Preparing for Wildfire Evacuation

Preparing for Wildfire Evacuation

Last week we talked about some things you can do long before the danger of wildfire hits your area. This week we have some tips for preparing for a potential evacuation and what to do after a wildfire. It is very important to make sure your insurance is at the correct coverage amounts before a wildfire hits your area. Once an area has an active wildfire you can not make any changes to your coverages or issue a new policy.

Evacuation Prep

Being evacuated from your home is scary and is often comes with little notice. The best thing you can do, is prepare for fire season, which will help an evacuation go as smooth as possible.

Start by preparing an evacuation bag

In the bag you want to include:

  • Irreplaceable items, such as family heirlooms, one of a kind items, and family pictures. An alternative to packing up framed pictures is to keep digital copies of all your pictures on a flash drive and packing the flash drive (don’t forget to update the flash drive every year).
  • ID’s, licenses, passports, social security cards and other valuable documents.
  • Keep a backup sets of keys in the bag so you aren’t floundering to find them.
  • Have a list of important phone numbers, such as your bank, insurance company, doctor and emergency contacts. Some people prefer to pack copies of their insurance or other policies but having the policy numbers would be enough information.
  • Important logins and passwords will allow you to access any accounts on the fly.

Prepare a list of items you use on a daily basis

Having a list of items that can’t be prepacked will help you grab these important items faster and reduce the number of forgotten items. The list should include things like:

  • Laptop or tablet and phone or computer chargers
  • Medicine, glasses/contact and toiletries
  • A few days of clothes
  • Water and snacks
  • Money and credit cards
  • Keep the evacuation bag in a secure, but easily accessible area of your home

Have a plan for your pets.

There are window stickers you can purchase that will notify firefighters of how many animals you have in your home if you are not able to take them with you, or if you are not home at the time of the fire.

  • Place crates and carriers where they are easy to grab, and practice loading your pets into the carriers, so they are comfortable with the process.
  • Know how much room you have in your vehicle for your evacuation bag and pet carriers and plan accordingly.
  • If you have livestock and horses, you may not have time to load them in trailers and evacuate them with you. Have a plan for these animals. There are organizations that help with animal evacuation, contact them and see how they can help.

Other things you can do to prepare include:

  • Make your home accessible to firefighters. Clear extra cars, ATVs, boats, campers and any other large objects from your driveway and around your house so that fire trucks can get close and turn around.
  • Move flammable objects like paint cans and ammunition to a shed or detached garage.
  • Take the extra measure of moving high value jewelry, paintings, heirlooms or other irreplaceable items to off site storage units or safety deposit boxes during fire season so you don’t have to worry about these investments.
  • Speak with neighbors, good friends and family members about your evacuation plans. Where do you plan to go if evacuated for a few days? What if it turns into a few weeks? Do they have your phone numbers to contact you if needed?
  • Sign up for your county’s Code Red program so that you will be contacted in the case of an evacuation, and make sure you have other county services phone numbers for emergencies.

It is a great idea to practice an evacuation, especially if you have children and pets. Set a time to pretend that the call comes in and that you have 15 minutes to vacate the premises. Grab your evacuation bag, children and pets. Set a rendezvous point if you have multiple drivers and vehicles. This is a great exercise to realize how fast an evacuation can happen and to see what areas you may need additional preparation for.

After the Danger has Passed

The fire danger is gone, and because of your preparation your family was safe. You can now return to your home. Upon returning home it is important to walk around your property. Depending on how close the fire came to your home, there may be areas that smolder for days. Be diligent and watch for any signs of fire. Check your home inside and out for signs of fire or smoke damage. You should also check for signs of theft or missing items from the home. If you have any doubts about damage or theft, call your insurance agent to discuss a course of action.

After a wildfire, there is an increased chance of mud slides, earth movement and water damage. Because the vegetation has burned off, the ground becomes unstable. Most insurance policies exclude coverage for flood and earth movement. It is important to be aware of these restrictions and mitigate the possibility of damage to your property.

Written by: Centennial State Insurance Agency, Bailey

Prepare for wildfire

Many across the state of Colorado are concerned with fire danger, and with good cause. This year’s fire season is already in full swing with several fires across the state. Being prepared for these life changing events can help make the process smoother.

Prepare your property

There are many measures you can take before a fire. Mitigating trees on your property can reduce the risk of your home being a total loss. Remove trees close to the home, and thin trees on the property. Make sure that trees are trimmed and remove dead trees. Widen your driveway and create a turnaround area for fire trucks. The best steps you can take is to contact a mitigation company or your local fire department and have them come out to the home to make suggestions.

