Are You Prepared for a Hurricane?

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As Hurricane Isaac rips through the Caribbean and heads toward the Gulf Coast it’s important that we remember that it is still hurricane season here in the Northeast.  As such, we should be prepared and know what to do should a hurricane hit. There are a number of precautions that you can take now, to ensure that you and your family have the necessary plans and equipment in case of an emergency.

PLAN AHEAD

TheAmerican Red Cross recommends the following tips to be prepared. Make sure your family knows what to do before, during and after the hurricane strikes. Compile all the important contact information and resources you may need in the event of a disaster. Answer questions like: how will my family members get in touch with me during a disaster? Make a checklist of what needs to be done before the hurricane hits. Such as board up windows,put away lawn furniture, trash barrels, and other loose items in the yard, fill up bathtubs, etc.). Don’t forget to make note of what to do after the storm passes, like take pictures of damage, call insurance agent to report any claims, etc.

FIND A SAFE PLACE

If you are instructed by local authorities to seek shelter in a safe place, you,your family and your pets should immediately get indoors. Go to the center of the house in a room with the fewest windows and doors and be sure to bring your emergency kit with you. It’s important that you DO NOT call local police or fire stations (9-1-1) as these channels will be needed by the local authorities.

If you are instructed by authorities to evacuate, make sure you know where you are going, how you are going to get there and what supplies you need to take with you. If you are going to shelter in place, you will need to ensure your kit has enough supplies to take care of your family without basics like electricity or water.

BUILD a DISASTER EMERGENCY KIT

 Assemble an emergency kit with household supplies such as: water, first aid supplies, and canned goods that your family may need. You should have at least a three day supply of food– non-perishable and easy to prepare items, and one gallon of water per person,per day. Your kit should also include a flashlight, battery-powered radio,first aid kit, cell phones with chargers, extra batteries, blankets, cash,camera (to take photos of potential damaged areas)  and one week supply of medications. When building your kit, don’t forget the accessories like a manualcan-opener, utensils, sanitizer and bug spray.

STAY INFORMED

Stay up to date with public safety announcements and the latest weather conditions so you can track the storm’s path and know where to go in your community should you need to evacuate.

The time to think about hurricanes is before an unfortunate event occurs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance  is committed to helping you find and your family. Questions about if your home is covered in the case of a hurricane? Call us today at 877-550-0025.

 

Making Back to School Fun for the Kids and You!

Though it may seem that summer has just arrived, in reality back to school time is just around the corner. Don’t let the anxiety of back to school season stress you out.  Instead, use the following checklist to help your family transition into back to school mode.

1.    Bedtime: Dreading those mornings of dragging your kids out of bed for school? So, start slowly returning to your school-year bedtime routine. Gradually move their bedtime up and up. So that when that first day of school comes they are getting enough rest to start the school day right!

2.    Start the Year Healthy:  Call your child’s Doctor for an appointment for your child’s annual physical. This will ensure they are healthy and ready to head back to school.

3.    Update their Vaccinations: Make sure you are up to date on your child’s immunizations.

4.    Get Bright Eyed: Make sure your child will be able to read the blackboard or their text books by getting an annual Eye Exam before the start of the school year.

5.    Good Morning Sunshine! Start getting your kids up earlier; this will make an easier transition for when school is in session.

6.    Back to School Shopping:  Let your children help out with the back to school shopping. Allow them to help select back to school clothes and supplies. By making it a fun process, it will help them get excited about going back to school!

7.    Plan their Lunches: If you will be packing school lunch start getting their lunchboxes picked out along with healthy items you want to put in them. Let them help you plan it out.

8.    Homework and No More Crazy Mornings: Get your children in the habit of doing their homework in a particular spot (a desk or the kitchen table), preferably a place where you can still interact and help them with their homework.  Then when their homework is completed, teach your kids to pack their homework into their backpack/schoolbag and keep that bag in the same place all the time.  That way you will not be running around in the morning searching for misplaced homework and/or school bags.

Make going back to school a fun experience for both you and your children with just a little bit of planning and preparation.  For those college students leaving home and heading off to campus, remember to call your insurance agent to have them removed from your automobile insurance policy if they will not be driving any of the family vehicles while they are away at school.  Vargas & Vargas Insurance wishes a happy and safe “Back to School” season!

