Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Review Your Homeowners Insurance Renewal Statement

For most of us, our home is our single largest and most important investment. Many of us have poured thousands of dollars and countless hours into maintaining, improving and (hopefully) paying off our homes. Many people own their homes free of any mortgage. These assets are pure equity. Certainly its worthwhile to invest 15 minutes a year to be sure it's properly insured.

Thankfully, the insurance company offers you a perfect reminder and opportunity in sending out your annual renewal statement. Even if your insurance is paid by your mortgage company as part of your impound account, the insurance company still mails you a statement of renewal every year to update you with your current coverage limits and deductible.

Here's a few important steps you can take to be sure that HOME SWEET HOME is properly protected.

1. Check the basics. Check your name, address and any other description of the insured property. Make sure there's been no change of vesting or ownership that needs to be updated. Check your address to be sure no numbers are transposed.

2. Check the mortgagee clause. Here's where you can be sure that the current mortagee on your home is listed correctly. Check the lender, address and your loan number. Be sure there's no old information there. Maybe you had a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) or a second mortgage that no longer applies. Be sure to get them removed.

HEADS UP: Whenever you have a significant claim, the mortgage company will be one of the payees on your claim settlement check. Just that alone can be an inconvenience. But it becomes a major hassle when one of the institutions listed no longer has a vested interest in your home. The insurance company is bound by contract to include the mortgage company on all settlement checks beyond a stated threshold.

*3. Check the coverage on your home (dwelling or building). This is without question the single most important coverage to examine, consider and adjust whenever necessary. Having been an agent during the two raging firestorms in San Diego, CA in this decade, I can tell you that underinsured homes are just NO FUN! Two of my clients lost their homes in the 2003 fires and fortunately they were both adequately insured. (we call all our homeowner clients once a year to review their coverages and suggest improvements and adjustments) But I can tell you that there were literally hundreds of people in the area that were not so fortunate. Many were underinsured by over $100,000! Contractors were giving rebuilding bids on homes for $400,000 with insurance policies with limits less than $300,000. See if that doesn't tweak your financial well-being just a little. Here's the solution.

Get an accurate rendering of the square footage of your home. Check county records, take a look at, call your favorite Realtor, or get a tape measure and do your thing. Usually you don't include the garage in this calculation. Once you get your square footage, then you need to determine the building cost per square foot in your area for a home like yours. Call a local contractor for a quick estimate or you can call your insurance agent. Average costs in San Diego run about $200 per square foot. With that, a 2000 square foot would take about $400,000 to rebuild. Custom homes can be significantlly more. For a more complete discussion of this, check out: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You REALLY Need?

Your contents coverage is usually 75% of the amount you have on your home. For example, if you have $400,000 on your home, you'll have an additional $300,000 to cover your personal property (furniture, clothing, dishes, TV, collections, shoes, tools, etc) Usually this is enough, but think through it anyway. If you have antiques, art, collections of any kind then you may need more. Ask your agent for help if you need to.

4. Look at your Personal Liability Coverage. This is the coverage you need when you get sued. Little Johnny runs across your front yard and trips on one of your sprinklers and ruins his chances to become America's Next Top Model and his parents sue your for $250,000. Make sure you don't scrimp here. It's not too expensive to get $500,000 or even $1 Million of liability coverage. If you have $100,000 or less, you could be setting yourself up for a mess just waiting to happen. Put a really big checkbook between your assets and someone who sees an injury as a lifetime paycheck. You might even consider a Liability Umbrella.

5. Check your 'special limits'. This is a REALLY BROAD subject that I just can't do justice to here in this post. Simply stated, there's limits on many things such as cash, computers, cameras, jewelry, furs, goldware, silverware, tools, etc. Call your company and ask for a review. You can increase many of these limits for just a few dollars a year. Sometimes the available increase isn't enough. That's the perfect time to consider a Personal Articles Floater (or it's called many different names) It's a policy that's designed to place stated amounts of coverage on many items from jewelry, business tools, iPods, hearing aids, cameras, musical instruments and on and on. If you have more than 'the average Joe' of ANYTHING, then check this out FOR SURE!

6. Check your deductible! This can be a tremendous cost-control tool in your insurance spending. Simply stated: The larger your deductible, the greater your savings. Usually you can save close to $100 per year just by going from a $500 deductible to $1000. Pick the largest number you can stand without losing sleep at night and ask your agent or company the savings you'd realize by changing. If you have a $250 or smaller deductible, it's definitely time to change it UP! Keep in mind that you usually hit a point of 'diminishing returns' once you get to $4000 or more. This means that you'll save less and less for each additional $1000 you choose. It might make sense to go from $1000 to $2000 if you save $85 a year by doing so, but not from $5000 to $6000 if you only save another $21 by making that jump.

Monitoring your insurance costs and coverages can result in a lot of savings AND peace of mind. Be sure you keep notes and file your thoughts and changes from year to year. These recoreds will make your annual call quicker and easier each year.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions.

