Community Spotlight – Swerling Milton Winnick

SMW - 1As a Boston insurance agency, it is the job of Vargas and Vargas Insurance to make sure that you are financially protected against loss. We couldn’t do that without the insurance adjusters that we work with. When you need to make a claim on your Vargas and Vargas Insurance policy, one of the Public Insurance Adjusters at Swerling Milton Winnick can guide you through the claims process and get you the maximum possible settlement from the insurance provider.

In addition to being a sponsor of this year’s Boston’s Best Neighbor contest, they are also affiliated with several other organizations, including the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (MAPIA), the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA), just to name a few.

Swerling Milton Winnick have been in the business of insurance adjustment for over 100 years, so you can feel confident that their staff has ample SMW - 2experience in providing responsive and satisfactory results when performing an insurance adjustment. Their staff will take all necessary steps when performing an adjustment, including:

  • Gathering and analyzing loss data
  • Correlating the data with the terms of your insurance policies
  • Formulating an intelligent claim
  • Carrying the claim to its successful conclusion

They will perform these steps no matter what type of claim you are making. Although by no means an exhaustive list, here are some examples of the types of claims that they can help you with:

  • Property damage
  • Repair or replacement costs
  • Loss from business interruption
  • Impact of building codes
  • Coinsurance and agreed amount clauses
  • Extra expense endorsements
  • And more

In addition, the professionally licensed loss adjustment experts at Swerling Milton Winnick have clients in several different industries, including Real Estate, Accountants, Hotels, Lawyers, Banks, Agents, Restaurants, and Health Clubs, just to name a few. They are able to do insurance adjustments for several different types of insurance claims, including:

  • Real Estate
  • Commercial
  • Institutional and Non-Profit
  • Industrial
  • Professional
  • Residential
  • Condominiums

So if you need to submit an insurance claim for your insurance policies, and you need an adjustment in order to receive the maximum possible payout from your Massachusetts insurance policy, make sure that you contact Swerling Milton Winnick Public Insurance Adjusters.

To schedule a consultation with a New England insurance adjuster, just call Diane Swerling (781) 416-1000 #125. You can find their office at 36 Washington Street, Suite 310, in Wellesley Hills. You can also contact them by email. Just send your question or request to Diane Swerling at diane@swerling.com.

Money Advice for 20-Somethings

Is there someone in your life that is in their 20s? Those people are just finishing up their academic career, and starting out in the workforce. Even though their working life is barely starting, they need to start thinking about that time that they will no longer want to bring in a paycheck. In the 20s may seem a bit early to start retirement planning, but many financial planners will tell you that starting as early as possible can help alleviate many headaches in the future.

Money Advice as early as your 20s

If you want to help out the 20-somethings in your life, share the following money advice with them:

Spend less than you earn.

When you first start getting a paycheck, you might think that the amount on that you receive is the amount that you can spend. This is actually far from true. Instead of going broke between paychecks, try to live below your means – even if you have the money to go to an expensive and fancy steak dinner, save your money and order some takeout Chinese, or (even better) cook for yourself. The less money that you spend, the more you will be able to save.

Make saving part of your budget.

In the same thread, you should make a certain amount of saving a part of your budget. Figure out how much out of each paycheck that you can put into your emergency fund or retirement account, and move it over as soon as you are paid. That way, you can guarantee that it will be saved instead of spent.

Have a financial parachute.

An emergency fund is absolutely necessary. You never know when the worst will occur, so you should have a financial safety net in case you lose your job or have a large unexpected expense. Most financial experts say a single person should have three months worth of expenses, and a married couple should have six months worth of expenses.

Pay down your debt.

In addition to building up an emergency fund, you should concentrate on paying down your debt. Some 20-somethings get trapped in a debt snowball – between student loans, credit cards, car payments, and the like. Instead of increasing the amount that you owe to others, work on paying off all of your obligations while you are still young.

Increase your earning potential.

In addition to decreasing your spending and increasing your savings, you should do what you can to increase the amount that you can potentially earn in the future. Take classes, earn certifications, get involved in extracurricular activities, and go to networking events.

Your budget should be analyzed and changed.

As your spending habits change, so too should your budget. This means that you need to reevaluate your budget often – more than just when you get a raise or a new job. Make a date with your piggy bank every month or two and review your recent spending, adjusting your budget as needed. This is also a good chance to notice if you have been overspending on any of your categories (food or entertainment, for example) and adjust your spending accordingly.

