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Colorado Wildfires: How to Protect Your Home

Lower than normal Colorado Wildfires are being predicated this summer by meteorologists.  A cooling trend this spring and strong end of season snow storms are helping. But there will still be wildfires, and you know that Colorado weather changes with the wind…and that’s what could cause more wildfires.

We hope for a reprieve, but it’s always wise at this time of year to take some precautions to protect your home from the unexpected.

How to Protect Your Home from Colorado Wildfires

No building is fireproof, but there are steps you can take to better the chances when wildfire strikes.

  • Define your defensible space—a 30-foot, non-combustible zone around your home.
  • Choose fire-resistant plants and trees.
  • Remove or prune low hanging tree branches.
  • Cut grass and weeds regularly and keep your roof and yard clean, especially from dry yard debris.
  • Stack wood piles or other burnable materials at least 30 feet from your home or other buildings on your property.
  • Keep signs and addresses visible so firefighters can easily locate your property.
  • Rate your roof—is it fire resistant?
  • Recycle yard debris and branches instead of burning.

Know What Your Insurance Covers and How Much You Need

Review your homeowner’s insurance policy for detailed coverage explanations. Do you have coverage for repairs or rebuilding costs?  If so what are the deductibles?  How much is available for repairs?  Will the current policy replacement cost be enough? If you can’t live in your home does your policy provide additional living expense coverage?

Don’t let the potential of a less than average Colorado wildfire season put the review of your insurance policy on the “back burner”.  With rising housing costs, it’s important to review your policy annually to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild based on current construction costs.

When a Wildfire Strikes Protect Yourself and Your Family

If a wildfire starts in your area, monitor local news reports for evacuation procedures. Prepare for
evacuation by turning off gas valves and pilot lights, closing all windows and doors and packing your car for quick departure, if there is time and it is safe to do so. Return to a burned area only when local authorities have instructed you to do so.

Current Colorado Wildfires, Bans and Restrictions

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control provides up to date information on current wildfires, fire bans and restrictions. The following map provides a snapshot of information.  To learn more please visit their website Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Call Us Today for a Quick Homeowners Policy Review

If you’re not sure about your coverage in the event your home is damaged or destroyed by a wildfire, please call us at 303- 777-2991 for a quick policy review.

Meet Aspen Insurance Client Wild Women Wine

Chief Wild Woman Charlene Meriwether insists that wine is about the experience and “if you aren’t having fun…we’ll ask you to leave!”  Never the conformist, Charlene and Wild Women Wine are the antithesis of wine snobbery.

 

Wild Women Wine is a Colorado boutique winery and tasting room.  Peek in the windows and it won’t look like a traditional winery or tasting room.  And that’s on purpose.

You Will Have Fun at Wild Women Wine

Located in the heart of downtown Denver, the historic building Charlene and her husband, vintner Ross Meriwether, chose for their wine business, is filled with original character. It immediately signals to visitors that wine doesn’t have to be something that is serious. It can be fun.  And they make a point to offer a fun experience.

Starting with the names of Wild Women Wine; Naked Chardonnay, Skinny Bitch Sauvignon Blanc, Big Girl Barbara, and Hot in Heels Zinfandel, fun is infused into the Wild Women Wine experience. The labels turn up the volume with engaging and provocative artwork, which clearly distinguish the Wild Women Wine experience from other brands.

Handcrafted Wines Bottled With Your Custom Label

Customers can also create labels to be applied to Wild Women Wines of their choosing.  Everything from hand drawn artwork to pictures from a cell phone has been used to create labels that express unique messages for customers.

And if that’s not enough fun, customers can also design a handcrafted wine blend, perfected for their palate.  Working with the Wild Women Wine expert vintner, customers are guided through a tasting process that includes many flavor options.  A great example is a couple who owned a Kona coffee farm in Hawaii. They loved the Wild Women Chocolate Port but wanted it to have a coffee taste.  So they sent some of their own Kona Coffee beans to Wild Women Wine.  The beans were used to create their handcrafted Coffee Chocolate Port which was then bottled with custom designed labels.

