Community Spotlight – Carney Hospital

carney hospital 1Here in Dorchester, we are so lucky to have such a great neighborhood. Anything that you could want or need is just a short distance away, including one of the best hospitals in the area. Our friends at Carney Hospital on Dorchester Avenue represent some of the highest quality health care professionals in the country, and we are so glad to work with them. In fact, the folks at Carney Hospital were generous enough to be sponsors of the 2014 Boston’s Best Neighbor contest.

Opened in 1863, some of the first patients at Carney Hospital were Civil War soldiers. They continued their pursuit of excellence when they performed the first abdominal surgery in Boston, and opened Boston’s first skin clinic. In 1974, Carney Hospital introduced Massachusetts’ first helistop, and the accolades continue to flow in. For a complete history of all of the ways they have advanced the study of medicine and the care of patients, just go to their About Us page.

carney hospitalIf you need medical attention for any reason, we encourage you to consider Carney Hospital for your treatment. Here are examples of just some of the services offered at Carney Hospital, along with a short description of what you can expect from each:

Center for Cancer Care – Surgical services, outpatient chemotherapy, oncology and hematology services, health screenings and assessment of hereditary cancer syndromes, clinical research trials, and survivorship programs.

Center for Cardiac and Vascular Care – Prevention and diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertensive heart disease, heart failure, atrial and ventricular arrhythmia, valvular heart disease, and more. Carney Hospital was also recognized with the American Heart Association Gold Award for Stroke Care.

Diagnostic Imaging – Carney Hospital offers state-of-the-art imaging technology, including 24/7 diagnostic services. They also offer MRI services and mobile PET-CT scanning and a staff of board-certified radiologists.

Emergency Medicine – If you have a medical emergency, Carney Hospital will be there to take care of you. They have board-certified physicians available 24 hours a day, and you can always find the current ER wait time on their website’s home page. In addition, they offer non-emergency services from 10 am until 8 pm seven days a week.

Geriatrics – If there is an elderly person in your life, get them the care they deserve at Carney Hospital. They aim to maximize patient independence while trying to understand the disease and disability that so often comes with old age.

Maternity Services – At Carney Hospital, you will find women’s health care providers with a broad spectrum of specializations, including obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, menopause, laser surgery, and more.

Orthopedics – The orthopedic department cares for those people who have been previously  seen in the emergency room, and offers treatment for trauma, fractured and broken bones, ligaments and cartilage injuries, and much more.

Women’s Health – Carney Hospital has a special center specifically attuned to the needs of their female patients. It offers tailored treatments such as annual checkups, mammograms, other screenings. The women of your life will be in good hands with their staff.

Carney Hospital is located at 2100 Dorchester Avenue. Their general phone number is 617-296-4000, and you can find the telephone number or extension number for each of their departments on their Contact Us page.

Our Best Blogs of 2014

BEST BLOGS 2014

Every six months here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we compile a list of our best blogs of the last half of the year for those of you that may have missed a few of our posts. Our last recap was for the first half of 2014, and it’s already time to finish up the year with the last six months of blogs! Can you believe that the year is almost over?

July – Boost Your Business This Summer

Our business owners aren’t forgotten on the blog, and we love to occasionally post content about how to improve businesses. This article specifically focused on the things that business owners could do to harness the warm weather and improve their bottom line, including holding a staff outing and creating a summer contest for customers.

August – Be #1 on Tailgating Safety

With Preseason Football in full swing, we wanted to make sure that all of our readers were aware of the basics of tailgating safety, including staying hydrated, wearing plenty of sunscreen, being aware of food safety rules, and having the right home and auto insurance to protect your valuables during the game.

September – Make a Strong Password for Your Online Accounts

Are you serious enough about your internet safety? If you’re like most people, you store a lot of sensitive information online, so it’s important that you protect it properly. To do so, you can read this blog and learn to create a strong password for all of your online accounts.

