Eight Essential Car Care Tips

car care tips

You know how to take care of your body with good nutrition and regular exercise, but do you know these eight car care tips that will keep your vehicle healthy? Some of these maintenance tasks can even be done a home with some inexpensive materials and a little bit of training! If you make your car’s well-being a priority, it will continue to serve you for many years to come.

Regular Oil Changes – One of the best things that you can do for your vehicle is to ensure that it gets fresh oil on a regular basis. If you neglect your oil, it will begin to take a toll on your engine – something that no one wants to replace prematurely, especially when the preventative care is so cheap comparatively!

The Cooling System – Ensure that your coolant is changed annually. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions to do so, but a good rule of thumb is a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water. This will prevent corrosion and deposits from forming in your cooling system.

Transmission and Other Fluids – Your car requires several different types of fluids to run. Make sure that you are following your manufacturer’s recommendations for the types of fluids to use when it comes to things like the transmission fluids, and have them replaced regularly to keep your car healthy.

Lubrication is Key – Parts of your car need to move in sync in order to function. This is made possible with lubrication. Making sure that your engine is properly lubricated will help ensure that everything continues to move smoothly.

Wheel Bearing ServiceMaintaining your wheel bearings is cheap and simple for most vehicles. What’s not cheap and easy is replacing your spindle and hub, or fixing your vehicle when a wheel detaches.

Brake Fluid Maintenance – Brake fluid is a peculiar substance because it’s attracted to water. Water is an enemy to metal, the main component of your vehicle. Replacing your brake fluid annually will keep moisture away from other parts of your car and prevent corrosion.

Wash Inside and Out – Your car deserves a good deep cleaning once in a while. Give everything a good vacuum and wipe down, and remember to rinse off the undercarriage (especially in the winter if there’s salt and debris under there).

Apply Wax Regularly – Keep your car looking shiny and new (and protect your paint) with a fresh coat of wax every six months. You can do this yourself at home, or opt for a car wash that includes wax the next time you go to a local car wash for a scrub!

The one main point to take away from these eight tips is that preventative maintenance is cheap and easy, but fixing the issues that could otherwise arise is a huge (and typically expensive) task. Learn how to do some car maintenance yourself, or make regular appointments with your service provider to keep your vehicle healthy for years to come.

And here’s a bonus tip for keeping your car in tip-top shape: get a car insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency! With a policy from our agency, you can rest assured knowing that you will be protected in case you get into an accident. Financial protection like that is hard to find, so call us at 617-298-0655 now to speak to a Massachusetts auto insurance expert about getting a free quote.

These Distracted Driving Activities Will Shock You!

Distracted Driving ActivitiesEveryone admits to taking their eyes off of the road or their hands off of the wheel at one time or another while driving. While we hope that all Vargas and Vargas Insurance customers only do this to occasionally adjust the radio, there are some pretty shocking actions people perform while driving that will blow you away.

In a recent survey by Erie Insurance in Pennsylvania, over two thousand adults over the age of 18 were polled, and the data that they found is below.

Texting While Driving

Distracted driving accounts for many accidents, and texting is one of the top causes of distracted driving in today’s world. Even though most states in the US (including Massachusetts) ban texting for all drivers, 30% of respondents to the Harris Poll by Erie Insurance admit to texting while driving, and a whopping 75% say that they have witnessed others text while driving.

Delving deeper into the data, you will find that men are more likely to text while behind the wheel than their female counterparts (32% and 28%, respectively). Also, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that younger drivers tend to text more. Here are the breakdowns of how many people admit to texting, by age group:

51% of 18-34 year olds

39% of 35-44 year olds

33% of 45-54 year olds

14% of 55-64 year olds

7% of drivers aged 65+

The survey also revealed one more tidbit about texting and driving that was slightly uplifting: when you divide the nation into regions, drivers in the Northeast text the least at 24%. Drivers in the South, however, tend to text the most at 35%.

Other Driving Distractions

While texting is undoubtedly one of the most prolific distractions that drivers engage in on the road, it is not the only one out there. In fact, the survey unearthed several other reasons for distracted driving that will probably leave you shocked, or, at the very least, puzzled:

15% of drivers admit to kissing or other PDA

15% of drivers admit to styling their hair

9% of drivers admit to changing clothes

8% of drivers admit to applying makeup

4% of drivers admit to brushing or flossing their teeth

4% of drivers admit to taking selfies

3% of drivers admit to changing drivers

3% of drivers admit to using the bathroom

Regardless of the motive, all distracted driving is dangerous. Here’s a fact that also may shock you: every day in the United States, approximately 1,153 people are injured and 9 people are killed because of distracted driving.

Please, put your safety (and the safety of others) first when you’re driving. Stay focused on the road, and make sure to speak up if you see a friend or family member taking part in distracted driving activities. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we work each and every day to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected, and putting a stop to distracted driving would mean a huge leap forward in safe driving practices in Massachusetts and nationwide.

