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Farewell to an industry icon

Re: 'Industry mourns loss of Robert Bruss' (Sept. 26)

Dear Editor:

Bob Bruss shall be dearly missed, not only by those lucky enough to know him and call him a friend but by those hundreds of thousands whose lives are better today for his knowledge, dedication and hard work. He taught people how to make the system work, a system that can befuddle even the most expert expert. It was his gift, and he did such a wonderful job of sharing it.

Above all, Bob was a class act. In a business with more than its share of egos and acrimony, not once in the years I worked with Bob can I remember a negative word, either spoken or in print.

We are all much poorer for his passing.

God bless you, Bob.

Steve Cook
Move Inc.

Dear Editor:

My jaw literally dropped when I read of the passing of Robert Bruss. I looked forward to his writings and opinions regularly in Inman News. I didn't know him, but I felt like I knew him after reading him for so long. I am saddened, and I will miss him.

Bob Burkhard
The Palmer Group
RE/MAX Advantage Realty
Columbia, Md.

Dear Editor:

Bob Bruss was always a man who listened well to the thoughts of others in the real estate profession. He had a knack for making people feel like their opinion really mattered. I had a chance to show Bob a report on his Minnesota investment property at the recent Real Estate Connect event, and he was interested in the smallest detail not only for himself, but in what it all meant to real estate professionals and consumers.

He was an extraordinary student of everything real estate and an extraordinary teacher to all who listened to him on any real estate topic. Bob's passing is a great tragedy for his family and friends and most assuredly to the real estate industry. A great mind has been silenced, but Bob has left us all a great store of his knowledge by way of hs countless writings on the subject of real estate. Hopefully, many of us will continue to learn from him through those writings.

Michael Ela
HomeSmart Reports

Dear Editor:

I am both shocked and sad tonight seeing the headline and reading the news. I read every report he wrote, and shared some with my clients and agents.

Bob's insight as a home buyer, seller and lawyer and passion to protect the consumer will be dearly missed.

Henry Pham
The Clientor Group
San Jose, Calif.

Dear Editor:

Robert Bruss is probably the only person in the real estate industry that will not be replaced any time soon. Rarely do we get the chance to get such rock-solid advice from one person regarding our industry. There is now a huge hole in the memory of our avocation, and Mr. Bruss will surely be missed by all. It is always hard to see one of the greats pass away from our world, but this time it seems harder.

Ross M. Brown
Kailua, Hawaii

Real Estate Connect NY 2008
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Six ways to save on homeowners insurance

Tips on deductibles, claims, cash value vs. replacement cost

Friday, September 28, 2007

By Robert J. Bruss
Inman News

Editor's note: Robert Bruss passed away on Sept. 26, 2007. This was one of the last real estate columns he wrote. Inman News is publishing Bob's last work as a final salute to the nation's most well-known real estate writer.

A few days ago I was chatting with my longtime insurance agent. Among other things he mentioned some good news and some bad news about my homeowners insurance policy.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

He said when my policy comes up for renewal in a few months, because of rising construction costs, he will recommend increasing my replacement cost coverage. That was the bad news.

But the good news, he said, is his company's insurance rates per thousand dollars insured have come down due to lower losses in my area so the policy cost won't increase so much after all.

I'll wait until I get his bill to compare insurance costs with competitive insurers. Over the years, I've re-shopped for property insurance every few years to be certain I wasn't paying too much and that I had adequate insurance for my home. Talking with two or three local insurance agents can be very enlightening.

Although I can usually save on premiums by insuring with a "no name" discount insurance company, I will probably stick with my present insurer because (1) I know where to find my insurance agent and (2) I don't have confidence in lesser-known insurance companies without local agents.

SIX WAYS TO SAVE ON HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. Smart homeowners know how to save on their homeowners insurance policies. Here are the primary ways to reduce your homeowners insurance premiums:

1. DON'T INSURE FOR THE AMOUNT OF THE MORTGAGE. Many homeowners blindly insure for the amount of their mortgage balance. The result can be either too much insurance coverage or not enough. The mortgage balance has absolutely nothing to do with how much insurance you need.

Over-insurance usually occurs when high land value (which won't be destroyed in a fire) is included in the homeowners insurance policy. A better approach is to determine replacement construction costs for your type of house.

Interview at least three local insurance agents. They will be glad to measure your home's square footage and recommend homeowners insurance coverage.