Till next time...

It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10791 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121
Websites: Company Site:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Insuring Savings With A Simple Checklist

Insurance needs change with age and circumstance, yet few people take the time to review their insurance needs and find savings to fatten their monthly budget. It is, though, one of the easiest ways to cut living expenses and save money. On the bright side, it takes just a phone call to switch policies, get a new quote, or change the terms of an existing policy. Here are a few things to check every year, to determine if you can save money on your insurance bills.

* Get new quotes – Every year, it pays to look around and see what other companies are offering for their insurance policies and costs. Just shopping around can save hundreds.

* Bundle your insurance needs – If you have your car with a company that also offers homeowners insurance, it can save you money on both, typically a 10% discount.

* Check your deductibles – If you can stand to have higher deductibles, it will lower your insurance premium.

* Opt out of term life insurance – Once your kids are no longer dependent on you for support, you can cancel your term life insurance policies. Otherwise, you should carry about seven times your income on term life insurance to take care of your kids in case you die.

* Go with a group – Are you a member of a group that offers special discounts on life insurance? Check them out. Members of the AARP, teachers, student body alumnae, retired, or military personnel all can find group discounts for being a member of any of these groups.

* Remove extras you don't need – If you already have towing benefits with AAA, there's no need to carry towing insurance through another provider too. Collision insurance is only good to carry for cars that are less than 10 years old, otherwise, it's the same as replacing the old car out-of-pocket (about $1000).

* Pay yearly or semi-yearly – You can save another 5 to 10% of the policy simply by paying ahead of time, instead of monthly. A few extra dollars a month to process the loan on a monthly basis may seem like little, but it can add up to 10% by the end of the year.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Keeping, Dropping or Changing Your Comprehensive or Collision Coverage

Managing the cost of your insurance car insurance northern ireland, for example) can be as simple as answering a few simple questions. Here's a short discussion that will walk you through the process of deciding to keep, drop or to change (different deductible) your comprehensive and/or collision coverages in your car insurance policy. First we need to do a very short 'inventory.'

Insurance is simply the management of risk. Owning and driving an automobile is a risk. You risk injury, loss of your vehicle, and potential liability for damage to others. The purchase of insurance is merely an agreement with the company to transfer some of your risk to them. You are saying, "I choose not to assume all of this risk myself. In exchange for my premium dollars, the insurance company will suffer some of the financial loss instead of me." With this thought in mind, you must decide how much risk to transfer and in doing so, decide how much risk you are willing to keep yourself in the from of deductibles and unpurchased coverages.
Before we can get to ways to save money on your premium, you need to take a short inventory of your financial picture. Before you get to deciding whether to take a $100 or a $500 deductible on your collision coverage you first need to decide that you can reasonably handle a $500 loss. So before we jump into any tricks of the trade, lets take a moment to diagnose your "loss threshold."
Lets say you go out and buy a $3 picture to hang in your bathroom. Are you going to insure it? Of course not! Now you go out and buy a famous $252,000 masterpiece painting. Are you going to insure it? Unless you are a multi-millionaire, you certainly will. Somewhere in between the $3 print and the $252,000 masterpiece is your loss threshold. Your loss threshold is the amount of money you can stand to lose without doing any great harm to your daily lifestyle or your peace-of-mind. In the above example, different people will have different thresholds. There is no right or wrong answer here!
In addition to settling on your personal loss threshold, it is important to consider your previous history of insurance losses. If you have had several losses in the last 10 years, you may be wise to lean more heavily on your insurance coverage. If, on the other hand, you go almost forever between losses, you will save premium dollars by assuming more of the risk yourself in the form of higher deductibles or dropped coverages. Now, if assuming this extra risk is going to give you some sleepless nights and make you a nervous wreck every time you get into your car, then don't do it! Part of what you buy in the purchase of insurance is peace of mind.
What matters most is where you are comfortable. Take a moment to apply a value to your "Loss Threshold." Try thinking in terms of $50, $100, $250, $500, and $1000. How much money can you, with peace of mind, place at risk? As you will see below, once you determine your Loss Threshold, you need only to weigh the cost of the coverage versus the potential for loss to you. Insurance can be a reasonably simple commodity to manage.


So you have been driving "Old Betsy" now ever since Noah was working on his boat. To you, its worth every bit of what you may have paid for it way back when but to another car buyer, its just an old bucket of bolts, rubber, faded upholstery. Unfortunately, the insurance company views your precious 4-wheeled family member with the same cold business approach as a prospective buyer. Its only worth...well, its worth a lot less than you would hope.
There comes a time in the life of almost every car when its value does not warrant the cost of collision coverage any longer. Collision coverage is that portion of your insurance that pays to fix damage to your car suffered by a collision. You will need this coverage for your car when you are in an accident that is your fault or if your car is the victim of a Hit & Run accident. Looking back to your Financial Picture we discussed above, compare the cost of your coverage with the potential for loss.
In discussions with your agent or by examining your renewal bill, identify the annual cost of your collision coverage. By looking in the newspaper or car-trading publications, determine the actual retail value of your car. Be careful to be objective here and remove whatever emotional attachment you may have to your car that might unrealistically increase its perceived value.

