

  • Protective Devices Discount: Save on your home insurance by outfitting your home with protective devices such as smoke alarms, deadbolts, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, burglar alarms, or sprinklers.
  • Insured to Value Discount: When you insure up to 100% of the cost to replace your home (usually different from the market value or selling price), you may receive a discount.
  • Newly Purchased Home Discount: Receive special savings if you’ve recently purchased your home.
  • New/Renovated Home Discount: You may qualify for special savings if your home was built or substantially renovated recently.
If you would like to find out more about other discounts available to your home, please give our office a call.

If you rent a house or apartment, your landlord’s insurance will only cover the costs of repairing the building if there is a fire or other disaster.  There is no coverage provided to protect your personal property or negligence.  You need your own coverage, known as renters or tenants insurance in order to financially protect yourself and your belongings.

Renters insurance includes three important types of financial protection:
  • Coverage for Personal Possessions
  • Liability Protection
  • Additional Living Expenses

The following is a brief overview of what renter’s insurance is and how it can protect you.

A. Coverage for Personal Possessions
  1. Determining a limit.  The first step to insuring your personal possessions is to determine an appropriate limit to replace everything in the even of a total loss due a fire or other covered calamity.  The quickest way to do this is by preforming a home inventory.  A home inventory will provide a detailed list of all your belongings and associated value.
  2. Type of coverage. There are two types of coverages available on a standard policy: replacement cost and actual cash value.  Replacement cost pays for the cost to replace your property with like kind and quantity.  Actual cash value pays to replace your possessions minus a deduction for depreciation.
  3. What disasters are covered?  A standard renters insurance covers you against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and certain types of water damage (such as when the tenant upstairs leaves the water running in the bathtub and floods out your apartment or a burst pipe).  Every policy will have a variety of exclusions with the two most prevalent being flood and earthquake.
  4. What is a “floater” and do I need one? If you have expensive jewelry, furs, sports or musical equipment, or expensive electronics like a laptop, consider adding a floater to your policy. Most standard renters policies offer only a limited dollar amount for such items; a floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them if they are accidentally lost. .
B. Liability Protection
  1. Determining a limit. Liability coverage protects you against bodily injury or property damage caused to others due to your negligence. It pays for both the cost of defending you in court and court awards—up to the limit of your policy. Most standard renters insurance policies will generally provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage, but additional amounts are available.
  2. What about an umbrella?  If you need a higher liability limit, you can purchase a personal umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage provided by your renters or auto policy.  To purchase an umbrella policy, most insurance companies will require higher limits of liability on both your home and auto insurance.
C. Additional Living Expenses
  1. What happens if I can’t live in my home due to a disaster?   If your home is destroyed by a covered claim and you need to live elsewhere, renters insurance provides additional living expenses (ALE).   ALE pays for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
D. Discounts
Insurance companies often offer discounts on renters insurance if you have another policy with them for your car or business. You can also get discounts if you:
  • Have a security system
  • Use smoke detectors
  • Use deadbolt locks
  • Have good credit
  • Have multiple policies
  • Stay with the same insurer
  • Are over 55 years old
If you would like to find out more about a renters insurance policy and how it can protect you and your family, please feel free to give our office a call.

According to the FBI, did you know that insurance fraud costs insurance companies (and ultimately consumers) more than $50 billion each year? This equates to approximately $500 in increased annual premiums for each one of us.
Plus, when you start adding lost productivity for businesses, ruined family finances, and the cost to investigate and prosecute, the total figure is probably much higher.
For the most part, these fraudsters aren’t criminal masterminds. Here are five of the craziest insurance fraud scams we have ever encountered, from phony slip-and-falls to fake deaths to desperate business owners.