You need to also clear brush 30 feet around your home. Rake pine needles, keep grass and weeds cut short to lower their fuel potential, remove any dead brush from under decks and take steps to close of the holes that allow dead brush to get under decks. Move any other fuel sources (gas cans, propane tanks, etc) away from the home. If you have a wood pile, make sure the pile is stored a safe distance from your home. Keep your gutters, chimney and roof clear of needles and leaves.

There are steps to make your home more fire resistant. Metal, clay or a non-combustible roofing material lowers your risk of the home catching fire from wind-blown embers, or crowning tree fires. You can also look into a less combustible siding material like brick, masonry, stone or hardboard. Next time you replace your deck, look into trek or composite decking material. Upgrade your windows to double or triple pane, limit the number of windows and size of the windows that open to your largest area of vegetation.

Update your insurance

It is a great idea to contact your insurance agent to talk about your individual risks and if you are insured adequately. Our lives change over time, and we don’t always remember to tell our insurance agents about the new floor we put in the home. It is best to do this before a fire starts. Once there is an active wildfire you can not change or issue an insurance policy, until the fire is over.

The first thing you want to go over with your insurance agent will be your dwelling value. Make sure that your agent knows about any upgrades you have made to the home. Have you added an addition, or renovated the kitchen? Did you replace the roof or siding on the home? The details of your home may have changed since you originally bought the house. You need to make sure your insurance policy reflects these changes, and that your dwelling coverage will adequately replace the current condition of the home. Most insurance agents will use a replacement cost guide to input the information about your home and get an estimate of the cost to rebuild. Also, make sure you have enough coverage for detached structures such as sheds, barns or garages. Most policies have some coverage for detached structures built into the policy, but it is important to ensure that you have enough.

With today’s technology it is a great idea to use your smart phone and take photos or videos of your personal property. Walk around your house, shed and garage. Document what is on your shelves, dressers, safes, drawers, closets and jewelry boxes. This not only helps to prove the type of item you had, but will also help you remember what you had in the junk drawer.

Most insurance companies have a built in limit for jewelry, fine arts, guns and collectibles. Consider the value of these items and talk to your agent about the built in limits and is scheduling these items would benefit you. When you schedule these items they are covered for the appraised value.

Many people are not aware that motorized vehicles are not covered on a homeowners policy. If you have a classic car, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, trailer, or motorized boat in your garage or barn, they will not be covered by the homeowners policy. Make sure that you have them covered under their own policy with at least comprehensive coverage on them.

Next week, we will have some tips on preparation for evacuation, and what to do during and after a fire.

Written by: Centennial State Insurance Agency, Bailey

Does Commercial Insurance Protect A Business Against Visitor Injuries?

Many business owners, or potential business owners, are not clear on whether or not their commercial insurance covers them against liability if a visitor to the business is injured. Knowing what your insurance covers is the best way to protect yourself against costly gaps in coverage.

If A Visitor Is Injured, Am I Covered?

In most cases, your commercial insurance will cover injuries that a visitor sustains on your property or location of your business. Ask your insurance provider to explain how much coverage your policy offers, and whether or not you may need additional coverage such as umbrella insurance. Commercial Insurance includes liability, but make sure you are aware of the limits of coverage before agreeing to make a purchase. Each business has its own special needs, and that needs to be a point to consider when shopping for a policy.

Get A Professional Opinion

If you want to get the right amount of coverage, you should work with a professional insurance provider that can sit down with you one on one to discuss your coverage options. They can help point out potential pitfalls and benefits of available coverage. This will help you get the coverage you need to secure the future of your business. Business owners in and around the Bailey, CO area can rely on Centennial State Insurance Agency to give them the information they need to make an informed decision.

Business owners located in and around Bailey, CO know they can count on Centennial State Insurance Agency to provide them with insurance products that fit their needs. If you are shopping for commercial insurance, call or stop by to speak with a knowledgeable insurance representative today.

Benefits of Choosing a Fixer Upper

Buying a home is an exciting time and a huge investment. For some, the first home they choose is the place they raise their children and possibly spend the rest of their lives. However, you don’t have to purchase a brand new home or one that doesn’t require any work. There are benefits to purchasing a home that requires a bit of work, and Centennial State Insurance Agency, serving Bailey, CO and the surrounding area, is here to help.

Less Initial Expense

If you’re trying to purchase a home with a limited budget – either with a small down payment or a low budget per month for a mortgage, or both – purchasing a fixer-upper allows you to take out a smaller loan and have lower monthly payments. If the price of the home is lower, you’ll be able to put down a smaller down payment.