Let's say that the real value of your car is $1200 and the annual cost of just your collision coverage with a $100 deductible is $150. Now here are the Test Questions:
  1. Can I afford to withstand this loss without any help from the insurance company? (in this case $1200)
  2. Would I rather save $XX (in this case $150) every year and risk the loss of the car myself? By not getting this coverage I am saving $XX ($150) per year. I will save enough to make up the loss ($1200) in Y (8) years. (1200 ÷ 150 = 8)
  3. Does my driving and claim history lead me to believe that I might go Y (8) years without suffering that sort of loss?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then you might be well on your way to cutting your insurance costs by dropping your collision coverage. These simple Test Questions can be applied to virtually any insurance-buying decision. Take a look at the next example.


Comprehensive coverage like collision coverage is designed to protect your car from loss. Much of the same logic that we applied to collision coverage can be used to decide on the fate of your comprehensive coverage. There are, however some important considerations to weigh in your analysis.
Comprehensive coverage covers almost anything that happens to your car except collision. The most commonly submitted claims are broken windshields, stolen hub caps, stolen stereos, vandalism and theft of the entire vehicle. Note here that many of these losses produce the same amount of financial loss regardless of the value of the car. It costs virtually the same to replace a windshield in a 75 Ford as it does in an 85 Ford. Consider also that the cost of comprehensive coverage is much less than collision coverage. The ratio between money saved and dollars put at risk is smaller and therefore you may be less eager to drop this coverage. Ask yourself the Test Questions that we did for collision coverage and make an informed decision.
If your vehicle is financed or leased, always remember to check with your financial institution before changing these coverages. Your loan contract may have certain requirements and deductible limitations that somewhat restrict your options.


If deleting collision and comprehensive coverage puts you at greater risk than you are willing to assume at this time, you may want to consider increasing your deductibles as a compromise. As you increase your deductibles you decrease your premium. The insurance company is going to give you a break on your premium here for two reasons. First, when you have a loss, the insurance company will pay you less money when you have a higher deductible. Secondly, with a higher deductible, you will have fewer claims that are presented to the insurance company in excess of your deductible.
When you take a higher deductible you are saying that you, for the consideration of a lower premium are willing to assume a greater portion of the loss yourself. You trade the certainty of a lower premium for the uncertainty of more loss to you should a claim occur.
If you have decided in your Financial Picture that you are comfortable with a $500 loss (and the premium savings is enough) and you own a car worth $3000 then you probably do not want to drop your collision coverage completely. But you can increase your $100 collision deductible to $500 and your zero comprehensive deductible to $100. Let's examine the numbers. If you save $30 per year on your comprehensive coverage and $65 per year on your collision deductible you realize a $95 per year savings the first year and every year thereafter. You are only increasing your risk by $100 on the comprehensive coverage and by $400 on the collision coverage. Remember you already had a $100 deductible on collision and increasing it to $500 changes your participation in the loss by $400. Again, ask yourself the same questions.
  1. Can I afford to withstand this loss (the bigger deductible) without any help from the insurance company?
  2. Would I rather save this money ($95) and risk the larger deductible loss myself? By taking this bigger deductible I am saving $95 per year. I will save enough money to make up the loss in one year for a comprehensive loss and in just over four years for a collision loss.
  3. Does my driving and claim history lead me to believe that I might go one or five years without this sort of loss?
If the answers are primarily yes then most likely an increase in deductibles is right for you.

It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10791 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121
Websites: Company Site:

This post contains only a general description of coverages and is not your insurance contract. Details of coverage or limits can vary. All coverages are determined by the terms, provisions, exclusions and conditions of your policy along with any endorsements.

How to Review Your Auto Insurance Renewal Statement

You can save TONS OF MONEY by just taking a few minutes to look over that annoying little renewal statement that has your insurance bill attached to it.

We sure get a lot of paper these days. Seems that in this paper-LESS society, we shouldn't have quite as much paper as we do. True... we can scan it, archive it, or just throw it away. There is one piece of paper that you'll want to pay attention to -- Its your Auto Insurance Renewal Statement. You'll get these once or twice a year depending on how often your auto insurance renews. You'll probably also get one whenever you adjust your coverage or change vehicles.

One of the reasons the insurance company sends these statements out to you is to give you an opportunity to pause and determine if those coverages and limits and deductibles you started with so long ago still apply to you. Things change and so should your insurance policy. Sometimes people keep up with it; sometimes they don't. By not paying attention to these renewal statements, you could be spending needless premium on coverage you no longer need or want, or you could be setting yourself for an uninsured or underinsured loss by having limits that are too low or thinking you have coverage that you really DON'T have.