1. Four women made up a man, faked his death, and staged a funeral – tombstone and all. Four California women were convicted of wire fraud after they allegedly invented a man (“Jim Davis”), faked his death, and then staged a funeral. The criminals went so far as to purchase a burial plot for and bury him without a headstone. But despite the extravagant funeral described on paper for the financial assignment companies—including an ornate casket and elaborate floral arrangements—the funeral was a simple affair, attended by several phony family members recruited to play the part of mourners in case anyone was watching.
After two insurance companies launched an investigation into their claims on Mr. Davis’ $1.2 million in life insurance, the FBI arrested Jean Crump, Faye Shilling, Barbara Ann Lynn, and Lydia Eileen Pearce in 2010.
2. Security cameras catch two jewelry wholesalers staging a robbery at their own store. In December 2008, two New York City business partners hatched the ultimate plan to save their struggling jewelry business – a fake heist. Prosecutors claimed Atul Shah and Mahayeer Kankariva hired two men, dressed them in Hasidic Jew costumes, and staged a robbery at their shop. To cover their tracks, they poured chemicals into their security cameras to destroy any footage. They then filed a $7 million claim with their insurer, Lloyds of London.
Unfortunately for them, police were able to salvage the footage from the damaged security tapes. They showed the men entering their own safe and removing all the jewelry two hours before the supposed burglary.
In March 2011, both men were convicted of insurance fraud, attempted grand larceny, and falsifying business records.
3. A security camera captured a man allegedly faking an injury on a wrecked bus. When Ronald Moore saw what he thought was a serious bus accident, he hatched the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme: Pretending to be a passenger, he dashed onto the bus, clutched his back in pain, and later filed a claim for injuries, prosecutors claimed.
Unfortunately for him, the whole charade was caught on tape. According to Assistant District Attorney Linda Montag, the accident was a tiny tap by a taxicab. There wasn’t even a scratch on the bus.
Moore was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and sentenced to 2 years of probation.
4. Woman files 49 slip-and-fall claims in seven years. When Isabel Parker rant out of funds to support her gambling addiction, the 72-year-old orchestrated 49 slip-and-fall scams at department stores, supermarkets, and liquor stores in three different states.
An investigation by detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit revealed Parker used as many as 47 aliases and 11 different addresses to file her claims, which totaled more than $500,000.
She was convicted of 20 counts of insurance fraud in 2003 and served a four-year sentence under house arrest.
5. Man allegedly uses Wikipedia photos to claim a $20,000 insurance policy on his nonexistent pet cat. Washington insurance officials claim Yevgeniv Samsonov tried to bilk his insurer out of $20,000 to cover his nonexistent cat’s death. In 2009 he claimed his pet died in an auto accident.
Dissatisfied with the offered settlement from the cat’s insurance company, Samsonov supposedly sent photos to prove the cat’s value. However, the adjuster’s quick web search for the insurance company proved the pictures were actually taken from a Wikipedia page.


New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.

Unfortunately, while most New Year’s resolutions are made with vigor and hope, most people don’t make it past the first month with their resolutions.

We have provided 9 tips and tricks to help you achieve your goals and ensure your resolutions don’t fall by the wayside.

Please take a few moments to explore the attached tips and infographic to hopefully find a little insight and/or inspiration as you are setting your own goals for the New Year.

1. Make it something you really want. Don’t make it a resolution that you “should” want or what other people tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values.

2. Limit your list to a number you can handle.  It is recommended that you make only two or three resolutions that you intend to keep, That way, you’re focusing your efforts on the goals you truly want.

3. Be specific. To be effective, resolutions and goals need to be pretty specific,  Jettison the amorphous “exercise more,” in favor of “I’m working out at the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m.”

4. Automate. Automating financial goals can maximize your odds for success without you having to do anything,
For example, if your goal is to save $3,000 this year, calculate the amount out of each check, then arrange to have it automatically deposited into your savings account each time you get paid.

5. Make a plan. Rather than stating one daunting goal, create a series of smaller steps to reach it.
If you need immediate rewards, here’s a suggestion. “Ask yourself: What are the short-term goodies?” says Susan Wilson, co-author of “Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals.”

For example, if you want to exercise regularly and love spending time with your friends, getting the group together to walk regularly could give you a short-term payoff and help you meet the long-term goal, she says.

6. Be prepared to change some habits. One reason that resolutions fail is people don’t change the habits that sabotage them.
One potent approach is to realize that all you ever have is the present moment. So ask what you can do now that will get you closer to your goal.

It could mean trade-offs such as sacrificing an hour of couch time for your new goals.

Another good strategy is to arrange your life so you don’t have to wrestle with temptation.

7. Write down the goal and visualize it regularly. Writing and visualizing are effective tools for fulfilling a goal because they fix it firmly in the subconscious.
And if you write down your goals, put them in a prominent place where you’ll view them frequently, such as on the fridge or on your desk.

8. To tell or not to tell? Having someone hold you accountable can be a powerful tool. In general, making a public commitment adds motivation.
Skip the naysayers, but if you have one or two people in your life who will act as cheerleaders or coaches, share the goal with them.

9. Forgive yourself. If you fall off the wagon, jump back on. Many people fall into the trap of believing that if they stumble, they should give up.
The truth is you don’t have to wait for next year or for some magic moment. Instead, realize that slipping is part of the process.  Then, get back to your goals.