Make It What You Want

When you purchase a home that doesn’t need any repairs or fixing, you pretty much get the home as is. Typically, you’ll only change the color of the walls and flooring and won’t do very much to change the home. However, when you have a fixer-upper, you’ll be more likely to want to spend money to change it, and you’ll be able to change it to what you want. The possibilities are endless.

Getting Insurance

Typically, when you choose a homeowner’s insurance policy, the amount that’s covered is based on numerous factors, including what it would cost to rebuild your home as is. The rate you get for an insurance policy for a fix-upper is reflected in your premium.

Contact Centennial State Insurance Agency, serving Bailey, CO and the surrounding area, by calling 303-838-0554 after you purchase your fixer-upper to receive a quote for a policy.  

Why Invest in an Auto Insurance Policy?

It is everyone’s wish to own a car, but do you ever take time to think of ways to protect it? You have invested and saved to get the car, and so, it is only wise that you protect it from various risks that might occur, and what better way than to take on an auto insurance coverage?

In most cases, you will hear people say that insurance is only for the financially stable in the community, but does it mean accidents or damages do not occur to the other people’s cars? Risks are everywhere, and that is why we, as the Centennial State Insurance Agency in Bailey, CO, have drafted a great auto insurance policy to protect your vehicle regardless of your financial status.

Why should you even consider investing in an auto insurance policy?

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Investing in an auto insurance policy offers you peace of mind. It allows you to drive on the road without thinking “what if” an accident occurs or “what if” it gets damaged. With an auto insurance policy, the insurance company will worry about such things on your behalf. In case damage occurs, your car is repaired and restored to its earlier status without you having to use your savings to pay for the charges.
  • Secondly, having an auto insurance policy is a requirement of law. That is no exception in Bailey, CO. It is a requirement that you have your car insured since you never know who you will meet on the road. You might be experienced, but as long as you are driving on the public roads, you can never be too sure of your safety.

Centennial State Insurance Agency provides a wide range of insurance policies for the people of Bailey, CO. We urge you to visit our offices for more information and insight on coverage. Speak with our agents to get a quote or try our online rating tool for quotes on auto insurance from home.

Is Your Business Safe from Cybercrime?

Many small business owners today face the challenge of protecting their company against cybercriminals. By making cybersecurity a priority, businesses reduce the risk of being victims of cyber-attacks. Bailey, CO business owners can also consult with Centennial State Insurance Agency to see how to obtain protection against cybercrime in their commercial insurance policy. In addition to insurance protection, here are a few ways to keep your business safe from cybercriminals.

Get Everyone on Board

When it comes to cybersecurity, everyone should be on board – from the” lowest” employee to the CEO of the company. Promoting security awareness throughout a company will reduce the risk of being targeted by cybercriminals. As a business owner, you should be looking for ways to secure valuable ideas and data. You should also educate your employees on security measures they can take to minimize cyber-attacks. Security should be a major part of a company’s culture with everyone doing their part to protect their company’s valuable information.

Institute Protective Measures

Companies may vary on the security measures they take to protect their line of business. Online data can be secured by ensuring your employees put strong passwords in place when working on sensitive files. Your workers should also encrypt all files containing valuable information to keep them safe from cyber-attacks. Every business should have a “response team” that’s capable of handling online attacks should they arise. This team should be ready to act at a moment’s notice in order to minimize damage. The team can also help identify areas in the workplace that are vulnerable to attack.

Any business can be susceptible to cybercrime. By talking to an agent from Centennial State Insurance Agency in Bailey, CO, you can learn more about cybercrime protection offered by commercial insurance coverage. Reach out to our offices to learn how to get started on a policy.

Risks To Your Home In Colorado

One of the big risks for homeowners in Bailey, CO is wildfires. It’s great living in a state where you can be surrounded by such beautiful forests and mountains, but that does come with a downside, especially with how dry it can get in Colorado come Summer and Fall.

We have all the same risks as homeowners in other states, too. We have flooding, burglary and so on, but wildfires can happen out of nowhere and do a lot of damage very quickly, burning whole neighborhoods down to ash in a single afternoon. So that’s one of the things that we really need to be on the lookout for when we sign our insurance policies with Centennial State Insurance Agency.

Other concerns specific to the region are cumulative. The dry climate, for instance, can wear a home down much quicker than the moister climate in a place like Florida. In Florida, dry winds can cut away at siding like sandpaper, chewing at the home in bits and pieces. This is why proper home care is so important here. You definitely want to give your home a fresh coat of paint every few years to ensure that it doesn’t get slowly sanded away to a pile of sawdust after a few decades.

Luckily, when you call Centennial State Insurance Agency, we can tell you, specifically, what you need to worry about given the particular build and age of your home in Bailey, CO. Every zip code has its own problems that homeowners face, and every home has its own specific problems, as well. A prefab and a brownstone have their own challenges, and you need a policy that reflects your particular risks.

