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Sustainable Self-Improvement in the New Year

Gear Up for the New Y–No, for Today

Recently, I saw a piece of decor that said “I hope your troubles and worries last as long as your new years resolutions.” I laughed.

The trite and unsustainable nature of New Years resolutions make them difficult to take seriously and for me to write about. I know the likelihood of any of us keeping up with our emotions-driven and wind-swept vision of our healthiest, happiest self is slim at best and a blog post like this one has the opportunity to be as yawn-worthy as the rest. 

All sorts of concerns may come to your mind when it comes to new years resolutions–(most of my concerns are covered here, in a blog post from Medium). 

Concerns might include:  the problem of shame associated with missing the mark, unwisely viewing the start the year as the only opportunity to start a goal, setting goals you feel like you should accomplish rather than what you want to accomplish.

Assuming you’re looking for sustainable and healthy growth and possess a personal motivation and hopeful attitude about failure, please enjoy the following. 

We’ve compiled a group of quick starts on your biggest goals, because you’re awesome and have lots of both realized and unrealized potential, as well as areas of improvement and discovery awaiting you right now.

Hopefully, I do not seem overly enthusiastic but I truly hope you see the gold in you because it’s there.

We hope these ideas can encourage you to live an overall better life. May your resolve be to improve the quality of your life so you can share your days with others and help them.

So, without further ado, our compilation of resources to help you with some of the goals people often pursue:

This New Year I’d like to…

… exercise more. (Run or walk a 5k in San Diego or another city. Sign up today to hold yourself to it! Also, if you’re over 50 and wanting to get fit, here’s an article that will help you get fit!)

… try something new (COME SWING DANCING or go on Meetup and search for something you’ve always wanted to do, like Taiko drumming, motocross, knitting, or a Spanish meetup.)

spend time with friends and family (Take the kids out for ice cream and other adventures on the cheapstart a dinner club, put the kids’ games, dance shows, etc on the calendar and get there).

… save more money

… quit smoking (Gamify quitting with this app).

… learn how to rest and care for myself.

… read more (Book club it up. Access free audio books and ebooks on your phone, computer, or tablet through your librarySub our newsletter, we are always putting interesting articles together!)

Think, the starting line is always today, not January 1st (unless today is January 1st then this is a moot point).

Whatever your goal is, go get ’em, tiger.

Helping you reach new heights,

Alta Vista Insurance

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Homeowners Insurance Checklist

What you need to know about protecting your lifestyle

The insurance market is in a “shift”. Rate activity has been increasing, claims frequency and severity has risen, and more than half of homeowners are underinsured by an average of 20 percent according to Christopher P. Hackett, senior director of Personal Lines for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA).  

How should homeowners approach their insurance so they make sure they have the right protection for their assets?

We’ve put together a great checklist for homeowners to help you make a plan and take the right path with your insurance. 

This is a great resource to use on our Personal TRAIL

Checkpoint 1: Updates to your home

Whether you recently purchased your home or owned it for many years, it’s important that you review any home improvements with your insurance agent. Things like adding square footage, new flooring, remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, auxiliary dwelling units (AUD), solar panels, etc.

 Agent Tip: Ask your agent to recalculate your homes replacement value or insurance to value with the up-to-date information. Be sure to discuss any exposures associated with remodeling or additions with your agent so you have the right protection. 

Checkpoint 2: Consider value and cost

A low premium is good, but your home insurance may be less because it doesn’t provide the right protection for your lifestyle. Peace of mind knowing all your assets are fully protected is more valuable than you think. Review your policy and understand the value your insurance company provides; financial stability, exceptional claims handling, and ease of doing business are some of the benefits to consider. 

Checkpoint 3: My valuable items?

Look around your house. What are the items that are most valuable to you? Your homeowners insurance generally covers the contents of your home. However, there are limits on certain target items such as jewelry, artwork, collections, antiques and silverware. In order to protect these items up to their full value, you may want to add scheduled personal property coverage. If the items are damaged or stolen, you can have peace of mind knowing you are fully covered.

Checkpoint 4: Add extended dwelling replacement cost coverage

Review your dwelling coverage. Some home policies have limitations on the coverage for the structure. Make sure your coverage matches the reconstruction cost of your home and add extended dwelling replacement cost coverage. This will provide you with the additional coverage you need in case the replacement cost of your home rises over time due to increased construction costs, labor costs, or supply and demand.

Checkpoint 5: Review the need for earthquake and flood insurance

Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from outside flood waters or earthquakes. You need a separate flood insurance policy and earthquake insurance policy. Talk to your insurance agent about these common perils and how to avoid being uninsured.

Watch our short video to learn more about home insurance

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Replacement Cost vs. Market Value

Home Insurance: Do you have enough coverage?

