Swimming Pools: an Asset and a Liability

Summer is well underway, and you are enjoying the fun of your swimming pool! But, did you know that drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your backyard pool is a great place to cool off — but also can be a source of home insurance concerns.

Before you invite friends and family to a pool party at your house, however, you may want to check your home insurance policy.

Are you fenced in?

Build a fence around your pool and keep it locked constantly. That way, no one would use the pool without your knowledge.

How much coverage do you need?

A home insurance policy typically carries $250,000 to $300,000 in liability protection. If you have a pool, you may want to boost your liability protection to as much as $1 million under an umbrella policy. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance to discuss your liability coverages.

If you are Michael Phelps, you should purchase the most liability coverage you can buy. Thankfully you are not Michael Phelps and you can probably get a great deal on this type of insurance.

Practice pool safety!

In addition to a four-sided fencing (at least 4 feet high) that completely separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area with a self-closing or self-latching gate that open outward with latches high enough to be out of reach of children. Consider the following additional pool safety tips:

Remove toys from the pool and deck so children aren’t tempted to enter the area without supervision.

Consider alarms to notify you if someone enters the pool area.

Learn CPR.
Do not allow children to use the pool unsupervised; and do not use flotation devices as substitutes for supervision.
Do not let little children get close to the pool filters because suction might injure them or not allow them to get to the surface.
For above-ground pools, take away steps and ladders leading from the ground into the pool whenever the pool isn’t being used.
Routine maintenance for your pool is necessary to check the presence of hazardous materials like bits of glass and such things.
Keep a solid cover on the pool during off seasons.

The time to seek liability protection is before an unfortunate event occurs. Learn more about your Liability insurance options and secure an umbrella insurance quote so you can make an informed decision. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is committed to helping you find the right coverage that will suit your family’s needs and budget. Call us today at 877-550-0025.

Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Water damage can happen to your home in any number of ways, from floods, to burst pipes, to a leaky roof. Generally standard Massachusetts homeowners insurance does not cover floods, as flood insurance has to be purchased in a separate policy. Damage from burst pipes and leaking roofs is typically covered under a standard homeowner’s policy.

There are steps you may take to reduce your chances of experiencing water damage to your home. The Insurance Information Institute offers a number of recommendations.

  • When you head off for your vacation this summer, you may want to shut off the water supply to your washing machine.
  • It may be a good idea to check the hoses that lead to appliances like dishwashers, water heaters, washing machines and refrigerator icemakers every summer, and replace any that are cracked or show signs of leaking.
  • Caulking the seals around bathtubs and showers to keep them watertight may prevent water leaks that could lead to mold and mildew.
  • Installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing systems may help prevent frozen pipes from bursting.

A pipe can burst suddenly and send gallons of water rushing through your home in a matter of minutes. Knowing how to locate and shut off the valve to the main water supply may help minimize water damage to your home. It may be a good idea to keep your Massachusetts homeowners insurance agent’s contact information in a place where it can be easily accessed in an emergency.

Summer Rains Can Mean Slippery Roads Ahead

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Summer is finally here and a time for memory making road trips!  During these carefree days of summer driving,we sometimes forget that danger is still lurking.  What is the danger on summer roads? RAIN! Normally in New England we worry of the road dangers of ice and snow but rain can be just as perilous.  Driving is most hazardous during first ½ hour or so when the rain first starts and not during heavy downpours as you might think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,1.2 million traffic accidents occur each year on wet roads. In fact, more than one half million persons get injured and 5,700 killed.

The danger occurs as the rain begins to fall and the accumulated oil and dirt on the road combines with the rain to create a super slick mixture on the surface that can be as slick as ice. Although the visibility may be reasonably good when driving in the light rain, this doesn’t mean that the road itself is not dangerous. . By brushing up on the skills below, you can help to avoid accidents in the rain that may involve hydroplaning, skidding or sliding off the road completely.

Before driving, check your vehicle’s accessories and parts such as your windshield wipers. Are they starting to show streaks on your windshield? Then it’s time to let them go and buy new ones. Make sure your taillights, headlights, brake lights and signal lights work properly. You don’t want to make your vehicle harder to see in the rain.

