Every week I receive a call, text, or email that starts like this…”Sorry for the dumb question, but I was wondering if my insurance will cover me for (fill in the blank).” My standard response, “there are no dumb questions.”
Given the recent news of protests, riots, civil disturbance; the “not so dumb question of the week”:
Am I covered if this riot comes to my neighborhood and damages my home or car?
One of the standard perils that homeowner’s insurance (and renter’s policies) will cover is “riot or civil commotion”. So yes, if your home is damaged from civil disturbance, after paying your deductible, insurance will cover the damage, and cover additional living expenses if you are forced to live away from home while your place is being repaired.
Comprehensive coverage in auto policies covers damage to vehicles as a result of anything other than an accident. So, if you have comprehensive auto coverage, you’re all set. If you have a liability only policy, you would not be covered in this scenario.
I have always enjoyed stats and infographics to further my understanding of any given situation. I found the following from the Insurance Information Institute that may help bring this week’s event into perspective:
Badger Insurance Advisors
Congratulations! After weeks of research, comparing makes and models, and taking test drives, you finally bought that brand-new car you wanted. But before you take that well-deserved road trip, check one more item off your list: the right car insurance.
While some auto coverage options are essential, whatever the age of your car, new vehicles may carry some additional risks. So before leaving the lot, contact us to discuss your options and possible coverages:
New vehicle replacement. Here’s how this coverage works: If you’re the original owner of a new car that is totaled or stolen within one year of purchase, your insurance benefit will equal the full value of the car you lost or a comparable model. Without this policy, you may have to settle for something less than new.
Loan and lease coverage. Consider what could happen if you financed your new car, and then it was totaled or stolen soon after buying it. Not only would you lose your new ride, but you’d also still be on the hook for your entire loan balance — which would be more than the car was worth. With loan and lease coverage, you’d get a check to cover the gap between what’s left on your loan and the depreciated value of your car.
Audio-visual and custom equipment coverage. If you’re an avid music fan who enjoys a custom sound system or DVD player, this coverage protects you for the full value of any A/V equipment not installed at the factory or dealership. It also covers such modifications as roll bars, certain custom engine parts, lift kits, specialty wheels, artwork, decals, and other personal touches.
OEM parts replacement. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are often preferable to other aftermarket parts because they are made specifically for your make and model of vehicle. So if you want your Honda repaired with Honda parts, or your Mercedes to only have official Mercedes parts, this coverage is for you. When you buy this optional coverage, it’s added to your existing Comprehensive and Collision coverage so that all repairs or replacements made to your damaged car will include new OEM parts where available.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.
But that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable and much more.
Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.
With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverage varies from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverage you have and that which you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverage, reach out to us anytime; Badger Insurance Advisors 303-359-1799 for a comprehensive review.
What Home Insurance Covers
The typical homeowners insurance policy has six types of coverage. They are commonly known as:
Coverage A: Dwelling, for damage to your house that occurs due to covered losses, such as a fire. Following a covered loss, dwelling coverage helps you repair or rebuild your home, including the structures, such as a garage or a deck, attached to it.
Coverage B: Other Structures, for damage to other buildings or structures on your property that result from a covered loss, such as a tornado. This may include a detached garage, a barn or a fence.
Coverage C: Personal Property, for damage to or loss, including theft, of your personal belongings and possessions, such as jewelry, furniture, guns and other valuables. If you experience a covered loss, this coverage will help you replace items up to the defined dollar limit in your policy. In certain instances, your belongings may be worth more than the typical home insurance policy covers. In this case, you may be able to purchase additional coverage through a process known as “scheduling valuables.” To help expedite a personal property claim, it helps to keep an updated home inventory of your belongings.
Coverage D: Additional Living Expenses, for costs incurred, up to your set policy limit, due to “loss of use” of your home, meaning your home has been damaged to the extent that you cannot live in it and you need to live elsewhere. This coverage helps you handle the costs of your temporary housing and related expenses.
Coverage E: Personal Liability, for damage to other people’s property for which you are responsible. This coverage may also help you handle legal costs and liability judgments resulting from a lawsuit, up to the defined dollar amounts outlined in your policy.