Because Wild Women Wine is non-traditional, they can add all kinds of flavors to give customers a taste they want that does not exist in other wines.  Which brings us back to the beginning.  The goal of Wild Women Wine is to have a fun experience and embrace your wild side!

The Right Business Insurance to Protect Our Assets

Charlene says of Aspen Insurance Agency  “Cindy Chase has done a terrific job.  Hurricane Ike severely impacted my husband and me in 2008.  We learned a lot about the value and importance of having the right insurance in place to protect our business and assets.  So we ask lots of questions to understand the details of our coverage.  Cindy is always patient and goes above and beyond.  She looks after our interests and advocates for us. I count on her because of her service and expertise, and I feel she cares about my business and me.”

If you’re ready to have some fun and get in touch with your “wild side,” visit Wild Women Wines.  You’ll find them at 1660 Champa Street Denver, CO 80202.  Please visit their website to learn more about their wines and special events.  And when you see the Chief Wild Woman Charlene, make sure to mention that you read her story on the Aspen Insurance blog.

Colorado Disasters: Are You Prepared?

by Cindy Chase

Wow…who could have imagined that floods would cause such catastrophic Colorado disasters and damage to our fellow Coloradans and beautiful state?

As an insurance agent, I’m keenly aware of the impact.  It’s what we do.  We help clients protect their assets and manage their risk. Never imagining a  flooding disaster, I wrote an article on “Do I need flood insurance?” earlier this spring.

This disaster really got me thinking about the role insurance plays in being prepared. Before a disaster strikes, insurance is not a big conversation starter. After something terrible happens, it’s a hot topic. Unfortunately most people think about insurance when it’s too late.

Colorado Disasters: Coloradans
Must Be Prepared

This year Colorado has experienced 8 of 12 disastrous hazards as defined by FEMA, including Floods, Tornadoes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold, Extreme Heat, Landslide and Debris Flows (Mudslide), Fires and Wildfires. This is amazing.

What does being prepared mean? The definition according to the dictionary is “thinking ahead and being ready.”

What does that mean to you?  Simply this: Colorado residents must be ready for disasters – with our eyes wide open. Being prepared reduces fear and anxiety. It also minimizes the losses that accompany catastrophes.

Thinking Ahead and Preparing
for the Unexpected

I read the 205 page guide “Are You Ready?” on the FEMA website. It was eye opening. Among many tips here are a few I’d like to share:

1. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will communicate in different situations. Make an action plan that also includes important phone numbers. Place it where everyone can find it, for example, on your Pantry door. And save it to your PC, tablet and phone.

2. According to the FEMA guide, we need to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days following a hazardous event. This means being ready to provide your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.

If you’ve lived in Colorado, as long as I have, you know we’ve had storms that kept us snowbound for several days. If you think not having TV is a hardship, think again!  You may be without food, medication, heat and even shelter for several days.

3.  Safety Skills was also an informative chapter. For example…How to use a fire extinguisher. A small house fire can be avoided if everyone knows where the fire extinguisher is located in your home, and how to use it. And remember to include your babysitter.

Reading this manual reinforced my belief in how we best serve our clients. Our goal is to help you make wise decisions that protect you before you need it. When you look at the synonyms of insurance…protection, defense, safeguard, security, hedge, precaution, provision, surety, community, guarantee, warranty, backstop; it’s easy to see that’s our mission.

Are you prepared?  If you’re not sure or have a question, please call 303-777-2991 or e-mail us today.  We’re committed to helping you Be Prepared!

Colorado Homeowner’s Insurance: 9 Key Questions to Ask Your Agent

Our office is inundated with phone calls when unexpected events like the wildfires and floods happen. Current clients, prospective clients, and even individuals who may not have  Colorado homeowner’s insurance policies call and are often panicked. They’re not sure what coverage they have…Do I have fire coverage…Do I have flood coverage? Or they may want to find out about the process to file a claim.

Colorado Homeowner’s Insurance : Understand the Details of Your Policy Coverage

At Aspen Insurance Agency, we’ve been serving Coloradans for over 20 years, and we fully relate to these calls. Our mission is to provide you with the proper coverage before you need it.  That’s why we always encourage our clients and others to call us to review both your insurance coverage and policy language.