Holiday celebrations are exciting times for family and friends to get together. But, get-togethers can turn into tragedies when people are killed or injured in traffic crashes.
Motorists need to be mindful of actions that will make their holiday travel safer. Drivers can protect themselves and their passengers by following these holiday travel rules.
  • Before you start your trip, make sure your vehicle is tuned up and in good shape for travel. If maintenance is not up to date, have your vehicle and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  • Restrain yourself and your passengers properly in seat belts and car safety seats. Remember, the back seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride.
  • Leave early if you can to avoid the peak traffic hours. If snow is predicted during the time you plan to travel, change your schedule. It is better to reschedule your get-together than to risk the lives of traveling family or friends.
  • Stay fresh and alert when driving. Take plenty of breaks and do not push yourself to meet an unrealistic schedule.
  • Keep your speed down. Give yourself plenty of time and distance to react to the traffic around you.
  • If there will be drinking at your holiday get-together, choose a designated driver who will remain alcohol free.
  • Keep a cell phone and charger with you in case of an emergency.

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

An adjuster will inspect the damage to your home and offer you a certain sum of money for repairs. The first check you get from your insurance company is often an advance against the total settlement amount. It is not the final payment.

If you’re offered an on-the-spot settlement, you can accept the check right away. Later on, if you find other damage, you can “reopen” the claim and file for an additional amount. Most policies require claims to be filed within one year from the date of disaster.

When both the structure of your home and personal belongings are damaged, you generally receive two separate checks from your insurance company, one for each category of damage. You should also receive a separate check for additional living expenses that you incur while your home is being renovated.


If you have a mortgage on your house, the check for repairs will generally be made out to both you and the mortgage lender. As a condition of granting a mortgage, lenders usually require that they are named in the homeowner’s policy and that they are a party to any insurance payments related to the structure.

The lender gets equal rights to the insurance check to ensure that the necessary repairs are made to the property in which it has a significant financial interest. This means that the mortgage company or bank will have to endorse the check. Lenders generally put the money in an escrow account and pay for the repairs as the work is completed. You should show the mortgage lender your contractor’s bid and let the lender know how much the contractor wants up front to start the job. Your mortgage company may want to inspect the finished job before releasing the funds for payment to the contractor.

Some construction firms require you to sign a form that allows your insurance company to pay the firm directly. Make certain that you’re completely satisfied with the repair work and that the job has been completed before you let the insurance company make the final payment. Remember, you won’t receive a check for the repair job. The construction firm will bill your insurance company directly and attach the “direction to pay” form you signed.

Bank regulators have guidelines for lenders to follow after a major disaster. If you have any questions contact your state banking department.

Personal belongings

The first step is to add up the cost of everything inside your home that has been damaged in the disaster. Now is the time to review your personal inventory, to help you remember the things you may have lost. If you don’t have an inventory, look for photographs or videotapes that picture the damaged areas. For expensive items, you may also contact your bank or credit card company for proof of purchase. When making your list, don’t forget items that may be damaged in out of the way places such as the attic or tops of closets.

If you have a replacement cost policy, you will be reimbursed for the cost of buying new items. An actual cash value policy will reimburse you for the cost of the items minus depreciation. Regardless of which type of policy you have, the first check will be calculated on a cash value basis. Most insurance companies will require you to purchase the damaged item before they will reimburse you for its full replacement cost.

If you have financed your home, your bank may have received a check for both repairs to your home and your possessions. If you don’t get a separate check from your insurance company for your belongings, ask the lender to send the money to you immediately.

If you have a replacement cost policy, you may be required to buy replacements for items damaged before your insurance company will compensate you. Make sure to keep receipts as proof of purchase.

If you decide not to replace some items, in most cases you’ll be paid the depreciated or actual cash value of the items that were damaged. You don’t have to decide what to do immediately.

Your insurance company will generally allow you several months from the date of the cash value payment to replace the item. Ask your agent how many months you are allowed before you must replace your personal possessions. Some insurance companies supply lists of vendors that can help replace your property.

Additional living expenses

Your check for additional living expenses should be made out to you and not your lender. This money has nothing to do with repairs to your home and you may have difficulty depositing or cashing the check if you can’t get the mortgage lender’s signature. This money is designed to cover your expenses for hotels, car rentals and other expenses you may incur while your home is being fixed.

Options for rebuilding

If your home has been destroyed, you have several options:

  • Rebuild your home on the same site.
    The amount of money you’ll have to rebuild your home depends on both the type of policy you bought and the dollar limit specified on the first “declarations” page of your policy. Generally, you are entitled to the replacement cost of your former home, providing that you spend that amount of money on the home you rebuild. Remember, your insurance policy will pay to rebuild your home as it was before the disaster. It won’t pay to build a bigger or more expensive house. A similar rule applies to repairs.
  • Decide not to rebuild or to rebuild in a different location.
    The amount you’ll get from your insurer will be determined by your policy, state law, and what the courts have ruled on this matter. If you decide not to rebuild, review your policy and ask your insurance agent or company representative what the settlement amount will be.

