Better Understanding Identity Theft

Identity theft is the criminal process of gaining another person’s information, personal and/or financial, and using that information to make transactions or purchases posing as that person. 

There are many ways in which one can have their identity stolen. It can be as complex as hacking into databases and stealing information, or as simple as digging through garbage looking for old credit card information. Once this information is obtained, an identity thief can tarnish one’s credit rating and the privacy of their personal information.

Forms of Identity Theft

Child, medical, criminal, and financial identity theft are among the different types of identity theft. 

Child Identity Theft

Someone uses a child’s information to reap the benefits. The person stealing the identity is often someone close to that child in some capacity. It could be an indirect family member, or a family friend that steals a child’s identity. A person will often do this so that they can more easily obtain employment, bank loans, or avoid arrest on outstanding warrants.

Medical Identity Theft

A person identifies themselves as someone else to gain access to free medical care. 

Criminal Identity Theft 

A person represents themselves as someone else during arrest to try and avoid a summons, prevent a warrant from surfacing, and do other things of this nature to avoid conviction.

Synthetic Identity Theft

This kind of theft is a form of fraud in which a criminal integrates both real and stolen information to forge a new identity. This new identity is often used to create fake accounts and make illegal purchases. It can also be used to steal money from credit card companies that extend credit on account of the fake identity. 

Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Identity theft is when someone steals your information and poses as you to make purchases or transactions. 
  2. There are many different kinds of identity theft, however in all situations, the victim is left to deal with their ruined credit score, finances, livelihood, and reputation.
  3. Protection from identity theft is a quickly expanding industry that helps to keep an eye on credit reports, financial activity and use of your social security number.

Advanced Identity Theft 

Using computer technology is becoming increasingly popular among identity thieves. Searching hard drives of stolen or trashed computers, hacking databases, and accessing public records are some common ways that information is stolen. 

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

There are a variety of ways that identity theft can be prevented. Frequently check personal documents to ensure that they are accurate and make sure to deal with any discrepancies that may exist. Many businesses provide products and services that assist with the effects of identity theft. Usually these products and services provide information on how to better protect your personal information. 

Be careful when making purchases online, only check out on secure websites, and change your passwords frequently. Shred any trash that may contain personal information, thieves can even steal information from credit cards that you were pre-approved for. 

Protect your social security card. Only give out that information if you absolutely have to, and never carry your social security card with you. 

What to do if Your Identity is Stolen

The first thing you should do is contact the IRS. You can report the theft and start a recovery plan here.

Written by Matt Moscati.

Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only. Each person should consult their insurance or business advisor with respect to matters referenced.

What Are Insurance Claims

Insurance Claims are requests on behalf of policyholders to insurance agencies in order to receive coverage and/or compensations for a loss that is covered by their policy. Once a claim is filed, the agency then confirms that the claim is either valid or invalid. If validated, the agency will then make the approved payment to either the policyholder or an interested third party that has been approved. 

These claims can offer a wide array of coverage, ranging from basic medical procedures to death benefits and almost everything in between, depending on the services offered by the agency. In certain scenarios, a third party can also file insurance claims on behalf of the policyholder. However, that is not always the case.

How do Insurance Claims Work?

The purpose of an insurance claim is to compensate policyholders against loss, often financial loss. In the legal world, this is called indemnification. The policyholder pays premiums to maintain their policy and ensure that they are covered for whatever their policy encompasses. The claims that are most frequently filed are for medical services or goods, loss of life, liability from owning/renting a home, and liability from the operation of vehicles. 

For policies regarding causality/property insurance, the main determinant of your coverage cost comes from the amount of claims you file, regardless of who was at fault or the size of the accident. As the amount of claims you file increases, so does the amount you pay to stay covered. 

That being said, if the claim you are filing is based on damage that is not your fault, your rates may not rise. If the claim is for damage that you caused, you should expect to see a rate increase. Common examples of damage that are not at the fault of the policyholder are weather damage or your car being hit while parked. 