When you call be sure to ask these questions. Learning the answers helps you understand your coverage and give you peace of mind.

  1. If  disaster strikes and I’m faced with a total loss, what is my coverage both for property and for personal possessions?
  2. If there is a total loss, can I rebuild anywhere I want, or do I have to rebuild on my existing property site?
  3. What is my coverage for debris removal?
  4. What are the exclusions in my policy?
  5. Are vehicles such as RVs, motorcycles, ATVs, boats, and cars insured if they were inside a garage that was destroyed?
  6. Is jewelry and valuable art covered in my homeowners’ policy?
  7. What are my deductibles?
  8. Are deductibles treated differently for different types of situations? For example, is wind and hail damage treated differently from fire damage and are these treated differently from burglary?
  9. If my family is displaced after a major loss, will our policy cover our living expenses while our home is being repaired or rebuilt?

Know the Details of Your Colorado Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

The bottom line is this: ALL HOMEOWNER POLICIES ARE NOT EQUAL! Even if you think you know what your homeowner’s insurance covers, your risk tolerance may have changed since the policy was written. It’s important to understand what you have chosen for coverage and what coverage you have NOT chosen.

Please make sure to review your policy and call our office at (303) 777-2991 or send and e-mail with any of your questions or concerns. We want to make sure you have the coverage that you need and also the coverage that you think you have!

Home Insurance: Get Your Home Ready for Your Vacation

It’s summer! Summer is an exciting time of year because school is out, the weather is warm, and it’s the most popular time of year to get away! To ensure your vacation is great from beginning to end, I want to share some tips to make sure you don’t need to file a claim with your home insurance policy when you return.

When you leave for a vacation do you normally close the door behind you on the way out and not think about it again until the day you return? In most cases, it’s fine to leave your home for a few days without concern.

 

But if you’re going to be away from home for more than a day or two, it’s important to get your house ready to sit vacant. Your home is a valuable asset, which is why you have home insurance.  So it’s essential that you safeguard it while you’re out of town. There is nothing worse than coming home to problems that could have been prevented in the first place.

Home Insurance: 10 Tips to Protect Your Home When You’re on Vacation

1. Turn off the water supply – There is nothing worse than coming home from a vacation to the remnants of water damage. Prior to leaving, shut the water supply off and turn down the temperature on your water heater.

2. Unplug major appliances and electronics – This protects your expensive televisions, computers, and other electronic equipment from power surges.

3. Put your lights on timers – Purchase several timers, which are relatively inexpensive. Set the timers so it looks as though someone is home.

4. AC/Swamp Coolers – Set your air conditioner thermostat at 85 degrees, but do NOT turn it off! Turning the ventilation system off completely can cause damage to the woodwork in your house.  However, you should turn off swamp coolers while you are away.

5. Check your sump pump – If you have a sump pump, throw a bucket of water in your sump pump pit to make sure the system is still functional while you are out of town.

6. Mow your lawn – Mow your lawn the day before or the day of your departure.  An unkempt yard is a clear sign that a home is unoccupied.

7. Hold your mail – Notify the post office to put your mail on hold and tell the newspaper not to deliver anything for the dates you will be gone.

8. Empty the fridge – Get rid of all the food that will expire while you’re gone.

9. Take out the garbage – Make sure to take out the garbage before you leave town – but do not leave your garbage cans on the curb while you are away!

10. Have a friend or family member house sit or at least check on your house – If you have someone available that you trust, have him/her stay at your house or stop by to check things out.

It takes a little time to get your house ready for vacation. But think of it like “insurance for your vacation”.  You’ll have peace of mind while you’re away and know that your vacation ends on a positive note.

If you have any questions about your home insurance policy, please call Aspen Insurance at 303-777-2991 or  e-mail us today.

Colorado Homeowner’s Insurance: Do I Need Flood Insurance?

by Cindy Chase

We are in the midst of a very wet spring.  The last few weeks may have caused you to wonder what type of water damage is covered by your Colorado homeowner’s insurance policy.  And, do you need a flood policy?  You may also be wondering if you live in a flood plain…how do you find out?

What is the Difference between Flood Damage and Water Damage?

The first place to start is to understand the difference between flood damage and water damage.

