Entrepreneurs — Quickly Review Your Commercial Insurance Policy for 2021

small business owner wearing a mask and holding an open sign

Commercial insurance policies are complicated. At Vargas & Vargas, we know small business owners are focused on running their businesses. You don’t always have the time to pour over commercial insurance policies in detail. Today, we will make a few key points that you should consider as we move forward in 2021.

Review the Most Important Points of Your Commercial Insurance Policy

The declarations page (dec page) of your commercial insurance policy is usually the first page. It contains a ton of essential information. 

Before getting into the minutia, check that all the information on your dec page is correct:

  • A correct property address is vital for claims.
  • Ensure the contact names and business owner names are right. Only the named insured can make changes to a policy.
  • Be sure the contact phone numbers and email addresses on your policy are correct, too.

Then, consider your coverages. In the wake of COVID-19, we know many small businesses have evolved.

Has Your Business Changed Much in 2020? If So, Talk to an Agent

From social distancing and healthcare concerns that limit foot traffic to increased online shopping and curbside meals, we know the business landscape has changed in Massachusetts. You might need to adjust your insurance if:

  • You have much lower sales numbers than predicted in 2019 — maybe you’re stocking less inventory or hosting fewer customers. Either way, you might be able to reduce your premium because your risks are lower.
  • You’ve sent your workforce home.
  • You’ve scaled back operations.

In short, if you made any significant changes to your business in 2020, it’s time to talk to an insurance agent. 

If You’re Concerned About Civil Unrest

Commercial insurance policies usually cover civil unrest, riots, and malicious mischief. But if you’re worried about political turmoil in your neighborhood, then check your policy to be sure.

What if you’ve closed up the shop, but you’re still operating out of your home? Know that your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover much related to your business. You might still need a business owner’s policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your commercial insurance to your unique needs at the right price, and we’re here to answer your questions. Remember, if you have deeper questions about commercial insurance in Massachusetts or need help with a Business Owners Policy (BOP), contact a licensed agent today.

What Does Condo Insurance Cover?

family sitting together in a condo

Condo insurance is property insurance for condo owners. It’s designed to protect the condo contents and repair the unit in instances of fire or burglary. Condo insurance provides liability coverage for the condo owner, too. Today, we’ll take a closer look at Massachusetts condo insurance. We’ll explore the coverages and perils that policies can insure against — and highlight some gaps, too. Remember, if you have deeper questions about condo insurance, talk to a licensed insurance agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance today!

What’s Covered by Condo Insurance in Massachusetts?

Condo insurance policies in Massachusetts are similar to homeowners insurance, with a few key differences. The basic idea is the same — it’s an insurance policy that protects the condo owner from loss from perils like:

  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Burglary or theft
  • Civil riot 
  • Malicious mischief

In a nutshell, if your condo burns down or gets burglarized, then your insurance company will reimburse you for your belongings. Remember, condo insurance will only pay up to the policy limits (after the policyholder pays a deductible). It’s vital to know whether your condo insurance policy will pay you the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your belongings or Replacement Cost (RC)

Liability Coverage

“Liability” means responsibility. In Massachusetts, most condo insurance policies will include liability coverage. If a visitor stumbles in your home and breaks their ankle, this insurance covers you. 

What’s NOT Covered by Condo Insurance?

Condo owners don’t have an interest in the outer property. Your condo insurance policy won’t cover the condo building’s exterior, separate structures and outbuildings, fences, trees, and landscaping. 

Also, know that certain luxury items in your condo might not be covered. If you own an $18,000 painting by Pablo Picasso or a luxury strand of pearls, you’ll need to have them specifically added to your condo insurance policy. In addition, a standard condo policy in Massachusetts doesn’t cover some perils. Floods, for instance, require a separate flood policy.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your condo insurance to your unique needs at the right price, and we’re here to answer your insurance questions. Contact us today.

What’s the Difference Between Home Insurance and Property Insurance?

mother and son playing in the kitchen

Ever wondered what the difference is between homeowners insurance and property insurance? Maybe you saw both listed somewhere and wondered if they are different. Well, if you were wondering, here is a quick overview of the terms and what they mean — and why they are important to know. 

Property Insurance

Property insurance is an umbrella term for all different kinds of dwelling insurances and can include: 

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Renters insurance
  • Flood insurance
  • Earthquake insurance

Property insurance is normally part of your homeowners policy, but the homeowners policy doesn’t have to be the entire property insurance policy. For example, a property insurance policy could be for a dwelling that isn’t your home (see renters insurance). The homeowners policy will be more than just the property insurance. 