Here's a few steps to help you quickly and systematically look over that statement in just a few minutes.

1. Quickly review all the basic information: Name, address, vehicle description. OK there?

2. Next take a look at the rating information. You might need a little help from your company or agent on this one. Companies apply different rating factors for different driving characteristics Thes can include how many miles you drive, your age, your years of driving experience, ticket, accidents, etc. A quick call to your company or agent and they can walk you through these in just a couple minutes.

3. Check your LIABILITY LIMITS. This is usually the first coverage listed. This is probably the most important coverage to examine. This is the coverage that stands between some accident that you may cause and everything that you own.

Individual state laws mandate different minimums. California minimums are 15/30/5. Others are listed here. This means the insurance company will pay up to $15,000 for the injuries you cause to any one person, up to $30,000 for the injuries you cause in any one accident, and up to $5,000 for any property damage you may do (the car, house, light post, whatever you happen to hit). While these limits may seem like lots of money, they can evaporate very quickly. Consider a recent client of mine who sustained injuries in an accident and spent over $14,000 before ever even leaving the emergency room.

My recommendation is to think in terms of at least 100/300/50 instead of whatever your state minimum might be. Consider more if you own a home or have appreciable assets. Cut and slice and minimize on other coverages, but this one is where you protect everything you own against the possibility of a large liability lawsuit.

4. Check your Medical Payments. This is usually listed second. It's the coverage that provides (depending on your state insurance laws) coverage for injuries to you and other pople in your vehicle. There's some overlap here with your health insurance. This can be used to pay deductibles, copayment and other portions of your medical bills that may not be covered by your health insurance.

5. Check the coverage on your vehicle -- Specifically Comprehensive and Collision coverage. Collision coverage pays for your car when you sustain damage from a collision. Comprehensive covers (almost) everything else. Decide if the annual cost of these individual coverages makes sense compared to the value of your car. Check here for a more detailed discussion of this process.

6. Don't neglect Uninsured and/or Under Insuraced Motorist Coverage. There's LOTS of uninsured drivers on the road these days. Some surveys estimate as high as 25%. That means one out of every 4 drivers on the road can be uninsured. This is the coverage that for just a few dollars a year 'constructively' gives all those drivers insurance coverage to pay you if they cause an accident with you. You should consider having limits at least equal to your liability limits (#3 above.)

6. Make sure you're receiving ALL the discounts you can get. Here's where that phone call can pay some dividends. There are many discounts available. There are discounts related to your car: Airbags, alarm system, theft tracker systems and others. There are also other discounts. One of the biggest can be the Multi-Line Discount. This is where you save even more on your auto insurance if you have other policies such as homeowners or life insurance with the same company. Also remember to check for short mileage, good student, mature driver, defensive driving class, loyalty (with the same company for a long time). Just call the company and ask them to list all of the possible discounts to see for which ones you can qualify.

This process might take you a little longer the first time you do it. I suggest you make some notes right on your renewal notice and file it for next time. Then when you get your next renewal, you can get your first one out and compare and use the notes you make to ask more questions that will either save you money or better protect your hard-earned assets.

Till next time...


Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10783 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121 - Cell (619) 339-1339

This post contains only a general description of coverages and is not your insurance contract. Details of coverage or limits can vary. All coverages are determined by the terms, provisions, exclusions and conditions of your policy along with any endorsements.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Current State Minimum Auto Insurance Liability Limits

  • Alaska 50/100/25
  • Alabama 20/40/10
  • Arkansas 25/50/15
  • Arizona 15/30/10
  • California 15/30/5
  • Colorado 25/50/15
  • Connecticut 20/40/10
  • Delaware 15/30/5
  • Florida 10/20/10
  • Georgia 15/30/10
  • Hawaii 20/40/10
  • Idaho 20/50/15
  • Illinois 20/40/15
  • Indiana 25/50/10
  • Iowa 20/40/15
  • Kansas 25/50/10
  • Kentucky 25/50/10
  • Louisiana 10/20/10
  • Maine 50/100/25
  • Maryland 20/40/10
  • Massachusetts 20/40/5
  • Michigan 20/40/10
  • Minnesota 30/60/10
  • Mississippi 25/50/25
  • Missouri 25/50/10
  • Montana 25/50/10
  • Nebraska 25/50/25
  • New Hampshire 25/50/25
  • New Jersey 15/30/5
  • New Mexico 25/50/10
  • Nevada 15/30/10
  • New York 25/50/10
  • North Carolina 30/60/25
  • North Dakota 25/50/25
  • Ohio 12.5/25/7.5
  • Oklahoma 10/20/10
  • Oregon 25/50/10
  • Pennsylvania 15/30/5
  • Rhode Island 25/50/25
  • South Carolina 15/30/10
  • South Dakota 25/50/25
  • Tennessee 25/50/10
  • Texas 20/40/15
  • Utah 25/65/15
  • Virginia 25/50/20
  • Vermont 25/50/10
  • Washington 25/50/10
  • Wisconsin 25/50/10
  • West Virginia 20/40/10
  • Wyoming 25/50/20

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Condo Unit Owner? Here's the Insurance You Need!