Flood damage is defined as water that has been on the ground at some point before it does damage to your home.

Water damage is the opposite.  It is defined as damage done to your home by water before the water comes into contact with the ground.

Examples of flood damage may include:

  • A nearby river overflows its banks and washes into your home.
  • Surface water caused by a heavy rain seeps into your basement because the soil can’t absorb the water quickly enough.
  • A heavy rain or flash flood causes the hill behind your house to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.

Examples of water damage may include:

  • A hailstorm smashes your window, permitting hail and rain-free access to your home.
  • A heavy rain soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling.
  • A broken water pipe spews water in your home.

Many homeowners mistakenly believe their homeowner’s insurance policy covers flood damage. It doesn’t. Up to 75 percent of the buildings in the U.S. located in areas with a high risk of flooding are not covered by flood insurance.

From Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

What Does Your Colorado Homeowner’s
Insurance Policy Cover?

Take note: Your homeowner’s policy does not provide coverage for flood damage.  The only way to insure your home against a flood is with a flood insurance policy — no other insurance will cover flood damage.

A homeowner’s insurance policy does provide coverage for many types of water damage to your home.

But not all policies are created equal. Insurance carriers offer different coverage options, so it’s important to take the time to understand what types of water damage your homeowner’s policy covers.

If you’re not sure, please call us. We welcome an opportunity to explain your current policy and assist you in making any changes that fit your needs.

Colorado Lifestyle: Safety Tips for Riding Your Bike

by Cindy Chase

I love riding my bike to work.  At the first sign of spring, you’ll find me happily pedaling to my Denver based office. It’s one of the things I love about the Colorado lifestyle.

So I was thrilled when there was finally a break from the Rocky Mountain winter.  Mid-March and 70 degrees!

Like so many other cycling enthusiasts in Colorado, that 70 degree March day inspired me to pull out my “cruiser” bike and enjoy my first ride to work in 2013. Within the first few minutes of riding…I was reminded of biker safety and the need for motorist to remember they share the road with cyclists.

Riding Your Bike to Work

I ride on side streets and most of them have cycling lanes.  Here is what I encountered on my 6-mile ride to work:

  • Crowding by BIG SUVS at corners…okay maybe, they really didn’t see me.  But that’s the point you need to be on the look-out for cyclists in the riding lane.
  • Motorists getting very close to me when we were the only ones on the road.
  • People getting in their cars, opening the car door and not looking to see if a cyclists or other motorist are coming.

Thank-goodness for my obnoxious bell!

Colorado Lifestyle:  Spring has Sprung and so have the Cyclists, Motorcyclists and Walkers

We all need to remember that in Colorado – Spring means we “spring” to the great outdoors. It’s time to put away our winter safety habits…snow, ice etc and polish up our spring safety habits.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll see cyclists, motorcyclists, adults and children out walking, biking and crossing streets.  Now is the time to slow down and turn up your awareness of what is going on around you as you drive.  Become more observant of riders in the bicycle lanes.  Listen for motorcycles.  And most importantly stop at all crosswalks to make sure there are no pedestrians in the area.

If the Unexpected Does Happen

Cyclists…here’s an important thing to know if the unexpected happens.  If you are in a biking accident, did you know that your uninsured/underinsured auto insurance covers you?  Your med pay also applies.

Be sure to review your insurance to confirm that this valuable coverage is in place.

Be Prepared with These Cyclist Safety Tips

As you get ready for bike riding season be prepared to ensure a wonderful experience with these safety tips:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Ride in the bicycle lanes
  • Look several cars ahead
  • Make yourself visible
  • Ride predictably
  • Be hyper aware when crossing intersections

As always if we can be of service please call 303-777-2991 or send us an e-mail.

Colorado Insurance: Who Needs Umbrella Insurance

by Cindy Chase

In today’s litigious world, I think umbrella insurance policies are a must.  Why? In exchange for a small annual premium, you get a significant amount of protection against the unexpected. Here is how the policy works.

  • Umbrella insurance is a special kind of liability policy.
  • Liability is the amount of money you are responsible for paying when an accident is determined to be your fault.
  • Umbrella policies  provide an extra layer of protection over and above coverage in your primary policies such as automobile and homeowner’s insurance, which have limited liability benefits.