If you need additional assistance with your money, all you have to do is call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We offer financial planning services that can set you on the right track, or get you back on the path to financial success.

Slimming Down Your Body, Bulking Up Your Wallet

Did you know that over 75 million Americans are considered obese? The issue of weight has plagued the country for many years, and at the current rate, it will continue to be an issue far into the future.

Slimming Down Your Body, Bulking Up Your Wallet

If you are someone that is looking to lose a few pounds, you should know that it will do more than just improve your overall health – it will also benefit your wallet! Take a look at these five examples of how slimming down your body may also help to increase the amount of money in your pocket:

Spend Less at the Grocery Store

Changing your eating habits so that you can lose a few pounds will no doubt affect your grocery bill. In most cases, it will be significantly lower, due to the reduction (or elimination) of snack and dessert foods, and the smaller portion sized meals. This is especially true if you can cut sugary beverages (like soda and juice) out of your life, and drink water instead – it’s healthier, and it’s free!

Cook for Yourself, and Go Out to Eat Less Often

When losing weight, most people cut back on eating out. Cooking at home is typically a much healthier option than fast food, or the meals that you find at restaurants, and controlling portion size is a major component of weight loss.

Not only is eating at home healthier, though, it is also significantly cheaper. By skipping your trips out for a weekend breakfast, a quick drive through lunch, or a dinner date with friends, you will be able to keep money in your pockets for other things. Don’t skip out on socializing over meals, though, just make it a dinner party at your place!

Find More Job Opportunities, and Better Wages

While it’s not fair or ethical, weight discrimination in the workplace is a real thing. Overweight people may be passed over for a position if another candidate with similar qualifications is trimmer. This may be because people that weigh more are considered more of a health risk, requiring more sick days and higher healthcare costs. While the discrimination is frowned upon, the basis may be true – just keep reading.

Spend Less Time (and Money) at the Doctor

It’s no secret that slimming down will help you stay healthy. Being overweight has several related health risks, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Several types of cancer
  • High cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Sleep apnea

If you can shed a few pounds, you will be less likely to be affected by these issues, and could save yourself several trips to the doctor. This also means spending less money on co-pays, treatments, and medications.

Get Cheaper Life Insurance Premiums

For some life insurance policies, you will need to undergo a screening, or fill out a questionnaire. This procedure helps the insurance provider determine your overall health, and will be a big factor in how much your premium will cost. By bringing down your weight, some insurance providers will consider you healthier, and charge you less.

To learn more about getting affordable Massachusetts life insurance, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can work with you to craft a policy with all the available discounts, while keeping the coverage that you and your family need.

Community Spotlight – MAHA

Have you heard of MAHA? It’s short for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, an organization that has been active in our area since 1985, with a mission of providing resources to homebuyers and running campaigns that have resulted in affordable mortgages for thousands of homebuyers. In addition, their efforts have created more than $9 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing, and education programs that have graduated over 23,500 individuals.

MAHA 1Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we pride ourselves on helping to sponsor community events, like MAHA’s Pedal Poker River Run in October and their Taste of Dorchester event in April. The folks at MAHA stepped up to the plate in turn and became a sponsor of the Boston’s Best Neighbor contest this year, and we can’t thank them enough.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, here are summaries of just a few of their offerings:

Take a Class

If you’re looking to learn the basics about working with realtors, choosing a mortgage, budgeting, record keeping, home repair, and taxes, look no further than a class at the MAHA office. There, you can take one of three different classes: Buying a Home, Owning a Home, and Owning a Condo. In addition, they offer an Online Homebuying Course.

Take Action

MAHA is always looking for ways to make our community better and to ensure that all banks and insurers treat all neighborhoods fairly. If you want to get involved, they keep a list of their current campaigns on their website. You can also fill out a contact form and a member of their staff will contact you about getting involved.

MAHAFind a Mortgage

The people at MAHA have worked incredibly hard to negotiate Massachusetts’ most affordable mortgage rates with several lenders in the area. On their website, they offer lots of information that is useful for people looking for an affordable mortgage, including mortgage tips and FAQs, and information about the ONE Mortgage Program. In addition, you can visit the MAHA website for more information on their Lender Partners and Real Estate Network individuals.

