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There’s a New Headlight Law in Massachusetts!

Did you know that Massachusetts drivers will be subject to a new driving law starting on April 7, 2015? Familiarize yourself with the new law, and its potential consequences, below:

new headlight law in massachusetts

What is the new law?

Beginning on that day, you will need to turn on your car’s headlights any time that you have your windshield wipers on. Here in Massachusetts, the law has always stated that you need to have your headlights on during the night (specifically from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise). Now the law also specifies that headlights are required when windshield wipers are needed, including during a sunny afternoon storm.

Here is the exact wording of the new law, with the amended wording in bold font:

Section 15 of chapter 85 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:— A vehicle, whether stationary or in motion, on a public way, shall have attached to it headlights and taillights which shall be turned on by the vehicle operator and so displayed as to be visible from the front and rear during the period of 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise; provided, however, that such headlights and taillights shall be turned on by the vehicle operator at all other times when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, visibility is reduced such that persons or vehicles on the roadway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet or when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed; provided further, that this section shall not apply to a vehicle which is designed to be propelled by hand; and provided further, that a vehicle carrying hay or straw for the purpose of transporting persons on a hayride shall display only electrically operated lights which shall be 2 flashing amber lights to the front and 2 flashing red lights to the rear, each of which shall be at least 6 inches in diameter and mounted 6 feet from the ground.”

What happens for drivers that fail to comply?

If the weather required that windshield wipers be used but you do not illuminate your headlights, you can be pulled over by a police officer. They can warm you of the new law, or even give you a nominal ticket for the infraction. The more important factor to consider is that this infraction is considered a traffic violation, meaning that it could raise your auto insurance rates the next time that you renew your policy.

Every Massachusetts driver will need to follow this new law starting on April 7, so make sure to pass the news on to your friends and family. One great way to do that is to send them a link to this blog post. Also take the time to tell them about the great experiences that you’ve had with the insurance professionals here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, and let them know that an auto or home insurance quote is only a phone call away!

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The Power of Testimonials for Massachusetts Businesses

Business owners know the power of marketing. After all, potential customers won’t patronize your business unless they know you exist, right? So many businesses nowadays focus on a plethora of different technological marketing techniques. While we won’t deny that it’s important to have a good website and a Facebook page, also make sure that you’re not neglecting other significant factors. One of the most overlooked portions of a business’s online presence has been around for hundreds (even thousands) of years – the testimonial.

The Power of Testimonials for Massachusetts Businesses

You can have the best SEO, post on Facebook and Twitter, and everything else. In the end, though, there will always be people who wait to purchase from you until they receive a positive review or testimonial. This can be reading a review on Yelp or on your website, or even a recommendation from a friend or coworker. So how do you get these testimonials? Just ask!

Let your customers and clients know that you’re looking for reviews. Ask them to give their honest opinion of your business. If you’re looking for longer reviews, here are a list of questions adapted from Big Brand System that will help guide customers to write a review that will help others see the benefits of using your business:

  • What was your situation before you started buying from our business?
  • What problems does our business help you solve?
  • Did you have any hesitations about our business? If so, what was the truth behind your qualms?
  • Which of our products or services do you typically purchase?
  • What results do our products or services help you achieve?
  • What specific feature do you like most about what we do?
  • What are three other benefits of doing business with us?
  • Would you recommend us to others? If so, why?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

If your raving fans could answer just a few of these questions, you would have a review worthy of posting on your website and on social media. Send out a bulk email to your client list asking for a review with this list of questions attached, and you are sure to get a few glowing responses that will help others realize that they are missing out if they aren’t using your business.

If you want to focus on more than just a website-based review system, you can also direct your fans to post reviews of you on external sites, including Facebook, Yelp, Google, and more. Also see if there are any review sites specific to your industry – like Expedia and Trip Advisor for travel and tourism businesses.

To encourage your customers to review your business, consider offering some sort of a reward to customers that give you a testimonial. Enter them into a drawing for a new gadget or a vacation, or give them a coupon to use the next time that they use your business. Just remember – the better the offer, the more reviews you will likely receive.

If this blog has inspired you, consider showing your appreciation by leaving a review for Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency on Facebook or on Yelp! And make sure that you consider calling our agency at 617-298-0655 the next time you need a Massachusetts business insurance quote.

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Top 8 Causes of House Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are more than 360,000 home structure fires every year. Together, all of these fires cause between six and eight billion dollars worth of damage. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we don’t want any of our clients to be included in this pool of house fires, which is why we so often feature blogs about how to prevent home disasters and home insurance claims.

top 8 causes of house fires

Today, our focus is on the top 8 causes of house fires, and what you can do to prevent your home from going up in flames due to these sources:

1. Candles and Flame – Never leave a candle burning unattended, and don’t put a candle near any flammable object. If using a pillar candle, make sure that it is standing steady, and won’t tip over. Also make sure that candles are thoroughly doused before leaving the room.

2. Cigars and Cigarettes – Smoke outside of your home, and always ash and snuff into wide and sturdy ashtrays so that live ashes don’t fall onto flammable objects. Also never smoke when you’re tired, or around medical oxygen tanks.

3. Electrical Equipment and Wiring – Never overload an outlet or extension cord. Make sure that you use the correct type of cords in different situations, and consider having a professional check your home’s wiring annually. Also think about updating your wiring if you live in an older home with K&T wiring.

4. Washers and Dryers – Clean out your dryer’s lint trap after every load. Dryers should vent to the outside of the home and nothing should block the pipe. The area around your washer and dryer should be free of flammable objects and combustibles.

5. Lightning – If there is a lightning storm, stay away from doors and windows. You should also unplug major electrical appliances like your television and computer during major storms.

6. Children – Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of young children, and begin teaching fire safety at a young age. Also ensure that children have adequate supervision at all times.

7. Christmas Decorations – If you have a live tree, make sure to keep it sufficiently watered, and get rid of it before it dries out. Always turn off all lights and other electrical decorations before leaving the room or going to bed. Also ensure that lights are safe and free of electrical issues before using them to light a tree or decorate your home.

8. Kitchen Appliances – Never leave cooking food unattended. Know how to handle a kitchen fire, including a grease fire and an oven fire. Don’t wear clothing that is too loose when in the kitchen, and ensure that smoke detectors in the home are working and that a fire extinguisher is nearby.

Following all of these tips should help you to make sure that your home is at a decreased risk for a house fire, but remember that it’s always important to prepare for the worst case scenario. Stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog for a future piece about what to do if you are the victim of a house fire from the Boston home insurance experts, and make sure that you call 617-298-0655 if you need an insurance quote.

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7 Boston Home Insurance Tips for April Showers

Can you believe that the first quarter of 2015 is drawing to an end? This year is flying by, and here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we are preparing for the next portion of the year, where we plan to continue to impress our clients with our commitment to customer service and community outreach. As we continue to grow and improve our business, we hope that you will strive to continue improving and protecting your home with Boston home insurance through our agency.

7 Boston Home Insurance Tips  for April Showers

As March ends and April begins, there are a few housekeeping tasks that should be added to your ‘To-Do’ list. They concern the famed “April Showers” that seem to come every spring, preparing us for the blooming of May flowers and the summer heat.

Here are 7 Boston Home Insurance Tips for April Showers:

1. Before storms bring high winds and strong rain, make sure that the landscaping on your property is trimmed. Remove dead and loose branches from trees and bushes so that they do not go sailing through your property during a storm.

2. High winds are dangerous for more than just flying branches. If you know a storm is on the way, move patio furniture and other loose items inside so that they do not become projectiles.

3. When a thunderstorm approaches, go through your home and unplug any unnecessary electronics. This means that you should leave the fridge running, but devices like computers should be shut down until the storm passes.

4. One of the best ways to avoid water damage in the rainy season is to ensure that your gutters are clean and free of blockage. You should also check to make sure that the weather stripping on your doors and windows is airtight.

5. Check your roof for damaged or loose shingles, which is another leading cause of water damage. If you find any problem areas, make an appointment with a professional roofer to asses and fix the problem before it has the chance to get worse.

6. In case of a severe storm, have an emergency kit ready. Also ensure that your family has a communication plan in place for emergencies.

7. During storms, you and your family should take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid getting too close to doors and windows until the storm passes. Some sources also advise to avoid contact with plumbing such as sinks and showers because plumbing can conduct electricity.

Performing all of these tasks will help to make sure that your home is ready for the upcoming April Showers. These storm will likely continue throughout the spring and summer, so make a note to occasionally re-check this list. Some of the items (like checking landscaping, clearing out gutters, and being aware of roof damage) should be done often to avoid damages. If a storm does damage to your home, make sure to contact your Boston home insurance agent right away to being the claim process.

Are there any more items on your spring ‘To-Do’ list? If so, let us know what you will be up to around the house on the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Facebook Page.

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Bruce Jenner’s Auto Insurance Woes

Here’s a name that you may not have heard in a while: Bruce Jenner. Most famous for winning a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Jenner has been in and out of the press over the last forty years thanks to his movie and TV work, including several years on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Recently, though, it’s not his TV appearances that have him making headlines – it’s a car accident. TMZ reported the accident on February 7th, stating that Bruce crashed into at least one car around noon. There were reportedly four cars and at least seven people involved in the accident. While Bruce wasn’t visibly hurt, one woman was killed in the accident.

Bruce Jenner Auto Insurance Woes on Car Crash
Photo Courtesy:

Since Bruce allegedly caused the accident, it will be up to his auto insurance policy to cover the costs associated with it. Unfortunately, it has been found by Radar Online that Bruce only had insurance coverage up to $250,000 – not nearly enough to cover the cost of the accident that he caused, especially if the family of the deceased woman decides to sue him for additional damages. Even though he is reported to be worth millions of dollars, this accident may cause him financial ruin – something we’re sure he wasn’t expecting. That’s the moral of this very sad story – disaster can come when you’re least expecting it, so make sure that you are prepared with proper insurance coverage.

Auto insurance is key when you’re looking for financial protection on the road. Think about it this way: if you cause an accident, you will be held responsible for the cost of fixing all of the damage done. This obviously includes damage to the car or cars involved, but also damage to other types of property (including structures, signs, etc) and damage to people involved (and these medical bills can add up fast).

These damages will probably be rather low for a small accident or fender bender, but you never know if and when you will be involved in a major accident like Jenner. As the saying goes, you should “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” While no one wants or expects to cause a horrific accident, you should be carrying enough auto insurance to protect yourself – just in case.

The same also goes for other types of insurance. Carrying the minimum amount of coverage (as defined by the state of Massachusetts) is typically ill-advised. You will find that insurance premiums from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are very affordable, and will provide you coverage in the worst case scenarios in their respective situations, from auto accidents to home destruction, to earthquakes and health issues and more.

If you don’t want to face the same potential financial ruin as Bruce Jenner, we advise you to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 right away. One of our dedicated insurance experts will be happy to provide you with a Massachusetts insurance quote for a policy that will ensure that you and your loved ones are financially protected in even the most distressful situations.

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Never Pay For These Items with Cash

We buy so many things today, that it’s easy to just pay for something without thinking of the payment method you use. While it typically doesn’t matter how you choose to pay for an item, there is a small list of things that you should never pay for with cash. Here is a list of a few of the items that you should pay for without use of bills, and a short explanation for why:

Never pay for these items with cash

Rental Cars

Did you know that credit cards offer a variety of benefits when you use them to book a rental car? In fact, in most cases, your credit card will offer insurance for your rental, allowing you to decline the additional insurance offered to you at the rental counter. They will even sometimes offer free roadside assistance. You may also be covered by your Massachusetts auto or home insurance policies – just call our office for more information.

Plane Tickets

As with rental cars, paying for plane tickets with a credit card has its benefits. These depend on the credit card company that you use, but could include baggage loss protection, free airport lounge access, emergency translation assistance, and more. These are all perks that you wouldn’t be eligible for if you paid cash for your tickets!

Medical Expenses

When it comes time to do your taxes, you may need records of all of your medical expenditures to qualify for certain tax breaks. If you paid your medical bills in cash, you may be out of luck. However, if you used a card, you will have a statement to prove when you incurred expenses, as well as how much you paid.

Donations to Charity

Another record that you will need to have when it’s time to file your taxes is the amount that you spent on charitable donations so that you can properly deduct your charitable donations. As with medical expenses, having the expenses documented on your credit or debit account will make things easier – which is something we all desire when taxes are involved!


Did you know that credit cards typically offer extended warranty protection? This means that you will be protected if your appliances break for a while even after the manufacturer’s warranty expires – just call your credit card company and explain your situation – they may be able to offer you a full refund. This added protection is only something that you can get on items that you pay for with your card, though!

A House

Some people are under the impression that ‘the bigger the down payment, the better.’ While it’s true that a bigger down payment will decrease your monthly mortgage payment, your money could be better spent elsewhere. It turns out that paying a smaller down payment and investing the rest of your money in the stock market will typically result in better returns for your money. Talk to a financial planner to learn more.

If you need any more tips about buying a home, feel free to visit Vargas and Vargas Insurance’s sister site, First Time Home Buyer Tools. There, we blog about all sorts of tips and tricks that you can use when buying a home – including making sure that you don’t pay in cash! Also remember that when you buy a home, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is the first stop that you should make for your Massachusetts home insurance policy – just call 617-298-0655.

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Will My Home Insurance Cover Dog Bite Claims?

Do you have a dog? It has been estimated that there are over 80,000 dogs were living in the US as pets in 2014, and that number has been growing steadily for several years. One thing that we believe all dog owners should know is that no matter how good tempered your pet is, there is always the change that you could have to make a home insurance claim one day due to a dog bite. If that day ever comes, the folks here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency want to make sure that you are covered.

Will My Home Insurance Cover Dog Bite Claims?

The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

While every breed of dog has the potential to be dangerous, one type of dog has been statistically shown to be the most dangerous. The most hazardous dogs tend to come from the Molosser breeds, a category of solidly built, large dog breeds that all descend from the same common ancestor. Molosser breeds include Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Boxers, among others.

While these breeds account for only 9% of the dog population in the US, they are responsible for 81% of harmful attacks, including 76% of attacks on children, 87% of attacks on adults, 72% of dog bite fatalities, and 81% of maiming attacks. Because of this, some insurance policies will not cover these breeds of dog. If you have a Molosser breed of dog, or are thinking of purchasing one, please contact your Boston home insurance representative to talk about your insurance options so that you will be covered in all situations.

A Typical Dog Bite Claim

Will my home insurance cover dog bite claims?Here are a few facts about dogs and dog bites that every pet owner should know to aid in their full understanding of just how financially (and medically) serious a dog bite claim can be. According to the Insurance Information Institute:

4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year.

Of these 4.5 million, almost 900,000 require medical attention due to the severity of their injuries.

In 2013, there were over 17,000 claims nationwide due to dog bites.

The average cost per claim in 2014 was over $32,000.

Insurance providers paid out over $530 million in dog-related claims in 2014.

Would your home insurance policy completely cover you if your dog were to cause a claim? If your insurance is insufficient, you could end up paying the costs out of pocket, which could be financially devastating.

Specialized Home Insurance Coverage

If you have (or are thinking of purchasing) a dog, please call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 so that one of our agents can check your MA home insurance policy. We will make sure that your policy will cover you in case of a dog bite, that it covers your breed of dog, and will ensure that you have the right amount of liability coverage for this event. If you have any questions about how your home insurance coverage would handle a dog bite, or if you have any other insurance questions, feel free to call and talk to us at any time – Vargas and Vargas Insurance is your #1 resource when it comes to Massachusetts home insurance policies!

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Do You Have a Living Will?

No one ever expects to be in a serious accident, but it is important to always make sure that you plan for the unexpected. That’s why you purchase insurance policies, and it’s the same reason why you should have a living will.

Do you have a living will? - Health Insurance

When you’re done acquiring a life insurance policy from the experts here at Vargas and Vargas, take the time to write up a living will. In the rare event that you are injured and unable to communicate your health care wishes to your doctors and loved ones, this document will legally outline explicit instructions regarding your wishes.

Do you have a living will?  Here are a few suggestions of what should be included in your living will or health care directive:

Designation of a health care proxy – Your living will is a guideline in the event that you are permanently unconscious. It will not be able to make your wishes clear in every potential situation. Because of this, you will need to appoint a health care proxy, a person that will interpret your health care directive and make decisions on your behalf. In order to ensure that this person is aware of your intentions, you should speak with them about your wishes while you are healthy. It may be a difficult conversation, but it could mean a world of difference in the long run.

The point at which care should be discontinued – In some cases, people wish to have certain treatments be administered, but only while improvement is possible. It is helpful to health care professionals and families if there is express statement of the period of time that these can be administered if no improvement is shown. For example, you may wish to allow a feeding tube in the initial stages of treatment, but wish to discontinue its use if no improvement is shown in your condition.

Desired palliative care measures – You should think about and express the pain relieving measures that should be taken if you do not wish to accept life-prolonging treatments. This list can include medicines, or even whether or not you would like to be moved from the hospital into the comfort of your own home.

Treatments to exclude – If there are any types of treatment that you do not wish to have, make sure that these are stated in your living will. Common items on this list include a ventilator, intravenous feeding tube, blood transfusion, and dialysis, to name a few.

If you have any questions about medical treatments while creating your living will, you can talk to your doctor. He or she will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the benefits and drawbacks of medical treatments, and can give you resources that could help to inform you while you make these very important decisions.

Once your living will has been created, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a life or health insurance review. We will help to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage to take care of your final expenses, and more. It’s free and easy to get an insurance review for any of your policies – just call our agency at 617-298-0655. We are always happy to help you evaluate your insurance needs, and to give out free quotes.

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Is Ride Sharing Worth the Risk?

When was the last time that you needed a ride at the last minute? If you didn’t want to inconvenience a family member or friend, you may have called a taxi or scheduled a ride through a limousine company. There is a new option entering the market for people in this predicament, though. It is called “Ride Sharing,” and though the concept may sound technologically savvy, it presents several concerns to drivers and passengers that use the associated apps.

Ride Sharing
Photo courtesy: Arbella Insurance

The Rise of Ride Sharing Apps

In the old days, you used to have to hire a limo or a cab if you needed a ride on short notice. Nowadays, though, there are several apps that provide Ride Sharing services. It’s a way for drivers to earn some extra cash providing rides whenever they can, using their personal vehicle.

Using one of these apps as easy as installing Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar and requesting a ride. A verified driver will pick you up and take you to your destination. You can even pay the driver, rate them, and tip them through the app in most cases.

The Auto Insurance Conundrum

For the most part, a ride that is taken (or given) with a ridesharing app can be broken down into three parts. The first is when the driver is looking for work, but does not yet have a client. The second is when the driver is on their way to a waiting client. And the third (as you could probably guess) is when the driver is transporting the client.

The issue that is cropping up all over the country is this: What happens when a driver is in an accident? Ride Sharing companies claim to provide excess liability insurance for their drivers, but consider this scenario: in California, an Uber driver hit and killed a six year old girl on his way to pick up a customer. The driver’s personal auto insurance policy says that Uber should be responsible because the app was active, but Uber is refusing liability because there was no passenger in the car at the time of the accident. And that’s just one example of a case – there are many more cases like this happening throughout the country, and drivers are learning the hard way that the insurance situation in these cases is very complicated.

Insurance Loopholes

An infographic provided by our friends at Arbella Insurance shows just a few of the insurance loopholes that you may encounter if you drive for a ridesharing company:

If you are running a ride sharing application, your personal auto insurance policy may not cover you for damages or losses.

Violations and accidents that occur when you are running a ride sharing app could still cause an increase in your personal insurance rates.

Ride Sharing services may provide you with additional liability insurance, but their coverage may have significant gaps. Deductibles on their insurance may also be as high as $1,000. And if they don’t provide enough coverage, you could be responsible for the difference!

So before you start to hire out your car to make a little bit of extra cash, you should carefully consider the risks that you could be undertaking. If you are still interested in taking part in the Ride Sharing phenomenon, make sure that you call your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent at 617-298-0655 before you even think about picking up your first customer. As auto insurance experts, we will be able to help you ensure that you’re covered in all of the situations that you encounter on the road – even if you have a client in tow.

*Edit: There is now coverage available for drivers while they are logged in to ride sharing apps but do not have an active passenger. Read more on Insurance Journal here: ISO Introduces Endorsements to Address Ridesharing Policy Gaps

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Does Your Home Pass This Safety Checklist? – Part 2

It’s time for the second part of our home safety checklist! As we stated in the first part “Does Your Home Pass This Safety Checklist” of this two part blog series, there are two important ways to protect your home. The first is with a top notch Dorchester home insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. The second is by regularly ensuring that your home is safe.

Does Your Home Pass This Safety Checklist - Part 2

We have already covered the safety checklist for many parts of the home, including outside, in the garage and entryways, and the hallways, stairs, living room, and dining room. Now we will share safety tips and concerns for the rest of your home:

Family Room

Seating should be easy to reach and guests and family members should be able to get up and down from chairs without assistance.

Electrical stations (like an entertainment system) should hold wires out of sight and away from walkways.

The room should be clutter free, and easy to navigate without any tripping hazards.


Hot and cold taps on all showers and sinks should be labeled clearly.

If appropriate, install a grab-bar for added supports near showers and tubs, and next to toilets.

Medicines should be in their appropriate containers, and locked with a child-proof lid if there are little ones in the house.


Frequently used items should be within arm’s reach, instead of being hidden in cabinets or pantries.

Flammable objects like towels, curtains, and potholders should be kept away from heat sources.

Ensure that the ventilation system is functioning properly, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding vent maintenance.

Work and cooking areas should be well lit to avoid accidents.

If necessary, have a stepping stool available that is sturdy and easy to move.

Everyone in your home should know where there is a fire extinguisher, and how to use it.

Laundry Room

Getting clothes in and out of the washer and dryer should be easy. If the appliances are too low, consider installing risers or pedestals.

Laundry supplies should be easy to reach for adults, but out of the reach of children.

Tripping hazards like laundry baskets and dirty clothes should be off of the floor.


There should be a traditional light or lamp, a flashlight, and a telephone within reach of every bed in your home.

Closets should be clutter-free, and organized properly. Do not store heavy items on high shelves to avoid heavy falling objects.

If this checklist has alerted you to any changes or addition that you need to make to your home, please make sure that you have all major projects completed by a certified professional. They will be able to ensure that everything is done according to Massachusetts building codes.

Have questions about your home insurance policy? Just call our office at 617-298-0655. We will be happy to review your home insurance policy for coverage gaps, and will check to see if you are eligible for any additional discounts. The call will only take a few minutes, so don’t wait!

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