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Vista, CA 92084

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Let’s Clear The Air About Earthquake Insurance

After the recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake on July 4th and the 7.1 quake on July 5th, more and more residents understand that earthquake risk is REAL in Southern California. The seismic activity was centered around the towns of Trona and Ridgecrest, but the aftershocks were felt from LA to San Diego. 

This last round of earthquake activity has shocked many California residents into rethinking the importance of earthquake insurance to protect their homes and assets.

If you’re looking to fully protect your lifestyle, it is highly recommended you purchase earthquake insurance…Now. 

Other than wildfire, earthquakes are one of the leading natural disasters Californians face. Most residents live within 30 miles of an active fault line and only 10% of California residents carry earthquake insurance. 10 percent!

Does it make a lot of sense to partially insure your most valuable asset, your home? 

Insurance tip: A residential property insurance policy does NOT cover damage due to earthquake or seismic activity. You need a separate earthquake insurance policy.

Watch this short video about the benefits of carrying earthquake insurance. Contact one of our insurance guides and get an earthquake insurance quote for your home today! Call 888-724-2124.



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Can I purchase earthquake insurance after an earthquake? Yes.

The Department of Insurance released a bulletin on July 12th about the requirement of all California Earthquake Authority participating insurance companies to write CEA earthquake policies. 

In response to the Northridge earthquake in 1994, the California Legislature created the California Earthquake Authority (CEA)—a not-for-profit, publicly managed, privately funded entity. Residential property insurers could offer their own earthquake insurance or become a CEA participating insurance company. 

CEA provides two-thirds of the residential earthquake insurance policies sold in California. By selling policies exclusively through these participating insurance companies, CEA has become one of the largest providers of residential earthquake insurance in the world. The CEA is a not-for-profit organization and receives no funding from the State of California, whether for operations or claim liabilities, and is not a part of the state budget. CEA is financed solely through insurer contributions, policyholder premiums, and its own investment returns.

Following the recent earthquakes in Ridgecrest, the Department of Insurance received numerous complaints that some CEA participating insurers were denying applications for CEA earthquake insurance coverage from insureds who already had a residential underlying insurance policy with that insurance company.

Many agents and brokers were misinforming their clients that there is a “moratorium” on selling CEA coverage, even to those insureds who have an underlying insurance policy with that insurance company. 

Image courtesy of California Earthquake Association

That is FALSE. There is NO moratorium on selling CEA coverage.

California Insurance Code Section 10083 requires that offers for earthquake coverage made by a Participating Insurer contain a specific disclosure that includes the statement, “If you choose not to accept this offer within the 30-day period, you may apply for earthquake coverage at a later date.” Refusing to write CEA earthquake insurance coverage for policyholders with a residential insurance policy is not in compliance with state law or the intent of the CEA statute and mission.

The CEA has confirmed to the Department of Insurance that it expects all participating insurers to take applications for and bind CEA coverage if requested by an insured who has an underlying residential insurance policy with the insurer. 

A moratorium on earthquake insurance has never been declared by the CEA. Some participating insurers have declared a moratorium on the sale of their own new homeowners and other fire insurance policies in areas of California impacted by the recent Ridgecrest earthquakes. 

And if that company is not writing new property insurance policies then they would not be making the accompanying mandatory offer of earthquake insurance to those homeowners. 

However, this should NOT effect current insureds with a residential insurance policy from a CEA participating insurer. They should be assisted in purchasing a new CEA policy immediately.

“So, if you have property insurance from an insurance company that participates with the California Eathquake Authority you can purchase earthquake insurance NOW.”

Contact us and we can review your home insurance policy and tell you if your company offers earthquake insurance protection with the California Earthquake Authority. We’ll also do a coverage check up to make sure you have the right protection for your lifestyle. Give us a call at 888-724-2124.


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The One Way To A Speedy Real Estate Transaction

Would you marry someone whose history was a mystery? Or are you prone to purchase a car without knowing the facts of its past?

To connect you with the history of a home you’re considering, we’re offering a free report, guaranteed to give you peace of mind and help you avoid time and money-wasting complications during and after the sale.

Get a clue! Come on, seriously.

A C.L.U.E., the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, is a loss history information exchange provided by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions Inc. It enables insurance companies to access and use prior loss information in the underwriting process. Think of it as “the cloud of claims”.

