Friday, August 3, 2012

Flood Insurance

Floods don’t necessarily have to be of epic proportions to cause catastrophic damage to your home. For instance, the National Flood Insurance Program reports that, on average, just two inches of flooding can cause $7,800 of damage to your home. When you compare the magnitude of the potential damage to the actual cost of flood insurance (usually only a few hundred dollars per year for most regions), not carrying coverage seems especially illogical. Your home, your memories, and your possessions are too valuable to go without flood coverage, and we can assist you in finding a policy with our complimentary referrals.

Condo Insurance

Condo owners have slightly different needs from homeowners or renters. Usually, condo dwellers own their units, which make them similar in a way to homeowners. However, like renters, condo owners have limited liability with regard to damage to their unit. Condo insurance addresses all of these needs, offering physical damage protection of the unit as well as liability coverage. Most condo associations define everything within the external walls of their unit as the owner’s responsibility, which is a nearly impossible financial burden to shoulder without a condo policy.

Other Homeowner Considerations

While most of the factors in calculating home insurance revolve around your dwelling, some have to do with you. Many insurance companies base their rates on demographics such as your marital status, sex, and age. Your credit score may also be used to help determine your insurance costs, so keep it as high as possible. Finally, the overall quality of your home may also come to play when your insurance company decides your rates. Do you have a new home that’s built to last with high quality materials? While you may be paying a pretty penny to actually own your home, your house insurance will probably less expensive than someone’s with an older and less expensive house.

How is Home Insurance Calculated?

Possibly the most important aspect in determining your house insurance is the condition of your home. Any problems your home may have could up the cost of insurance, such as damaged roofing, bad electrical wiring, or even a termite infestation. If there are any possible issues with your home’s condition, your best bet is to get them taken care of before applying for insurance. However, you can still make the necessary repairs after you have your policy, just alert your insurance provider so they can inspect and approve the work.
Other factors in your house insurance rates are the type of safety features installed in your home. If you have up to date smoke detectors and a decent alarm system, you could potentially save money on your insurance as these protect your home from damage and theft. Unfortunately for smokers, cigarettes are seen as a possible fire hazard and can increase your home insurance costs.
You’ve heard it before – location, location, location. You’re house insurance costs could be drastically affected by where your home is located. If you live in a city or state that is prone to natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, or even earthquakes, you can expect a higher insurance rate. Areas with high rates in thefts or other crimes often carry higher insurance costs too.

Homeowners Insurance – Protect Your Most Significant Investment

Homeownership is so much more than mortgage payments and tax breaks. Owning a home is also a source of pride, a rite of passage, and a solid investment tool. Homes require a substantial financial commitment on your part. With all of the money, time, and effort that you’ve poured into your home, it’s only logical that you would do everything you could to protect it.
With a home insurance policy, you will have the security of knowing that an unfortunate event would not leave you homeless and penniless. A tornado, fire, or other disaster may strike your home, but your homeowners insurance policy would protect your finances from devastation. Your policy would allow you to repair or rebuild your home and pay for your living expenses until your home was habitable again. Moreover, you enjoy the security of liability protection. If you were sued, your home insurance coverage would pay for your legal counsel and handle any judgments issued against you.
Have you ever wondered how your house insurance rates are determined by insurance companies? Believe it or not, insurance providers don’t simply charge you some arbitrary number, they have a specific formula and set of guidelines they follow in calculating your rates. Once you know how insurance rates are determined, you can figure out about how much a policy should cost you or get ideas for lowering your current rates if you already have a policy. Here are some of the typical factors companies use in coming up with your home insurance rates.