Read through the article and your HOA "secret" is indicated with ***** below.

Your condominium or Condo as we affectionately call it is a very important investment. Protecting it properly is critical to your financial security. If you’ve only been guessing until now, then guess no longer.

Insurance for your condo need not be a shot in the dark. There are simple ways to determine EXACTLY how much insurance you should have.

Even though insurance has been part of our culture for over 100 years, to most people – It’s still a just a mystery. And because they don’t understand it, a lot of people think they’re being “ripped off” by the Insurance Industry; aka “The Club”

I want to end that for you.

I'm an industry "insider": A licensed member of “The Club”
I’ve been inside the insurance business for over 30 years and I know it like the back of my hand: From policy to claims and back again.
I've sold insurance.
I've studied it.
I've discovered what makes "good insurance" -- and what makes "bad insurance".

I know that not all insurance is "created equal".

If you’re not properly insuring your condo you could be either wasting needless premium money on excess coverage or you could be setting yourself up for a severely UNDERINSURED loss that could cost you tens of THOUSANDS of dollars or even MORE!

I’ve been around the insurance business for a long time and I’ve seen it all.

  • I’ve seen people standing next to smoldering ashes that just hours before was their home and everything they own.
  • I’ve comforted those who have just received a 50-page lawsuit because their sprinkler flooded their neighbor’s yard or their dog bit a friend’s child.
  • I’ve reassured clients that they have coverage after their toilet flooded their house over an entire 3-day weekend.
  • I’ve seen clean-up bills for just water damage in excess of $100,000.
And I’ve been able to pay all these losses for these very frightened people because we made sure that their insurance was right for them – That it would be there to “write the check” should these shattering losses happen to them!

Condo insurance, when purchased properly, can give you the security of continuing life as you know it in the event of a catastrophic casualty or liability loss.

Condo insurance is POWERFUL and very comprehensive in the scope of coverage it offers.

Here’s a little overview….
  • It protects your condo (more on that later)
  • It protects your stuff at home
  • It protects your stuff on vacation
  • It protects your stuff in the USA
  • It protects stuff you may have in a storage facility
  • It protects your stuff all over the world !
  • Yes, that’s right… you lose your stuff ANYWHERE on the planet…you’re covered just as you are in your own backyard.
  • It protects your CHECKS & CREDIT CARDS if they’re stolen
  • It gives you Liability protection....that’s when you get sued
  • It gives you protection for stuff you’d never imagine.
  • Here’s just a few examples
    • Money, Bank Notes, Coins (including collections) up to $200
    • Property used or intended to be used in business
      • On premises up to $1,000
      • Off premises up to $250
    • Watercraft and equipment up to $1,000
    • Securities, Checks, Traveler’s Checks up to $1,000
    • Trailers (not used with watercraft) up to $1,000· Stamps, trading cards, comic books (including collections) up to $2,500
  • Theft loss of:
    • Jewelry and Furs up to $1,000
    • Firearms up to $2,500
    • Silverware and Goldware up to $2,500
    • Rugs, tapestry, wall hangings
      • Per Item up to $5,000
      • Aggregate up to $10,000
  • Home Computers up to $5,000
WOW, you say!
That’s quite a list.
Yes it is…and there’s MORE…
Yes, there’s a LOT more…
But before we get to that … the WHAT and HOW TO BUY Condo Insurance,
let’s talk about the WHY!!
Why would anyone need or want Condo Insurance?

Most Homeowners Associations (HOA's) purchase insurance for the buildings in the condo complex. That cost is paid from a portion of your monthly HOA fees.

*****And here's the IMPORTANT PART:

Generally (and I say that because every HOA is different) but GENERALLY, the HOA covers only the outer portion of the buildings and the roof and common areas. YOU are responsible to insure the interior walls, cabinets and fixtures. And you are responsible to cover your personal property: your clothes, bed, furniture, TV, iPod, dishes.... All your "stuff".

Properly structured Condo Insurance provides protection for your interior structure, your personal property,
AND Protection in case of a liability lawsuit.

“WHAT?!?!” you say. “Lawsuit ! !”
Yep, lawsuit. Could it happen to you? The answer is…
Of course it could ! !

But we’ll talk about that in a minute. So….

Let’s talk about the nitty-gritty of Condo Insurance. There’s certainly not room here in this report to cover all of it, but I promise, that when you’re done you’ll know more about condo insurance than 95% of the planet. Having a good handle on your insurance decisions is the only way to best prevent problems and surprises at claim time.
There’s three main parts to your condo coverage: 1. Coverage for the interior structure 2. Coverage for your stuff 3. Liability coverage

Let’s take these on one at a time.

