I’m Going On Vacation, How Do I Keep My Condo Safe While I’m Away?

As summer vacation approaches, many people enjoy time away from their busy schedules and responsibilities. While relaxing on a beach or touring Europe is exciting, there are some risks associated with being away from home that many people don’t consider until they arrive at their destination.

Leaving your Dorchester, MA condo unattended for even a short period can significantly impact your life and the lives of those around you. Whether visiting a friend or traveling across the country, Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help you understand the risks of leaving your condo behind and what you can do to protect your property.

Simple Steps To Protect Your Condo:

  1. Lock the door. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to lock their doors. Furthermore, use a deadbolt with a strike plate to make it harder for intruders to break in. Also, lock your windows.
  2. Unplug your electronics. Avoid a potential fire hazard by unplugging your TV, kitchen appliances, and other electronic devices.
  3. Don’t tell everyone you’re leaving. A lot of the time, potential thieves will use social media to find out the details of your travel plans. Please don’t make it easy for them. Tell your friends and family directly, if need be.
  4. Hide your valuables. Don’t leave your valuables in plain sight if you’re on vacation. Store them in a safe place or leave them with a friend or family member.
  5. Be careful with your mail. If you’re going away for a long time, ask someone you trust to check your mail. Letting your mail pile up is a massive sign to burglars that you’re not around.

Even when you take the proper precautions, it’s still possible that you’ll be a victim of a crime or some disastrous event. That’s why Vargas & Vargas Insurance offers Dorchester, MA condo owners a wide range of insurance options. Contact us today to learn more.

How to Handle Insurance When the Kids Go or Come Back from College?

College is an exciting time for any youth. It’s their first step into the real world while getting an education to help improve their lives. Given the costs of education, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is extra expenses. So, how should you handle your insurance policy when your child is off to further his or her education?

When to Remove Your Child from the Policy

A common rule of thumb is that you should drop your child from your insurance if they are attending a school that is more than 100 miles away. This is because a lot of insurers believe anything closer may prompt the child to come home often and drive.

It may also be a good idea to consider dropping the child if he or she is living on campus. This is because the likelihood of driving decreases, depending on the situation. Also, if your child isn’t planning on taking a vehicle to college, there’s really no reason to insure them.

When Should You Keep Your Child On Your Policy?

Perhaps the obvious reason to keep a child on a policy is if he or she is planning to live at home while attending college. But let’s go a bit further than that.

What if your student travels home frequently? What if it’s a common thing for your child to come home on the weekends? This is why it’s common to keep a child on a policy if the school is within a 100-mile radius.

Lastly, a lot of parents will pay some of the child’s bills to help with college expenses, which often includes insurance. It’s just one less thing the child has to worry about besides school work.

What About Returning Home for Extended Periods, Such as Spring Break?

If your child is planning on coming home for extended periods of time, such as breaks or vacations throughout the year, it’s probably a good idea to add them to your policy again.

Usually, the costs for doing so are nominal. For most insurers, it’s not a difficult process for a short-term policy change during those time-off periods.

Can You Drop the Child to an Occasional Driver?

Some insurance policies give you the option to drop someone to an “occasional” driver. This is usually someone who accounts for less than 25% of the vehicle’s annual mileage.

Now, not all insurers have such options available. Those who do also may have their own definitions about what qualifies as an occasional driver.

In any case, it could decrease how much you pay in premiums depending on your policy. How much it decreases is also dependent on the insurer.

Does Your Child Qualify for a “Good Student” Discount?

Something else you could consider is whether your child can qualify for a “good student” discount. In many instances, this depends on a couple of factors:

  • Is your child under the age of 25?
  • Can your child maintain a B average or better?

The better your child does in school, the cheaper the rates. This means you or your child can save money regardless of who pays for the insurance.

However, not all insurers have a “good student” policy available. It’ll be in your best interest to find out if something like this exists. Anything to decrease the monthly bills is going to be a benefit for all involved.

Find the Best Rates for Your College Students

College is a formative point in a child’s life. You want to make sure you or your student doesn’t have to stress too much about auto insurance. Contact us today at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to get a quote that works for you and your family.

We’re happy to further answer any questions you might have about your college student and his or her driving habits.

What Happens if Two People Involved in an Accident Have the Same Insurer?