Find the Facts

As community advocates, the people at MAHA, along with their partner organizations, have done studies that “provide a factual look at the way financial services companies are serving low- to moderate-income homebuyers and communities around the state.” If you want to browse these studies and their findings, visit the “Facts Matter” section of the MAHA website.

If you want to learn more about the great things that are happening at the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, we encourage you to visit their website or ‘Like’ their Facebook Page. You can also visit them in person at 1803 Dorchester Avenue Monday through Friday from 9 am until 6 pm, or call them at 617-822-9100.

Stay Healthy on Business Travel Trips

More and more business people are starting to travel for work. With this increase in business travellers occurring, we wanted to share some tips that can help you stay healthy while you travel.

Have your health in mind when you pack.

Business Travel HealthIt’s common to try your best to pack light for a business trip, but it’s worth packing a few extra things that will help you stay healthy during your trip. Here are a few ideas:

  • Healthy snacks like nuts and fruit – dried fruits work well for trips if you can’t bring fresh.
  • Workout attire, like lightweight clothing for weightlifting and cardio.
  • Your medications, as well as other over the counter medicines that you may need on your trip.

Stay healthy on the plane.

Don’t be tempted by the gift shop displays and fast food places at the terminal. Stick to the snacks that you have brought, or buy yourself a healthy meal. Also stay hydrated with a bottle of water.
You can also do your body a favor by taking several breaks during your flight to stretch – just make sure that you don’t do so near the forward lavatory of the plane – you may get some nasty stares or a ‘talking to’ from a flight attendant about congregating near the front of the plane.

Plan ahead for meals.

Business travel typically goes hand in hand with eating out. Restaurant meals are notorious for huge portions of unhealthy meals, but a savvy traveller can plan ahead of time and make healthy choices. If you know where you will be dining, scope out the menu for the restaurant ahead of time and pick out the healthiest choices in advance. Just be wary – a salad isn’t necessarily healthy if it’s piled with toppings and a fatty dressing!

Make an effort to work out.

You’re probably going to be mentally exhausted after a long day of business travel, but make a point to put in some extra effort and exhaust your body as well. Most hotels nowadays offer at least a small gym with the basic equipment. Otherwise, you can take a brisk walk and explore the area, or find a workout online that you can do in your hotel room without any special equipment. Body weight workouts are especially effective in this situation.

Create an emergency plan.

It is unlikely that you will experience a medical emergency while travelling, but it never hurts to be prepared. Take some time before you leave to research the walk-in clinics and hospitals in the area, or ask the front desk of your hotel for this information. Having it in advance will save you quite a headache if you do ever need it.

While they are targeted towards people who travel often for business, these tips work equally as well for people travelling for pleasure, so feel free to share this post with anyone that you know who is going on a trip in the near future (you can even use the handy “Share” buttons on the bottom of the page! Also, Vargas and Vargas representatives are available to talk to you about your travel insurance or business insurance policies, just call 617-298-0655.

Photo credit: Royalty-free image collection / Foter / CC BY

Life Insurance Scenario: Missing Body

In light of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 earlier this year, we wanted to share the answer to the insurance question that some of you may be asking: What happens to the life insurance policies of those people that were on board?

Unfortunately, missing persons aren’t an unusual occurrence. On the FBI’s website, you can see dozens of examples of people that are currently missing from their homes. Depending on the person, and the type and length of the life insurance policy that they have, there are three typical potential outcomes:

Possible Outcome 1: Quick Payout

missing bodyIf there is plenty of evidence that a person is no longer living, death certificates will be issued right away. Possibly the most famous recent case of this was the attacks of September 11, 2001. In that event most death certificates of the people who died in the attack were issued in a matter of a few days. It has been estimated that life insurance policies paid out a billion dollars in claims related to 9/11.

How quickly the payout occurs depends on the insurance provider. For example, some insurance companies (like Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty) began making payments to the beneficiaries of the missing Malaysia Airlines passengers right away.

Possible Outcome 2: Eventual Payout

If an insurance provider deems that there isn’t ample evidence that a person is deceased, they may put off the payment of their life insurance policy for anywhere from several months to a few years.