COVERAGE FOR YOUR Interior Structure

Remember that the interior structure includes all the interior walls, cabinets, built-ins, carpet, tile, bathroom sinks, toilets, showers, closets - EVERYTHING inside the outer perimeter of your unit.

This is probably the least understood of the three. And the biggest question is HOW MUCH? How much coverage to I REALLY NEED to properly and reasonably cover my interior?

It’s really a simple answer. This is probably worth the entire time you’d spend reading 10 of these POSTS.

You need just enough coverage to rebuild your condo.

Here’s what you DON’T NEED! You DON’T NEED to insure it for its market value (what
you could sell it for). You also DON’T NEED to insure it up to the LOAN AMOUNT. Both of these numbers have NOTHING TO DO with the cost to rebuild your condo.

If you determine that you need $80,000 to rebuild your condo and your lender tells you that you have to insu
re it for $200,000 because that’s the amount of your loan. You tell them that you know different! If you can’t get this through their thick heads, call me. I’ll take care of it for you. There’s a law I can cite to them that will cool their jets in a hurry. (And I’ve done it many times in my 3 decades of helping my policyholders)

So how much do I need to rebuild my condo?

That’s the magic question, for sure! The answer is that you calculate it by using cost per square
foot. You’ll need to know how many square feet of living space you have.

Ideally you’d like to get a licensed contractor to your house to estimate that for you. Get one who is currently building houses in your area. Believe me, he knows the cost.

Remember though, EVERY HOUSE IS DIFFERENT! The range in San Diego is usually $60-$75 per square foot. Where you fall in that range is dependent in the quality of your interior. Average is probably $65-$70. So, if you have 1200 square feet and your think $60 per foot is sufficient, you need $72,000 of BUILDING coverage on your policy.

I have several contractors insured and I keep up with them on the current cost of construction in my area. I hesitate to just give you a number here as it changes all the time and you need to tweak it a little based on the configuration of your house. For example, if your house is a track house, (one that was built among a bunch of others that are about the same) your cost
of construction will probably be less than if you lived in a custom house. You have to ask questions like these:

  • Do I have carpet or marble tile?
  • Do I have a central vacuum system?
  • Do you have Upgraded Counter tops? Granite?
  • Are my kitchen cabinets standard or custom?
  • Do I have central air conditioning, ceiling fans, custom wood stair rails, etc?

With just a quick phone call to my office, we’ll be happy to help you determine your cost per square foot.

Another common point of confusion is that people think they need to insure their condo f
or it’s market value. NOT SO! Your house is (almost) always going to be worth more than it takes to build it. Remember there’s value in your land, neighborhood, schools, view, etc. All that is unaffected by the loss of your home. And remember this….


So here’s how a typical house can look. Remember there’s 3 key numbers associated with your house: Market Value, Amount of your Mortgage, and Rebuilding Cost.

If your 2500 square foot condo has a market value of $650,000 and your local building costs are $70/square foot, your rebuilding cost would be $175,000 (2500 x 70). Your mortgag
e could be $120,000, $400,000 or $0. Regardless of the loan amount or the market value, you’d want to have approximately $150,000 of insurance on the interior building coverage for your condo. There’s some tricky thinking here that you need to consider.
The cost of construction isn’t static, it’s always changing. Lumber cost changes almost daily, as an area builds more and less through changes in economy, the cost of subcontractors w
ill fluctuate. At the end of this report you’ll see a special feature that my office offers you to help you be sure that you don’t get caught short as construction costs rise and fall. Look for this picture. -->

Usually your condo has what’s called ALL RISK coverage on the structure. That means that, except for a few exclusions, anything that happens to your condo is covered. If there’s a loss to your condo, the adjuster looks at the list of exclusions and if what happened isn’t there… it’s probably going to be covered. Remember that all insurance companies are different and it’s the policy contract that decides, not what I say here!

Some common exclusions include flood (the natural kind, not water from a broken pipe which IS COVERED), earthquake, riot, freezing of pipes in an unoccupied, vacant, or under-construction building, vandalism and malicious mischief if the building has been vacant for more than 30 days, normal wear and tear, intentional damage, damage from animals, birds, or fish, and war. These are just a sampling of exclusions. See your policy for your actual exclusions.

Equally as important as the coverage for your home is your coverage for your stuff – Your Personal Property.


If your stuff is stolen from your car,
IT’S COVERED under your Condo Unitowners Insurance!!!
There might be damage to your car though. THAT’S covered under your auto insurance. I’m sure you have car insurance ! ! ! (see 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Auto Insurance
(Part 1) & (Part 2) )

This is the coverage that insures your personal property: Your sofa, dishes, clothes, television, stereo, art work, silver, china, watches, jewelry, blender and your socks. How much do you need? That's the important question. Start thinking at a minimum of $30,000. I insured a condo once with personal property coverage of $250,000! Yes, he was a doctor and she a surgical nurse. Lots of money there!