Here’s how it works

Each month, participating insurers submit loss information to the C.L.U.E. information exchange, which is loaded to the C.L.U.E. database. Insurance companies request this data by forwarding search criteria such as an insurance applicant’s name, risk address, date of birth, and Social Security Number. The C.L.U.E. system searches its database for information that matches the requested search criteria. A C.L.U.E. report is then generated and forwarded to the insurer. When you or your insurance company receive a C.L.U.E. report, it includes all losses accessed by the search criteria that were reported to us within seven years of the date of the request. Home warranty claims are not included on a C.L.U.E. report.

The C.L.U.E. report is a valuable piece of information to provide you a clearer look into the prior loss history of the property you’re peeking at. 

Reading the report

First, you want to look for claims associated with the risk address. The report can sometimes show claims filed on another location owned or occupied by the seller. You’ll want to look for claims frequency rather than severity. These would be claims that indicate a potential ongoing problem or the possibility for future losses. Multiple occurrences to the same areas in the home can indicate faulty or defective systems. For example, water losses and mold are big ones to look for and are one of the most widely reported causes of loss or perils. Other perils to watch out for are fires occurring in the home, not wildfire, and theft or burglary. These type of losses could indicate morale hazards or the home could be in a questionable area. Insurance companies are tightening their guidelines when it comes to water losses resulting from inside water damage, not weather related flood claims. Effective this year, many admitted insurance carriers will decline a risk if there has been a significant water loss on the property within the last 3-5 years. This would include damage exceeding $2,500. Normally, losses follow the insured and can impact the cost of insurance or insurability when moving to a new location. Due to the rise in frequency and extensive costs resulting from water damage claims. more and more companies are looking at water losses at new business and declining.

One Final Thought

The cost of the damage is important and can indicate the severity of the incident and the amount paid by the insurance company for the loss. Accidents happen. Just because a property has been impacted by a large claim or series of claims does not mean you should avoid buying that house. Review the report with your realtor and request a disclosure from the sellers about how the claims were resolved. Were all repairs completed and was everything built back to code? Was the home replaced with like kind and quality?

Talk to your insurance agent about the loss(es) that were filed, how the insurance companies handled the claims and how this will impact insurance for the home moving forward.

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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. 


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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!


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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%.

https://youtu.be/ZeiNLTvmQGw

And that’s it!

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


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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 readyforwildfire.org. 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.

Ready

Set

Go

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. 

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3 Things Home Buyers Need to Know About Insurance

Before purchasing a home there many variables to consider. One thing you want to be sure about is your protection for your assets. Here are a few things for first-time home buyers to consider when they reach the insurance inquiry stage in their real estate purchase.

1) Compare multiple insurance companies

Compare coverage, price and financial stability. You are not required to buy from a particular insurance company, however you want an insurance company that is stable and responsive when handling claims. Shop for value, not price. Customer service and ease of doing business are key when selecting an insurance company that is right for you.

Your mortgage lender can, and probably will, require you to have homeowners insurance.You aren’t required to buy from a particular insurance company. Instead, compare coverage, price and customer reviews. Be sure you get the right type and amount of coverage. Shop for value, not necessarily rock-bottom price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, make sure the company you choose has great customer service reviews.

Home insurance is not as hotly price-competitive as auto insurance, but you can still save from hundreds to more than $1,000 a year in premiums by shopping around. About 9 percent of our survey respondents had switched insurers in the previous three years, mostly because they got a better price from their new carrier. And those who switched for a better price were just as satisfied with their later claim payments as those who stayed put. Residents of California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and other states whose insurance departments publish rate comparisons for standardized coverage can zero in on the lowest-priced insurers and then contact them for custom quotes. If your state doesn’t offer such guidance, contact an independent agent who sells insurance from multiple carriers.

2) Set up your payment out of Escrow, and use an Impound Account

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ll tack monthly insurance payments onto your mortgage check. The lender will pay your insurance premiums (usually your property taxes, too) out of your escrow account. Lenders prefer this option because it lets them know your insurance premiums are being paid, and their investment is well protected. Most likely, you’ll need to pay for one year of insurance at closing. Bring information about the insurance policy you have chosen and the money to cover the first year’s premium.

3) Look at Bundling and Saving

Consider buying your homeowners and auto coverage from the same company for as much as a 30 percent savings. Discounts are also available if you add more policies, like a motorcycle, watercraft, or personal umbrella. If you experience a significant loss, like a fire or storm, that is covered by your homeowner policy and have other policies that are affected, like an auto or motorcycle, the carrier may waive all deductibles after the home policy deductible is paid. Contact me and we can conduct a needs based analysis to identify your possible exposures and ways you can maximize your insurance protection while reducing your out of pocket expenses.

Purchasing a new home in California? Click here to get more information!

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