For example, suppose you have a 2,500-square-foot home and the three insurance agents you consult agree it would cost about $200 per square foot to rebuild your house if it burns to the ground. The result is your homeowners insurance policy should be for $500,000 even if comparable home sales in your neighborhood are around $700,000 including the land value.

Ask each agent about their guaranteed replacement-cost coverage. This policy provision will pay above your policy limit if a major loss occurs.

2. RAISE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE TO LOWER YOUR INSURANCE PREMIUM. If you can afford to pay for small claims yourself without involving the insurance company, raising your policy deductible from $500 to $1,000 will usually reduce your annual premium about 20 percent. If you can afford to raise the deductible to $2,000, your premium savings will be even greater.

3. LOWER YOUR LIABILITY COVERAGE, RAISE YOUR UMBRELLA POLICY COVERAGE. If you have a net worth of more than $500,000, it can pay to lower your homeowners insurance liability coverage and raise your umbrella liability insurance policy to $1 million or $2 million, perhaps more.

For example, several years ago my insurance agent recommended cutting my homeowners policy liability coverage to $300,000. That means if someone is injured on my property because I am negligent, the policy will pay up to $300,000 damages. If the person were seriously injured, then my umbrella insurance policy with the same insurance company takes over and pays up to its policy limit.

Umbrella insurance policies usually cost just a few hundred dollars for $1 million or more of liability coverage. These policies also provide automobile liability coverage if I should be at fault in an auto accident. Be sure to have all your insurance policies with the same company so, in the event of a loss, there is no arguing between insurers.

4. DON'T MAKE SMALL INSURANCE CLAIMS. In case you haven't heard, some insurers are either nonrenewing or raising premiums for homeowners who file too many insurance claims. If you have a large claim, by all means file an insurance claim. However, if you have a modest loss slightly above your deductible amount, it's often best not to file a claim and to pay the entire loss yourself.

The number and amount of claims can also be important when you sell your home. If you have filed many claims, your buyer might have difficulty purchasing homeowners insurance because the house is "loss prone."

To check your home's insurance loss records or the insurance claims filed on a house you are considering for purchase, on the Internet go to and then look for the CLUE insurance claim section.

5. CARRY ACTUAL CASH VALUE PERSONAL PROPERTY COVERAGE. A controversial way to save on homeowners insurance personal property coverage is to insure for the depreciated actual cash value rather than the full replacement cost.

That means in the event of a covered loss, such as a fire or theft, the homeowners insurance company will pay only the depreciated cash value of the personal property. However, full replacement-cost coverage, which is more expensive, will pay the full cost of replacing the personal property at today's prices.

If you have valuable "scheduled items" such as jewelry, furs, artwork and collections, the extra insurance premium can be substantial. It may pay to shop among other insurance companies for separate special coverage on these items.

6. ASK ABOUT MULTIPOLICY DISCOUNTS. Many insurance companies offer savings of 5 percent or more if you have two or more insurance policies, such as automobile and homeowners, with the same insurer. Also ask about other available discounts such as for burglar alarms, smoke detectors and dead-bolt locks.

UNDERSTAND BUILDING-CODE-COMPLIANCE COVERAGE. For a slight extra insurance premium, most homeowners insurance companies offer building-code-compliance coverage. This benefit pays, in the event of an insured loss, to upgrade to today's building codes.

For example, if your home burns to the ground and you elect to rebuild, the local building codes probably require electrical circuit breakers (rather than fuses) and perhaps fire sprinklers too.

KNOW WHAT IS NOT INSURED. As many homeowners discovered in the last few years, homeowners insurance policies do not provide flood damage coverage. However, your insurance agent can arrange flood insurance. If you live in a designated flood area, your mortgage lender will require a flood policy.

Earthquake coverage is also an extra-cost coverage that is not included in standard homeowner insurance policies. In addition to the high-cost premiums, earthquake policies usually have large deductibles, typically 10 percent or more of the earthquake damage. For this reason, many homeowners living in earthquake areas elect not to purchase this expensive coverage.

CONCLUSION: As smart homeowners know, it pays to re-shop insurance policies every few years with two or three insurers to compare prices, coverages and service. Homeowners should consider the six key methods listed above to save on insurance premiums and, at the same time, improve policy coverages. Further details are available by consulting local insurance agents to compare their homeowner policies.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


What's your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to

Copyright 2007 Inman News

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