When an accident occurs, it is often customary to contact an insurance agent. But what happens when two people in an accident have the same insurance company? Well, it’s often handled the same but with a few minor adjustments.

In the end, it usually falls under who is to blame to pay for damages regardless of his or her insurance company. Having the same insurer doesn’t change the bottom line. However, the insurer may take steps to avoid issues among clients.

No Bias in Decisions

In many cases, the insurance company will assign two different adjusters to the separate claims. They may also make adjustments to the claims to avoid a conflict of interest.

It comes down to legally being required to handle claims in an efficient manner regardless of whether both parties have the same insurer or not. This also means that you can expect claims to take roughly the same amount of time.

In some cases, the insurance company can waive any deductibles should both parties use the same vendor. But that is often on a case-by-case basis and greatly depends on the insurer.

In every case, though, the process should be relatively the same. Simply contact your agent and process the claim as you normally would.

Who is Cited for Blame?

To ensure one party is at fault over another, a police report can be filed. In most cases, the officer will attest to which driver is to blame, which can ultimately change how the claims are processed.

While not every accident may require the assistance of a police officer, it can help things move along smoothly. Otherwise, it could be a painstaking process should neither party admit to being at fault.

In the event of both parties agreeing to be at fault, the insurance company may assign percentages of claims to both parties depending on the damages suffered. This will be up to the insurer and usually based on the total damages of both vehicles.

An example of this is in the event of one driver tailgating another. This is when a driver is following a vehicle much too closely. If the front driver immediately slams on his or her breaks, it could cause a rear-end collision. After an investigation and the officer deems both parties as negligent, then both could be at fault.

Of course, in this scenario, it really depends on why the front driver had to slam on the breaks in the first place.

Not Much Really Changes

In the grand scheme of things, not many changes if both parties have the same insurer. Though, a few minor things may change to avoid a conflict of interest or prevent the feeling of “favoritism.” For instance, what if the same agent handles both clients prior to an accident? That’s when a newly assigned adjuster would assist one of the parties.

But generally speaking, the claims are handled in the same fashion as if two different insurance companies were involved.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, you can rest easy knowing that we take a fair stance with all of our clients in the event of an accident. If you need auto insurance, contact us today and let us help protect you and your family.

Find out more about life insurance today!

Vargas & Vargas Insurance knows that talking about life insurance can be an uncomfortable experience. We want the greater Dorchester, MA community to turn to us for their life insurance needs. We can help you protect your family and loved ones, no matter what the future may hold.

Learn more about your life insurance options

Having the right life insurance can serve you and your family well. Depending on the type of policy you select, you can enjoy several benefits while still living. In addition o death benefits, some policies provide cash value and growth during the policy’s life, as long as it is kept current and in force.

Term life insurance is often a good idea for anyone looking to cover their burial expenses or other end-of-life costs. These policies are usually affordable and can help ease your family’s pain during the immediate period after your passing. Permanent policies, like whole life, variable, and universal insurance, provide death benefits and offer other features.

If you want to learn more about the life insurance options now available, it makes sense to sit down with a local agent. This can help you make the right decision.

Call today for an appointment.

If you are a resident in the greater Dorchester, MA area, it’s time to get to know the Vargas & Vargas Insurance team. We are here to help you find the right insurance solutions for your needs. Now is a perfect time to sit down with us and learn more about your life insurance options. Our team is ready to help, and we always look forward to working with you. Give us a call today!

When is Your Home Insurance Denied and What Can You Do?

Home insurance is there to help pick up the pieces in the event of a catastrophe or mishap. From direct damage due to third-party negligence to shielding you from nature’s wrath, being insured is vital. But when can your home insurance get denied by your current carrier? What can you do when you find yourself without proper coverage in the event of an emergency?

The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of things that can cause your carrier to drop you from being insured. It all really centers around the policies and practices of each individual company.

However, there are a few that are almost universal among many carriers. Some of the more common include:

  • If the house becomes in extreme disrepair
  • Non-disclosure of damages to, or the result of, the home
  • Insurance fraud
  • Non-payment of premiums
  • Excessive past claims
  • Missing a filing deadline
  • Criminal record of certain judgments, such as arson
  • Certain types of dog breeds

This is by no means a complete list. The problem is that every insurer has its own guidelines to follow when it comes to the home. However, the above problems are common among many companies and something you should consider when your home insurance is denied.

