Last week we mentioned how when the temperature drops, the number of claims associated with fires and frozen pipes skyrockets.   We also provided some tips on avoiding fire claims inside of your home.   This week our focus in avoiding the dreaded frozen pipes.
Before the Cold Hits:

  • Check for small holes or cracks in the exterior of your home and ensure they are insulated.
  • Cover around any water pipes that are on the inside of exterior walls.

If your House is Occupied During the Winter:

  • Maintain temperature settings at 3-4 degrees higher than normal.
  • Turn on any faucets and allow a constant trickle.
  • Open any cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to warm the pipes.
  • Insulate your pipes.
  • Shut off exterior faucets used for garden hoses from inside your basement and leave the exterior faucets open outside.

If your House is Unoccupied During the Winter:

  • Set the thermostat no lower than 60 degrees and install a low heat alarm.
  • Have a plumber install a low water cutoff switch on a forced hot water boiler.
  • Have the water service shut off all to your house.
  • Drain all waterlines leaving drain valves open.
  • Shut off gas to the home.
  • Have the house checked weekly.

If you are interested in any additional tips for your home or you would like a quote on your homeowners insurance, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

A lot of reports discuss how to save money on your home insurance.  The problem with many of those reports is the suggestions provided only translate into a savings of $20 or so a year.
We want to provide you with 5 tips that will actually translate into saving hundreds of dollars on your policy.
The best part is our suggestions don’t have anything to do with eliminating coverages or decreasing limits.
1.      Watch Your Credit
Most insurance companies now use credit as one of the primary factors in determining your premiums.  The higher your credit score, the less you pay in premiums. Insurance companies do this because insurance studies show a strong correlation between your credit score and the likelihood of filing a claim.
For those people who may have had a hardship that negatively affected their credit, some insurance companies will consider a life event exception.  Make sure you talk to your agent if you’ve had an event in your life that would qualify.
2.      When Purchasing a Home, Factor in the Cost of Insurance
If you are purchasing a new home, there are a few simple things you can look for that can drastically reduce your insurance premiums.
-How old are the electrical, heating, and plumbing systems in the home?  
If any of those systems are more than 10 years old, there is a very good chance you will be paying more in premium.
-Are the home’s construction materials the best suited for the climate or area? 
For example, if you live in an earthquake-prone area, a frame house has a greater probability of withstanding the disaster over other types of construction. Your insurance premium will reflect that information.
-What type of fire department does the area have?  
Is the fire department fully staffed, or is it a volunteer department?   How far away do you live from a fire hydrant and the fire station?  How long would it take for the fire department to respond to an emergency call? These questions will definitely affect the premium pricing.
-Is the area prone to disasters like floods, landslides, earthquakes, or hurricanes? 
If it is, a standard homeowners insurance policy will be insufficient.  You will probably need to purchase a flood or earthquake policy, which will cause your insurance premiums to quickly escalate.
-Do you know if the home has experienced claims in the past? 
By looking at a C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report, you can see what types of claims the property has experience in the past.
3.     Ask About Discounts
 Most carriers have a number of discounts available if you qualify.  It is always good practice to confirm with your agent that you are receiving the maximum number of discounts available.
Here are some of the most common discounts:

  • Auto and Home Insurance with the same company
  • Mature homeowner (age 55+)
  • Being a member of a particular association or employer
  • Fire Detection or Sprinkler System
  • Alarm System

4.     Make Your Home Disaster/Claim Resistant
While we are trying to focus this report on ways to save money, there are a few home improvement tips that could save you thousands during the time you own your home.   While you may have to incur some upfront costs for the changes, these two improvements can save you a lot of money:
Secure Your Home. Installing an alarm system, dead-bolt locks, and home-security cameras can significantly reduce the chances of burglary to your home, which will also decrease your insurance premiums.
Disaster Proof Your Home. Adding storm shutters, stronger roofing materials, or retrofitting your home can protect it from a large claim in the event of a weather-related disaster.   It will also decrease your annual insurance costs.
5. Pay the Policy in Full
Many insurance companies now offer significant discounts (10 – 15% off the total premium) if you pay for the policy in full rather than dividing it up into monthly payments.  Also, by paying the policy in full you avoid monthly service charges that add $7 – $15 to each bill.
When you take those two things into account, you can save a few hundred dollars by just paying for the entire policy upfront.
Most agents are used to just providing their clients with a monthly payment option, so be sure to ask what kind of discount you will receive when you pay for the policy in full.  Also, ask your agent how much of an installment fee is charged on each bill if you decide to go with the monthly payment option.

There are different insurance packages available under Arvada homeowners insurance that will protect your home and your belongings.  It’s important to know which risks an Arvada homeowners insurance poiicy covers and which risks it excludes.  Each policy will include the same basic coverages like protection against fire, windstorm, and theft.  However, it’s important to review your policy’s exclusions because events you think are covered, like flood, are probably excluded on your Arvada homeowners insurance policy.
The following coverages are the most basic insurance coverages to an Arvada homeowners insurance policy:
1. Damage to Real Property
Real Property applies to your home’s structure or dwelling.   Your dwelling limit will also usually include coverage for other structures on your property like a detached garage or shed at a smaller specified amount (i.e. 10% of the dwelling amount) as well.
The dwelling limit can include some additional coverages for removing debris, the increased cost of construction, cost of reasonable repairs to protect your dwelling from further damage, the removal of trees and shrubs, and any fire department service charge for responding to a claim.
2. Damage to Personal Property
Personal property is usually defined to protect any property and personal belongings within the walls of your home owned by you or other family members living in the home.
Your personal property insurance limit is usually calculated as a percentage of your dwelling value (50 to 75%).   It’s important to note that your personal property coverage will limit the amount it will pay on certain items like jewelry, guns, computers, silverware, and expensive antiques.
3. Additional Cost of Alternative Living Expenses
Most Arvada homeowners insurance policies will pay the expenses of alternative living expenses (i.e. hotel) for covered claims to the dwelling or personal propety.   The policy limit is usually a percentage of the dwelling’s value as well (i.e. 20%).
4. Personal Liability Coverage
Personal liability coverage protects you and your family against claims (non-auto or business related) that result in bodily injury or property damage to others.   The amount of coverage available is usually $50,000 to $500,000 in liability protection.  For amounts higher than that, you should consider purchasing an umbrella insurance policy.
5. Medical Payments
Medical payments is a small sub-limit coverage designed to pay small medical bills and expenses for people injured on your property.   This coverage is considered a “no-fault” coverage meaning that it doesn’t matter who was negligent as the policy will pay the limit regardless.
If you are interested in an Arvada homeowners insurance quote or wouldl like to find out if your current insurance coverages are adequate for your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.