How Flood Insurance Works, How Much Does It Cost, and How It Protects the Homeowner

How Flood Insurance Works and Costs

Many homeowners in Massachusetts don’t know that their standard insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy designed to protect and compensate property owners for physical damage caused to a property’s structure and personal belongings.

In this post, we’ll share how flood insurance works and how it protects the homeowner. Using this information, you can determine if you need flood insurance and learn where to get it.

What Flood Insurance Covers

Depending on your policy, flood insurance coverage can pay up to $250,000 for structural damage and $100,000 for personal possessions. Filing a flood insurance claim is no different from filing a regular claim on your homeowners or car insurance. Following your claim application, an insurance adjuster will survey the damage, after which you’ll have to submit a “proof of loss” form, which contains every damaged item within 60 days.

Here’s a breakdown of the coverage:

Structural Damage

Flood insurance provides replacement cost coverage for primary residence and actual cash value coverage for vacation homes. A standard policy pays for structural damage to a building’s foundation, cracks or bulging in walls and ceilings, damp floors, roof, etc. Some policies can also cover damage caused to plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical systems.

Personal Property Damage

Apart from structural damage, flood insurance also covers damage to furniture, window treatment (curtains, drapes), electronic appliances, art, and other valuables. However, in this case, coverage is offered on an actual cash value basis only, meaning insurers will take depreciation into account.

What Flood Insurance Doesn’t Cover

The following is a list of items not covered by a flood insurance policy:

  • Mold damage
  • Currency, precious metal, and documents
  • Outdoor property like gardens, decks, patios, sewage systems, pools, etc.
  • Temporary accommodation in extreme flood cases
  • Vehicles

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost in Massachusetts?

The cost of flood insurance premiums in Massachusetts varies according to your city and your property’s location. The rule of thumb is, the closer your property is to a high-risk flood zone, the higher the premium. On average, residents in the Bay State who are in a preferred flood zone will pay around $550 per year, but someone who is in a federal flood zone will pay an average $1,300 per year for about $250,000 in coverage.

How to Get Flood Insurance

Now that you know how flood insurance works and what it covers, the next step is to purchase a policy. The Federal Government provides flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, they do not sell insurance policies directly but through private insurance companies. A local insurance agent or company in Massachusetts can help you purchase a policy from the NFIP. Once approved, it takes around 30 days before the policy goes into effect unless you purchase flood insurance while taking out a mortgage.

Protect Your Property with Vargas & Vargas Insurance

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help you keep your property safe and protected from a flood. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs, and we offer affordable prices. Contact us today for a free quote.

What Is Umbrella Insurance, and What Does it Cover and Cost?


Understanding Umbrella Insurance and What it Does (& Doesn’t) Cover

Sometimes, a standard homeowners or automobile insurance policy isn’t enough to get you out of financial trouble, especially in the event of a huge and potentially devastating liability claim above the liability limits of your policies. This is where Umbrella insurance coverage comes to the rescue and helps avoid or minimize the financial repercussions of major property damage or extensive bodily injuries caused by you.

In this post, we’ll briefly share what Umbrella insurance is and what an Umbrella insurance policy does (& doesn’t) cover so you can decide whether it’s time for a policy upgrade.

What is Umbrella Insurance?

Think of Umbrella insurance as a fail-safe for your financial assets in the event of a liability lawsuit that extends your homeowners’ and automobile’ policy’s limits. An Umbrella policy can help anyone, especially those found legally responsible for causing extensive property damage and/or injuries to other parties. The following are some incidents that may require an Umbrella policy:

  • Your dog runs out of your apartment or home and viciously attacks a pedestrian or neighbor. They can sue you for medical bills, emotional distress, and lost wages.
  • Your teenage son or daughter throws a party on your property while you’re away. An underage guest gets arrested for driving under the influence, and you get sued for negligence.
  • A potential homebuyer visits your property on a rainy day and slips and falls down the stairs because of a roof leak.
  • You injure someone in an auto mobile accident, and they sue you above the limits that you carry on your automobile insurance policy.