The Three Stages of Life Insurance Demand

life insurance demand

“Do I need a life insurance policy?” It’s a common question to hear at Vargas and Vargas Insurance, and it turns out that there’s really no definitive answer. Every person’s situation is unique, and so is their demand for a Massachusetts life insurance policy. Thankfully, there are some guidelines available that you can use to determine if it’s time to begin thinking about getting a life insurance quote to protect your loved ones.

It turns out that one of the best indicators of your life insurance need is your age. Check out the three main categories of life insurance demand below, as well as explanations of what type of policy is best and for what period:

High Demand: Age 25 to 35

This is the stage of life when the demand for a quality life insurance policy will probably be at its highest. There are plenty of people depending on you, from parents to new spouses and even possibly young children. In addition to protecting dependents, life insurance is a key part of having debt, and people age 25 – 35 typically have student loans, auto loans, and possibly even a mortgage if they’re a first time home buyer. To find out more about how much life insurance you need, or whether term or whole life insurance is the right choice for you and your family, subscribe to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog.

Decreased Demand: Age 35 to 55

As you age, you will find that your need for a life insurance policy wanes slightly. Children grow up and no longer depend on your income, and you slowly pay off your debts and save for retirement. Some people still need a life insurance policy for their remaining debts or to protect grandchildren. Talk to a Massachusetts life insurance professional to find out whether you should let your term life insurance policy lapse, and whether now is the right time to begin thinking about purchasing a whole life insurance policy.

Renewed Demand: Age 55+

When you near or enter retirement, you may being to see life insurance policies in a new light. Instead of a tool used to protect dependents and counter your debts, a life insurance policy will become a way to pay for end of life expenses, or to leave a legacy for your loved ones or a cause that you support. Some people choose instead to transform their life insurance policy into a long term care insurance policy to cover medical expenses as age increases and health becomes increasingly fickle. A qualified insurance agent can explain your options and find the policy that is right for you.

So, where do you and your loved ones fall in the life insurance demand curve? If you’re ready for a free whole or term life insurance quote, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will help you asses your life insurance needs and get you a policy that is perfect for your current life stage.

Lawn Mower Injury Statistics and Safety Tips

 

lawn mower injury statistics

The winter snows have melted, and the grass is green again. That can only mean one thing – it’s time to resume your normal lawn maintenance routine. If this means dusting off a push or riding lawn mower, the insurance professionals here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency would like to remind you that these instruments can be very hazardous, and should be treated with care.

Before you begin mowing, familiarize yourself with the potential dangers of lawn mower operation, and remind yourself of how to properly operate your machine with the tips below:

Lawn mowers are dangerous

Before you begin to mow your lawn, you need to respect the inherent danger in operating a lawn mower. Here is a statistic from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons that succinctly describes the danger of lawn mower operation: “The energy transferred by a typical lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 magnum pistol.” Worse yet, a lawn mower has the potential to turn any rock, stick, or debris into a dangerous projectile. In 2010 alone, over 250 thousand people were treated for injuries related to lawn mowers.

Maintaining a lawn mower

Make sure that you have a lawnmower serviced by a professional at least once a year. This is typically recommended before the first mow of the year. If there is an issue with your mower, make sure that the motor is off and that the mower is completely cooled off before inspecting the equipment.

If you find that there is a blockage in your mower, never use your hands (or any part of your body) to remove it. Put safety first, and remove the blockage with a stick or broom handle. Also never remove any guards or safety devices from your mower. Those objects are there for your safety!

Operating a lawn mower safely

When you’re getting ready to mow, make sure that you follow the proper procedure. Clear the area that you are going to mow of debris including rocks, sticks, toys, and furniture. Always add fuel before you start the engine, and wear protective gloves, goggles, and hearing protection for your safety. Also wear long pants and sturdy shoes (not sandals) when mowing.

Keep children away from the lawnmower at all times, and never allow a child to ride on the mower. Also make sure that you follow all of the instructions outlined in your lawn mower’s operations manual while it is in use. Above all, ensure that you and your family know the rules of lawn mower safety, and that you put safety first at all times while a mower is in use, whether it is a family member or a lawn service that’s doing the mowing.

If you decide that you’re not ready to shoulder the burden of operating a lawn mower safely, don’t put your health at risk. Instead, hire one of the many Massachusetts lawn mowing services available for your convenience. Just like Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is the premier purveyor of Massachusetts insurance policies, a professional mowing service will provide customized services for your needs at the right price. Stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog for more summer safety tips, including pool safety, grilling tips and more!

Community Spotlight – Eye & Eye Optics

Eye and Eye “I and I” is a popular expression – have you ever heard of it? Besides being a Bob Dylan song, it is also a saying in Rastafari meaning that ‘we are all one people.’ This is where Bobin Nicholson started in 2010 when he retrofitted the shop that used to be Peters Optical, just around the corner from the Vargas and Vargas office in Dorchester. He made a play on words of the phrase that was so popular in his native Jamaica, and named his new business “Eye & Eye Optics.”