Again... just a quick phone call to my office and we can help you decide the right amount for you.

Here’s an important distinction on the actual coverages for your personal property as compared to the coverage for your structure. You’ll remember that your structure is covered for all losses EXCEPT for those specifically excluded. Your personal property is only covered for a specific list of losses. Here’s a typical list:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Explosion
  • Aircraft & vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Sudden and accidental tearing or bulging of heating or cooling systems
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Theft
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Falling objects
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Sudden and accidental water discharge from plumbing or appliances
  • Freezing of plumbing systems

Once again it’s important to check your own policy language for the specific coverages for your personal property. If you’re not sure, just give us a call. 619-670-1000

Now before we talk a little about the most important portion of your condo policy -- Your Liability Coverage, let me mention one VERY COMMON MISCONCEPTION.

Condo insurance DOES NOT cover the mortgage if one of the owners should die. You’ll need MORTGAGE INSURANCE to cover that.

Mortgage Insurance is simply life insurance that’s designed to pay off the mortgage at the death of one of the owners.

Life insurance can be somewhat overwhelming to purchase. You’re so afraid of making a mistake.

It’s easy to incorporate your mortgage insurance TOGETHER with your regular Life Insurance and SAVE TONS OF MONEY in the process. Learn how with this:

If you own a home and anyone depends on your income to keep the home then mortgage insurance is a must for you! You have far too much invested in your home to allow those you love and provide for to risk having to lose the house if one of the bread winners dies.

It’s simple and easy and probably NOT AS EXPENSIVE AS YOU MIGHT THINK.

You can usually get mortgage insurance for your home for about the price of a DVD a month!

Think about it. Safety, security and peace of mind for about the cost of a DVD a month!

Liability Coverage

Remember we were talking about that LAWSUIT!?!?! Yes, it could happen to you! There’s ALSO coverage in your CONDO INSURANCE for THAT !

Liability is the portion of your condo insurance that protects your home, your assets, your retirement savings and your future income!

Someone slips and falls in your place,
Breaks their leg, or cuts their hand.
(Bummer if it’s a Plastic Surgeon)
Your policy will pay whatever you’re legally liable to pay. (up to the limit of the policy, of course) That’s why at least a $1,000,000 limit is important there (especially if you live in California). Many offices will let you walk away with the standard $100,000. For just an extra $7/month, you get TEN TIMES the coverage -- Almost a crime not to take that.

If you own your condo you should probably consider a Liability Umbrella. It gives you $1,000,000 coverage on your house and all your personal vehicles. You have just too much equity in your house and too much of your net worth tied up there to risk it by saving a few dollars a month.

Let me tell you a story….
Just this year a policyholder called me and told me that they were being sued because their son’s girlfriend accidentally let their dog out of the back yard. The dog made a beeline across the street and kicked the stuffing out of the neighbor’s dog. The homeowner was being sued by the neighbor for veterinarian bills that exceeded $3000 and for mental anguish, stress, and… well, you know the drill. Fortunately the homeowner had not only their homeowners insurance but also a Liability Umbrella standing between this crazy neighbor and everything they owned. Without that, this could have been their problem…

They could have been paying off this “little problem” for years. They could have risked everything they own in addition to their FUTURE EARNINGS by not having the foresight to get (in this case) HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE and a LIABILITY UMBRELLA policy.
You can insure your home, your personal property and your liability exposure in one simple policy.

Condo insurance also includes Medical Payment coverage. That pays for MEDICAL EXPENSES up to the limits of the policy for people who are on your premises with your permission and accidentally injured. And ALSO for people injured by your activities. Coverage doesn’t pay for medical expenses for you or members of your family that live with you.

BUT WAIT ! ! ! ! THERE’S MORE!!!!!!
You also get what’s called LOSS OF USE or ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES coverage. Whenever your place is rendered UNINHABITABLE because of a covered loss, we’ll pay the cost to put you up someplace else while your place is being repaired. I’ve actually written checks to people sitting outside their burned residence to pay for a hotel. VERY COOL!!!!
This pays up to 24 MONTHS! ! Hopefully you won’t be out that long,
but it’s THERE IF YOU NEED IT ! ! ! !

You know how things just get more expensive every year. We’ll automatically increase the amount of your coverage every month FOR FREE until your next renewal to keep pace with inflation. When you renew you policy each year, it will be for the newer IMPROVED amount of coverage.

BUT WAIT ! ! ! ! THERE’S STILL MORE!!!!!! (starting to sound like one of those Ginsu Knife Commercials..?)
I mentioned this up above but you might have missed it. If someone steals your checks or credit cards and you suffer loss cuz they’re out there spending YOUR MONEY, you’ll have coverage for that up to $1000.
“WOW”, you say!
And all that’s included in the Condo Insurance we provide in our office.