Preventing Ice Dams on Homes


When heat from the interior of a house with a sloped roof escapes into the attic space, it warms the underside of the roof. Meanwhile, the roof eave outside the heated space remains a colder temperature.
As snow accumulates on the rooftop, it melts over the warmer portion of the attic and the melt water runs down the roof. When it encounters the cold edge of the roof it refreezes. The refrozen water along the roof edge creates an “ice dam” and consequently, the melted snow running down the roof begins to back up underneath the roof covering. This water will soak the roof sheathing and leak into the attic unless there is a barrier above the sheathing. Sealing the roof deck is an effective way to prevent the water from entering your home and causing damage.


A two-step approach is the most effective way to reduce the size of ice dams. First, keep the attic floor well insulated to minimize the amount of heat from within the house that rises into the attic. Second, keep the attic well ventilated so that the cold air outside can circulate through it and reduce the temperature of the roof system. The colder the attic, the less thawing and refreezing on the roof. These two measures are the best ways to keep ice dams from increasing in size.
Step One: Insulating the attic
The attic floor should be airtight, have sufficient insulation, and keep the transfer of heat from the downstairs to the attic at a minimum. Even a well-insulated attic floor may have a number of openings that can permit warm air from below to seep up into the attic. For instance, these items may cut through the attic floor:

  • exhaust pipes and plumbing vents
  • fireplace and heating system c hi m n e y s
  • light fixtures

Seal all openings around these penetrations, but be careful not to block attic vent s with insulation. The at tic vent s, as explained below, must be kept clear so that they can do their job. Additionally, pull-down stairs or a set of regular stairs leading up to the attic from the lower level can be avenues for rising heat. Weatherstripping around the edges of the attic access door and insulation on the attic side of the door should minimize the passage of heat to the attic.  Any heat-generating equipment in the attic should be relocated.
Step Two:  Ventilating the attic
There are several ways to ventilate your attic. You can do it with eave vents, soffit vents, a ridge vent, a gable vent, or some combination of these. Most modern residential roofs combine a ridge vent with soffit or eave vents. To the extent that household heat penetrates the attic, it should be able to rise and escape through, for instance, a ridge vent, while soffit or eave vents pull in cold air to replace it. Local building codes generally require a minimum level of ventilation.
Proper ventilation of the attic to let cold in, together with air sealing and insulation on the attic floor to help keep household heat out of the attic, work to minimize the likelihood of ice dams.


IBHS does not recommend chipping or breaking ice dams due to the damage that can be inflicted on the roof. If you are not physically capable of going onto the roof or are unable to easily reach the roof, consult a roofing professional.

For low slope roofs or flat roofs:

  • Removing the snow will remove the source of a potential ice dam.
  • Use a heavy duty push broom with stiff bristles to brush off the snow on low slope or flat roofs.
  • A shovel or snow blower should not be used since they may tear up the roof cover system.

For steep slope roofs:

  • Removing the snow will remove the source of a potential ice dam.
  • A roof rake may be used for most single story buildings while remaining on the ground to pull snow down the roof slope.
  • Do not pull snow back against the slope or sideways since the snow may get underneath the cover and can break shingles.

Not only is distracted driving dangerous for individuals, but there is a growing concern among business owners and managers that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cellphones.

Under the doctrine of “vicarious responsibility,” employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment. Employers may also be found negligent if they fail to put in place a policy for the safe use of cellphones.

Tips for Safer Travel

Keep these safety tips in mind when driving:

  • Pull Off the Road – Don’t drive while calling or texting; pull off the road to a safe location.
  • Use Voice-activated Dialing – If you must dial from the road, program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into your phone and use voice-activated dialing.
  • Never Dial While Driving – If you must dial manually, do so only when stopped or have a passenger dial for you.
  • Take a Message – Let your voice mail pick up your calls while you’re driving. It’s easy—and much safer—to retrieve your messages later on.
  • Know When to Stop Talking – If you must make or receive a call while driving, keep conversations on brief so you can concentrate on your driving. If a long discussion is required or if the topic is stressful or emotional, end the conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
  • Don’t Take Notes While Driving – If you need to write something down, use an audio recorder or pull off the road.
  • Know Where You’re Going – If you’re using a navigation system, program in your destination before you start driving and use the audio setting to avoid having to look at the screen for directions.
  • Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving – Eating takes both your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road, so don’t do it. Furthermore, spills can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
  • Groom Yourself At Home – Shaving, putting on makeup, combing your hair or other forms of preening are distractions and should be done at home, not while driving.