October – Medical Insurance: Inclusions and Exclusions

In October, our blog moved! We are now able to post directly to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance website, so you can continue to look here for all of our future blogs (make sure that you add it to your RSS feed so that you can read each update). Our first blog in October was all about health insurance – what a policy typically includes, and what coverage you shouldn’t expect to get.

November – What is Renters Insurance?

Many of our clients rent their homes or apartments. For those people that don’t own their own dwelling, and instead pay rent to a landlord, we explained the difference between renters insurance and home insurance.  We also stressed the importance of having a home inventory and making sure that your landlord has a good rental property insurance policy.

December – Prepare for the Cold by Winterizing Your Home

Massachusetts winters can be brutal. To help all of our customers prepare for the upcoming bitter cold and snow, we posted a guide on how to make sure that your home was protected for the winter, including making sure that gutters are clean, branches are trimmed, winter equipment was ready, and your chimney was clean.

Here at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office, we are preparing for another year of selling the best insurance in Boston. We wish you and yours the happiest of New Years, and look forward to working with you in 2015 and beyond! And if you are interested in seeing more articles like these several times a week, make sure that you stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog!

Tips for Driving in the Snow

If you’ve lived here in Massachusetts for any amount of time, you are no stranger to dealing with the winter weather that we have each year. Snow is festive and beautiful, but it can also cause roads to become very dangerous. If you’re going to be doing any driving in the next few months (as most of us will), make sure to brush up on the following winter driving tips, and share them with your friends and family too.

Keep your vehicle up to date on its maintenance

The first tip to being safe when driving is always to make sure that all parts of your car are working as intended. Make sure that your car has been evaluated by a mechanic, and that all fluids are at the proper level before hitting the road.

Have a Snow Emergency Kit in your car

At the start of winter, you should always add a few things to your car’s emergency kit. These items include extra sets of warm clothing and blankets and de-icing equipment, like a scraper. You can also use a small bag of kitty litter in a pinch if your car wheels don’t have enough traction to get going.

Start your vehicle safely 

It may be tempting to start your car without opening the garage door (after all, it’s cold outside!) but don’t do it. Starting a car in an enclosed space can cause a harmful buildup of carbon monoxide.

Keep your tank full

To avoid gasoline freezing in your tank or gas lines, you should always keep your gas tank more than half full during the winter.

Accelerate, decelerate, and drive slowly

Speed is one of the most common causes of accidents in the winter. Because everything is wet and slick, it is more difficult to stop a car, so avoid going too fast, and don’t slam on the brakes to stop or you could hydroplane.

Avoid using cruise control

In addition to watching your speed, you should be very careful about when you use your car’s cruise control. Using it on slick surfaces can cause your car to accelerate when it has little traction, causing an accident. This is equally true in the summer during rainstorms.

Maintain a safe following distance 

As noted above, slick roads mean that you should decelerate more slowly than in normal conditions. Since this is the case, you should also increase the distance that you allow between your car and the car in front of you. This will ensure that there is enough room for you to stop safely without sliding forward and causing an accident.

Avoid making trips out if the weather is bad

Truly, the only way to guarantee that you won’t have a winter-related car accident is by avoiding the roads altogether, especially if the weather is worse than usual. If you can, combine trips to limit your time spent driving, and wait for more favorable conditions to go out on the road.

One final tip that we would like to add to the list is “Make sure that your car insurance is updated.” We deal with a lot of people making claims on their car insurance policies during the winter months, and we hate to see insurance policies that aren’t up to par. Call us at 617-298-0655 for a free auto insurance policy check – before it’s too late!

2014 Holiday Pet Hazards

You are doing all that you can to make this holiday season the merriest and brightest yet, but make sure that you consider your furry friends when you’re celebrating. Some of the things that humans consider pretty and fun can be dangerous to dogs and cats.

2014 Holiday Pet Hazards

Here are a list of a few of the things that you need to be careful of this winter if you have a pet in your home:

Ornaments and Tinsel

When you hang ornaments and tinsel on your tree, make sure that you are thoughtful about where it is placed. Anything bright and shiny should be placed higher up on the tree, especially if it is made out of a material that is potentially harmful, like glass.

Shiny ornaments and tinsel are especially attractive to cats, who may try to jump on or into your tree to get at the item of interest. Try to teach your pet that the tree is not a plaything, or leave off the dangerous items altogether to ensure that your pets will be safe.

Candles and Lights

Lighting your home with strings of twinkling lights and scented candles is a great way to set the mood for the holiday season. Unfortunately, it is also a great way to allow your pets to cause havoc.

Strands of lights can spell danger for pets that like to chew, so make sure that there aren’t any exposed wires that could cause shocks. Also make sure that you never leave a lit candle unattended. We don’t want you to have to deal with a home insurance policy claim because a pet knocks over a candle and causes a fire (though, we would be happy to help if you do need to submit a claim – just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance at 617-298-0655).

Gift Ribbons

After you unwrap gifts, it may be tempting to fashion your dog or cat a new collar out of holiday ribbons, but please don’t. These types of ribbons aren’t meant to be tied around necks, and constitute a major choking hazard.

Festive Foods

Did you know that many of the treats that people love during the holidays are dangerous to pets? Make sure that the following treats are kept safely away from pets:

  • Chocolate
  • Most types of nuts
  • Fat trimmings and bones
  • Alcohol and coffee
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions and garlic
  • Raw meat
  • Unbaked yeast dough

To keep your cats or dogs safe, make sure that you don’t give them these items, and that they are kept out of reach and safely stored away where curious pets can’t get to them.

Holiday Plants

Another threat to your pets during the holiday season is the plants that you bring in to your home. Pine needles, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias (among others) are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested.

The moral of this story is that decorating for the holidays is a fun tradition, but you need to make sure that you keep your pets in mind when you deck the halls. Be careful about what you use to spread the cheer, and don’t use anything that could cause harm to your furry family members. Also make sure that your pets are covered by their own pet insurance policies so that they are protected in case of a holiday emergency.

Choosing Between Insurance Companies

When you look for a new insurance policy, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the endless number of insurance companies that exist. Each offers a wide array of coverage options, and each and every one will claim to be the best for you and your family.

Choosing Between Right Insurance Companies

How do you know which provider to use?

Here are a few considerations that you should take into account when you are looking for a new insurance policy:

Consider the Coverage

Every person has a unique set of needs when it comes to an insurance policy, whether it’s home insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, or another type of insurance. In the same vein, each insurance provider offers products that are slightly different. Your goal should be to find an insurance provider that sells a product that is in line with your needs.

Differentiate between Discounts

Just like the coverage varies between providers, so too do the discounts offered. While there may be a few similar discounts between providers, there will no doubt be one sole provider that can offer you the lowest price based on your distinctive situation.

Read the Reviews

Another important piece of the ‘insurance provider’ puzzle is customer service – you can have great coverage at a great price, but that doesn’t help you if you need to make a claim and can’t get a hold of anyone to help you. Before you decide which of the many insurance companies is right for you, make sure to do your research and find out about the quality of customer service at each one you are considering.

When in doubt, talk to a local independent insurance agent!

All of this may seem a bit overwhelming… thankfully, there is an easy solution to choosing the right insurance provider! Instead of wading through an unending number of insurance companies by yourself, get help from an agent at your local independent insurance agency – Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency!

When you talk to an independent insurance agent, they will gather all the necessary information from you, and then go on a hunt for the policy that best fits your needs. This means that you will only have to give your information once (instead of filling it out for each and every quote that you want) and your agent will do all of the work for you! They will search through several insurance providers to find the one with the right coverage, and discounts for which you are eligible.

If you would like to find out how much money you could save on your insurance premiums by going through an independent insurance agency, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. One of our experienced and friendly agents will be happy to get you several insurance quotes for your product of choice, and can even help you pick the policy that is best for you. And remember – you can save even more on your insurance premiums if you bundle your policies through the same insurance companies!

Business Insurance Scenario: Employee Stress

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we pride ourselves in helping you with your business insurance policy. That’s not all that we want to help with, though. We want to aid you in running your business effectively and efficiently – we want your business to be at its best. That is why we write blog posts about all aspects of the day to day process of running a business.

Business Insurance Scenario- Employee Stress

In today’s blog, we want to discuss a topic that affects most every business: the stress level of employees. It is your job as a business owner to make sure that your employees are being productive, but uncontrolled stress could be negatively affecting your employees, and the quality of their work. If you have noticed that your employees are more stressed than usual, try executing one or more of the following tips to reduce employee stress level:

Learn the signs of excessive stress

The first step in dealing with the stress levels in your employees is being able to identify when one of your workers is feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of the most common signs of workplace stress:

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed.
  • Loss of interest in work.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating.
  • Social withdrawal.

If you see any of your employees exhibiting these symptoms, you should realize that you may have a stress-related issue. Start helping your employees with their stress as soon as you can to avoid any long term issues.

Support mental and physical health in the workplace

Being healthy in both mind and body will help employees perform at their best, and can even go as far as to reduce employee’s stress levels. As a business owner, you can help promote a healthy environment by enacting workplace rules and by providing ergonomic chairs and desks for your employees.

Just make sure to let your business insurance agent know if you make any large purchase for your workplace – a quick update to the coverage in your business insurance policy will ensure that your new furniture is covered in the event of a covered peril.

Recognize even the small achievements

Your employees might feel less stressed out if they know that you appreciate the work that they do. Instead of expecting or demanding consistent production – and making stress levels skyrocket – appreciate an employee when they provide exemplary results. As the saying goes, you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. In the same vein, a positive attitude toward good work will leave employees more satisfied than if they feel like giving less than 100% will get them in trouble.

Let employees know about the resources available to them

If you provide a health package as a part of your business insurance or workers compensation package, do your due diligence and research what options stressed employees have as a part of the plan you offer. In most cases, there is a hotline available where your employees can talk to a professional about their issues. Make sure that this information is posted in a central location (like a lounge or break room), and send out an email to all employees at key times of the year, like around their annual review.

Remember, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is always here for you and your business. If you have any questions about your Massachusetts business insurance policy, all you have to do is call 617-298-0655 and speak to one of our knowledgeable agents.

Free Activities for Snow Days

The temperatures are dropping now, and it’s only a matter of time until your kids get a day off because of heavy snowfall. If you find yourself needing to entertain a bored family on short notice, here are a few activity ideas that you can use:

Free Activities for Snow Days

Plan ahead and stock up on entertainment

If you get advance warning that a storm is headed your way, you can take advantage of the heads-up and make sure that you have lots of entertainment options available for each member of your family. Drop by your local library and pick up some books or movies that your loved ones will enjoy. You can also get a couple of arts and crafts kits from a store near you – these can entertain kids (and adults) for hours. You could even do some family baking or cooking while the snow is falling.

Learn a new skill

Is there something that you’ve always wanted to learn to do, but never had the chance? While it may not be the time to learn how to do a butterfly stroke, a snow day is the perfect day to start learning a new language or taking one of the hundreds of classes offered online for free like these from Coursera.

Take the chance to slow down and relax

A snow day is a day off, so treat it as such! Since work and school are cancelled, take the day to deal with less pressing issues, like that neglected armchair in the living room. After all, when was the last time that you took a good, long afternoon nap? You can also relax by catching up with loved ones, or having a hot bath to ward off the chill.

Enjoy the new powder

A snow day is the perfect time to go out and do all of the snow-related activities that your family loves. Build a snowman, make snow angels, have a snowball fight, and more. Just remember to stay safe while you play outside. These Rules for Safe Snow Days from parents.com suggest dressing in lots of bright layers, making sure that everyone stays hydrated, and making sure that sun protection is worn at all times, among other tips.

Catch up on your “To-Do” list

It seems inevitable that there are a few tasks on your ‘To-Do’ list that you avoid because of how involved they are, or how long they’ll take. A snow day is a perfect time to finally tackle these more foreboding tasks, especially ones that are primarily indoors. So take this time to rebalance your budget or want to do a complicated DIY project.

You can even take advantage of a snow day to do some of the less complicated tasks on your list, like check up on your home and auto insurance policies. Check the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency Facebook page to find out if we’re open. If so, you can call 617-298-0655 to talk to one of our agents and review your policies. We can double check that you have enough coverage, update your information, and even double check that you’re getting all of the appropriate discounts.

Holiday Mistakes to Avoid this Winter

The end of the year is supposed to be a time of cheer, fellowship, and love. Instead, though, sometimes things happen that can leave you feeling more like Mr. Scrooge than Tiny Tim. If you want to get the most out of this year’s holiday season, make sure that you avoid making the following mistakes:

Holiday Mistakes to Avoid this Winter

Holiday Mistakes to Avoid this Winter:

Treating Yourself Too Much

The holidays are all about indulging in little treats, but too many can leave you feeling sluggish and guilty. Not to mention how it will affect your waistline.

While it’s okay to loosen your caloric standards (and your belt buckle) a little bit during the holidays, make sure that treats stay exactly that – something outside of the norm that you get to occasionally enjoy. You can also help your body by planning ahead. If you know that you want to have a slice of pie after dinner, have some fruit for breakfast or a salad for lunch. The calories that you save earlier in the day can help cover the splurge later.

Saying “Yes” to Every Gathering

Does it seem like every single one of your friends and neighbors is having a holiday party? You shouldn’t feel obliged to attend every single one. Instead, be more picky with the gatherings that you attend. It will help you feel less like you’re spending all winter running from party to party, and will leave you with more quality time to spend with your family around your own fire.

Skipping on the Hostess Gift

For those handful of gatherings that you do attend, make sure that you bring some sort of small gift for the host or hostess. A bottle of wine, box of chocolates, or winter floral arrangement are perfect ways to show your appreciation for being invited. Typically, bringing a hostess gift is also a great way to make a positive first impression, which is especially important in a party being hosted by a coworker or boss.

Shopping at the Last Minute

Whatever you do this holiday season, do not leave your gift shopping until the last possible minute. If you do, you will be in a world of unbelievable crowds, “Out of Stock” signs, and long waits at the checkout counter.

Missing the Meaning of the Holidays

Ask yourself this question: What are the holidays all about? The answer will differ for everyone, but it’s important that you stay true to whatever you prize most about this season, whether it be spending time with your loved ones, giving to the less fortunate, or celebrating religious events. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with social obligations, or if your wallet starts to get a little too thin, just remind yourself about why you celebrate the holidays, and retune your holiday activities around that main focus.

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, our reason for celebrating during the holiday season is you – our customer. If you need any help with your insurance policies over the winter, just give us a call at 617-298-0655. Also make sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page for any unplanned office closings due to severe weather.

Lower Your Energy Spending in Winter

As it gets colder, most people are preparing for high energy costs that come with dipping temperatures. Instead of jacking up the heat (and your utility bills) follow these simple tips that can help you spend less energy in the winter months, and keep your money where it belongs – in your pocket!

Lower Your Energy Spending in Winter

Get rid of drafts.

You could be squandering the warmth in your home if air is escaping through tiny holes in your walls and ceilings. Take some time to tour your home with some caulk, sealing all of the draft-prone areas, like around doors and windows, air vents, electrical outlets, and switch plates. Less air escaping means that the warm air in your home won’t get out, and the cold air from outside won’t get in.

Keep the thermostat turned down.

Resist the urge to crank up the heat when your home starts feeling chilly. Instead, curl up with a hot drink and a fluffy blanket. You’ll be just as comfortable, and you’ll be saving up to 5% on your energy spending for every degree that you turn down your thermostat.

Take advantage of your curtains.

Proper curtain use is critical when you’re looking to manipulate your home’s temperature without use of your thermostat. Allow the sun’s energy to warm up your home by opening the curtains in the morning and afternoon, but close them at dusk. Once the sun has heated up your home, you need to seal in the heat, preferably with insulated curtains that will prevent heat from escaping out your windows.

Keep your furnace clean.

How well do you stay on top of your home maintenance tasks? One of the things that should be on your list each year is to have your home’s furnace cleaned and inspected by a professional. Not only will this make sure that your furnace is safe (furnaces can sometimes have a carbon monoxide leak or other issues that could hurt you) but it will make sure that your heating system runs smoothly through the winter in an efficient manner.

Add attic insulation.

If you have done everything that you can to cut energy spending, but you aren’t seeing sufficient results, you could need more insulation in your attic. If an attic isn’t properly insulated, it can allow lots of heat to escape, and you will pay a lot to make up for what’s lost. If you need help determining if you need more insulation, call a professional for help. They can also help to ensure that you get the right type of insulation for your home, and that you install it in the right places.

If you want to save even more money this winter, call 617-298-0655 for an insurance review from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will be happy to analyze your current home and/or auto insurance policies to see if they can save you money on your premium with some of our spectacular discounts!

Prepare for the Cold by Winterizing Your Home

Have you started preparing your home for the winter yet? Here in the Boston area, we’ve already had a few snow storms, and it’s only going to get worse. Before you fall behind, make sure that you spend some time on the following activities so that you are ready for winter’s chill.

Prepare for the Cold by Winterizing Your Home

Empty Your Gutters

When the snow starts to stick, you don’t want to invite it to stay on your roof – this could cause the formation of ice dams and dangerous icicles. One way to prevent this is to clean out your rain gutters in the fall or early winter… before the snow starts to fall in earnest.

By spending part of an afternoon removing leaves and debris from your gutters, you can ensure that water and ice will drain away quickly, and not allow a buildup on your roof. If you hate cleaning your gutters, you can invest in gutter guards, or simply hire someone to do the job for you. Just make sure that they are careful. Cleaning the gutters is a dangerous job, and you don’t want to have to make a liability clam on your home insurance policy!

Trim Any Dangerous Branches

Here in Massachusetts, we seem to get at least one strong winter storm every year (remember the Nor’easter named Nemo from February of 2013?) In advance of a polar vortex or other blizzard, check the trees around your home. If you see any branches that could cause damage to your home or car, you should have them trimmed back. Also be on the lookout for branches that seem weak – they are more likely to fall and cause damage during heavy snowfall or high winds.

Check Your Winter Equipment

Again, now is the time to start preparing for the snow and frigid temperatures. This is especially true of all your winter equipment. Check the following equipment and gear to make sure that it is ready for use:

  • Snow blower
  • Shovels
  • Driveway and sidewalk salt
  • Car scrapers

If you find that anything needs fixing or replacing, now is the time to get that done! If you wait until you need it, you may find that stores have run out due to high demand.

Clean Your Chimney

Before you use your fireplace for the first time this winter, make sure that you have it professionally inspected and cleaned. Making sure that it is free of deposits or nesting animals will mean a lower risk of fire when it is in use, and lower your chance of puff-backs. If you do experience a fire or puff back (or if you just want some help cleaning your carpets) call our friends at ServiceMaster South Shore at 888-545-2700.

Home maintenance can be a bit of a pain, but the work that you do getting your home ready for winter will be well worth the effort. For more tips on how to stay safe and be efficient this winter, stay tuned to our blog, and remember to call 617-298-0655 for all of your insurance needs!