These types of scenarios are often considered on a case-by-case basis, and the following questions are considered when insurance providers are trying to determine of payment should be made:

  • Would the insured person be past the likely limit of human survival?
  • Was the insured involved in a situation with high levels of inherent danger?
  • Was the insured suffering from a life threatening illness or deteriorating health at the time of their disappearance?
  • Were the actions of the insured person consistent with their past recorded behaviors?

If the missing person would be past a logical maximum age, was in danger, or was suffering from illness, and if they were behaving in a normal fashion, most insurance providers will pay out the life insurance policy to the person’s beneficiary.

Possible Outcome 3: Late Payout

If there are too many unanswered questions for an insurance provider to feel comfortable bestowing a payout, they will often wait until the court system declares the missing person to be dead (legally, declared dead in absentia). In most cases in the US, this takes about seven years, and the situation must meet the following criteria:

  • The person must have been missing from their home or residence for seven years (this can vary from state to state).
  • The absence must be continuous and without explanation.
  • The absence must coincide with a lack of communication with those people most likely to hear from him or her.
  • There must have been diligent but unsuccessful search for the person.

While the chances of you or a loved one going missing is very slim, it never hurts to know the terms of your life insurance policy. To talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about the terms of your policy, as well as the common practices of your insurance provider, just call 617-298-0655.

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 / Foter / CC BY-SA

Turkey Frying Tips for Thanksgiving

When it comes time for the Thanksgiving meal, you know one thing that is going to be on the table: a turkey. The question is how you will cook the bird. While most families opt to roast their turkey for several hours in the oven, other people swear that a fried turkey is more moist and delicious in every way.

Fried Turkey

If you are thinking about making your traditional Thanksgiving turkey in a frier this year, make sure that you do so safely. Here are a few tips that will help you to have a positive Fried Turkey experience, and avoid having a pizza for your Thanksgiving dinner this year: Continue reading

Community Spotlight – Anytime Auto Glass

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we have been selling Boston auto insurance for many years. Over all of those years, we have seen lots of auto insurance claims, several of which involve a car breaking glass. This kind of a claim doesn’t have to be a pain anymore. In the Boston area, repairing your car’s door glass, windshield, sunroof, or any other glass is as easy as calling Anytime Auto Glass. In addition to helping our car insurance customers, Anytime Auto Glass sponsors several community events, including the Vargas and Vargas 2014 Boston’s Best Neighbor contest.

AAG 1Fixed and Mobile Locations

If you need new auto glass, and want to visit the Anytime Auto Glass location, you are always free to do so – just call 617-898-8463 to make an appointment. They are located at 1560 River Street in Hyde Park.

If you don’t have the time to visit their location, they’ll come to you! They offer free and convenient mobile service anywhere within Route 495, including Boston, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Norwood, Canton, Westwood, Braintree, Milton, and Quincy. Give them a call and see if your home or office are within their service radius.

In addition to offering both a fixed location and mobile service, Anytime Auto Glass also offers after hours service, which is great for professionals and businesses that can’t afford to wait for a glass replacement.

Get Back on the Road

Anytime Auto Glass prides themselves in only using quality materials, including the best adhesive available. This means that you can drive away safely just one hour after your new glass is installed!

AAG 2Focus on Safety

When you have your auto glass serviced by Anytime Auto Glass, they will ensure that all glass is replaced according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). They follow guidelines for FMVSS 208 Retention , FMVSS 212 Windshield Mounting , FMVSS 216 Roof Crush, and FMVSS 219 Intrusion. In addition, they are a National Glass Association Certified Glass Installer.

Fantastic Warranty

Anytime Auto Glass warranties all fixed glass replacements for as long as you own the vehicle, 90 days for stress cracks.  They warranty moving parts for 90 days, not including existing mechanical parts. They have completed over 20,000 glass installations, so you can feel good about putting your vehicle in their capable hands.

If you have auto glass that needs replacing, please don’t hesitate to call the friendly folks at Anytime Auto Glass at 617-898-8463. Even if you don’t currently have any auto glass needs, you may want to store their number in your cell phone in case you need it in the future. Also “Like” the Anytime Auto Glass Facebook for business news and local updates.

6 Ways to Be More Likeable

In a way, the human experience is all about forming relationships with others. Some people are excellent at forming and building relationships, while others find it a challenge. If you want to appear as a likeable person to others, there are a few things that you can do to present yourself as such. We know you’re a fun and charismatic person, but sometimes you need a little bit of work to make a good first impression.