 

Research to do before purchasing a business

While being your own boss can be rewarding, a tremendous amount of work is generally required to make your business successful. Purchasing an existing business could be a good idea, as it may provide you with an already well-established client base. You may need to do some research prior to purchasing a Massachusetts business to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises after you close the deal. One important thing you should investigate is insurance. It may make sense to find out what insurance policies are in effect, and what you must do to continue these policies once you have taken over the business. Your insurance agent may be the best source of information for these questions.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), you may need a letter of intent from the seller stating the proposed price, the terms of purchase and the conditions for the sale of the business. You may want to see financial statements for the last three to five years, audited by an independent CPA, to determine the solvency of the business. You will need to know the terms of any leases, including the building, equipment and other property. It may be wise to evaluate the current insurance coverage to decide whether or not you may want additional coverage should you purchase the business.

Should you decide to purchase a Massachusetts business, it’s important to protect your investment with the right insurance policies. After evaluating the risks involved in your business operations, you may want to meet with your agent to discuss your insurance options.

 

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Thinking Outside the Lunchbox

Have a picky eater on your hands?  Finding the right balance between nutritious food and tasty food doesn’t have to be as challenging as you may think.  All it takes is a little bit of thinking outside of the lunchbox!  With these ideas, you can be sure your children will eat healthy and be happy.

Give your children a choice. Letting them pick between grapes and carrot sticks makes them feel empowered and grown-up, while also teaching them to make healthy choices.

School Family is a good resource for what you can do as a parent to help your children make healthy food choices.


Make snack time fun. Having them build a snack – like out of cheese and crackers – makes a healthy snack also a fun one!

For quick snack ideas they can make at home, check out squidoo.  Also, you can turn eating healthy into a game!  Kids will love making funny faces out of fruits and vegetables and enjoy eating them, too!

Get creative. Last night’s chicken dinner can be turned into a healthy chicken salad sandwich for the next day’s lunchbox.  Also, you can save money by mixing together your own homemade trail mix.

Brighten your child’s day by following The Stir’s ideas for “smile-inducing lunchbox notes”.  Be sure to check out 7 creative lunch ideas for more unique lunches!

The Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate is a great tool for teaching children about portion control and other healthy habits.  Ultimately, kids simply care about how their food tastes rather than how healthy or unhealthy it may be.  Encouraging healthy habits is a positive way to show them nutritious food is also tasty food.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance cares about you and your family.  That is why they have made it their priority to keep Massachusetts’ families safe and protected for years.  Call one of their friendly agents today at 800-877-0025 and learn more about how Vargas and Vargas Insurance can help you meet all of your insurance needs at a price you can afford.

Invite Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies are one of the many beautiful benefits of a summer garden.  Not only are butterflies fun to watch but they are surprisingly easy to attract by offering the food that they need. Butterflies subsist on nectar, the sugary solution that many flowers make for the sole purpose of attracting pollinators–animals that fertilize the flowers by inadvertently transporting pollen from flower to flower while feeding.

Although there are butterfly feeders and prepared nectar solutions widely available, nectar feeders can attract ants, drip sticky liquid, and need frequent nectar changes and cleaning…a lot of work. It is easier and cheaper to attract butterflies naturally, with plants.

There are many easy-to-grow perennial plants that come back year after year, so only need to be planted once, and most require very little care.By selecting the right plants you can create a haven for butterflies for you and your family to enjoy!

Most plants that attract butterflies require full or at least partial sun to thrive, so be sure to select a sunny area of your yard that is easy to view. Minimize the use of pesticides and insecticides in your yard and garden so as not to kill off the butterflies you are trying to attract. There are many different plants that attract butterflies, here are just a few that are easy to find, easy to grow, and that bloom throughout most of the growing season.

Purple Coneflower: Shown in the photo above, this purple flower is a wildflower native to U.S., and is a common perennial sold in nurseries. This plant can grow to nearly 40”, is extremely hardy and drought resistant, has a long bloom time, and requires little care; a perfect low-maintenance nectar producer.

Butterfly Bush: Butterfly bushes are woody and tall (can reach more than 5 feet in height) so requires some space and at least partial sun. Butterfly bushes produce cone-shaped bunch composed of tiny flowers.

Butterfly Weed: I know what you’re thinking…a weed?  I fight to keep weeds out of my garden! This perennial is another type of wildflower that can tolerate poor soil, so it is hardy and easy to grow. Preferring full sun, these plants grow to a height of 18 – 36” and produce bunches of bright orange flowers throughout spring and summer.

There are many more plants, in a wide range of heights and colors, which attract butterflies. Some other choices include salvia, verbena, marigolds, lavender, asters, bee balm, blueberries, goldenrod, lilacs, yarrow and azaleas. For additional helpful information about butterflies and creating a butterfly garden see How to Create a Butterfly Garden and Basic Facts About Butterflies.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is
dedicated to helping Massachusetts’ communities. For questions regarding
home, auto, life insurance and more, call one of their agents today at
877-550-0025.