Many other circumstances can increase your rate as well. Things such as your driving record, being in an area prone to natural disasters that can damage whatever you are trying to insure or even having a low credit score can also all lead to a rate hike. To read more about ways to keep the cost of your auto policy down, check out our blog post here.

Not every type of claim is viewed the same by a carrier. Claims that indicate liability in the future, such as having mold or water damage, if your dog bites someone, or if someone is injured on your property are all examples of claims that can act as a red flag for agencies. These types of claims often lead to rate increases. 

What are the Different Kinds of Insurance Claims?

Casualty / Property 

For many individuals a house is one of, if not the, largest asset purchased in their lifetime. When the policyholder files a claim to damage to their home (or other insured property), the claim is usually filed online and sent to a claims adjuster. The policyholder must report the damage of whatever they own directly to the agency. The claims adjuster will evaluate the claim and the damage, and then verify the claim. If the claim is approved, the adjuster then makes the payment to the policyholder. 

Life Insurance 

When someone files a life insurance claim, that person must show the original policy, a certificate of death and a claim form. After that, the agency will conduct an in-depth examination of the circumstances of the death to confirm that the death was not categorized under a contract exclusion, such as the result of a crime or a suicide. 

Without any extenuating circumstances, the process often takes one to two months. This allows the beneficiaries of the claim to replace the income of the deceased.


Costs of most medical procedures and health care can be prohibitively expensive. Health insurance policies, whether for an individual or group can protect patients from these costs, which often amount to burdens because of the expensive nature of health care. Most claims are filed by health care providers and are on behalf of the policyholders, unlike property claims. After the provider files the claim, the process is handled electronically and generally requires minimal effort from the policyholder. 

The only time a policyholder must actually file a paper claim themselves is when the medical provider does not take part in electronic transmittals, but the services provided are still covered by the insurance policy. 

Special Considerations

There is no specific, black and white way to determine what constitutes a rate hike. Some agencies can be more lenient in some areas and stricter in others and each agency can be different. It is important to understand regardless of your insurer, filing any claim can put your rates at risk. Learning as much as you can about your agency is the best way to understand what filing a claim can do to your rates. 

No matter what, filing as few claims as possible is crucial in protecting your rates and keeping them constant. Only filing claims in the case of devastating loss is the best way to keep your rates what they are. 

As an Independent Agency, you should always consult us before you file a claim so we can consider your unique circumstances.

Written by Max Chaitin.

Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only. Each person should consult their insurance or business advisor with respect to matters referenced.

Tips to Cut The Cost of Car Insurance

In a country that is increasingly reliant on cars, not only is the cost of cars on the rise, but also the cost to insure them. While there is no reason to expect a decline in car insurance rates anytime soon, there are things you can do to reduce the stress that it can put on your finances. 

While there is no reason to expect a decline in car insurance rates anytime soon, there are things you can do to reduce the stress that it can put on your finances. 

More Vehicles = Less per Vehicle

Often, when receiving a quote for a single vehicle, it can end up costing more than if you inquire about insuring multiple vehicles. This is because agencies want the guarantee of your business and are willing to give a better deal for more business. 

Keeping that in mind, it is still important to ask your agent if you meet the qualifications. In order to do so, the drivers all must live in the same place and be related. Unrelated people can sometimes qualify as well, but they must own a vehicle together. 

If a driver is a teenager, their rates are generally higher than other age groups. However, many agencies offer what is called a good student discount, meaning that if your teenage driver has a grade point average above a certain threshold they can qualify for a rate decrease. A good student discount can be rather large, in some cases up to 39% and can last until the driver turns 25. 

Safe Driving

While this may seem obvious, the importance of being a safe driver can not be understated. Driving safely can potentially lead to a safe driving discount of around 10% to 25%. Insurance companies will also take your driving history into account.