What Umbrella Insurance Covers

Umbrella insurance covers damages beyond standard homeowners and automobile insurance policy limits as well as claims not covered in liability policies. Here’s a breakdown of the coverage:

Bodily Injury

Regardless of the cause, an Umbrella insurance policy will help cover the medical bills and/or lawsuits that exceed your insurance limit.

Property Damage

If you accidentally damage someone’s property or personal belongings with repair costs exceeding your insurance limit, Umbrella insurance can kick in to cover the remaining cost. For instance, if you lose control while driving and crash into your rental home, this additional policy could help cover for restoration.

Legal Costs

In the event of a lawsuit, and Umbrella insurance policy will cover your lawyer fees when you have to defend yourself in court.

What Umbrella Insurance Doesn’t Cover

The following is a list of items not covered by an Umbrella insurance policy:

  • The policy holder’s personal property was damaged in an incident
  • Business losses
  • Criminal or intentional damage-causing actions (arson, theft, physical assault, etc.)
  • Written or oral third-party contracts
  • ▪       Flood and earthquake damage

How Much Does Umbrella Insurance Cost in Massachusetts?

The cost of Umbrella insurance in Massachusetts varies based on two essential factors – Your insurance limit and risk exposure. You can buy Umbrella liability policies in increments of $1 million. The higher the limits, the higher the coverage costs. Similarly, insurance companies evaluate risk exposure based on the number of properties and vehicles/watercraft, driving record, occupation, and age, among other factors. The higher your risks, the higher the coverage costs. On average, Bay Staters can expect a $1 million policy to cost around $160 to $500.

Get More Protection with Vargas & Vargas Insurance

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated  Umbrella insurance policies designed to offer maximum compensation in the event of extensive property damage and bodily injuries. Our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs at incredibly affordable prices. Contact us today for a free quote.

How a Renters Insurance Policy Protects You

Living uninsured in a rental home can put you at risk of personal liability and property damage. Learn how a renters insurance policy protects the renter
What Renters Insurance Does (& Doesn’t) Cover

Are you planning to rent a residence in Massachusetts? Consider a renters policy to protect yourself against the financial impact of unexpected personal property damage, theft, and legal liability. A renters insurance policy is designed to do just that and help protect tenants, their personal belongings, and the occupied property from the financial aftermath of an unfortunate event or accident.

In this post, we’ll share how a renters insurance policy protects the renter so readers can better understand its importance and where to get the best coverage in Massachusetts.

What Renters Insurance Covers

A renters or tenant insurance policy covers renters from the financial repercussions of unexpected or unpreventable events on their rented homes or apartments. Here’s a breakdown of the coverage:

Personal Property Damage

Standard renters insurance policies cover Personal Property Damage in the event of a fire, smoke, vandalism, explosion, plumbing issue, and other listed disasters. You can opt for one of the two policies – Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value. Replacement Cost covers the full cost of replacing damaged possessions, whereas Actual Cash Value takes depreciation into account, meaning the compensation will depend on your possessions’ usage and age.

Personal Liability

Personal Liability covers property damage and bodily injuries caused by you, your family, and your pets. In case of a lawsuit, the liability portion of a renters insurance policy can pay for medical bills and repairs, as well as the legal costs for your defense in court. The compensation amount typically starts at $100,000 but can be raised higher depending on your needs.

Additional Living Expenses

Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage pays for temporary accommodation and expenses when your rented home or apartment is undergoing restoration or renovation following damage. Typical expenses include restaurant bills, transport, hotel bills, and temporary rentals.

What Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover

The following is a list of items not covered by a Renters insurance policy:

  • Pest infestation
  • Earthquake and flood damage
  • Vehicle theft or damage (Belongings inside the vehicle are covered)
  • Roommate property and personal belongings

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost in Massachusetts?

Renters insurance rates vary according to the state and where you’re shopping from. The average cost of renters insurance in Massachusetts is $192, or about $16 per month. Your location in the state also influences your cost. For example, if your residence is a region prone to natural disasters like severe storms, floods, wildfires, landslides, you’ll most likely have to pay more than the average. Similarly, if your neighborhood has a crime rate, this will also affect your overall cost.