What about being denied specific claims from your insurer? In many cases, this happens because of a lack of specific coverage. For instance, earthquake and flood protection often require their own insurance plans separate from the home.

Some insurers will still cover you even if you’ve experienced any of the above. However, the premiums you’ll have to pay are usually quite higher. This is because you’ve been established as “high risk.”

If someone or the property is deemed as a high risk, this means that there is a greater chance of the insurer losing money due to damages.

What Can You Do When Home Insurance is Denied?

You could always appeal to the insurance company and plead your case. In some instances, this may prove beneficial, especially if you’ve invested in preemptive measures.

For example, taking the time to make sure the home is up to code and in good condition after a denial may change the mind of an insurer. Especially if you can reinforce the validity of the repairs by having the home inspected.

Your local independent insurance agent is the best way to appeal your case as they have a relationship with the insurance company.

Another thing you can do is spend time looking for an insurer who’ll cover your home. As I said, every insurer is different and some may be willing to overlook specific issues. But that’s when your payments may increase due to being a high risk, as mentioned above.

Bear in mind that the very reason why one insurer dropped or denied you could be why it’ll be difficult to find another. At least not without addressing why you were denied in the first place.

Never Give Up, Proper Protection is Worth the Effort

If you’ve been denied in the past for home coverage, give us a call at Vargas & Vargas Insurance. Contact us today to see if we can help you get the coverage you need to protect your investment as well as your family.

In the worst-case scenario, you don’t want to face disasters and accidents alone. We are able to give you some peace of mind by finding the insurance coverage that you require.

Spring Maintenance for Your Car (To Help Avoid Auto Insurance Claims!)

Keeping up with your car’s maintenance can be a hassle…but we’ve got exciting news for you! By prioritizing the maintenance schedule for your car you can avoid some potential insurance claims!

Does keeping up with my car’s maintenance really make a difference?

We know, it’s draining to try to stay up to date on car maintenance. It seems like there’s always something to fix! Unfortunately, a lot of people avoid taking care of their cars until it is too late. According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported by Fox13, the average amount of car accidents due to poor maintenance tallies in at a whopping 45,000. You definitely don’t want to be a part of that statistic. Read on for some helpful tips to avoid insurance claims and enjoy safe travels!

What should be on my maintenance checklist?

One item you’ll definitely want to include on your checklist is to inspect your tires! Make sure they still have good traction and check to be sure the tire pressure has an ideal PSI. This is something you’ll want to do routinely – not only during springtime!

Other items to include on your auto maintenance checklist:

A few other important things to stay on top of:

  1. Schedule an oil filter change. Oil reduces the friction between moving parts in a running engine. If you don’t have your oil changed you could do serious damage to your engine.
  2. Replace windshield wipers. You don’t want to be caught in rain (or snow) with inadequate wipers! You won’t be able to see what’s in front of you which could result in an accident.
  3. Check your battery. Be proactive about checking your car’s battery! Even if it seems to be working fine, it is always a good idea to have the battery inspected to prevent an unexpected failure.
  4. Check your lights. Even in normal driving conditions, using your headlights anytime you’re driving has been proven to reduce accidents by 5-10%. Why not take it a step further and make sure every light on your car is in good, working condition?

Don’t forget the finishing touch!

As part of your spring auto maintenance schedule, consider having your car detailed. Chances are high that your car looks a little worse for the wear after all of the snow and dirt from this winter. Give your car a spring cleaning that will leave you feeling refreshed and confident in your car. We recommend Neponset Circle Car Wash for all your detailing needs!

Stay up to date and stay safe!

All of the preparation in the world can’t prevent every accident, so make sure your auto coverage is sufficient by referencing this guide.  Now, no matter where you’re headed, you can travel confidently and safely knowing that you’ve stayed up to date on your maintenance! 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you customize your auto insurance so that it works best for you. We are one of the premier local independent insurance agencies, and we truly work for our clients, not ourselves. Our team of friendly experts would be happy to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

Save Money This Summer with AC Maintenance

As we’re nearing the warmer months of the year, it’s time to start thinking about how your air conditioner performs. And I’m talking about both central air and window-based units. With proper AC maintenance, you could save quite a bit of money.

Not only does maintenance help you save on the electricity bill, but it can also prevent accidental fires and other forms of property damage. For example, do you know how much a leaky swamp cooler could cost you in repairs if not dealt with immediately?