Get Certified

Taking a driver’s ed class is probably the last thing on your list, but the benefits of taking a defensive driving course can be amazing when it comes to lowering your rates. Occasionally, agencies offer discounted rates to policyholders upon the completion of pre-approved defensive driving courses. In addition, some states can take points off of your license by taking defensive driving courses. 

Take the Bus, Train or Subway

When starting the process of receiving a quote, you will often be asked to report your vehicle’s mileage. Potential policyholders that have to drive multiple hours to and from work each day will be asked to pay increased premiums. Using public transportation as much as possible can help reduce the mileage increases of your vehicle and thus your premiums. 

Bigger is Not Always Better

While it can be tempting to buy the biggest SUV on the market, it can end up costing much more to insure than a smaller, safer car for your daily commute. Many agencies even offer incentives for driving cars that use less fuel and are better for the environment, such as discounts for hybrid vehicles.

Deductible Increases

When choosing a car insurance plan, you will also select a deductible. Your deductible is what you pay in the event of a collision, prior to your insurance paying for the rest. Deductibles can have a wide range of costs. Choosing a more expensive deductible can lower your annual premium. While, increasing your deductible can raise your premium. It’s important to consider these two options. If you choose a more expensive deductible, be prepared to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident.

Better Credit = Better Premiums

While many of the factors listed above can play a large role in determining premiums, it can come as a surprise to many drivers that an agency can look at your credit score when deciding what your premium will be. 

Different States, Different Rates

Depending on your agency, they might offer different rates depending on what part of the country you call home. While this may not always be the case, if you are planning to move, factor a potential rate change into your budget. For example, Idaho has one of the lowest rates in the country, and Michigan has one of the most expensive.

Comprehensive Coverage 

If your vehicle is old and is on its last leg, it can make sense to drop collision coverage. This is because your vehicle might not even be worth the rate that you are paying for this type of coverage. 

Theft Protection

Some insurance agencies offer discounted rates to policyholders that install protective anti-theft measures in their cars. Some carriers will even tell you which devices are approved to qualify for such discounts.

Avoid Unnecessary Bonuses

While it may be tempting to get all of the bells and whistles, such as rental insurance or roadside help, they are rarely used in reality while often adding a large amount to your premium. 

One of the benefits of working with an independent insurance agent is that we work with many insurance carriers to provide you with the best coverage at the most competitive pricing. You can learn more about the Personal Auto Coverage by clicking here, or calling Aspen Insurance Agency at 303-777-2991

Written by Max Chaitin.

Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only. Each person should consult their insurance or business advisor with respect to matters referenced.

How to Insure Your At-Home Business

Roughly 50% of all small businesses are owned and operated out of a residence. With technology advancements and the murky future surrounding COVID-19, more and more people are choosing to move their business into their home, or start a business out of their home. The potential of a home-based business is limitless, and remote-work has no reason to slow down in the foreseeable future.

Regardless of the growing percentage of home-based businesses, a large portion of these business owners do not have separate insurance for their business. Many home-based business owners believe that they are covered by other types of insurance policies they already have, some believe that their business is too small to insure, or frankly, they just haven’t thought about the need for insurance. Sadly operating without the proper insurance could lead to some serious legal consequences or financial hardships.

For a business owner, it is crucial to understand what business insurance is, and how it works. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to think that having a home insurance policy will protect your business. While home insurance will cover loss or theft of your personal property, if someone were to slip and get hurt on your property, or your business equipment is damaged by flooding, home insurance will not protect you. If you do not insure your business, you are putting you, your employees, and your financial well being at risk. This is why a business insurance package is crucial.

Consider These Financial Situations
As our world continues to see rapid technological advancements, an increasing number of individuals are beginning to work remotely as contractors or independent freelancers. The benefits of starting a home-based business are countless, but so are the risks. It is important to make sure you have the right resources and coverage to run your at-home business safely and risk-free.

A great first step is to meet with a lawyer to make sure your business is structured with the right license to fit your needs. Having the right license means paying the proper amount of taxes, helping you to avoid any surprises come tax season. 

