Insurance costs boost Glenwood, Rifle rent costs |

Insurance costs boost Glenwood, Rifle rent costs


Read the Value Penguin report.


The Post Independent’s recent series and documentary, “The Price of Paradise,” is for sale on Amazon as a e-book. The series focused on the mismatch between our region’s resort prices and rural wages, which make it difficult to recruit and retain professionals such as nurses, teachers and cops needed to make strong communities. The documentary, featuring music from local songwriter Jim Hawkins, runs 21 minutes and introduces you to a range of residents of the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys as they talk about how they make ends meet.

Talk about a double whammy.

With rental housing extremely hard to find and expensive throughout Garfield County, a new report on renters insurance says that Glenwood Springs is the third most expensive city in Colorado to buy such coverage, and Rifle is fourth.

The findings, by a New York consumer finance research firm called Value Penguin, said Glenwood’s average renters insurance policy costs $257 a year, 12 percent above the state mean of $229 and 33 percent above the least expensive average of $193 in Longmont. Rifle’s average was $255 and Aspen’s was $246, 10th highest among the 57 cities studied.

Those averages, based on five quotes from each city studied for $25,000 of personal property coverage and $100,000 in liability coverage for a 1,000-square-foot rental, seemed a little low to Kim Hammon, a producer at Glenwood Insurance.

“Colorado as a whole is a catastrophic state,” she said. “Between the hail on the Front Range and the fires on the Western Slope,” insurance risks are fairly high.

The Insurance Services Office rates risks for areas based on numerous factors, including homes’ proximity to fire hydrants and stations. Insurers use ISO’s public protection classification in calculating rates. Protection classes range from 1 (the best) to 10, which is a rural area with no hydrants or nearby protection.

Hammon said Glenwood’s best rating area is 4 and New Castle’s best, for example, is 6.

“Our rates will never be as low as the Front Range,” where protection class ratings generally are 1 or 2, even though Denver, at $313 a year, came out as most expensive in Value Penguin’s report, perhaps because of crime.

While $257 a year is just $21.42 a month, “it’s really hard” for some renters who are pinched to afford Glenwood’s rents, Hammon said.

A two-bedroom, one-bath rental in Glenwood Springs can run $1,400 a month and up, making it difficult for people in middle-income professions such as teaching, nursing or law enforcement to live where they work.

“Add renters insurance to the long list of what we pay more for to live here,” said Lynn Kirchner, managing broker with Amore Realty in Carbondale and an advocate for more affordable housing throughout the region. “Glenwood has had the major fires, mudslides, it has the confluence of the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork rivers, so flooding has become a concern to many major carriers.”

She added that some rental properties suffered damage when natural gas activity was stronger and some neighborhoods became “man camps” for itinerant workers.

“The cost of rent directly affects insurance,” she added. “Our rents are double and sometimes triple/quadruple the amount of what the national average is for a rental.”

Michael Thrasher, a research analyst with Value Penguin who did the study, concurred that fire and weather are major considerations in determining rates, while “crime is far from the largest factor insurers look at.”

Thrasher’s report found that the gap between costs was as wide as 62 percent from the most expensive and the cheapest locations in Colorado.

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