You should also check your tires,making sure their tread depth is not flattened and that you have enough air.Use the penny trick to check your tread depth. First, take a penny and place it in the tread. If you see above Abraham Lincoln’s head, you should go out and buy tires before driving in the rain.

Allow for more travel time, rainy driving can mean diminished visibility, and more hazards on the road so take it slow and easy.

Brake earlier and lighter: This decreases the stopping distance between you and the car in front and decreases the risk of hydroplaning. 

Don’t forget to turn ON your headlights: Even in a light misty rain, turning on your headlights not only increases your visibility but allows other drivers to see you better.  AVOID using your high beams however, as the glare can blind fellow motorists.

Give the road your full attention!  Avoid talking on your cell phone or texting!

Being more aware of this and driving accordingly will help in decreasing the amount of auto accidents and claims, as well as time, traffic, and injuries.  Drive safe on the roads this summer.  Vargas & Vargas Insurance can tailor an auto insurance or your homeowners insurance or your business insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage that fits your needs.

Making Your Homeowners Insurance More Cost Effective

Are you over insured? Typically, your land is not at risk of fire or theft; therefore you don’t need to include the price you paid for the land when you calculate the amount of Massachusetts homeowners insurance you purchase. What generally does need to be included is the cost of rebuilding the structure of your house and outbuildings and the cost of replacing your personal possessions.

Other cost-saving possibilities include choosing a higher deductible, and purchasing several insurance policies from the same company to take advantage of multi-policy discounts. Your agent may be able to assist with a review of your coverage and by obtaining quotes for you to compare.

You should consider the climate and topography of your region of the country to determine if you are in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods. Policies for these perils may need to be purchased separately and while they cost extra, they are certainly more cost effective than having to pay out of pocket after an event for which you have no insurance.

Older homes in areas at risk of hurricanes may be retrofitted to better withstand damage and destruction. Modernizing heat, plumbing and electrical systems may help reduce the risk of damage and the cost of insurance. Why not ask your agent how you could best save on your Massachusetts homeowners insurance?*

Making Changes to Your Office Space to Support People with Disabilities

Your Massachusetts business insurance typically provides financial protection for property damage, bodily injury and liability. Should you decide to employ a disabled person, you may need to make additions to your building to accommodate a person with disabilities. When you have to have construction done, make sure you have the right financial protection for the new additions to your building.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses with 15 or more workers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. There is an exception to the rule should providing the accommodations cause undue hardship to the business. A reasonable accommodation would be any change in the work environment that would help a disabled person to enjoy the same employment opportunities as other workers who are not disabled.

Employing people with disabilities may qualify you for several federal tax credits. The ADA website contains information on employing disabled individuals, making adjustments in the workplace to accommodate them, and tax incentives available for employers who hire people with disabilities. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs website provides information on hiring veterans with service-related disabilities who have completed the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service Program following their military service and subsequent injury.

Once you determine any construction you need to do to accommodate a disabled employee, or any special equipment you need to buy, your agent may help you decide what additional Massachusetts business insurance you may need to provide coverage for your new accommodations and/or equipment. Giving a disabled person an opportunity to work may prove to be a rewarding experience for you as a business owner as well as an encouragement to the disabled worker.*

Host Free Educational Webinars to Promote Your Business

Hosting online webinars is a marketing technique that has begun to take off in the world of business promotions. Often free, webinars are educational talks or demonstrations. They typically last an hour and webinar speakers usually offer general information rather than a high pressure sales pitch. Should you choose to try your hand at hosting an educational webinar for businesses in your industry, you may want to check with your Massachusetts business insurance agent to find out if you need errors and omissions coverage, or something similar, for businesses which dispense advice or information.

Some businesses may wish to provide continuing education for their employees and other businesses may be looking for ways to get the word out about their products and services. Put these two objectives together and the stage is set for a webinar. Access to participant email is one of the advantages of hosting a webinar. The participants’ email addresses provide a list of hot leads for marketing staff looking to sell products or services.

Online webinar technology is not expensive and with proper training, the webinars are relatively easy to produce. Following up with participants is important for getting the most out of your investment in webinar technology and adding to your client base. It is however, important to consult your Massachusetts business insurance agent about any additional financial protection you may need should you begin to offer webinars to your clients and prospects.

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