It is important to understand how home business insurance works, and what makes it different from homeowners insurance. The Insurance Information Institute claims that many home-based business owners/operators do not have proper coverage. Again, many of these people believe that they are covered by their homeowners insurance. A quick fact check; many homeowners insurance policies have clear exclusions of liabilities that come from businesses. 

What Kinds of Home Businesses Need Insurance?

Below are some types of popular home-based businesses and the types of benefits and coverage they would need.

Online Store
Say you are selling your art or other creations via your online business. Say you are making a living as a seller through online auctions? What happens when there is a fire? Think about the cost of replacing all of your inventory out of pocket. 

Freelance Content Creation
Say you are a photographer, designer, writer, or anyone who uses their creative genius to make a living. Most likely, your computer is your whole livelihood, it is where you create and store everything. If that computer crashes, is stolen, or is damaged, you are out of work until you drop thousands on new gear. If you are a photographer, you probably have expensive camera gear and equipment to ensure you are doing the best work you can. These scenarios, albeit frightening, are perfect examples of why you should contemplate getting business interruption coverage.

At Home Bakery
Say your friends and family have always told you that they love everything you create in the kitchen, so you turn your passion into your business. You run a small operation out of your kitchen. If people are coming and picking up orders from your home, it is important to have liability coverage in the event that someone falls and hurts themselves. Say you decide to hire a delivery driver, they will need auto liability coverage.

What are your Insurance Needs?
There are a wide variety of home-based businesses, which also means that there is the same variety of insurances that protect them. Generally, home-based business owners have three options to choose from.

Business Owners Policy: This is the most comprehensive type of insurance coverage for home-based businesses. A business owners policy offers you coverage and protection from customers, employees, and contractors in the event they file a claim against you, in addition to offering property coverage. Typically, you would want to select a plan that offers general liability coverage. It is important to note, however, that not all home-based businesses are eligible for a business owners policy.

Homeowners Policy Endorsements: For many small and low-profile home-based businesses, this can prove to be the most affordable and simplest option. An endorsement, (AKA a rider) is an addition to your already existing homeowners policy. Assuming you are a solo operation who does not produce goods, this could be the best option for you. 

In-Home Business Policy: This policy is the combination of home and business insurance bundled into one plan. Often, it offers more specific kinds of coverage. A step-up from the endorsement option listed above, this kind of coverage has a greater range, and is a suitable option for growing businesses. If your operation has equipment, people coming and going, and even output, this can still be a great policy. 

Many home-businesses could suffice with an in-home business policy. Someone who makes jewelry and offers in-home jewelry fittings, a baker who has customers picking up orders, or  a financial advisor who works out of their home, but offers in person appointments could implement such a policy. 

Additional Coverage
Regardless of what plan you choose, you should know that depending on your business needs, you may need additional coverage. Below are some options for additional coverage that you should consider if the plan you are looking at does not offer them. 

Key Person Insurance: This is essentially life insurance on someone who the business could not operate without, such as a founder, key employee, or owner of a business. 

Employment Practices Insurance: This protects from claims against you from employees. 

Data Compromise Coverage: This protects you and your business from legal action if there is an incident such as a security breach that compromises confidential client or customer data. 

Additionally, even small home-based businesses should carry General Liability Insurance which will protect you from a wide range of factors including damage or injury caused by products, to costly lawsuits arising from online or physical advertising.  This coverage is generally affordable and a small price to pay for what could be a crippling financial burden.

Ensuring that you have the proper insurance is a key step to take to ensure the future success of your business.

Written by Max Chaitin.

Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only. Each person should consult their insurance or business advisor with respect to matters referenced.

If you are searching for Business Insurance reach out to us. With a variety of coverage options such as commercial auto, general liability, cyber liability, commercial insurance for truckers, business owner policies and much more we are able to provide you with a policy specific to your company’s needs.