So, what are some ways to protect your home and your bank account?

Clean and/or Replace Filters

A clogged filter can cause all kinds of issues for any HVAC system. Even window-mounted air conditioners can form sheets of ice if the filter is clogged. And that causes a completely different problem.

This isn’t to mention how a clogged filter causes the unit to work much harder to cool the home. This, in turn, results in wear-and-tear leading to malfunctions and repair costs much sooner than anticipated.

Make sure all of your filters are either replaced or cleaned, depending on the type of system you have in the home.

Ensure Ductwork and Intakes are Clear of Debris

Over time, ductwork and air intakes for HVAC systems can become filled with dust and various forms of debris. Part of your annual AC maintenance should include ensuring the system has clear access to move air.

This means also going outside and making sure bushes, plants, and other elements are clear of the air conditioner.

In the event of a swamp cooler, it’s probably a good idea to install new pads. Wind can blow all kinds of debris into the wells of the evaporative cooler, which means it will have a harder time pulling air in to cool.

Properly Inspect Power Cords and Electrical Connections

Always ensure your power cords and electrical connections for the HVAC system are properly secured. In some cases, it may be a good idea to call an electrician to verify your power cables don’t pose a threat to the home.

While you’re at it, also make sure you don’t have too much of a load on a single power socket.

A lot of people will use extension cords and power strips to accommodate their electronics. The end result could be a fire caused by an over-taxed power cable trying to draw more power than the strip can handle.

Out of the different forms of ac maintenance, your power consumption is perhaps one of the most important to verify.

Inspect Weather Stripping Along Windows and Doors

Weatherstripping is one of the most important facets of saving money for both heating and cooling needs. This is the fine strip or silicone that lines the edges of windows and doors.

Making sure the strip is in good condition means less cool air escapes to the outside. Thus, your home stays cooler for longer periods of time.

Consider Shades or Blackout Curtains

Sunlight coming into the home can generate a great deal of heat. Depending on where your windows are located, the home could be exposed to a continuous bombardment of sunlight.

Blackout curtains are relatively cheap and can stop the light and heat from the sun.

If you don’t like the idea of sunlight being completely blocked, you can always go with shades or other window dressings that limit how much light comes into the home.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of the Cure

Preventing issues through ac maintenance today can save you a small fortune down the road. And don’t forget, you could always approach the homestead from the perspective of going green. For example, adjusting your thermostat so the AC isn’t constantly running.

After ensuring your cooling systems are running efficiently, give Vargas & Vargas Insurance a call to also make sure your home is protected in the worst-case scenarios. Don’t let accidents this summer cost you. Contact us today for a customized plan and keep your home safe year-round.

How to Have a Great Family Vacation in 2022

As the summer months close in, it’s time to get ready for that perfect family vacation. Depending on where you’re from, the recent pandemic may have put previous plans on hiatus for quite some time.

Today, we’ll go over a few things that can help you enjoy the summer months away from the home.

To Mask, or Not to Mask…

Although mandates are being lifted in various locations, some local governments and facilities are still requiring masks. Always have a mask on hand in the event you visit a location that has such restrictions.

You could also spend a few moments using Google to search the location where you plan to take your family vacation. You may be able to determine which places require a mask so you can better prepare.

Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself and your family protected by wearing them. Today, though, it’s more centered around personal preference.

Know the Destination of Your Family Vacation

Before you plan on hitting the road or boarding a flight, take some time to research your destination. Sure, you could follow brochures and “best of” websites. However, you may find some incredible local stores and facilities if you narrow the search on Google.

Perhaps your family loves book stores. Does the location have a unique book store that you don’t have in your area? Instead of visiting a chain store, you could find a unique local experience.

That’s just one example. By exploring the location online, you can get a feel for what’s available and the different venues your family would love to explore.

Are You Covered While Driving?

Many of us will opt to rent a car while on vacation. It’s a way to have freedom of movement instead of waiting for an Uber or Lyft driver. And in many cases, it’s a lot cheaper depending on how much exploring you plan on doing with the family.

Do you plan on getting additional collision coverage?

More than six million car crashes occur every year, with 22% of crashes being weather-related. And because the weather is so unpredictable, it would make sense to make sure your family is covered while traveling.

Keep the Home Safe While On a Family Vacation

Perhaps one of the biggest loads off of your mind while on a family vacation is making sure the home is safe. I’m not merely talking about locking the door and turning off all the appliances.

