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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is Motus Insurance Services?

Motus is a wholesale insurance broker.  As a wholesale broker we sell our product through appointed retail insurance brokers who specialize in the needs of common interest developments (condominiums).  As a broker we are legally obligated to work in the consumer’s best interests rather than the insurance company’s best interest.

Motus has designed the Motus Earthquake Insurance policy to meet the specific needs of California condominium owners.  Our underwriting partner is Aegis Security Insurance Company — an “A” rated insurance company who is admitted to do business in the State of California.

What is Motus Earthquake Insurance?

Motus Earthquake Insurance (MEI) is a new insurance product designed to meet the specific needs of California condominium owners.  Prior to MEI, unless your homeowners’ association elected to obtain an master earthquake policy, the main option available was through the California Earthquake Authority (“CEA”).  CEA policies offer some protection, but that protection is incomplete (click *here* to learn more about what CEA insurance does — and does not — cover).  Furthermore, CEA earthquake insurance is only available as a companion policy to an individual fire insurance policy — therefore if your homeowners’ association purchased adequate complex-level fire insurance but has not purchased complex-level earthquake insurance, you may have had no way to protect yourself (unless you are willing to buy duplicative fire insurance).

Who pays claims against a Motus Earthquake Insurance policy?

The underwriter for all Motus Earthquake Insurance policies is Aegis Security Insurance Company (“Aegis”).  Aegis is rated “A” by A.M. Best and is licensed nationwide — an “A” rated insurance company licensed by the State of California.  This means that the State of California will ultimately back claims on a Motus Insurance Services policy (up to $250,000 per policy).

Am I eligible for Motus Earthquake Insurance?

The first step toward eligibility for Motus Earthquake Insurance is for your homeowners’ association to enroll in the program.  For a minimal fee, Motus Insurance Services representatives and retail insurance experts will work with your HOA board to design a policy around the specific needs of your homeowners’ association.  Factoring in the exact values of your association along with your HOA’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).  Once a policy has been designed for your condominium, you will receive an email directing you back to this website to get a rate quote based on your specific policy needs.

If your HOA is not currently enrolled in a Motus Earthquake Insurance program, please click *here* to take the first step toward connecting your property manager or HOA board with one of our partner brokers.  Together, we will work with your property manager or HOA board to set up a program for your HOA.

What can I do if my Homeowners’ Association is not enrolled in a Motus Earthquake Insurance master program?

If your HOA is not currently enrolled in a Motus Earthquake Insurance program, please click *here* to take the first step toward connecting your property manager or HOA board with one of our partner brokers.  Together, we will work to set up a Motus Earthquake Insurance program for your HOA.

How is Motus Earthquake Insurance different from insurance offered by the California Earthquake Authority?

Prior to Motus Earthquake Insurance, earthquake insurance for Californians living in Condos has been offered through the California Earthquake Authority (“CEA”).  CEA-based insurance, while well suited to single-family homeowners, does not provide comprehensive coverage that handles the specific needs of condominium owners.  In particular, CEA insurance does not provide any insurance for common areas.  This leaves individual condominium owners completely exposed to assessments for damages to detached garages/carports, pools, foundations, and so on — even chimneys.  Furthermore, CEA only offers up to $100,000 for loss assessment or $100,000 for building coverage (and does differentiate the two coverages.  See later question discussing this) however your home is worth much more than $100,000!

Motus Earthquake Insurance has been designed to meet the specific needs of condominium owners.  Assessments for damage to common amenities are covered, as is your personal property.  When your condominium association enrolls in a Motus Earthquake Insurance Program, Motus Insurance Services experts work with your HOA board to design a policy around the specific terms of your homeowners’ association Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).   Motus will allow you to purchase more than $100,000 for your structure.

Does the U.S. Government provide any assistance to condominium owners affected by an earthquake?

The federal government safety net for condominium owners affected by earthquakes is essentially non-existent.  The only federal assistance available to them is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster loan program.  These loans have a cap of $5,000, and even that amount can only be claimed for health and safety.  An owner must apply for the loan in order to be eligible, and this application is processed by the Small Business Administration — adding another layer of bureaucracy.

What’s the difference between Loss Assessment and Building Coverage?

In the event of earthquake damage to your condominium complex, the homeowners’ association may ask some or all of the members of the homeowners’ association to share in the cost of repairs.  Depending on the details of your association agreement (including the CC&Rs), this request for contributions may come in the form of a Loss Assessment, which will be shared among all members of the association, or the repair expense recovery may be targeted at only those owners who were directly affected by the earthquake (building coverage).

In the past, these two forms of expense recovery were viewed by insurers as separate and distinct risks.  Without consulting with a specialist lawyer, it can very difficult for individual owners to determine which form of coverage — Loss Assessment coverage or Building Coverage — they need until after an earthquake strikes.  As a result, many owners have purchased coverage that doesn’t match their exposures.

Motus Insurance Services is the first to offer combined Loss Assessment and Building Coverage, removing the uncertainty.  A Motus attorney will work with the condominium association board to determine exactly what type of coverage is appropriate under your association’s management agreement — ensuring you have the type of coverage you need.

When can I purchase Motus Earthquake Insurance?

Once your condominium association enrolls in the Motus Earthquake Insurance program, you will have 2-3 months to elect to have coverage.  Once that period expires, you will have an opportunity to elect coverage the following year when the Motus policy renews.

Can I cancel Motus Earthquake Insurance at any time?

Yes, you have the right to cancel at any time.  However, Motus Earthquake Insurance is available on an annual basis, with 25% of annual premium guaranteed and non-refundable.

Do I need Building Contents Coverage?

Whether or not you need Building Contents Coverage will depend on your Homeowners’ Association Agreement and your specific CC&Rs.  Some associations have only “Bare Wall” responsibility, which means they would repair the walls, but would not be responsible for other interior structures — including cabinets, appliances, lighting, etc.  Other associations have “As Built” responsibility, which means returning the condominium to the state it was in when built (e.g., they would repair cabinetry and appliances).  Condo owners in “Bare Walls” condominium complexes have exposure to several repair / replacement expenses that Building Contents coverage can mitigate.