Don’t Believe These House Insurance Myths

You can’t believe everything that you hear – and that’s doubly true when it comes to house insurance policies. It turns out, some people give really bad advice, and say things about home insurance that simply isn’t true. As an expert in Massachusetts home insurance policies, the folks here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency want to clear up some of the confusion about a few popular myths.

House Insurance myths

Before we start, it is important to note that every house insurance policy is unique. While the examples that we give here will be true in most cases, you should always check with your insurance agent before making any decisions about your policies.

“People I hire to work at my home are covered under my house insurance.”

Your home insurance liability protection will cover you and your friends and family when they are on your property. In most cases, it will also cover any part time workers that you employ – like babysitters, snow plowers, and dog walkers. Someone that works full time as a contractor for another business probably won’t be covered by your home insurance, though. They should be covered by their employer’s workers compensation. Check to ensure that this is true before hiring any contractors to ensure that you are protected.

“I run a business out of my home – that means it’s covered by my home insurance.”

Even if you are the sole employee of a home-based business, you may need a special insurance policy (or a rider on your home insurance) to make sure that your business is covered. Talk to your home insurance agent to find out how you can get business liability coverage and protection for your business’s assets.

“A neighbor’s tree fell and damaged my fence – his insurance will cover the damages.”

No one can be liable for acts of nature – including fallen trees. This means that your insurance will need to cover the damages incurred, even if the tree was growing on your neighbor’s property. This will naturally be subject to your insurance policy’s coverage and your deductible amount, as with any insurance claim.

“I have plenty of liability coverage under my house insurance, so I don’t need an umbrella insurance policy.”

An umbrella insurance policy does much more than add liability coverage to your home insurance policy! It also provides you with court costs, protects you against libel and slander, covers you while you’re away from your property, and much more. For all of these reasons and more, an umbrella insurance policy is a wise investment.

“All of my property is protected under my Massachusetts house insurance policy.”

In some cases, special property will need a rider on your home insurance policy in order to be fully protected. The most prevalent case of this is jewelry. Home insurance will cover jewelry up to a specific amount unless you purchase a jewelry rider. This is also true for certain collections, expensive rugs, antiques, etc.

If you have any questions about your house insurance, or how to ensure that you are fully protected, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Our agents would love to inspect your policy to make sure that you have all the necessary coverage so that you and your loved ones are taken care of in case of a calamity.

Do You Have Knob and Tube Electrical Wiring?

In recent centuries, we have made many advances in the type of electrical wiring that we use in our homes. From the 1880s to the late 1930s, the go-to method used when wiring a home was called Knob and Tube wiring (also known as K&T wiring). While this used to be the de facto way to bring electricity to a home, now there are safer and more efficient ways to wire.

Do You Have Knob and Tube Electrical Wiring?

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we get a few calls every month from people asking about Knob and Tube electrical wiring, its safety concerns, and how it affects home insurance policies. Now we’re here now to set the record straight in writing:

What Homes Have Knob and Tube Wiring?

The Knob and Tube method was most prevalent from the 1880s to the 1930s, but many professionals continued to use this method of wiring up until the 1950s. Even some homes that were built in the ’60s and ’70s were constructed with Knob and Tube wiring. If your home was built in any of these periods, there is a chance that you have K&T wiring.

What Are The Potential Problems with K&T wiring?

One of the most prevalent problems with Knob and Tube wiring is that the material used to insulate it is rubber, which degrades over time. This means that the homes with K&T wiring are getting more and more dangerous as time progresses and the rubber gives way and exposes bare wiring to air and moisture. In more modern wiring systems, the insulation is made of much more durable plastic.

What is The cost Associated with Rewiring a Home?

If your home has an old Knob and Tube wiring system, you should consider spending the money to have a professional electrician update your home to a modern wiring system. The cost of this job will naturally vary depending on the electrician, size of the home, and many other factors. According to Angie’s List, though, the average cost of rewiring a 1,500 to 3,000 square foot home will be in the range of $8,000 to $15,000.

What Are The Benefits of Rewiring?

Replacing your home’s wiring is an expensive endeavor, but the benefits are well worth the costs. In addition to being much safer for your home and your family (let’s face it – replacing electrical systems is much less of a hassle than dealing with a house fire), you will also most likely qualify for a reduction in your home insurance premium because of the update. Modern electrical wiring puts your home at much less of a risk for a claim, and insurance providers will often account for that when determining what you pay.

If you rewire your home and get rid of an old Knob and Tube wiring, let your Massachusetts insurance agent know. All you have to do to speak with a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent at 617-298-0655. Our home insurance experts will be able to adjust your house insurance to reflect your safer electrical wiring, which should save you on your insurance premium!

4 Ways How to Protect Against Identity Theft

In today’s world, everything is connected, and almost everything is stored in ‘the cloud’ – including your personal information. It only takes one data breach for your sensitive information to get into the wrong hands. This can include banking information, your Social Security Number, and much more.

Avoid becoming the victim of identity

In light of all the recent data breaches, we want to share some tips on how you can keep your personal information protected, and avoid becoming the victim of identity theft:

Watch your existing accounts.

As soon as you learn about a data breach that happened at a company with which you do business, you need to ensure that you regularly check your related accounts. Make it a point to check the accounts for suspicious activity on a regular basis, and notify the appropriate parties if you see any unusual transactions.

We should note that this is a step that everyone should take, and it is not specific to those people are at high risk of credit fraud or identity theft. Everyone with access to accounts online should check for erroneous transactions on a regular basis.

Sign up for credit alerts and fraud protection.

If a company that you have an account with is the victim of a breach, you will likely be offered some kind of credit monitoring or identity theft protection for free, or at a reduced price. You should consider this offer! In fact, anyone with information in the cloud should have some sort of credit monitoring service. They’re often available for a very reasonable price, often less than $10 a month.

In addition, a fraud alert system will make it more difficult for someone else to create a credit account in your name. This alert will ensure that any lender or credit issuer opening a credit account in your name contacts you directly. This makes it much less likely that it be done without your knowledge. It will add one simple step to the process when you look to create a new account, but make it virtually impossible for criminals to commit credit fraud against you.

File your taxes early.

Did you know that thieves need only minimal amounts of information in order to file a fraudulent tax return in your name? If a thief is able to steal your identity and claim your tax refund, you will probably spend quite a while sorting out the resulting mess with the IRS. Save yourself the trouble by filing your taxes as early as possible, before any shady characters can.

Remain vigilant.

When you’re the victim of identity theft, or your personal information is compromised, it’s easy to monitor your information for a while. After a bit, though, you could lull into a state of complacency. Some thieves will wait before using the information that they stole in order to take advantage of this fact. This is why it’s important to remain vigilant in the monitoring and protecting of your personal information.

With all of the above tips, you can help to ensure that your personal information is protected against theft. If you would like to make sure that your physical possessions are also protected, call 617-298-0655 to speak with a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about getting a quality home insurance or auto insurance policy from the Massachusetts insurance experts.

Massachusetts Renters Insurance FAQ

Massachusetts residents know that the people here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are the foremost authority on Massachusetts insurance policies. That’s why we get so many calls and emails to ask about insurance questions. We are always happy to speak with you about your insurance questions, but we want to also answer some of our most frequently asked questions here on our blog.

Massachusetts Renters Insurance FAQ

Today, our topic will be renter’s insurance. If someone else owns the home or apartment in which you live, a Massachusetts renters insurance policy is probably right for you. Here are a few answers to common renters insurance questions:

My landlord has insurance on the property – is that enough?

In short? No. Your landlord’s insurance will only cover the structure of the house or apartment. If you want coverage for your belongings and liability protection, you need to purchase your own insurance. Speak to your insurance agent about the value of your belongings for an idea of how much coverage you need.

What does a Massachusetts renters insurance policy cover?

Depending on your unique policy, a renters insurance policy will cover your belongings in losses due to theft and vandalism, fire and smoke, lightning, windstorms, hail, and more. In addition to covering your possessions, your renters insurance will also typically include liability coverage, meaning that you will be protected in case of unintentional bodily injury and/or property damage. This coverage may also provide you with legal defense costs in these cases. 

Can my roommate and I share a renters insurance policy?

Personal insurance policies are often only written for individuals or families. This means that your insurance policy will not cover someone that isn’t related to you. If your roommate wants to protect their belongings and get liability protection, have them call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for their own renters insurance policy!

What is the average cost of a renters insurance policy?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average renters insurance policy costs between $15 and $30 a month. While this obviously depends on the type and size of your home or apartment, as well as the value of your possessions, it is a very small cost compared to what you would pay if you were the victim of a catastrophic loss. As with most cases, the protection afforded by an insurance policy is well worth the money spent.

How can I save money on my renters insurance policy?

Your Massachusetts insurance agent should make sure that you receive all insurance discounts for which you qualify. This may include discounts for bundling your insurance policies with the same carrier, as well as discounts for having certain safety features in your rental property, including burglar alarms, sprinkler systems, and more.

How do I get a renters insurance quote?

Getting a Massachusetts renters insurance quote is simple! All you need to do is call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Our agents will be happy to get you a free, no-obligation insurance quote for a policy with the coverage that you need. You can also drop by one of our offices, located on Washington Street in Dorchester, or on Cabot Place in Stoughton.

The Potential Dangers of Melting Snow

This winter is coming close to hitting an all-time snowfall record here in the Greater Boston Area. Most of us are ready for Spring to come, but it’s important to realize that while the snow is a pain to deal with, the water generated when it melts will be as much (if not more) of a pain.

The Potential Dangers of Melting Snow

Are you prepared to handle the threats associated with melting snow? Your home insurance policy will help you in case the new melt causes a ‘slip and fall’ accident on your property, but you may be missing another key type of insurance policy in the wake of rising waters.

Winter Snows Bring Spring Floods

There is so much snow on the ground after all of these storms, that in some places it’s hard to find the ground. Here’s a prime example – have you seen recent pictures of our beloved Fenway Park? There are reasons that the Sox go down to Florida for Spring Training! Well, when the weather starts to warm up, all of the water created by these snow drifts will need to go somewhere. Unfortunately, the ground is already frozen and saturated. This means only one thing – floods.

Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance

When the snow starts to melt and water works its way toward your property, don’t expect your home insurance policy to cover you. In fact, most home insurance policies don’t protect against flooding at all. That’s where Massachusetts flood insurance policies come in. They will provide you with the coverage necessary to protect your property and your possessions against rising waters.

Purchase Coverage ASAP!

Did you know that flood insurance doesn’t begin to protect you until 30 days after it is purchased? That is why it is so important that you do not wait until Spring to purchase a flood insurance policy! The first day of spring is coming up fast (March 20th, to be exact) so now is the perfect time to invest in a policy.

For most homes that are in a preferred flood zone, a flood insurance policy would cost less than $500 a year – and this small cost is well worth the protection that it provides. For most one family homes, a flood insurance policy can provide up to $250,000 worth of coverage for the structure, and an additional $100,000 in coverage for the home’s contents. Businesses can have up to $1 million in coverage – $500,000 for the business’s structure, and $500,000 for its contents.

In addition to snow melting, flood insurance will also protect you against floods due to many other causes, including the heavy rainfall that we sometimes experience in the spring and summer, and even into the Fall hurricane season floods.

If you want to learn more about how a flood insurance policy can protect your personal or business property and possessions against the impending threat of melting snow, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Our knowledgeable agents will be able to get you a free flood insurance quote and ensure that you purchase the policy that is best for your unique needs.

Four Types of Individual Health Insurance

If you’re in the market for an individual health insurance plan, you may be feeling a little lost. You’re looking for insurance to cover your prescriptions and visits to the doctor, but there are simply too many options available. For help wading through the sea of seemingly nonsensical letters that describe different types of coverage, see our handy guide below.

Four Type of Individual Health Insurance - Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Massachusetts

It’s important to realize that this is only a quick overview of the four major types of individual health insurance policies available. For a more detailed description (or advice concerning your insurance) call your Massachusetts insurance agent.

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)

In an HMO, you are limited in your freedom to choose a health care provider. You must choose a Primary Care provider in your HMO’s network. That Primary Care provider will most likely need to issue you a referral before you can see any type of specialist.

Minimal amount of paperwork compared to the other types of health insurance policies. Predictable out-of-pocket costs, and co-pays for each type of care.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)

With a PPO, you will have more freedom to choose your health care providers when compared to an HMO. This added freedom comes with a cost, though. Typically, a PPO has slightly higher out-of-pocket costs than HMO plans. There is also typically additional paperwork required if you wish to see a doctor out of the PPO’s network.

When you choose a PPO, you will need to pay a monthly premium, as well as copay or coinsurance for your doctor’s visits. In addition, some PPOs will require you to pay a deductible. There will most likely be no paperwork required when you see in-network doctors, but seeing an out-of-network providers may require you to full out a claim for in order to get reimbursed.

Point-of-Service Plans (POS)

HMOs and PPOs are without a doubt the two most well-known types of individual health insurance policies. What some people don’t realize, though, is that there are many other options available that may better fit their needs. For example, a Point-of-Service plan is a combination of an HMO and a PPO – with this plan you will have a primary care provider that will issue you referrals to specialists, but you still have the freedom to see out-of-network providers if you are willing to pay slightly increased costs.

The cost of a POS plan is typically slightly higher than an HMO, but less than a PPO. For some people, it is a good mix of freedom and affordability.

High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)

Typically paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA), a HDHP is simply a health plan (it can be an HMO, PPO, or POS) with a very high deductible. In this case, the insured person pays for most of their health care out of pocket, with a cap if the maximum ‘out-of pocket amount’ is reached.

To talk to an expert about your individual health insurance options, and to find out more about the health insurance options offered here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, all you need to do is call 617-298-0655. Our friendly and knowledgeable agents would be happy to answer all of your health insurance questions, as well as to get you a free quote on a new health or life insurance policy.

Ice Dams – Solutions for Impending Roof Damage

It’s no secret, this winter has been one of the harshest on record in the Greater Boston area. As you shovel away snow from your sidewalk and driveway as each storm passes, make sure that you don’t ignore the snow and ice that is accumulating on your roof. It may look pretty, but there is a major threat posed by this snow buildup – ice dams. Continue reading

Four Simple Ways to Increase Your Car’s Value

Are you thinking of trading in your car in the near future? If you are, it may be worth taking these four steps to increase your car’s value – this will mean that you get more for the car that you get rid of, and therefore will help you pay less for your new car!

Four Simple Ways to Increase Your Car's

Even if you’re not thinking of getting a new car on the horizon, number 4 is great advice that you can start following now to ease potential headaches down the road.

1. Clean the Interior

There is nothing quite like a good first impression when you trade in your car. Make sure that the first thing the buyer sees will be a clean, well polished interior. If your interior is already in good condition, you may only need to vacuum out recent dirt. If your interior is in slightly rougher shape, it may be worth paying for an interior cleaning at a car wash. If you really want to go the extra mile, purchase new mats from an auto supply shop.

2. Polish and Repair Headlights and Windshield

Another great way to make a positive first impression when you’re selling your car is to make sure that it shines when the buyer watches you pull up. The best way to do this is with clear, bright headlights and a windshield that is free of chips or cracks.

You can shine up or replace your headlight covers with a quick purchase from your local auto parts store, and a windshield is quickly repaired or replaced by an auto glass repair company. We are partial to Anytime Auto Glass here in the Greater Boston area – they have same day service that will come to you!

3. Make any Easy Repairs

When someone is buying your car, they will look for any reason that they can find to negotiate the price down. It is your job as the seller to make sure that very few of these opportunities exist. Before you sell, take the time to do any simple repairs. It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a car you wish to sell, but look at it this way: the money that you spend on most repairs will come back in spades when you sell!

4. Get Your Paperwork in Order

Anyone that owns a car should follow this advice: whenever you get a receipt for anything that has been done to your car, you should save it. You can keep a physical file of invoices and repair receipts, or scan all of the papers and keep a digital folder of your records. With this information, you can easily prove that your car has been properly maintained. It should also be noted that this tip is equally applicable to almost any asset, including homes, boats, and more!

If you are in the market for a new car, make sure that you call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to get a Brockton, Sharon, or Jamaica Plain auto insurance quote from one of our friendly and knowledgeable insurance agents. We are always happy to serve you, and look forward to finding you the perfect car insurance quote to fit your needs.

7 Driving Mistakes That Could Put You At Risk

Each time that you get into a vehicle, you are taking a risk. While most car trips are without peril, there are some driving habits that may put you at an increased risk for calamity. In 2013 alone, there were an estimated 3.8 million crash injuries that required medical attention, and 35,200 deaths related to traffic collisions.

7 Driving Mistakes That Could Put You At Risk

Here are 7 driving mistakes that could put you at risk:

1. Ignoring Road Conditions – Before you even think about driving somewhere, you need to consider the conditions. If it’s too wet (whether from snow or rain) or visibility is poor, you should consider postponing or cancelling your drive. A trip out of the house isn’t worth the risk if conditions are bad.

2. Driving Drunk or Drowsy – You should also consider your personal condition before you start to drive. If you have been drinking, or if you are overly tired, don’t allow yourself to pilot a vehicle. This also applies to feeling extremely angry or upset – all of these conditions will cloud your judgment and may slow your reaction time.

3. Running Yellow Lights – Some drivers take a yellow light as a sign to speed up so that you can make it through the intersection. In truth, a yellow light should signal exactly the opposite – stop safely if you can. You should only go through a yellow light if it would be unsafe for you to stop in time.

4. Not Signaling – If you want to be safe while you drive, you need to communicate with the drivers around you about your intentions. The best way to do this is with appropriate use of your turn signals!

5. Texting – When driving, you need to pay attention to the road. Texting is one thing that will ensure that you’re spending 100% of your attention elsewhere. When texting, you are much more likely to stray into another lane, fail to stop, or any number of potentially fatal driving mistakes.

6. Tailgating – You need to leave enough room between your vehicle and the car in front of you so that you can come to a safe stop or get around the vehicle if need arises. The generally accepted rule for following distance is the Three Second Rule.

7. Speeding – Did you know that speeding is the most common bad driving behavior? The speed limit represents the fastest speed you should go to be safe, so abide by it! In truth, going an extra five or ten miles an hour won’t make you reach your destination all that much faster, so don’t risk it.

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we provide Massachusetts auto insurance that will protect you in the event of a car accident. Of course, we would rather that you aren’t involved in any accidents, so please make sure that you don’t commit any of the errors above. If you need a new auto insurance quote, please contact the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Umbrella Insurance: When It Rains, It Pours!

Do you have enough insurance coverage? It’s a loaded question, to be sure. Unfortunately, this is an impossible question to answer – even for insurance experts! No matter how much coverage you buy for your home, car, and other belongings, there is always the slight chance that you will one day need to file a claim in excess of your current policy limits. That’s where an umbrella insurance policy kicks in!

umbrella insurance

What is Umbrella Insurance?

According to Investopedia, umbrella insurance is “Extra liability insurance coverage that goes beyond the limits of the insured’s home, auto or watercraft insurance. It provides an additional layer of security to those who are at risk for being sued for damages to other people’s property or injuries caused to others in an accident.”

In other words, umbrella insurance acts as an extra layer of protection on top of your existing insurance policies, just as a physical umbrella would provide extra protection from the rain on top of your existing clothing.

ithout umbrella insurance, your maximum claim limit would be the amount outlined in your insurance policy. You would be responsible for any additional damages, and paying those out of pocket can get very expensive very quickly. With an umbrella insurance policy, you have a significant amount of additional coverage that can be used for exorbitant claims on several of your existing insurance policies.

What does Umbrella Insurance cover?

Every person has different needs when it comes to umbrella coverage, but in general, the coverage protects its owner in several ways. The most prevalent use of umbrella insurance is to cover damages above and beyond existing home, auto, and other insurance policies. This includes extra coverage for:

Injuries such as slips and falls, dog bites, car accidents, etc.

Property damage like damage to a car after an auto accident, accidental damage to another person’s belongings, and more.

Lawsuits, including defense costs, attorney fees, and other related expenses.

And much more.

In addition, this policy will typically cover some types of liability not covered under other insurance policies, such as libel or slander.

Who needs this policy?

There is a common misconception that only the wealthy need umbrella insurance because they have extra assets to protect. In truth, the number of assets you have isn’t the sole reason that you would purchase this protection. Umbrella insurance is meant to protect you in the cases discussed above, typically consisting of very expensive liability damages.

Every person is capable of incurring these costly damages, so every person should talk to their Massachusetts insurance agent about obtaining an umbrella insurance policy.

How do I get an Umbrella Insurance quote?

Getting an umbrella insurance quote is easy! All you have to do is call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Tell one of our agents about your current insurance policies and your need for additional liability insurance, and we will find the policy that is right for you. The best part is that this type of policy is typically very inexpensive, so you won’t have to spend a lot out of pocket to get a lot of extra peace of mind.