Your umbrella policy kicks in and protects your property and assets from claims against you, when your other policies are depleted. Claims can include things like medical payments and lost wages due to negligence. Or, it can cover legal bills if you end up in court.

What Would Happen to Your Financial Assets
in This Situation?

Consider the situation of a car accident. Let’s say the judge decides you’re responsible for $750,000 in damages. In addition, attorney fees come to $250,000. That’s a total of $1 million. If your automobile policy only covers $500,000 in liability, you would have a balance of $500,000 to pay.

How would you get the remaining $500,000?  More than likely, you would have to sell personal assets like your home, jewelry or other personal property. Or cash out retirement and stock accounts.

But if you have an umbrella policy worth $1 million, the remaining $500,000 would be covered and paid. The result would be a zero balance, and you would have no other financial responsibility!

Today with the average cost of damages increasing and the affordable cost of umbrella policies, I recommend umbrella coverage to all my clients.  Our goal at Aspen Insurance is to protect you before you need it. An umbrella policy provides increased peace of mind in the event of the unexpected.

Umbrella Insurance Coverage and Cost:
How Much is enough?

Everyone’s situation is different.  Evaluate the following three factors to begin to answer how much is enough?

  1. Look at the amount of liability coverage you currently carry in your homeowners and auto policies.
  2. Next determine your financial assets. What is the value of things like your home, cars, jewelry, stock or retirement accounts, etc.
  3. Now look at your risks…the factors that could influence the likelihood of getting hit with an injury claim or lawsuit by someone else. For example, do you have teenage drivers, how many drivers are in your household, do you have a pool, do you own pets?

Umbrella coverage starts at $1million with an average annual premium of $200.  This fee is dependent upon the number of drivers and vehicles in your household, so the exact cost will vary.  But the point is, it’s very inexpensive coverage that provides additional liability protection for everyone in your household…should you need it.

Remember to Include the Fun Stuff

And remember many Colorado residents enjoy the great outdoors with “toys”. If you own a snowmobile, motorcycle, boat etc. you must add them to your umbrella policy. If an accident occurs while using them, you may be faced with liability damages that exceed your policy limits.  In order to get the extended protection of your umbrella policy, they must be listed on your policy.

If you’d like to discuss your situation and the right amount of umbrella coverage please call 303-777-2991 or send me an e-mail.

Meet Aspen Insurance Client Breakfast on Broadway

Fine dining meets farm fresh at Aspen Insurance client  Breakfast on Broadway .   Val Erpelding, Certified Executive Chef realized his lifelong dream, when he and wife Carolyn opened the doors to their Denver, CO restaurant Breakfast on Broadway (BOB). After a 20-year career of working at exclusive private clubs, Val was inspired to open a Diner similar to Kay’s Kitchen (located in Minnesota) where he held his first job.

BOB has a friendly and comfortable environment reminiscent of the down-home comfort that Val enjoyed about Kay’s and wanted to offer to the Denver community.  Val infused the traditional Diner menu with his 20 years of fine dining expertise to create food that your taste buds will thank you for!

Patrons stand in line to enjoy everything from epicurean delights to traditional dishes like:

  • French Toast stuffed with Cointreau cream cheese served with syrup and whipped butter
  • 7 mouthwatering variations of Eggs Benedict
  • Eggs, bacon and toast with a BOB twist of freshness

The combination of friendly service and a menu prepared with fresh ingredients cooked with attention to quality and presentation has made BOB a favorite for the local Denver crowd.

Service is Key for Restaurants and…
Insurance Brokers Too!

The sense of friendly service and attention to detail in providing the right insurance protection for Breakfast on Broadway is what Val appreciates the most about Aspen Insurance.

Running a restaurant is challenging and it’s great to feel confident that we have the right coverage to manage our risk and protect our most important asset… our business.

Breakfast on Broadway is open daily from 6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  There is plenty of parking and patio dining is available.  Check their website for the latest update on their weekend special menu items and entertainment on Sunday. And when you stop in, be sure and tell them you heard about them from Aspen Insurance!