What Can Happen if You Don’t Have Auto Insurance?

Driving without auto insurance in Bailey, CO is not just something that can cost you a lot more money by making you pay out of pocket for repair costs. You can get into some additional legal trouble as well. It is always smart to at least have the minimum coverage that you can get from Centennial State Insurance Agency so that you can ensure that you do not break any laws. This is what can happen if you are caught driving without auto insurance.

  • Fines – You may be hit with a fine of $500 for your first offense and up to $1,000 or more for every offense after that.
  • Community Service – With your first offense, you can have up to 40 hours of community service. For every offense after that, it may vary depending on your history.
  • Imprisonment – While you won’t be sent to jail for your first offense, for every offense after that you will get a minimum of 10 days and up to a year of jail time.
  • Points – Every time you are caught without auto insurance, you will get 4 points added to your driving record.
  • Rights to Drive – With your first offense, you will have your driver’s license, your license plates, and your registration suspended until you provide proof of adequate insurance. With the second offense, these will be suspended for four months regardless of when you get adequate coverage. For your third and all subsequent offenses, you will have these things suspended for eight months regardless of when you get adequate coverage.

Now that you know that there are some real repercussions for driving without auto insurance, you should make sure that you have the right amount of coverage. Contact Centennial State Insurance Agency, serving Bailey, CO, today to get your quote.

When Should Upgrade My Commercial Insurance?

Most people don’t think to update their insurance policies, even if they’ve remodeled their home or added an expensive stereo system to their car. However, Centennial State Insurance Agency in Bailey, CO can tell you that commercial insurance is a little different. When you have employees and clients that you’re responsible for, you have to be extra cautious about the type of commercial insurance you have.

Expanding your Commercial Insurance Policy

This is usually the biggest reason why people need more commercial insurance. As your business grows, you start doing more and adding more people. The more people you have involved with your business, the more likely it is something will go wrong. The more things you’re doing, the more likely it is that there will be a mishap or accident. While most everything that happens in your business will be routine, there will be odd circumstances that arise from time to time. Clients or employees may be hurt or property might be damaged during a natural weather event such as a blizzard. Expanding a business can be a lot of fun, but it comes with its fair share of risks too.

Risks of Insurance Coverage

Part of commercial insurance is just being realistic about your risks. If you conduct business in a high-crime area or, for some reason, you’re more at risk for theft in Bailey, CO, you may want to have additional limits for your coverage. If your business has a lot of windows that tend to be affected by major storms, then you may need more property coverage. Calling Centennial State Insurance Agency may be one of the best ways for you to understand when and how to upgrade your commercial insurance. For more information, contact us today to find out more about our policies and our rates.

Why You Need Cyber Insurance

Cyber breaches to large companies like Equifax and HBO or ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya have been in the news a lot recently. Cyber threats are a growing industry, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every year due to hacking. Small businesses are the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks, with 60% of them closing within 6 months of an attack. Most small businesses don’t believe they are at risk, or are unaware that cyber insurance is available at a reasonable cost.

There are several different ways your business can be susceptible to online attacks. Attacks that focus on your computer system and software, such as Ransomware and Malware are the most common. Hackers use human or technical weaknesses to access your computer system. With a ransomware attack, the hackers will encrypt your businesses data and demand a ransom to unlock it.  A Malware attack destroys the information, limiting your access and ability to do business. Attacks can also include web-based attacks where hackers access websites, payment devices, cloud storage and social media accounts, posting private information or restricting clients from being able to access your site.

Your risk online is not limited to hackers. Every business has a human element that can put sensitive information at risk. Ex-employees can steal and distribute company data. Current employees can be tricked into breaking procedure or doing non-work tasks at the office that put their computer at risk. Or you could simply leave your work laptop in the booth next to you after an office lunch or have a flash drive drop out of your purse while you were searching for keys.

Most cyber insurance policies are two-fold and provide coverage for 1st party and 3rd party liability. The 1st party liability coverage includes notification coverage to those clients effected by the breach. This cost can be very high, and can include paying computer forensic experts who verify which clients have been affected. It can also include the cost and man hours it takes to call, mail and contact all the people effected. Extortion costs, media liability and public relation costs can also be included. Business Interruption coverage is also available to keep your business afloat while your doors are closed. 3rd party liability coverage helps with the cost of litigation that may arise from a data breach, theft or denial of access to your information.

Cyber insurance is affordable and available through most carriers. Many of our companies offer packages where you can pick what coverages you want. Call us today to discuss your cyber exposure and insurance needs!