Home Insurance

Your homeowners policy will most likely be a hybrid policy that will include both the property insurance element and some riders that have other things on it. An example of a rider is if you have some expensive art or jewelry in your home, then you will get an additional rider to cover those expensive pieces. Here are a few of the perils that your homeowners insurance will typically cover: 

  • Fire
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects 
  • Loss of Use: This is when a part of your home ends up needing to be repaired. If it causes you extra expenses, your homeowners policy will reimburse you for those extra costs. Another part of this applies to rental properties. You may suffer from loss of rental income or “loss of rents” if you have a rental property that becomes unlivable due to a covered event. You will be reimbursed for the amount you would typically receive in rental income per month in this instance.

This list is not complete, but it should give an idea of the types of things that are covered in the typical homeowners insurance plan. Each homeowners insurance plan is customized for you, the homeowner, so the best way to discover what kind of coverage you currently have (or don’t have) is to check out the exclusions page of your policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is the premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients and not the insurance company. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. We’re also here to answer all of your insurance questions — contact us today.

Home and Home Insurance Winterization Tips

mother and infant child looking out their home's window during winter

The weather outside is definitely on its way to being frightful, and the fire may be so delightful. Have you winterized your home and checked to make sure your home insurance is ready for winter? Below are some home and home insurance winterization tips to make sure you are prepared for the season. 

Start Before Cold Winter Weather Sets In

Some basic steps to start your home winterization checklist include:

  • Clean your gutters. Get all the debris out to ensure that the winter rain and snow will have someplace to go.
  • Check for drafts, and seal up any extra breezy areas. This could be done using chalk or by installing door sweeps.
  • Have your furnace maintained to make sure that it’s working properly.
  • Change out the filter in your furnace. The furnace filter should be changed out regularly.
  • Change all the batteries in the detectors (carbon monoxide and smoke). It is recommended that you change your batteries in your detectors twice a year.
  •  Have your chimney swept. There could be dust, dirt, or even birds in there.
  • Check your windows and insulation.

Review Your Home Insurance Coverage

Add home insurance winterization to your to-do list. You will also want to check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure that you have enough coverage. There are many things that can happen in the winter, and you will want to make sure that your coverage has you prepared for any eventuality. It is a good idea to make sure that your insurance has flood coverage before you have a burst pipe in your home. This coverage takes time to take effect, and it will not cover you after the event has occurred. If you don’t know what you have, contact your insurance agency to find out.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is the premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients and not the insurance company, and we will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. Our team is here to answer all of your insurance questions, so contact us today.

Will Security Cameras Lower Home Insurance Costs?

Almost always, yes! Security cameras or a home security system will almost always lower your cost to insure a home. They might also help you sleep better at night and reduce your stress when you’re away from home.

man installing a security camera in his home

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, our goal is to provide you with honest, thoughtful answers to your insurance questions. Customers ask us about security cameras and security systems and how they relate to homeowner’s insurance in Massachusetts. So let’s explore the issue.

Massachusetts Homeowner’s Insurance Basics

Homeowner’s insurance in Massachusetts is based on fire coverage. If your home burns down — in whole or partially — a homeowner’s insurance policy will protect the investment by paying the homeowner for the amount of the loss. The idea is to make the homeowner “whole” again after a loss, and it’s called indemnity. Here are some other important facts to keep in mind:

  • Homeowner’s insurance also covers other “perils,” like theft, hail, lightning, smoke damage, and so on.
  • It rarely covers earthquakes or floods. Earthquake coverage can be added to most homeowner’s policies with a rider. Flood insurance will need a separate policy. 
  • Millions of homes in the US face flood risk, even ones not in a federally mandated flood zone area. You can purchase flood insurance.

Insurance companies know that security systems reduce theft instances and can reduce the damage caused by fire or other emergencies. That’s why all insurance companies will offer a discount when your security system is centrally monitored and a smaller discount when it is not.

There are a few other ways to reduce your insurance premium too.

Other Discounts and Savings on Homeowner’s Insurance

Every insurance policy is a unique contract between the insurer and the insured. In addition to savings for a home security camera, you might also save money by:

  • Bundling multiple lines of insurance — like your car insurance — with a single provider
  • Installing sprinklers
  • Replacing an old roof
  • Adjusting your deductible to a higher amount — though that means you’ll be on the hook to pay for more damage out-of-pocket in an emergency, and your mortgagee might have minimum deductible requirements

The staff at Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work hard for our clients — not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your homeowner’s insurance coverage to your specific needs and budget. We’re also glad to answer all your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance questions. Need a quote? Then let’s talk!