Coverage F: Medical Payments to Others, for bodily injuries to other people, such as a houseguest, that occur in your home or on your property. Similar to personal liability coverage, this coverage helps with the costs of a lawsuit or legal decision, up to your defined policy limits.
Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverage, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.
What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.
More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups, and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.
What Home Insurance May Cover
Outside of the typical home insurance coverage, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.
Other coverage options are add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.
This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier, and the coverage you have selected. So whether you’re in the Denver metro area, or somewhere else in the country, take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverage online. Or, even better, reach out to us for a personalized review of your coverage in detail.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
As an insurance agent based in Colorado, one of my biggest challenges is finding new customers. When I started Badger Insurance Advisors (BIA), it began with a simple mission: think in the eyes of the consumer and make the shopping process simple and straightforward! What could be easier than online shopping, right? So I reached out to my good friend Jason at Watermark in Denver to help me develop a web marketing strategy, and voila https://badgerinsuranceadvisors.com/ was born.
Well, a great website is worthless if you don’t drive traffic to it! Business development step #2, spend money on online advertising to get eyeballs to the site. In the insurance business, there is an endless supply of lead generation services catering to insurance brokers. Like many nascent agencies, I bit the bullet and agreed to pay roughly $10 per contact interested in home and auto insurance in the Denver and Wash Park area. Long story short, BIA no longer markets this way; the return on investment was not acceptable (now I know why—remember I’m a consumer too), which leads me to the title of this blog…
SHOPPING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE ONLINE IS DOWNRIGHT PAINFUL!
Last Tuesday, I put on my consumer hat and thought it’d be a good idea to shop my health insurance. Yes, even agents need to shop from time to time. I key in this really helpful website called “Google” and search for “health insurance Denver,” which leads me to some websites, where I reluctantly filled in some personal details expecting a quick answer of $x.xx per month, and the pain begins…
Day 1: 54 phone calls, one from an actual person in Douglas County, accompanied by robotic voice messages, and a handful of texts.
Day 2: 33 incoming calls, followed by numerous messages and texts.
Day 3: You see where this is going!
One week later: calls/messages/texts persist, although the numbers seem to be dwindling.
Where am I going with this? A gross example of why we no longer “pay per click” advertise. Customers will become easily irritated and most likely not have a pleasant shopping experience. Online commerce is an excellent tool, but buyer beware! Agent tip: when shopping for insurance, never complete a generic weblink offering a quote or service. Your information will be sold to a provider ready to badger you for your business. Speaking of Badgers, at Badger Insurance Advisors, online shopping is simple: https://badgerinsuranceadvisors.com/request-a-quote/. The “Badger” in BIA refers to where I went to school and was raised, not to our method of servicing customers! Online inquiries to a specific provider will always connect you with a trusted advisor and solution to a majority of your insurance needs.
Gotta run, my phone is ringing. I wonder who is calling?
Med Pay? PIP? Dec pages? Insurance terms explained
With all kinds of different coverages for all kinds of different needs, insurance can be very confusing. And to make it even more challenging, at times it probably seems like insurance websites and policy documents are written in a completely foreign language.
Of course, that’s why we recommend working with an independent agent—someone who is on your side during the process and who can explain everything you need to know.
Even if you do work with an independent agent, however, it’s good to have a little basic knowledge about insurance. Below are definitions for some common terms that will help you understand your coverage a little better.
General insurance terms
- Actual cash value: This type of coverage pays according to what an item was worth at the time it was damaged—it takes depreciation and wear and tear into account. For example, if you could have sold your couch for about $200 just before it was damaged, that’s the actual cash value, even if a similar new couch would cost $1,000.
- Actual replacement cost: This pays the amount it would cost to replace a damaged item with a new one (such as the $1,000 couch above). It does not factor in depreciation or wear and tear.
- Adjuster: A person who works for an insurance company to evaluate losses and settle claims.
- Additional insured: Someone who is not the policyholder, but is still covered by an insurance policy.
- Declarations page: This is what creates a contract between you and the insurance company. It describes who owns the policy, what property is covered and for how much, etc.