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim

The following are the main steps for filing a renters insurance claim. However, keep in mind that your claims process may vary on the type and extent of the damage:

  • Contact your insurance company or agent as soon as you and your family are secure (in case of fire, theft, vandalism, etc.)
  • Seek emergency repairs to secure the property’s structural integrity. Make sure all the damage is documented in writing with photos and video footage for proof of damage.
  • Answer all the questions related to the damage asked by the agent and insurance adjuster
  • Discuss your policy’s coverage with your agent to understand what applies to your situation and the compensation limits

Secure Yourself with Vargas & Vargas Insurance

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help keep you and your family protected from unexpected events on your rented property. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs, and we offer affordable prices. Contact us today for a free quote.

Factors that Affect the Cost of Home Insurance

Your mortgage company will require home insurance for homeownership today. The insurance policy protects your house and possessions from harm and ensures that you can protect yourself from liability in cases of financial and physical loss.

However, since homeowner insurance rates vary from house to house, residents may like to know just how much they’ll be required to pay towards full insurance. In this article, we look at the factors that affect the total cost of home insurance. Study these factors to get an idea of how your insurance rate will be determined.

Area of Residence

Your area of residence is perhaps the biggest factor impacting the total cost of insurance. Homeowners in the state of Louisiana pay three times as much for home insurance than homeowners in Oregon. Natural disasters, political instability, and crime rates play a significant role in determining rates. Rates can vary from city to city, even within the same state.

Home Price

A home with a higher price often takes more to insure because the cost of rebuilding it will be higher. Coverage is provided with the cost of rebuilding in mind. Hence, insurers would like to know what your home costs right now.

Assets Covered

Your home insurance will cost more if you have collectibles and, like antiques, firearms, gold, and silver etc. have more things covered. Besides repair and rebuilding, you should include personal belongings, living expenses, and liability against lawsuits in your home insurance policy.

Home’s Age

The current age and condition of your home can also impact the total cost of insurance. Older homes often come with premium construction materials that are harder to replace. Older homes sometimes have outdated plumbing and electrical systems are also exposed to greater risk.

While the cost of home insurance can vary based on the factors provided above, it shouldn’t come as a deterrent to purchasing the right home coverage. Regardless of what it costs you to insure your home, your home is most likely your most valuable asset. You should purchase the right insurance from a local independent insurance agent to save yourself from huge losses down the line.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help you keep your business safe during the winter season. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs as we offer affordable prices. So contact us today for a free quote.

Getting Classic Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Getting Classic Car Insurance in Massachusetts

When you have a classic car, it works a little differently from regular vehicles. There are several concerns that come with classic cars that later models don’t come with. With classic car insurance in Massachusetts, you can get the protection that you need from your insurance policy. If you need coverage for a classic car, give us a call at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to find out more.

Coverages of Classic Car Insurance

The protections that are found in regular vehicle insurance are the base of classic car coverage. Added to this are the specific coverages needed for classic cars. However, a classic car policy is usually used instead of regular auto insurance. Like regular car insurance, the coverage types in a classic car policy can include personal injury protection for your own injuries in an accident, bodily injury liability, for other people’s injuries, and collision coverage for damage to your own car. It also should have property damage liability protection as well as coverage for getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Having each of these types of coverage is ideal for the car you love having.

Classic Car Components

In addition to all of the regular coverage, types are types that are unique to classic car insurance. There is the agreed value coverage that covers it for its specific value as a classic car rather than simply the make, model and year of the car. There is also a flexible usage allowance. For many people, the car needs protection, but the car isn’t driven very often. You might be a classic car owner who drives it every day, or you may take it out only occasionally, and your insurance needs to reflect that. There is also coverage for 24/7 roadside assistance for collectible vehicles that is available for emergencies.

Get Classic Car Insurance

If you need to cover your classic car, call us at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA.

Home Renovations That Might Lower Your Massachusetts Home Insurance

Home Renovations That Might Lower Your Massachusetts Home InsuranceWhen you are getting ready to renovate your home, you may be thinking of additional costs such as your home insurance. Some improvements will typically lower your home insurance rates.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we want Dorchester, MA homeowners to get their home renovations done right.