Although, those are very important things to remember.

If you’re gone for a week, are you absolutely sure your home is secure during the time you’re gone? Before going on vacation, take steps to prevent burglary and other mishaps while you’re away.

The sheer amount of stress relief you’ll feel while on vacation is far worth every moment you’ll spend preparing the home.

What Kind of Family Vacation Are You Planning?

A family vacation is meant to reduce stress while helping to build bonds with those you love. These are moments that will last a lifetime, and you want to make sure everything goes according to plan.

Whether it’s protecting your home while you’re away or protecting your loved ones while on vacation, reducing stress will heighten the experience.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance offers top-rated insurance services that will help keep you and your family protected from unexpected events while you are on vacation! All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs, and we offer affordable prices. Contact us today to get a customized plan, or to just get the peace of mind that you desire!

How to Choose a Life Insurance Beneficiary

If you are buying life insurance, you have a goal in mind. Maybe you want to support your dependents, pay your mortgage, or ensure your business continuity. But whatever the objective of your life insurance policy is, you have to name a beneficiary to receive the death benefits when you die. But how do you choose a beneficiary? Vargas & Vargas Insurance of Dorchester, MA, is here to guide you if you have no clue where to start.

Choosing a life insurance beneficiary

If you think your financial future is secure with a life insurance policy, it can be wasted if you choose the wrong beneficiary. So, like knowing how important it is to choose a suitable life insurance policy, naming a beneficiary is equally important.

Typically, your beneficiary can be your children, spouse, business partner, parent, or domestic partner. Sometimes, beneficiaries can even be organizations like trusts or charities. Also, when you have several people you want to protect financially, you can name multiple beneficiaries and divide the death benefits among them.

Before signing off the life insurance policy, your insurer will ask you to name the beneficiary. So, when you get that policy, ensure you have your list of beneficiaries beforehand.

To ease the decision of choosing beneficiaries, consider the following:

  • Who needs the benefit the most? Is it your child, spouse, sibling, or business partner?
  • Have you considered the applicable rules? Minors can’t receive money directly. Besides, different states have guidelines on who you can name.
  • If you are single, consider several options, including siblings and parents.
  • Sometimes, a person isn’t usually the best choice. Create a trust for your beneficiary, especially if the beneficiary is a minor or you don’t want disagreements in case of a divorce
  • Align your will’s beneficiaries with those in the life insurance policy

Still unsure who you will name as a beneficiary of your life insurance? You can always get in touch with Vargas & Vargas Insurance for guidance.

Captive Versus Independent Insurance Agents For Your Automobile and Home Insurance; An Honest Comparison

When you’re shopping for insurance, knowing the different types of insurance agents is important as part of understanding whom you should work with.
 
There are two kinds of insurance agents — captive (who represents one insurance company) and independent (also known as an insurance broker).
 
Many online insurance companies, like State Farm, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual depend exclusively on captive agents, but some like GEICO and Progressive rely on a mixture of captives and independents.
 
Both types of agents can provide the kind of quality expertise you need to make one of life’s important financial decisions. But there are some big differences between the two.
 
Captive agents
 
Captive agents work directly for a single insurance provider and are limited to the products of that company. For example, if you call a captive agent who works for State Farm, he or she will market and try to sell you only State Farm products. How they get paid is set by their insurance company, and they are paid by that one company.
 
On the plus side, these agents are experts in what their insurance companies have to offer. But they cannot help a client who doesn’t need or qualify for their company’s products. And captive agents usually have quotas to hit to keep their job and earn bonuses. Although that’s not terribly different from independent agents, you might feel a bit more pressure to buy car insurance from a captive agent when all you really want is term life.
 
Independent agents 
 
Independent agents, meanwhile, work for themselves and not any one insurance company. They sell policies from a variety of insurance companies, not just one, there is no increase in the premium to work with an independent insurance agent, and make most of their money through sales commissions and bonuses from the carriers.
 
Independent agents can save you some time by getting insurance quotes from a few different insurers, we have 11 insurance carriers that we can provide you with an insurance quote.
 
Which is best?
 
The type of insurance coverage you choose depends on your needs and your budget.
 
If you’re looking for multiple quotes from different companies, an independent insurance agent probably is the way to go. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can save you time and money, reach our agents at 617-298-0655.