- Deductible: The amount you agree to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. For example, if the cost to fix your car is $2,000, but your deductible is $1,000, you would pay $1,000 of the total cost. Typically, a higher deductible means a lower premium.
- Endorsement: This is a change to your insurance policy’s coverage, usually made through a special form.
- Exclusion: Something specifically listed in your policy that is not covered by the policy.
- Liability: Your responsibility for injuries or damage to other people or property. You purchase insurance to protect against liability and other risks.
- Loss of use: When damage from an accident or other cause prevents someone from being able to live in their home or drive their car.
- Med Pay (medical payments): This pays for medical expenses for those covered by your policy in the event of an auto accident, regardless of fault. It also covers medical expenses for guests if they are injured on your property, but unless it is a car accident, it usually does not cover injuries someone suffers on their own property.
- Premium: The amount you pay for an insurance policy.
- Subrogation: When an insurance company pays a claim, and then seeks damages from a third party who was responsible for causing the damage or loss. For example, your insurance company might pay for your car to be fixed even though an accident wasn’t your fault—and then pursue reimbursement from the person who was at fault.
- Term: The period of time your insurance policy is in effect, usually six or 12 months.
- Umbrella: A policy that provides additional liability coverage. It kicks in after your other insurance policies have reached their coverage limits.
- Underwriting: The evaluation process insurance companies use to determine if they will provide coverage to a customer.
Auto insurance terms
- Aftermarket parts: Vehicle parts made by a different company than the one that manufactured those originally included with the vehicle.
- Bodily injury coverage: Covers expenses for physical injuries, such as hospital bills or medical care.
- Collision coverage: This pays for damage to a vehicle caused by you or someone else covered by your policy.
- Comprehensive coverage: If your vehicle is damaged by something you could not control, such as fire or a tree falling, comprehensive coverage applies.
- PIP (personal injury protection): This pays medical expenses for a policyholder or additional insured, and their passengers, if they are hurt in an auto accident, regardless of fault.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM): Pays for your damages and expenses if another driver is at fault in an accident but does not have enough insurance to cover your costs.
Homeowners insurance terms
- Additional living expenses: Coverage for expenses above your usual living expenses, such as if you have to stay in a hotel because you can’t live in your damaged home.
- Catastrophe: A disaster, such as a hurricane or a tornado, that impacts a specific area and results in significant damage.
- Flood insurance: Typically, standard homeowners policies do not provide coverage for flooding—it must be purchased separately.
- Home contents: These are the things inside your house that aren’t fixed to the structure, such as your furniture, appliances, etc.
- Peril: A specifically defined risk, such as hail, flooding, wind, etc.
- Scheduled personal property: Separate coverage for high-value items, such as expensive jewelry, that exceed the limits of your policy or are otherwise excluded.
If something isn’t clear when you’re buying or considering insurance, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your independent agent is there to help you get the coverage you need—and make sure you understand it, too.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Drafty windows. Leaky faucets. Dirty air filters.
All are common issues in homes across the country, and they’re not just annoying—they also cost you money in decreased energy efficiency and higher bills.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homeowners can save 5% to 30% on annual energy costs by incorporating technologies to make their homes operate more efficiently. Think that’s not a big deal? Based on typical energy costs, it could mean savings ranging from $105 to $627, according to Energy Star.
That sounds pretty good to us. And even if you’re not the handiest person when it comes to home maintenance, checking your energy efficiency is something you can easily do yourself. (Although if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, Energy Star recommends a professional home-energy audit.)
Just follow the tips below—you’ll see where your home loses energy, how efficient your heating and cooling systems are, and ways you can decrease your electricity use.
First, just for reference, here’s how the average energy bill breaks down:
Water heating: 13%
Where’s the air?
Air commonly leaks from homes through gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets and windows or doors—if you feel like you’re running the heat all the time to no avail, that warm air might be escaping. Stopping these drafts can save up to 30 percent of your yearly energy costs (it will keep the cool air inside during the summer, too). Be sure to check your home’s exterior as well, paying particular attention to areas where two different building materials meet. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk or weather stripping.