Winterize Your Auto and Auto Insurance With These Tips

mom and child smiling in a car while it's snowing

As winter continues, it’s important to prepare your car for the harsher conditions. At the same time, you want to make sure that your auto insurance policy provides you with sufficient coverage for the season. Here are some tips on how to winterize your auto — and your auto insurance.

Winterizing Your Automobile

  • Make sure your 4-wheel drive works if you have it.
  • Check your vehicle’s belts and hoses. Cold weather can cause them to weaken and even break, so you may want to take your car in for a tune-up ahead of time.
  • Change your windshield wipers.
  • Always keep your fuel tank full. A near-empty tank in extremely cold weather can result in severe damage to your car.
  • Top off your fluids (coolant, wiper fluid, and so forth).
  • Check your oil. If you need to give your car an oil change, make sure you use a product with the right viscosity (or thickness).
  • Check your car’s battery. The last thing you want is a dead battery in freezing temperatures.
  • Check your air filters, and replace them as needed.
  • Make sure your tires have enough air pressure. You’ll likely have to periodically check on this throughout the winter. Also, consider putting on snow tires if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice during the cold season.

Winterizing Your Auto Insurance

It’s true that you can never foresee an auto accident or other winter-related damage. However, you can prepare. You may want to add collision coverage to your automobile insurance policy in the event that you slip or slide into something and damage your car that way. Also, comprehensive coverage will cover just about any other accident that causes damage to your car, such as a branch falling on your hood or damage from a snowbank.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you winterize 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.

How Much Condo Insurance Do You Need?

couple sitting in their furnished condo

The purpose of condo insurance is to protect your financial investment in your belongings and provide liability coverage. If you under-insure your belongings, you won’t be made whole again after a fire or burglary. If you over-insure, you’ll be paying a higher insurance premium than you need to pay.

Imagine a fire rips through your condominium. Thankfully, everyone gets out safely. Your condo insurance will cover most belongings, less a deductible. Therefore, you should buy enough contents coverage to replace all your belongings and be made whole after a loss. 

So today, the team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance will explain how to decide how much condo insurance you need. We’ll talk about contents coverage and also touch briefly on liability coverage. The first step is to tally up your belongings.

Contents Coverage: Tally Up Your Belongings

Grab a notebook and take a walk through your condo. Start by jotting down the big-ticket items.

If you add it all up, then you’ve probably spent significant cash on:

  • Furniture — including bedroom sets, mattresses, dining room sets, and living room furniture
  • Appliances
  • Wardrobes, shoes, and accessories
  • Hobby items and craft supplies
  • Electronics — such as televisions, computers, tablets, cell phones, and all the related accessories and chargers
  • Decor — including area rugs and window treatments

Then, start thinking about the money you have tied up smaller items like linens, towels, and cosmetics. Also, don’t forget the medicine cabinet and medical devices. Suddenly, you’ll realize you have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of personal belongings in the bathroom alone!

What’s your final number? A single individual might own $50,000 worth of belongings easily. A family of five might need $200,000 in contents coverage for a start.

Next, it’s time to think about liability coverage.

Condo Insurance and Liability Coverage

Most condo insurance providers offer packages that include a pre-set amount of liability coverage. It may be $100,000, $250,000, and so on. You can always ask for more liability coverage, and in today’s litigious society, more coverage is better

We should also point out that some umbrella insurance policies (which are additional liability policies for families with many assets) have minimum property liability requirements. In other words, if you have an umbrella policy, it might require that you maintain $500,000 or $1 million of liability coverage at your residence.

We’re Proud to Be Your Premier Independent Insurance Agency for Condo Insurance

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to work for our clients, not the insurance company. We can customize your condo insurance policy to suit your specific needs and budget. We’re ready to answer your condo insurance questions, so contact us today.

Do You Need Home Insurance in Massachusetts

One of the largest investments you will ever make is the money you invest in your home. To create a true sanctuary, you will need peace of mind, and the best way to achieve that is to obtain a home insurance policy. The agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA understand the importance of obtaining a home insurance policy for all homeowners to protect your assets.

In the state of Massachusetts, you are not required to have a homeowner’s insurance policy but if you have a mortgage on your home, the bank or other lender you used for your loan will more than likely require you to have a policy in place to protect their investment in your home.

Coverage Options

Homeowners insurance is designed to assist you in paying for to repair or replace your house if it is damaged or destroyed by an act of vandalism, a fire, or a natural disaster, such as a tornado or windstorm.