If you are thinking of renovating, you may want to add these modifications to your home to help with your Massachusetts home insurance policy.

Alarm System With Monitoring

When you have an alarm system on your home, with the audio or video monitoring, you increase your security. You are likely to see a reduction in insurance rates with an alarm system from an approved company.
You may not need to get your alarm company approved but check with your provider. Adding an alarm system during home renovations will also keep your new changes secure from safety threats.

Install a Sewer Backup Valve

Sewer backup is a significant home insurance risk. You can even update your home insurance policy to include coverage for this, as the costs are exorbitant.

Adding a sewer backup valve is easy, and can help you in the event of a sewer backup disaster. When water has nowhere else to go, it will come into the home. This is an expensive problem, and your insurance company knows this. Add a valve to the sewer and this could save you from this problem, and also from insurance costs.

Install a Sump Pump

A flood in the basement is a disaster. If you don’t have one already, a sump pump is a very affordable way to prevent flooding when bad weather hits. Overland flooding in Massachusetts is on the rise and could lead to an increase in claims. Add one to avoid this mess, and to potentially lower your home insurance costs.

Get a Quote

When you are renovating your home, you need to talk to your insurance company or update your home insurance policy. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we want Dorchester, MA homeowners to have the most thorough policy, through every change in love. Call us for a quote and update your policy today.

Should You Insure Your Pricey Gifts?

Couple exchanging pricey gifts that require additional insurance

The hallmark of the holiday season is purchasing and exchanging gifts with your loved ones. It makes the festive season memorable. So before you stroll out of the jewelers with a $10,000 necklace, make sure you insure any pricey gifts.

Gifts like contemporary art, collectibles, and heirlooms also need insurance coverage. For such items, you can include them in your home insurance coverage with a scheduled floater, rider, or endorsement. Your insurance provider will take you through the steps.

Tips to Insure Your Pricey Gifts

The gifts like art and heirlooms that could increase in value, fur, and jewelry usually need receipts or an appraisal letter from certified professionals to get insurance coverage. Below are tips on how to get the right insurance for your expensive gifts:

1. Consider Standalone Policies for Your Expensive Gifts

If the person you’re gifting doesn’t have home or condominium insurance, then you can consider getting a standalone policy for that gift. It may even be beneficial to view a standalone policy. Here’s why:

  • If the gift is for business/work, then a standalone policy would be the best option.
  • If the gift requires a different policy, such as a classic car, a standalone policy also makes sense.

2. Get Special Coverage for Expensive Items That Gain Value

For expensive jewelry and contemporary art that will gain value, you need insurance cover with a rider paying the increased value if the item gets damaged or stolen. You can include such things in a home insurance policy if you live with your loved one.

 A standalone policy may also apply here. To keep the policy in place, you will need to get an annual appraisal for two or three years.

3. Take Careful Consideration for Travel and Shipping

Always use a professional shipper and packer when sending fine art to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged before it arrives. Make sure your shipper has insurance to safeguard against theft or damage. The last thing you want is for your pricey gifts to be stolen or damaged before it reaches your loved one.

If you’re in the Boston, Massachusetts area, then you should check out Vargas & Vargas Insurance for all your insurance needs. We will customize your insurance coverage to meet your needs and price point, so feel free to contact us here.

3 Top Winter Business Insurance Considerations for Your Business Location

business owner with a steady winter business because she prepared for common winter business insurance considerations

As Boston-area business owners are preparing for the winter season, one thing every savvy business owner is looking at is their business insurance. On average, insured losses caused by winter storms are high, with a record of $2.1 billion in 2019 alone. The major factors that affect winter business insurance calculations include snowfall, blizzards, and winter damage.

Every business needs to get insurance against the risks caused by extreme climatic conditions, including theft of closed shops and vandalism. Here are the top insurance considerations for every business owner this holiday.

1. Wind Damages

The exterior of commercial properties may suffer the ravages of blizzards and winds that are a common occurrence in winter. It comes as no surprise that over 25% of homeowners’ claims result from wind damage. But it is even more rampant in commercial areas. So you need a policy that will cover such damage or include add-ons if needed. 