Don’t wait to insulate
Check to see if you have enough insulation in your ceiling and walls. The attic door or hatch should be insulated and close tightly. For walls, make a small hole in a closet or other inconspicuous place and probe into the wall with a screwdriver—if the area isn’t completely filled with insulation, you’re probably losing heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.
Check your furnace and AC systems
Heating and cooling systems that work correctly and efficiently can save you frustration as well as money. Make sure ducts and pipes are insulated properly and have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional each year. Filters for forced-air furnaces should be replaced as soon as they are dirty, or every 30 to 60 days.
Let there be (efficient) light
More than half of the light sockets in the U.S. still contain an inefficient bulb, according to Energy Star—and the average home has about 70 sockets! LED bulbs use 90% energy versus regular bulbs, and they last a lot longer, too. Many will still be going after 20 years.
See how your home stacks up
Energy Star also offers a Home Energy Yardstick that allows you to compare your home’s efficiency to similar homes across the country and get advice on how to improve. It takes just five minutes. Learn more here.
Anyone can take steps to save energy—whether you’re a hardcore do-it-yourselfer or someone simply tired of sending a big check to the power company every month. Just don’t forget what might be the most important thing of all after you finish your audit and make your home more efficient: Deciding how to spend the money you’ll save!
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Owning a home is usually a great experience. But it can also be a hassle, especially when unexpected issues pop up—whether you have a minor breakdown or a major catastrophe, it’s almost certainly going to require time and money to fix.
In many instances, however, those “unexpected” issues shouldn’t really be a surprise at all, because they’re often caused by a lack of maintenance or other oversights by homeowners. And not just new homeowners, either: It’s common for people who have been in a home for years to neglect even some of the most basic tasks that can prevent problems down the road.
Here are five mistakes we often see homeowners make—and tips from experts to help you avoid them.
- Forgetting about (or ignoring) the small stuff. The toilet that runs constantly? Have a faucet with a slow drip? The little crack in that one board on the deck? They might not seem like big problems, but they can turn into bigger issues over time. For example, a leaky faucet or running toilet might mean your water bill is higher than it should be. And that small crack can lead to rot, which could lead to having to replace the board—or the entire deck. When you see “small” things around the house, take steps to address them as soon as you can, because it likely will be a lot easier (and cheaper) today or tomorrow than a year from now.
- Not doing regular checks around the house. Speaking of seeing things around the house, how often do you look around the house? You’d be surprised how many homeowners haven’t been in their attic or crawlspace for years. It’s a good idea to do a walk-through periodically to look for issues such as leaks, areas of wear or other problems. And don’t forget to go outside! How is your roof looking? Do you see any cracks in your siding? Are the seals around your doors and windows solid? It’s important to catch those things before the rainy season begins in fall and winter.
- Maintaining your appliances. Not only will keeping your appliances in good shape ensure they work effectively and prolong their lifespan, but maintenance also can prevent serious risks. For example, when was the last time you cleaned out your dryer exhaust vent? No, not the screen you pull out when you’re doing laundry, but the one on the back or side. Too much lint buildup there can cause a fire—so clean it out at least once a year. You also should check the hoses connected to your washing machine and dishwasher. Are they worn? Do they need to be replaced? Do it now, before one fails when you’re not at home and causes significant water damage. Other tips:
- Clean your refrigerator coils at least once a year.
- Clear out your dishwasher’s food filter regularly.
- Vacuum up dust and other debris in window air conditioners before you start using them each year.
- Remember to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, installing fresh batteries each time.
- Neglecting other systems. Your HVAC system needs attention so it won’t fail when you need it most. Having your furnace, heat pump and/or central AC unit serviced each year before you start using them heavily will alert you to any potential problems. You don’t want to find out that your furnace is out of whack when it’s 30 degrees outside, or that your AC is on the fritz when it’s 95. Change filters at the appropriate intervals, and if it’s been a while since you’ve had your ducts cleaned, consider that as well.
- Not having a home warranty. Despite your best maintenance efforts, that air conditioner might break down, leaving you sweltering in the summer. The water heater could stop working, meaning cold showers every morning. Or the refrigerator suddenly won’t get very cold any more. These things sometimes just happen, and if your appliance is out of warranty, you’re on the hook.
Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so it pays to be diligent about caring for it. Keep your eyes open around the house. Don’t hesitate to get out the tools, or call a professional if needed. Remember, prevention is the best medicine—and that old saying holds true just as much for your home’s health as it does for yours.
Have some new jewelry in the house? Protect it!
Ah, Valentine’s Day is near, and love is in the air. Well, love and a few other things, such as chocolates, romantic dinners, candy hearts that say “Be Mine” – and, of course, jewelry.
It’s exciting to receive jewelry from a loved one — or to give it as a gift. Not to mention romantic. But if you’re lucky enough to have some new jewelry in your Colorado or Wisconsin home this Valentine’s Day, you should take a few minutes to think about something you probably don’t find exciting or romantic: insurance.
Don’t know where to turn? Don’t worry. At Badger Insurance Advisors, we think it is exciting to help our customers protect what’s most important to them — so we’re ready to help and can answer all of your questions.
Things to consider when insuring jewelry:
You may need to purchase additional coverage. Your homeowner’s policy covers valuable items such as jewelry only up to set amounts. If the cost of replacing your jewelry exceeds that limit, you will want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage. You can check your policy or give us a call at (303) 359-1799.
You might want to reconsider your deductible amounts. As always, this impacts your policy premium. It’s a good idea to take a look at your deductibles whenever you make a change to your policy.
Do you need an appraisal? You may need to have an independent appraisal if the insurance company requires it or if you don’t know the value of your jewelry. Each item should be listed with a description and value on paper.
What kind of coverage is offered? You’ll want to determine if items are covered no matter where they are, whether they’re in Denver (or my hometown of Manitowoc), or on an international trip, and if the policy offers full replacement cost. You also should ask if you will be required to replace your jewelry if lost or stolen, or if you can simply keep the cash settlement.
Pictures can be helpful. Lost or stolen pieces of jewelry sometimes can be recreated if the jeweler has a good photograph from which to work.
Should I go with a company that specializes in jewelry insurance? There are companies that specialize in jewelry insurance. Whether you choose one of these or a company that we represent, you’ll want to make sure they are reputable and stable.
Is the value of your jewelry mainly sentimental? Is an item irreplaceable? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you might consider foregoing insurance. But please, talk to us at Badger Insurance Advisors before making that decision. That’s why we’re here.
Of course, it’s important to store your jewelry securely when it’s not in use; a safe in your home or a safe-deposit box is best. We want your jewelry to be replaced if it’s lost or stolen, but we’d rather your sentimental and valuable pieces stay with you and your family for years to come.
Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is full of fun and romance. And if there’s no jewelry involved, well, there’s always next year!
For further questions and assistance, please contact Badger Insurance Advisors at (303) 359-1799 or email@example.com.
Content provided by Safeco Insurance
So You Need (or Want) to Take a Defensive Driving Course
Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there are a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available in Denver and throughout Colorado these days.
But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:
- Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.
- Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also, ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.
- Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.
- Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.
- Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly.
No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, at Badger Insurance Advisors, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!
2018 New Year’s Resolutions: Homeowners Insurance
When it comes to homeowners insurance, you have two components to consider: the dwelling and your possessions.
Throughout Colorado, real estate prices have been climbing steadily. Aside from our well-known homeowner’s risk (hail storms), increasing home values, along with rising building material costs are issues that impact our costs of insurance.
When considering your possessions, think about the following:
- Do I have more stuff now than when I initially purchased my homeowner’s policy?
- If a catastrophe occurred, what would be the financial impact?
Taking a regular inventory of your items helps to figure out if you have the adequate amount of homeowner’s insurance.
Regarding your stuff, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free smartphone app, myHOME Scr.APP.book, which is an excellent tool to help you determine how much insurance is necessary. (Available for both iPhone and Android) From the Google Play Store: The MyHOME Scr.APP.book home inventory application lets you quickly capture images, descriptions, and serial numbers of your prized possessions. The app organizes information by room or by category and even creates a backup file for email sharing. It is great for determining how much insurance you need and for filing a claim.