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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

The Marshall Fire of December

fire

The Marshall Fire of December, 2021 is a tragedy that has impacted thousands in Boulder County. In its aftermath, we all – those impacted and those not impacted – need to revisit our homeowners and property insurance policies to ensure we have adequate coverage. Merely clicking “renew” each year is far from adequate, and it could leave you drastically uninsured. Here’s what everyone should do:

  1. Get a copy of your declarations page from your homeowners insurance carrier. Most homeowners policies have four types of coverages: dwelling or home coverage (covering your house); ‘other structures’ or ‘detached structures’ coverage (covering things like decks, sheds, detached garages, and sometimes accessory dwelling units); contents or personal property coverage (covering your clothes, furniture, pots, pans, etc…); and additional living expense coverage (covering a rental property or hotel if you need to be out of the house during repair/rebuild).
  2. Try to approximate the value of each of these categories of coverages. For the house, remember, it’s the cost to rebuild or replace the home structure, not the value of the land or landscaping. For other structures, it’s the cost to replace your deck, shed, and detached garage. For contents, it covers everything from your TV to your blue jeans. Additional living expenses would be the cost to rent a similar property for up to two years. The best thing to do is to get an appraisal of the home that separates the value of the house from the land, then separately appraises each other structure. Most people don’t want to pay over $1,000 for an appraisal like this. There are alternatives, such as looking at Zillow’s “Zestimate,” looking at comparable home sales prices, and talking to friends or colleagues in the construction industry. Whatever you do, try to get the best information you can on what it would take to replace your home, replace your belongings, and replace the other structures. Look up the cost to rent a similar property.
  3. Look at your policy’s coverage terms. For your home dwelling coverage, look for terms such as “refundable depreciation” or “non-refundable depreciation.” This has a big impact on how much you get from the insurance carrier if you decide you want to rebuild versus start anew somewhere else. Read the personal property coverage section to see what types of personal property, such as jewelry, art, collectibles, or musical instruments need special endorsements or riders, and make sure you get those endorsements or riders for your valuables. If you don’t, they probably won’t be covered.
  4. Increase your policy limits to at least match what it will cost to rebuild your home, rebuild your other structures, replace your personal property, and cover your rental income. Yes, this probably will make your rates go up. Do it anyway.
  5. Do this at least every other year, and while you’re at it, check your auto policy, and look into an umbrella policy.

Homeowners insurance often doesn’t provide the type or level of coverage most people need in the time of a catastrophic loss. Even when your house burns down, you’re still obligated to pay your mortgage and pay your property tax. When your coverage kicks in, it’s usually to replace the structure on the same piece of land. For people with mortgages, this often leaves them with little choice but to rebuild in the same location, even if it looks like the surface of Mars.

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Insurance Claims

Thank you, Jeff Rose, for this discussion regarding fire insurance claims in the wake of the Marshall Fire in Colorado.

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26 Hits

COVID-19: Tenant Checklist

Tenant Checklist

Lyons Gaddis COVID-19 Alert

This Alert is one in a collection of articles created by Lyons Gaddis in our effort to get important information to our clients regarding the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States.  This Alert focuses on the challenges faced by tenant business owners facing financial challenges and operational constraints in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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ALERT: COVID-19 and Contract Issues

Lyons Gaddis COVID-19 Alert

This Alert is one in a collection of articles created by Lyons Gaddis in our effort to get important information to our clients regarding the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States.  This Alert focuses on clients dealing with contract rights and obligations in the wake of the spreading coronavirus. Parties to a contract should confer with counsel regarding the particulars of your contract and your specific situation.

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But the Bills are Due Now

Bradley Hall

Medical Payments Coverage in Colorado

In the last two newsletters (Are You Putting Yourself at Risk by Saving on Your Car Insurance – Part 1, Part 2) I wrote about how it is important to have enough liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect you from the harm you may cause or the harm you may incur when involved in an auto collision. Both of these auto coverages protect you in the long run, but are almost never paid until medical treatment is complete. Even though you may have plenty of insurance to reimburse you for damages incurred, medical bills start coming almost immediately after the accident. If you don’t have health insurance this can create real problems.

Under Colorado law an automobile insurance company is required to offer up to $5,000 of medical payments coverage when you initially purchase your auto insurance policy. Medical payments coverage pays up to the limit of coverage for every person in your vehicle and it pays on an ongoing basis. There are no deductibles and no co-payments, and it pays regardless of who is at fault for the collision. Many carriers offer medical payments coverage up $25,000 per person and some will offer as high as $100,000 per person.

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Are you Putting Yourself at Risk By “Saving” on your Car Insurance? (Part 2)


Submitted by Bradley A. Hall

Last quarter, I wrote about how you are able to protect yourself and your family members from injuries caused by uninsured and underinsured negligent drivers. But what if the shoe is on the other foot? What if you are now the defendant who ran the stop sign, looked down at the wrong time, or committed some other act which injured another driver, pedestrian, or even one of your own passengers? Do you have enough liability insurance to cover the injured parties’ damages? If not, your personal assets, including your ongoing income, may be at risk.

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Are You Putting Yourself At Risk By “Saving” On Your Car Insurance?


According to statistics compiled by the Center for Disease Control, the number one cause of death due to unintentional injury is motor vehicle accidents.  Likewise, motor vehicle accidents are the fourth leading for emergency room visits resulting from unintentional accidents.

Across the United States, 1 in 7 drivers are uninsured.  Colorado falls in line with that statistic.  In addition, Colorado requires only that a driver purchase $25,000 in liability coverage.  The odds are good in Colorado that, if you are involved in an auto accident, the at-fault driver is going to be uninsured or have the minimum limits of coverage.  Even a moderately serious accident can result in well in excess of $25,000 in damages.  An ambulance ride to the emergency room, follow-up care with your physician, lost wages and other expenses can add up quickly.

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Longmont Office

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Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-776-9900 
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