 

National “Buy Your Best Friend a Burger” Day!

 

Burger lovers, you’re in for a treat! The Phantom Gourmet has declared August 11th National “Buy Your Best Friend a Burger” Day!  But before you bite into your juicy (and complimentary) burger, here are some fun facts about your favorite meal you might not have known.

•The first hamburger, called a hamburg steak, was popular among German sailors in the 18th century. It has little resemblance to today’s modern patty.

Imagine biting into a hard slab of salted, minced beef made more to be “durable than tasty”!

Chow details the evolution of the hamburger since its origin.

White Castle in Wichita, KS was the first restaurant chain to serve modern hamburgers in 1921.

At the time, burgers were 5 cents apiece!

•The biggest hamburger ever served weighed 8,266 lbs. It was cooked in 2001 at Burger Fest in Seymour, WI, “Home of the Hamburger.”

Think of all the Wisconsin cheese it would take to turn that into a cheeseburger!

•There are about 100 different kinds of burgers…but that’s not including your own inventions!

Wahlburgers in Hingham, MA is encouraging its customers to submit burger recipes throughout August to add to the restaurant’s menu.

So, where should you and your best friend go to enjoy National “Buy Your Best Friend a Burger” Day? Boston.com ranks the best burgers in Boston. Or, impress your friend by cooking one of these 30 Crowd-Pleasing Burger Recipes.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is dedicated to helping Massachusetts’ communities. For questions regarding home, auto, life insurance and more, call one of their agents today at 877-550-0025.

Massachusetts Wins Gold!

If there were an Automobile Insurance Olympics,Massachusetts would be a gold medal winner! In a recent NPR interview John Eagan revealed that Massachusetts is the state where automobile owners pay the lowest percentage of their income for auto insurance!

Of course you may still reduce the cost of your Massachusetts Auto Insurance further by reviewing your policy regularly with your Auto Insurance Agent.  Here are some more ways you can save on your Massachusetts Automobile Insurance policy:

Practice Safe Driving. Insurance carriers offer good-driving discounts or preferential pricing for those who have not had a ticket or accident in at least two years. 

Got Discounts? Make sure you are getting all the discounts for which you are eligible. For instance; do you drive fewer than 10,000 miles per year? If so, you may be entitled to a low mileage discount.  Do you have a student driver who will be heading off to school in the fall?  Make sure to have that driver removed from the policy while they are away at school, and remember to add them back onto the policy when the return home for the summer break. Consult with your insurance agent to ensure that you are getting all the discounts to which you are entitled.

Raise your deductibles. If it isn’t too much of a financial hardship to pay the first $500 or $1,000 of damages if you’re in an auto accident, raising your deductible can save money on premiums. 

What You Drive Matters. The car you drive matters…each year the Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner’s Office releases a list of high-theft vehicles. Vehicles that have a higher risk are charged greater premiums. 

Combine and Save! Did you know that by combining your home and auto insurance you can receive significant savings?

For more information on your Massachusetts Automobile policy contact us at 1.877. 550. 0025! Vargas& Vargas Insurance can tailor an auto insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage that fits your budget.


Back to School Health Tips

In addition to new pencils, erasers and notebooks, your children’s health is just as necessary for beginning a successful school year. So before they get on the bus, make sure these tips are checked off your back-to-school supplies list.

Choose the right backpack. According to The American Occupational Therapy Association, many children do not wear backpacks correctly, which can lead to back pains and health problems.  Look for a backpack with shoulder straps that are wide, padded and contoured. For more detail on how to choose the correct backpack, visit AgriLife Extension.

Prevent the spread of germs. Teach your children the proper techniques for coughing and sneezing. For interactive ideas to help your kids understand the importance of germ safety, check out Healthy Child Care. It also is important your kids know the correct way to wash their hands to protect against the spread of many illnesses, like the common cold and influenza.

Keep healthy snacks handy. According to the CDC, healthy eating is needed for bodies and minds to grow and develop properly. For ideas on how to create healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle, visit Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Kids Health. Also, keep in mind having your children on a set schedule when it comes to snack times and bedtimes will help them stay healthy.

Schedule a hearing and vision test. Routine tests will decrease the likelihood of your children developing hearing and vision problems.  Also, schedule well-child visits and dental check-ups with their doctor and dentist. It also is important for children to be up-to-date on all vaccine requirements before starting a new school year.