What to Look for When Shopping for Auto Insurance

For some getting auto insurance is a new experience and all too often people are not prepared to deal with the situation. Now is the time to take a minute and absorb some of the very valuable auto insurance information that can help save you time and money. Here are some terms you will undoubtedly come across when shopping for coverage:
  • Collision - Typically covers vehicle damage that is the result of an accident with another vehicle. Depending on who is at fault the insurance will cover the cost to fix your vehicle and the others vehicle or vise versa. There may also be a deductible associated with this that you may have to pay and the insurance company covers the rest, this cost can vary depending on the coverage.
  • Property Damage Liability - This is for the damage you or another driving your vehicle may inflict on another’s property.
  • Bodily Injury Liability - This coverage is designed for injury expenses that you, the policyholder, cause to someone else from the direct result of an accident involving your vehicle. The minimum coverage is set by the state, but more should be considered just in case.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - This is designated to injuries sustained to the policyholder of the vehicle or passenger within. Usually will cover medical payments, lost wages, rehabilitation, and in extreme cases even funeral costs.
  • Comprehensive - You should expect to be covered in a situation where you have suffered a loss or damage to your vehicle in an accident with something other than another vehicle. Such things as theft, vandalism, or even fire are covered under this feature.
It is important to protect your vehicle and know what you get when you are looking for cheap auto insurance. Getting the minimum coverage can prove to be very inexpensive, but at the same time offer great coverage that will protect you. Also consider these add-ons for the ultimate protection:
  • Gap Insurance - If you owe more on the car then it is worth, gap insurance is for you. This insurance will help pay off the remainder of the car if it gets stolen or in an accident.
  • Rental Reimbursement - If your car is in the shop and will be there for a few days you may need a rental car. This part of the insurance helps you by giving you money back for the rental car you may need in the event this happens.
Finding auto insurance shouldn’t be a difficult task just because there are so many companies out there competing for your business. If you drive a vehicle, you need to have insurance. It’s important to you and your finances that you get the coverage that fits your budget and protects you if and when you need it. Shopping online for auto insurance can be one of the best ways to get your coverage. Most online companies will provide you with free quotes or estimates to let you know what you should expect to pay for the amount of insurance you need or want. Why take valuable time to go to an auto insurance company during the day when they set their hours. Getting auto insurance over the internet allows you to hunt down the insurance coverage you want at a rate that is appealing to you, all while you are in the comfort of your own home. Take the time now, if you are looking for auto insurance, to compare quotes to see how much you could save.

Stay Protected on the Road with Auto Insurance Coverage

Every single state in the U.S. now has some form of mandatory auto insurance legislation. In some states, the law requires drivers to purchase minimum levels of property damage and bodily injury liability. With other states, drivers do not have to purchase insurance coverage as long as they can demonstrate financial responsibility. Regardless of the specifications of the law, the message is clear: drivers need the financial protection of auto insurance. In today’s litigious climate, driving without adequate auto coverage is extraordinarily risky. You could face hefty legal judgments against you after even a minor collision. Without liability protection, your assets would be at stake.
As important as liability protection is, most drivers should not limit their coverage strictly to that arena. A well-rounded policy that includes coverage like comprehensive, collision, and rental reimbursement affords the most financial protection. With full coverage, you protect one of your most valuable assets, your car, while also minimizing your legal liability in the event of an accident.

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The weather is warming and homeowners across the country are making their way outdoors. Months of barbecues and backyard hangouts are right around the corner. Here are a few tips for preparing your home and family for a safe spring and summer season:
-1- Inspect decks and porches
In the warmer months there’s no better place to chill out a sip a cool drink than the comfort of a shady porch or deck. However, decks and porches are also a common place for weather damage and potential injuries if not properly maintained. Do a thorough inspection of all your outdoor infrastructure especially checking the areas where your deck comes into contact with your home for water damage. Take a look at the footings and make sure to repair any decayed or rotting boards immediately. Also check the flooring of your deck or porch for mold, moss and mildew and use a power washer to remove any traces you find to prevent slips and falls.
-2- How did your roof fair the winter?
Depending on the amount of snow, hail and wind your home sustained this winter it may be a good time to get up on your house and check the condition of your roof. If you aren’t experienced with this or don’t feel comfortable hire a roof expert to do an inspection. Finding any damage now can prevent a ton of issues down the line.
-3- Gutter cleaning
Clogged or broken gutters can create major problems once spring rains are among us. Gutters can get clogged with leaves and debris over the fall and winter months that can cause water to run back into your home causing ceiling and wall damage (as well as mold!). Clear downspouts and drains and make sure water can flow away from your foundation.
-4- Clear trees and limbs
Tree limbs and branches that are weak or hanging can cause serious damage to your home or your neighbors’ home. Cut down any threatening limbs you can find or hire a landscaper to do a spring cleanup.
-5- Patch walkways
Cracks and damage to pavement, stone and brick in your walkways pose a major slip and fall hazard for your family, guests and even the mailman. Avoid the injuries (and medical bills!) by inspecting the major walkways leading to and around your home. You can buy patching materials from any major home center store to restore asphalt and concrete surfaces.
For more seasonal articles on ways to prevent homeowners insurance claims read:

4th DCA Analyzes Late Notice and Failure to File Proof of Loss

Yesterday, in Kramer v. State Farm Florida Insurance Company, ____ So.3d ____ (Fla. 4th DCA July 18, 2012), the 4th DCA reiterated the analysis courts must go through when evaluating late notice and late submission of Proof of Loss cases.
In Kramer, the insured homeowners claimed that their home was damaged by a hurricane. However, they didn’t submit the claim until four years later when their roof began to leak. Because of the late notice and an untimely submission of a Proof of Loss form, the homeowners insurer refused to pay. The homeowners filed suit.
In a Motion for Summary Judgment, the homeowners’ insurer asked the trial court to dismiss the case because of the late notice and the late submission of a Proof of Loss. The insurance company recognized that the issues were controlled by the Florida Supreme Court decision in Bankers Insurance Co. v. Macias, 475 So.2d 1216 (Fla. 1985). Under Macias, “[i]f the insured breaches the notice provision, prejudice to the insurer will be presumed.” However, the insurer conceded that under Macias, the presumed prejudice “may be rebutted by a showing that the insurer has not been prejudiced by the lack of notice.” The insurer argued, however, that the insureds failed to make any such showing in the record.
The trial court agreed and granted the insurer’s motion. The insureds appealed.
The first issue addressed by the 4th DCA was whether notice and Proof of Loss provisions were “conditions precedent” to filing suit, or “conditions subsequent.” Under the conditions precedent analysis, the insured has the burden of proving no prejudice to the insurer; and under the conditions precedent subsequent analysis the insurer has the burden of proving that it was not prejudiced. So, whether these provisions are conditions precedent, or conditions subsequent matter – a lot. (Isn’t this the most interesting stuff you’ve ever read?)
Following a long line of cases, the Court quickly concluded that the notice and Proof of Loss provisions in the policy were “conditions precedent” to filing suit. Having concluded that these were “conditions precedent” to filing suit, the 4th held that Macias controlled its analysis. In ruling, the Court stated:
Despite the fact that a notice of loss and a sworn proof of loss are conditions precedent to suit, however, our supreme court long has held that “[s]uch a condition can be avoided by a party alleging and showing that the insurance carrier was not prejudiced by noncompliance with the condition.” Bankers, 475 So. 2d at 1218. In other words, “[i]f the insured breaches the notice provision, prejudice to the insurer will be presumed, but may be rebutted by a showing that the insurer has not been prejudiced by the lack of notice.” Id. (citations omitted).
Applying that principle to this case, the insureds’ untimely pre-suit notice of the alleged loss and untimely pre-suit submission of the sworn proof of loss is presumed to have prejudiced the insurer. Thus, the burden shifted to the insureds to show that the insurer was not prejudiced by their untimely pre-suit notice of the alleged loss and the untimely pre-suit submission of the sworn proof of loss. This burden shifting is consistent with the burden shifting which occurs on a motion for summary judgment when the movant has met the initial burden of demonstrating the nonexistence of any genuine issue of material fact.
This case is really nothing new. However, it is an important decision to me personally. Recently I tried a case very similar to this one in front of a jury. The trial judge performed a Macias analysis, and allowed me to argue to the jury that the insurance company was not prejudiced by my clients’ failure to submit a Proof of Loss form. The jury specifically found on the verdict that the insurance company had not been prejudiced. In spite of this, the insurance company has appealed arguing that Macias should not apply. This new case out of the 4th will further support our position in my case.

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Life insurance may be one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. In the event of a tragedy, life insurance proceeds can help pay the bills, continue a family business, finance future needs like your children’s education, protect your spouse’s retirement plans, and much more. This section can help you gain a better understanding of life insurance and its role within a sound financial plan, and answer many of your questions. You’ll find information and interactive tools to help you get a sense of how much and what kind to buy, plus information about how different life events, such as having children or buying a home, can affect your insurance needs. For those ready to consider a purchase, there’s advice for finding and working with an agent, and an agent locator search engine to help you find a qualified insurance professional in your area.