As the market shifts its’ important to understand how to fully protect your home and your lifestyle. After the recent Woolsey and Camp fires, which destroyed nearly 8,000 homes, homeowners need to be aware of  how much coverage is required to replace your home if it is destroyed by a covered peril. 

Insurance 101 Tip: A peril is a specific risk or cause of a covered loss. 

Common covered perils are fire, wind or hail, and water damage. One of the best ways to determine insurance coverage for a home is understanding replacement cost vs. market value. 

This infographic from, The Hartford, is a great way to understand the difference between the “cost to rebuild” and the “cost of the air”. Replacement cost is based on how much coverage is require to rebuild a home to its original state before the loss. Market value is based on confidence or how much someone is willing to pay for a home. 

Remember, replacement cost can be very different from the market value of a home and after a large natural disaster, like a wildfire, replacement costs can rise significantly due to supply and demand, cost of labor or materials, and transportation costs associated with rebuilding. 

Have you reviewed your property insurance lately? Don’t wait until a disaster happens to find out your coverage is inadequate. 

Take the right path with your insurance! Start our personal TRAIL today! 

Learn more about the important things you need to know about home insurance. 

Click Here

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LendUs Offering $2,200 Closing Cost Credit For First Responders

Seth’s friends at LendUs are giving back to our first-responders.

First-responders who buy their property through LendUs will receive a $2,200 closing cost credit.

If you are not a first-responder,  please consider sharing this valuable information with someone who is!

Check it out!

Get $2,200 Off Your Property Purchase

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The Restorative Practice of Gratitude

As a kid and —let’s be honest—often even now, I tend to send out thank you cards later than propriety demands.

Frequently I’ll even write them and never get around to sending them.


While this is not a good way to maintain friendships, it turns out even just doing that has a salutary effect on one’s mental health.

In “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain,” written by two Ph.Ds from Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, they quote a study done on 300 adults receiving mental health counseling at the university. Compared to those who didn’t write at all as part of their health regimen, or those who focused their writing on sorrowful topics, people “who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended.”

Here’s the kicker (and encouraging part for me):  even though only 23% of those who wrote thank you letters sent them, both the group of “senders” and “non-senders” still experienced greater positive emotions and longer-term, faster-acting effects on their mental health.

While I don’t advise writing a heartfelt thank-you note and not sending it, it’s noteworthy to recognize that the simple practice of being grateful and expressing it may actually improve health.

Sounds good, right?

Many of us have our parents to thank for teaching us about thank you notes. Unfortunately, because of that, they have the potential–for example, for me–to initially feel like a chore rather than a joy.

However, my response to this internal argument is two fold: they bless another person AND they affect your health positively. Booyah, I’m into it.

Thank you notes are not the only way to get the benefits of practicing gratitude, though. Whether written, verbal, or simply internal, practicing gratitude will likely affect you positively, during a season, which many will admit, is supposed to be all warm and fuzzy but really yields much anxiety and heartache for many.

Care for yourself this season by instituting small moments of gratitude through encouragement of others, in prayer, affirmations, and/or living mindful of things in life you enjoy and appreciate.

A new holiday is coming up, too, Giving Tuesday.

Check out the stories and get involved here!



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3 Quick Tips For Home Buyers

Buying a home?

Congratulations! You are in an exciting season of life. One that can be exhilarating, exciting and difficult all at the same time.

We’re here for ya.

Long time homeowners, we’ve got something for you, too!

Seth has three quick tips for you to get through this process as smoothly as possible.

So here you go…three tips for the “homies:”

  1. Compare insurance companies to make sure you get the best rate. The easiest method of doing this? Have your independent insurance agency do it for you. They, unlike a captive agency, have the freedom to help you get the best rate and best policy. They have access to all types of different policies, making it easier for them to find you the perfect policy.
  2. Set up your insurance payments out of escrow. It’ll be less for you to think about every month and lenders like it.
  3. Bundle, baby! As much as possible, bundle your home, auto, rental properties, and “toys.” Your agent can help with this and you will want to pursue this as it can save you up to 30%.

And that’s it!

Click the button below for more insurance tips for home buyers!

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Work Comp Too High?

You want to take care of your people AND your pocketbook.

Why pay more than you have to?

We’ve shared some ways top business owners are saving money on their workers comp policies.

Check out these top three tips:

  1. Exceptional Ex-Mod

Get My Free Report!

2. Better Benefits

Get My Free Report!

3. Want to increase employee retention? Have a lower cost of claims?
Increase the probability an injured worker will come back?
Let’s make a plan! 

Call today at 888-724-2124 or email

Get My Free Report!

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A Day in the Life of an Intern (Glamorous)

I am the marketing intern at Alta Vista Insurance.

Those photos on social media you see? I post those and record every “Happy Birthday” song sang at 1020 S. Santa Fe. (My voice is the extra loud one since I’m always closest to the microphone. Embarrassing. Worth it.)