Your home insurance policy will also cover the rest of your property. For example, if you have a garage and it is destroyed by a tornado, your home insurance will pay to rebuild your garage.

If your home is broken into and several items are stolen and the door is damaged, your items will be replaced through your policy, and your door will be repaired or replaced. It will also provide coverage if a visitor to your home is injured or their property is damaged. For example, if a tree in your yard falls on their vehicle, your home insurance will help cover the damages to their vehicle.

Call For A Quote

To create the home insurance policy that works best for you and your home, you should consult with an experienced insurance agent. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, the home insurance agents you can trust are ready to assist you. Call for a quote or an appointment today to start your policy.

What a Standard Home Insurance Policy Covers

happy family sitting outside on their patio

A standard home insurance policy compensates you if your home is damaged or destroyed by certain events. Home insurance also typically provides coverage for personal belongings and structures on your property. Here’s a brief overview to explain what’s covered by a standard home insurance policy.

What Are Insured Events?

A standard home insurance policy covers losses due to the events specified in the policy. Insured events for most policies include:

  • Fire
  • Hail storms
  • Lightning strikes
  • Windstorms 
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

It’s important to note that sewer backups, floods, and earthquakes are not insured events on a standard policy. If you desire coverage for such events, your independent insurance agent can help determine if you need additional coverage or a separate policy.

When an insured event makes a home uninhabitable, loss of use coverage pays additional living expenses related to fleeing the home, such as the cost of temporary housing. Loss of use coverage also provides protection for loss of rental income. The policy limit for loss of use coverage is usually a percentage of the dwelling’s coverage limit.

What Structures Are Covered?

Home insurance typically covers the interior and exterior of the building itself. That includes the home’s roof, walls, foundation, and structures attached to the home, such as a deck or a garage. Most policies also protect structures on the property that aren’t connected to the home, such as a fence, a shed, a gazebo, or a detached garage.

Is Personal Property Covered?

Generally, personal items within the home are covered for losses due to insured events. Here are examples of covered personal property:

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Sporting equipment
  • Musical instruments

Although home insurance does cover costly items like fine jewelry, antiques, art, and furs, the limits on a standard home insurance policy are usually insufficient to compensate for their full value. You may be interested in purchasing additional coverage for such items.

What Is Liability Protection?

A standard home insurance policy usually includes liability protection. If someone who isn’t a resident of your home is injured on your property, liability protection provides coverage for expenses, such as the injured person’s medical bills or your legal costs in the event the injured person sues. 

When you’re uncertain whether you have coverage for damage, it’s always best to check with your local independent insurance agent. If your agent is not available, look at the exclusion page of your insurance policy.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies. We work for our clients and not the insurance company. We will customize your home insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. We’re also available to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today to get started.

How Can I Get the Best Home Insurance Rate?

couple researching home insurance rates in their new home

Whether you are a first-time homeowner or you are shopping for a new policy for your current home, there are some things you can do to ensure you have the best home insurance rate possible without having to skimp on insurance coverage. In this article, we will outline three tips on how to receive excellent coverage while paying a reasonable premium.

1. Clean Up Your Credit

When it comes to offering a homeowners insurance policy, an insurer mainly focuses on the risk they will take on by extending a policy to an individual or couple. That means they will likely be reviewing your current personal credit rating(s). Insurers know that homeowners with a good credit history are generally more financially stable and interested in doing whatever is necessary to maintain their credit status.

If you think you have a good credit history but still get turned down by an insurer, it’s a good idea to obtain a free copy of your credit report to determine if it contains errors that need correction.

2. Consider Fido’s Breed 

Canine pets can be a wonderful addition to a home. But some breeds are more prone to biting or causing some other type of injury than others. Before heading out to the animal shelter, consider how certain dog breeds may adversely impact your home insurance rates.

3. Review the Policy Deductible

Most insurance policies come with a standard annual insurance deductible. Suppose a homeowner submits a claim to the insurance company. In that case, the deductible is the amount the homeowner must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company covers their claim(s) in any given policy year. By increasing one’s annual deductible, a homeowner can save on the annual cost of their insurance policy. For those who rarely file a claim, this can translate into significant savings over time. 

4. Bundle to Save

Many insurance companies offer their clients discounted rates if they bundle their other insurance policies along with their homeowners insurance. Home or condo owners can save significant amounts every year if they bundle their policy along with their auto insurance. 

5. Get Started

Here at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we are committed to creating a customized insurance package with the best home insurance rate options for our clients, without compromising on coverage for the largest investment they will likely ever have. We are a leading local insurance agency, and we’re ready to answer all of your insurance questions today. Please call us for a personalized consultation.