Here are a few tips and tricks you can use at your next social event to encourage others to strike up a conversation, and have a more solid shot at forming a bond with another person:

Be Approachable

The way that you look and behave can make other people more or less likely to want to approach you. Standing in a corner and folding your arms while at a party probably won’t lend itself to meeting new people. More positive and inviting body language and a smile will tell other people that you are ready for a conversation, and may lead to making some new contacts, and even a few friends!

Be LikeableRemember Names

In developing relationships (both romantic and non-romantic), remembering someone else’s name and using it in conversation will increase the connection between two people. This article from Forbes.com suggests a few ways to remember names if you sometimes have trouble with this task, specifically using repetition or trying word associations (Fred the Fisherman or JoAnn from Jersey, etc).

Ask Questions

Almost no one enjoys talking to someone who only talks about themselves. Avoid this by asking questions to the person that you are getting to know. If the opportunity presents itself in your conversation, ask thoughtful, non invasive questions about the other person. They will get a boost from talking about themselves, and feel that you are truly interested in knowing them on a deeper level.

Share Something

Finding a common bond is crucial in your goal to be more likeable. To this end, you should consider sharing some information about yourself with others. They will get a more complete picture of you as a person, and also feel more connected to you.

Give Compliments

People love receiving compliments, but you have to know how to give a compliment in order for it to strengthen your relationship with another person. Fake compliments can be painfully obvious, and will often alienate the other party. Instead, focus on only giving genuine, heartfelt compliments. They can be about something the other person is wearing, the things that they like to do or participate in, or even on their personality.

Be Humorous

If you want to go above and beyond to top the ‘likeability’ scale, inject your sense of humor into the conversation. Keep things appropriate, and make sure that you only make fun of neutral targets (never anything about the other person). Sharing a joke is one of the best ways to put others at ease, and can mean a stronger bond in the long run.

What other ways do you form bonds and relationships with people that you meet for the first time? If you want some practice on making friends, remember to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a great insurance quote – the relationship that you form with your insurance agent can be a great help in making sure that you are protected from perils, so pick up the phone and strike up a conversation today!

Photo credit: cheetah100 / Foter / CC BY

What is Renters Insurance?

Most people fall into one of two categories: they either own the home that they live in, or they rent it. If you are a renter, then you don’t need a home insurance policy. What you need is called renters insurance, and it will make sure that you have enough coverage, without paying for more than you need.

Renters Insurance

Want to know how home insurance and renters insurance are the same, and how they differ? Here is our quick summary that will fill you in on what you need to know:

Property Protection

When you rent the place that you live, you don’t own the property itself. Because of this, you are not responsible for insuring the property. Instead, the coverage for the property is the responsibility of the property’s owner, and will be included in their rental property insurance policy. This means that you should not have to file any insurance claims on damage to your apartment or rental house’s wall, ceiling, floors, doors, or windows.

Reimbursed Living Expenses

If something happens to the place that you live, your renters insurance will typically cover your living expenses in a comparable place until the damage is fixed and your home is once more inhabitable. If your rental home or apartment is destroyed or deemed uninhabitable, call your insurance agent right away to find out what you should do so that reimbursement is allowed.

Coverage for Belongings

Just as with a home insurance policy, a renters insurance policy provides coverage for your belongings. You need to stipulate how much coverage you need, though, so make sure to get a good approximate value by completing a home inventory. This will help to ensure that you are covered in case of a total loss, but aren’t overpaying for coverage that you don’t need.

When you make your home inventory, make sure that you include everything that you own, including items like electronics, furniture, clothing, and jewelry. Also include any of your own personal appliances that are not owned by your landlord or apartment complex. That way, all of your stuff will be protected against perils like fire, smoke, theft, water damage, and more.

Liability Insurance

Another type of coverage that is typically included in both renters and home insurance is liability insurance. With this coverage, you are financially protected from the costs that rise if someone is injured at your home. Depending on your insurance provider and the policy that you choose, this can include both medical costs and legal costs, which can get very expensive, depending on the injury sustained.

As always, all of the information above depends on your insurance provider, and your specific policy. If you have any questions about the coverage included in your current policy, or if you need a new top of the line renters insurance policy quote, please call 617-298-0655 to speak with a representative here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We will search several insurance providers to find the one that will give you the best coverage at a price that works for you and your budget.