The Boston Globe’s Daily Dose provides insight on children’s health news, advice and information. Additionally, Health Tips for Children is an interactive forum where parents can read blogs about children health issues and give advice and feedback on its social media sites.

Vargas Insurance cares about keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy. For years, they have made it their mission to give Massachusetts’ families the insurance coverage they deserve at a price they can afford. For more information on how they can help you, call them today at 877-550-0025.

Your Homeowner’s Insurance vs. Forced-Placed Coverage

Your Homeowner’s Insurance vs. Forced-Placed Coverage
Your home is your biggest investment. As such you want to protect that investment but in these tough economic times, as Massachusetts homeowners continue to struggle with high unemployment and growing mortgages, it may be tempting to let your homeowner’s insurance lapse to save money. If you’re considering this idea, we urge you to reconsider. There are several reasons why this is NOT a good idea. For one thing, if you drop your homeowner’s coverage, you will be responsible for any repair or replacement costs you incur. More importantly, your mortgage contract requires that you carry homeowner’s insurance. If you do not maintain homeowner’s insurance, your lender will be only too happy to buy it for you. This is called force-placed insurance, and this is something you want to avoid.

What is the difference between a force-placed insurance policy and a homeowner’s policy?

A Massachusetts homeowner’s policy, which you can purchase on your own, provides more coverage and typically costs less than force-placed insurance. Unlike a homeowner’s policy, force-placed insurance policies do not provide protection for personal property, such as clothing and furniture. Additionally, a force-placed insurance policy does not include liability coverage that pays if you are responsible for damage or injuries to others.   Some force-placed insurance policies limit the amount of the coverage to the outstanding balance of the loan.  This type of force-placed policy is commonly referred to as a single-interest policy because it only protects the lender’s interest in the property.  If the house is destroyed by a fire or other covered cause of loss, the single-interest policy typically only pays enough to pay off the outstanding balance on the loan to the lender.   

So what’s so wrong with this picture? Two things: you’re still going to have to pay for the force-placed insurance; and it’s not going to be cheap. Your lender is under no obligation to shop for competitive homeowner’s insurance quotes. Frequently the lender will buy the policy through a high-risk insurance carrier where the rates are exponentially more than they would be through a conventional insurance company. That’s because you’re now seen as a bad risk, and in the insurance world, bad risks are charged higher premiums.

Also, you may not realize that if you fail to carry or pay for your required homeowner’s coverage, even if you’re making your mortgage payments on time, your lender can refuse to accept your mortgage payment or put your payment into a hold account. In the meantime, late fees may be tacked on and you could end up in default of your mortgage.

The bottom line is your best bet is to maintain your current homeowner’s insurance policy. If you need to save money, go with a higher deductible and take advantage of every available discount such as multiple-policy discounts and anti-theft discounts.

To learn more about your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance coverage and to ensure you are receiving all the discounts you are entitled to, call Vargas & Vargas Insurance at 1.800.550.0025.

 

Cost of Home Insurance

Buying a home is an investment you want to protect.Therefore, purchasing home insurance is a given to any new home buyer and is prerequisite to getting a mortgage. But what many home buyers—new and old—don’t know is how much home insurance costs a year and what key factors play a role in determining it.

According to the Federal Reserve Bureau, the average cost of an annual premium for home insurance is between$300 and $1,000. However, home insurance cost can vary based on:

Location: Your home’s location affects which types of disasters are covered on your home insurance policy. In Massachusetts, these can range from wild fires to flash floods. Depending on where you choose to live, it may be important to consider adding further coverage to your basic policy.

Size: The bigger the home, the more materials needed to repair any damage and the more potential claims. This adds to the cost of home insurance.

            National Association of Home Builders provides trusted reviews on local home builders.

Age: If you livein an older home, your utilities likely are going to be older, as well. These can lead to more home insurance claims.

Yellow pages.com is a great resource for finding Boston utility companies that can help keep yours safe, up-to-date and energy efficient.

Multi-family homes:The more separate families that live under one big roof means an increased possibility for claims. As a result, these home insurance policies are more expensive than policies for single-family homes.

It also is important to make note of the type of personal property you have within your home. If you own more valuable items, they will add to the cost of your home insurance policy. Additionally, consider bundling types of insurance together for a more economical rate.

Vargas &Vargas Insurance has been helping Massachusetts’ families get the right coverage they deserve at an affordable price for years. If you have any questions regarding home,auto,life insurance policies and more, call and speak with one of their agents today at 877-550-0025.