Hey, Let’s talk about Deductibles for a second….
The deductible is the portion of a covered loss that is your responsibility. They are typically available in amounts such as $250, $500, $750, or $1000.For example, if you had a $500 deductible, you would need to pay the first $500 of the covered loss and we’d pay the rest.Generally speaking, higher deductibles lower your premium, but increase the amount you must pay out of your own pocket if a covered loss occurs. Ask yourself how much you are willing to pay in order to save on premium. ... you know what, just ask us when you're in the office and we'll show you how simple it is to calculate.

SO what’s the best way to buy CONDO INSURANCE ?

RULE #1 – Don’t over-insure and don’t under-insure. Get the right amount of coverage. Yes, you’ll have to estimate how much stuff you have.

We have convenient calculators in our office to estimate this for you.

RULE #2 – Take the biggest deductible you can afford. (within reason). Increasing your deductible from just $500 to $1000 will usually save you about $75 per year.
Let us help you do the math to see how long it takes you to absorb the difference in the two deductibles.

We can help you walk thru those numbers and find the best blend of deductible and price... Takes about 3 minutes.

RULE #3 – Get at least $500,000 of liability coverage (especially if you live in CALIFORNIA!) People just love to sue in good old CaliforNyeYay.

You need someone who explains and helps you with this. It’s just what we do...

RULE #4 – Only get policies with REPLACEMENT COST coverage for your contents. (all of the policies we offer in our agency have this provision.) This is a cool one. Provision sez that if you suffer loss to your stuff, and you replace it, we’ll pay you what it costs to get a brand new one rather than what your old one was worth.

We automatically add this to all your policies unless (for some reason) you tell us not to.Looks like this. Someone steals your 8 year old TV set that’s worth $75 and a new one is $350, we’ll pay you based on the $350 rather than the $75! VERY COOL!

RULE #5 – Take the PERSONAL LIABILITY option in the LIABILITY SECTION of your policy. That gives you coverage for things like slander and libel. Californian’s, for some crazy reason, get all bent out of shape if you talk to them or about them the wrong way.

We automatically add this one too. Unless you don’t want it...

RULE #6 – Don’t forget to check out things like Special insurance for your baseball card or Precious Moments collections. There’s limits on those kinds of things. You might also need to look into waterbed liability, or business liability (if you run any kind of business out of your home.) And don’t forget EARTHQUAKE coverage.

We’ll walk you thru a checklist of all those things just to make sure we don’t forget anything. You may not need any of them, but we just want to be sure.

RULE #7 – Only get a condo policy with GUARANTEED EXTRA REPLACEMENT COST (GERC) coverage for your structure. This is SO IMPORTANT. We offer policies that will pay you up to an EXTRA 20% above the actual amount of coverage. F
or example, let’s say you’ve lost your 2500 square foot home to a fire and it was insured for $200 a foot -- $250,000. But there’s a recent spike in the cost of materials and the real cost comes to $285,000. OUCH! Looks like you’re going to have to dig into your pocket for $35,000! Not so with the policies we write in our office. Our company offers you, AT NO EXTRA CHARGE the GUARANTEED EXTRA REPLACEMENT COVERAGE at an additional 20%. Your $250,000 will actually pay you up to $300,000 to rebuild your home.

With GERC, your policy for $250,000 will actually pay you up to $300,000 to rebuild your condo. And OH BY THE WAY... This is included automatically at no additional premium on ALL of our condo policies!
And don’t forget EARTHQUAKE coverage. I know there’s a lot to think about. So let us help you remember all of it. One step at a time.

This can be so simple and easy to do.

We do all the work for you and in less than 30 minutes, you’ll have protected your condo, your personal property, your current assets and your future earnings.

Why somebody wouldn’t buy CONDO INSURANCE this way is simply beyond me.

In our agency we offer you 5 different ways to pay for this. You have your choice of Annual, Quarterly, Semi-annual, monthly and SPECIAL MONTHLY…
“So what’s so special about SPECIAL MONTHLY,” you might ask.
It’s special cuz it’s just so insanely easy.

We set it up for you and your monthly payment comes right out of your checking account: Same day; Every month.

(of course of your insurance is already part of your house payment, we’ll set things up so that continues just as it’s always been for you)

So, here’s what you get…
  • Coverage for your condo: The right amount so you sleep well.
  • Coverage for your stuff: TV, stereo, blender, dishes, clothes, etc.
  • This coverage at REPLACEMENT COST (as I explained above)
  • Liability Protection. (assets AND your future earnings)
  • A place to live while we put your place back together
  • We’ll walk you thru the whole process (probably will take less than 30 minutes)
  • Confidence that you’re buying the insurance you need: NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS
It Just doesn’t get any better -
OR EASIER - than that…

You’ve got everything to gain and NOTHING to lose.
I look forward to talking with you soon!


It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10783 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121

Websites: Company Site:

Client Convenience Site: