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.

Homes

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.

It can be daunting when your list of New Year’s Resolutions is as long as your holiday shopping list. In addition to the post-holiday slump, not being able to keep your resolutions by February, March or even late January may increase your anxiety. When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless.
However, it is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”
By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life. APA offers these tips when thinking about a News Year’s resolution:

Start small 

Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.

Change one behavior at a time

Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.

Talk about it

Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.

Don’t beat yourself up

Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Ask for support

Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

Breaking down is never any driver’s idea of fun, and winter weather raises the stakes. Dropping temperatures, early nightfall, and low visibility can make stopping on the side of the road especially dangerous during colder months. While nothing can replace safe driving habits and a well-stocked emergency kit, you can avoid some worst-case winter scenarios by following these easy car maintenance tips.
The Problem: Car Overheating
As surprising as it seems, overheating is a real problem in the winter. Motor oil runs thicker in cold temperatures, making it harder for it to circulate and keep your car running smoothly—and prevent it from overheating.
Prevent It: A “multiviscosity” motor oil will be better at adapting to all weather conditions. Ask your mechanic or call your car manufacturer’s customer service line to find out if you should do a winter oil change. They may recommend switching to thinner oil that’s rated for colder temperatures.
The Problem: Dead Battery
It’s harder for car batteries to produce a charge in winter–meaning it might not be able to produce enough energy to start your car when you turn the key.
Prevent It: Check your battery’s voltage with a voltmeter or multimeter before it gets too cold. (Or ask your mechanic to take a look when you’re getting your car winterized.) Roughly 12.40–12.75 volts is enough to ensure reliable startups, according to Leanse. If you live in a really chilly place, consider investing in a battery rated for cold temperatures. Look for a high CCA (cold cranking amps) count—it’s a measure of how many amps the battery can generate in low temperatures.
The Problem: Squealing Noise When You Start The Car
You left your vehicle out overnight. Your engine won’t turn over, you hear loud squealing, warning lights come on or steam starts pouring from under the hood shortly after you turn it on. Any one of these things may mean that your radiator may have frozen and cracked, leading to costly repairs.
Prevent It: Park indoors if you can. This will help prevent fluids in your engine from freezing and expanding. Also be sure to check your car’s coolant concentration before winter—it’s called antifreeze for a reason. Add it to your mechanic’s pre-winter checklist to make sure the proportions are correct and keep it from freezing. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water should be sufficient according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Problem: Bald Or Under-Inflated Tires
Your tires are your contact with the road. So it’s important to keep those maintained for driving in winter, especially when roads are slick and icy. Treads help channel snow and water away from the contact patch to help your car grip the road, and proper tire pressure helps your vehicle dig into loose surfaces (like a snowy road). Without either, your car may have trouble staying on the road or coming to a stop when you hit the brakes.
Prevent It: Check your tires before winter weather hits, and continue doing so regularly after it gets cold. It’s important that they stay properly inflated, as the air pressure can drop 2 PSI for every 10 degrees the outdoor air temperatures decreases. Use a gas station air pump to check your tires at every other fill-up during the winter. (The recommended PSI is typically printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s-side door.) It’s also crucial to make sure the tread isn’t worn down. To do so, try this easy trick: Take a penny and stick it into the center of the tread with Lincoln’s head pointed in. If you can see his hair, the tread depth is too low and your tires need to be replaced. Spring for some dedicated winter tires if you live in a place with severe weather.

Did you know that Christmas trees alone result in $130 million dollars in property damage annually? More importantly, these fires present real risk towards family and friends. When showcasing a live tree in your home, the combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination.
But if your holiday is just not complete without a live tree, follow these safety precautions to keep threats at bay:
  • Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
  • Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out
  • Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA for safety and throw out any damaged lights.
  • Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement and be sure to plug into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
  • Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
  • Bedtime means lights off; don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree light switch each night
  • When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye to your evergreen foliage until next year.
With nearly 70 percent of the nation’s roads in snowy regions, the majority of Americans have had a “white-knuckle” driving experience in their past. Winter roads claim the lives of 1,300 people every year and injure 116,800, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Fortunately, new features including forward collision alerts and lane departure warnings, are protecting Americans on slick roads. The following five features have been instrumental in protecting families on the road during the winter season.

1. Forward collision warning and auto-braking

Vehicles can sense hazards in the road, warn the driver and brake the car to prevent a crash. If a driver is following someone who slams on the brakes, for example, a combination of sensors, laser beams and cameras detect the problem and alert the driver. Assistive technology automatically applies the brakes to prevent a crash. The driver resumes control as soon as he or she applies pressure to the brake.

2. Lane departure warning system

Keeping drivers in their respective lanes on slippery roads is essential to highway safety. If a car starts to drift into another lane, the driver is alerted to the hazard by a buzzer, warning light or vibration.

3. Adaptive headlights

Visibility can be an issue on winter roads. Traditional headlights shine straight ahead, but adaptive headlights react to the steering wheel. If a driver turns the wheel to the right, the headlights follow to increase visibility.
Insurance companies have noticed a 10 percent drop in the number of property damage liability claims in cars that have adaptive headlights, according to a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

4. LED taillights

When snow is falling, spotting taillights ahead can be a trying task. Halogen light bulbs were the standard, but now more manufacturers are moving to LED bulbs. LED bulbs outshine halogen bulbs, which gives winter drivers an edge when visibility is low.

5. Traction control

In slippery conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. The traction control feature helps tires grip such slippery roads. In wet conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. Traction control uses sensors to measure rotational speed in tires and triggers the engine to adjust the level of power the vehicle needs to regain control. If needed, the sensors can pump the brakes to keep the driver from losing control.

After winter or large thunderstorms, we will often find numerous new potholes. And if you’ve hit one before, you know that dreaded feeling; the heavy thud, praying the flat-tire light doesn’t come on, listening for the telling grinding of some loose part in your car. In fact, did you know that pothole damage accounts for nearly 500,000 insurance claims every year?
Here are a few tips to help avoid them:

  • Leave more space between you and the driver ahead of you. This is just general good driving practice, but it comes in handy avoiding potholes too. After all, the more space between you and the other guy, the more likely you are to notice a pothole and calmly dodge it.
  • Slow down. Ratchet your speed back a little bit to improve your reaction time. Also, hitting a pothole at lower speeds typically doesn’t cause as much, or as serious damage as hitting one at higher speeds.
  • Watch out for water. After a rainstorm or snow, potholes can fill with water. That makes them harder to see, and harder to judge how deep they are. That makes them even more mysterious and dangerous! So when in doubt, avoid them.

That’s why it’s important to stay alert, slow down, and keep an eye out, to avoid some costly damage and some serious stress.

For renters insurance, finding the right balance means choosing accurate, appropriate limits for your personal property and liability coverage. For the best results, this process may require a bit of effort. But if you’re strapped for time, there are some shortcuts you can take, too.
Inventory your possessions
Personal property coverage is probably the main reason you purchase a renters policy. The coverage will reimburse you for covered damage, loss, or theft of your personal possessions up to a certain dollar amount, so you’ll want to make sure you get that amount right.
Performing a home inventory is a good way to determine how much property coverage you need. This inventory lists your personal possessions, along with details about their age, purchase price or current value, and other identifying information. Document the items with receipts when possible. When you’ve completed the list, total the amounts to determine your coverage value. (You’ll also want to put an extra copy of the list in a safe place, in case you need it to support a claim.)
Assess your liability
Your renters policy’s liability coverage protects you if someone injures themselves in your home. It also protects you in case you or a family member causes damage to others’ property. Some policies will pay for defense and court costs, in addition to settlement costs.
The typical renters insurance policy offers $100,000 in liability coverage. Whether this limit is sufficient or not depends on numerous factors and we recommend working with agent to determine the proper coverage.
Supplement coverage if necessary
Keep in mind that your policy will exclude certain perils (such as earthquake and flood losses) and limit coverage on some items (such as computers, firearms, and silverware). If you have special insurance needs, talk to your agent about extending limits or adding separate policies.

Who is covered—and when?

Your auto policy will cover you and other family members on your policy, whether driving your insured car or someone else’s car with permission. Your policy also provides coverage if someone not on your policy is driving your car with your consent.
Your personal auto policy only covers personal driving, whether you’re commuting to work, running errands or taking a trip. Your personal auto policy, however, will not provide coverage if you use your car for commercial purposes—for instance, if you deliver pizzas or operate a delivery service. Note, too, that personal auto insurance will generally not provide coverage if you use your car to provide transportation to others through a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. Some auto insurers, however, are now offering supplemental insurance products (at additional cost) that extend coverage for vehicle owners providing ride-sharing services.