Here is a curated collection of my photos I edited using one of my favorite apps, VSCO.


A cloudy day at my school, California State University San Marcos.

The day my friends and I went to an escape room in Oceanside. Would recommend the School of Hard Locks, truly.

One morning after a short shift at my old job, I went to the local pier to watch the waves.

The office in Vista, California.

Why VSCO Is The Bomb

If you’re wondering about VSCO, it’s my favorite app for a few reasons:

It makes high quality photo editing accessible and easy.

I love how many elements of the photo I can adjust and that one doesn’t want to spend much time editing, using their free presets improves the quality of the photo drastically.

Also, I really love the editorials they post, which make a melody of beautiful and interesting photos with thoughtful words.

Check out this one they posted on World Photo Day which details some tips on how to take better photos and displays some awe inspiring photos of people around the globe.

Here are some examples of photos I thought were good (left) but not great before and after editing:












A fisherman and newfound friend.

Taken on iPhone 5s.


Thank you for taking this moment to learn more about me. I hope you picked up a tip to set your photos apart and get more joy from the creative process!

Send us your photos from your various lands. Please.

We’d love to see what daily life in your city looks like for you and, with your permission, your photo could be included in our newsletter.

Send ’em over!




More content similar to this, featuring other friends from AVIA and current events, will arrive in your inbox when you sign up for our newsletter.

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As Fire Season Heats Up California Already Sees Largest Recorded Fire in History


A plane drops fire retardant on a burning hillside as the Holy fire continues to burn in the Cleveland National Forest near Corona, Calif. on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. Firefighters are working in rugged terrain amid scorching temperatures that have prompted warnings about excessive heat and extreme fire danger for much of the region. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

California is not off to a good start as we begin an extraordinarily dangerous fire season. We have already seen two of the largest fires in recorded history;  the Mendocino Complex Fire and the Carr Fire in Shasta County, make their mark in the last few weeks.  

Now, the Holy Fire in Orange County, which started on Monday, has burned more than 9615 acres and is only 5% contained as of this morning’s update from the U.S. Forest Service. About 20,000 residents are under mandatory evacuation orders. 

There are 17 large fires burning in California and firefighters are working around the clock. More the 13,000 firefighters and 2300 members of the National Guard have joined the firefighting effort. 

Let’s take a moment to recognize all the men and women that are putting their lives in danger every day to keep us safe from wildfires. We appreciate everything you do.

California is using every resource available. According to the New York Times article, California Fire Now the Largest in State History: ‘People Are on Edge’, There are roughly 5,300 full-time firefighters with Cal Fire, who, along with 1,700 seasonal firefighters throughout the state, are often the first to the front lines of the state’s wildfires. The state also relies on thousands of federal firefighters based in California who respond to fires in national parks and forests. And there are 3,500 inmate firefighters who live in camps throughout the state and are routinely called up — nearly 2,000 were deployed on Tuesday.  

According to Marti Witter, a fire ecologist with the National Park Service,

“As large as our firefighting resources are, they’re limited, and we’re rapidly approaching the limits of what our personnel can handle. Everyone’s in the air, everyone’s on the ground, and the fire’s just getting bigger. So it’s pretty extreme.”

For all the latest fire updates and evacuation orders refer to Cal Fire. They have a great interactive map that tells you the locations of all the fires burning in California. You can check out their site here:  

CAL Fire

Since we are already experiencing a high fire season you need to make sure your home is secure and you have a plan. The best resources in the state are provided by CAL Fire. They have an amazing program for all homeowners: Ready, Set, Go!. Being Ready for a wildfire starts by maintaining 100 feet of Defensible Space and hardening homes with fire resistant building materials. Be Set by creating a Wildfire Action Plan with your family. Finally, be prepared to Go and evacuate your home. Leave early, before it’s too late.

Thanh Nguyen with the SoCal Team One Fire Management Team suggested having a packed bag ready to go.

“Even if you’re miles away, you want to be prepared if you’re near the fire area or in an environment that can burn,”

It is also important to create your wildfire action plan. Your Wildfire Action Plan must be prepared, and familiar to all members of your household well in advance of a wildfire. Also, prepare your own emergency supply kit. Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate. Plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Each person should have a readily accessible emergency supply kit. Backpacks work great for storing these items (except food and water) and are quick to grab. Storing food and water in a tub or chest on wheels will make it easier to transport. Keep it light enough to be able to lift it into your car.  

All of this information can be found at This is a great resource for California residents to learn more about wildfires and how they can take preventative measures and be prepared in the event of a wildfire. They have interactive maps, brochures, instructional videos and links to available resources and more.

You can download the brochures for their Ready, Set, Go! program here.




Want a property specialist to conduct a full fire insurance review for you or your client? Setup a needs based analysis with Alta Vista Insurance and we’ll do a full risk review through our ART of risk management. 

Get My Needs Based Analysis

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