2. Hail and Snow

Snowflakes in winter are a beauty, but they have their fair share of adverse effects on properties. They wreak havoc on pipes, fill up gutters, take down trees, and damage building structures. They can also cause damage to walls and roofs in severe cases. Therefore, having adequate insurance will help to prevent excessive burden and loss on regular business expenses.

3. Damage to the Utility Lines

Issues with water lines resulting in floods can invite a lot of expense that can be costly to your business. Therefore, be sure to reduce such an impact by having the right insurance cover. The best way to cater to such unusual occurrences is to have customized winter business insurance policies that apply to all the potential risks in the location your business is situated.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help you keep your business safe during the winter season. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs and offer affordable prices. So contact us today for a free quote.

How to Keep Your Home Safe While Using Your Fireplace

a couple sitting in front of a fireplace place in a modern-style home

A fire quietly roaring away in your fireplace creates a cozy, romantic, and relaxing atmosphere, especially during winter. Though they are aesthetically pleasing and warm, fireplaces can be dangerous. Unfortunately, accidents have occurred due to negligence and lack of awareness. It is prudent to follow safety measures to protect your home when you’re using your fireplace.

Safety Measures to Follow When Using Your Fireplace

To avoid incidents that may result from fireplace accidents, you should follow the tips below:

Maintain Your Chimney Regularly

Carbon particles can build up on your chimney’s walls over time. Too much buildup of particles in the duct is a fire hazard. It’s because that gunk is highly flammable and can cause a fire in the fireplace. It can also block the chimney and cause smoke to fill up your home. It would be best if you considered hiring a professional chimney sweep to clean and maintain your chimney.

Always Use a Fireplace Screen

A fireplace screen is a crucial component of your fireplace setup. It has two primary purposes:

  1. Keeping the fireplace inaccessible to children and pets.
  2. Preventing embers from tumbling out into your living room. Spitting embers is a significant fire hazard.

Don’t Leave a Fire Unattended 

Despite it being a no-brainer, most people often forget and break this rule. Most fireplaces, even the most well-maintained, can spit out fire embers that can cause a fire. Even a tiny ember can ignite a flammable item like a couch when it lands on it.

Have a Fire Extinguisher in Your Home

If you have a fireplace burning in your home, you need to have a fire extinguisher and/or a fire blanket to help combat a fire outbreak. It would help if you got an ABC-rated fire extinguisher. This will help put out electrical, regular, and gas or liquid fires.

Having a fireplace in your home requires you to follow fire safety tips to avoid incidents. However, accidents can occur sporadically. You need to have measures in place to ensure that you recoup anything you’ll lose.

It would help if you considered getting your home insured through Vargas & Vargas Insurance. We can tailor your insurance coverage to meet your specific needs and price point. Feel free to contact us here.

Massachusetts Home Insurance – What You Need To Know About Home Insurance

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest expenditures that you will have in your lifetime.  Insuring this investment is one of the smartest things that a homeowner can do to protect it.  Think of the amount of time that a homeowner spends residing in the home, that’s a lot of time for possible incidents to happen.  What exactly entails home insurance coverage?  What does homeowner’s insurance cover? We will cover these questions and how best to approach coverage below.  Home Insurance can be purchased from Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA.

Protection Against Damage

Home Insurance offers coverage under certain incidents or events such as house fires.  If you lose items in a fire (clothing, appliances, etc.) these items would be covered in such an event.  The insurance company will either cut you a check for the amount of the item or they’ll make arrangements to replace the item with the same or similar brand.  This coverage also extends to the garage which would cover your car in case of a house fire that also damaged your garage or destroyed it.  

Add-Ons

You can also purchase riders or add-ons to your home insurance coverage which will add protection for unique events such as flooding or storm damage.  In either case of events, your insurance will also pay for your temporary stay abroad should you need to have your home repaired after an event.  This temporary residence could be an extended hotel stay or renting an apartment or house for a few weeks.  

Liability Coverage

Home Insurance also comes with liability coverage which can be purchased to varying limits.  This portion of your policy covers events that happen either inside or outside the home which affect visitors or friends visiting such as a slip-and-fall accident or other incidents along those lines.  

More Information

You can learn more about home insurance by contacting Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA today!