While Bobin has been building and growing Eye & Eye Optics for four years, he has also been a acting as a lynchpin in the Dorchester community. He has been serving the Boston area as an optician for over 25 years, and has been an active member of our community. Eye and Eye Optics is even a sponsor of the 2014 Boston’s Best Neighbor contest, run by the folks here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance!

Eye & Eye 2Bobin is very proud of his accomplishments at Eye & Eye Optics, which include winning the Best Eyewear Boutique award from Boston’s A-List in 2014. But don’t even begin to think that Eye & Eye is just a shopping destination – they offer a wide variety of optical services, including selling eyewear, customized no-rim lenses, and contact lenses. They have a huge selection of eyewear brands, including RayBan, Calvin Klein, Versace, Guess, Prada, Lacoste, and more.

They also employ an opthamologist on site, so you can have your eye examinations done right there in the shop on Dorchester Avenue. They also offer eyewear repairs, warranties, and dispensation of prescriptions. Their personalized customer service will no doubt leave you satisfied with your experience.

If you would like to check out all of the great offerings at Eye & Eye Optics, you can visit them at 2271 Dorchester Ave in Dorchester. They are open from 9 am until 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am until 6 pm on Friday, and 10 am until 4 pm on Saturday. You can also call the shop at (617) 296-0066, and make sure to stop by and “Like” their Facebook Page for updates about the business.

So, if you’re looking for a new pair of glasses or sunglasses or need a new opthamologist, we would recommend stopping by and visiting Eye & Eye Optics. Their commitment to customer service and top of the line products makes them a cut above the rest, and their dedication to the community is an inspiration to us all.

Update: Eye and Eye Optics is hosting an event that you don’t want to miss! On Saturday, June 6th from 1 pm until 5 pm, you can preview the newest eyeglass styles in Britain from William Morris London. A company representative will be there to answer questions, and they will offer 20% off lens and frame purchases. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to (617) 296-0066.

Eye & Eye Event

May 15, 2015 is Endangered Species Day!

TYPE YOUR TITLE HEREThere is a day every year that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has declared “Endangered Species Day.” This year, that day falls on May 15th. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the day is observed “in order to recognize the national conservation effort to protect our nation’s endangered species and their habitats.”

As residents of the beautiful state of Massachusetts, the Vargas and Vargas Insurance team is saddened to hear about endangered species in the US, and especially those in Massachusetts. Below is a list of the species in decline in our state, as well as a few suggestions of actions that we all could take to help these plants and animals.

Endangered Species in Massachusetts

Did you know that there are approximately 22 threatened and endangered species here in the state of Massachusetts? Here is the full list of threatened and endangered animals and plants, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as of earlier this year:

  • Northern long-eared Bat
  • 3 species of Beetle
  • Piping Plover
  • 6 species of Turtle
  • Shortnose Sturgeon
  • Roseate Tern
  • Dwarf Wedgemussel
  • 5 species of Whale
  • 3 Plant Species

In addition to the listed species, there are other species here in Massachusetts that are declining in population, like the New England Cottontail, which has disappeared from 86 percent of its historical range in the last several decades.

What Can You Do to Help?

The Endangered Species Coalition has a list of 10 easy things that you can do to help endangered species. Their list includes suggestions like:

  • Learning about your local endangered species
  • Visiting a wildlife refuge or national park
  • Making your home wildlife friendly
  • Buying and recycling sustainable products

If every person were to take a few steps to make the world a little bit friendlier for endangered species, we could protect these animals and plants that are threatened or endangered. You don’t have to go far – there are things that you can do right in your community!

Endangered Species Day Events

There are events being planned for Endangered Species Day across the country. Here in the Greater Boston Area, there are three big events going on! The first two events will be on May 16th – one at the Stone Zoo (149 Pond Street in Stoneham) at 10 am and the other at Franklin Park Zoo (1 Franklin Park Road in Boston) at 11 am.

If you are busy on May 16th, but would like to attend an event, you’re in luck! Mark your calendar for World Oceans Day at the New England Aquarium at 11 am on June 7th.

What other ways will you and your family be celebrating this summer? Stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog for Memorial Day and Fourth of July tips and tricks in just a few short weeks. And remember, there is always someone here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency to help you with all of your insurance questions and concerns – just call 617-298-0655 to talk to a Massachusetts insurance professional!

Need an Afternoon Pick-Me-Up?

pick-me-upDoes it seem like you’re ready for a nap each day around 2 or 3 o’clock? You feel tired, but it turns out that there are other factors at play. To combat this feeling ahead of time, make sure that you get plenty of sleep each night, and that you eat good quality meals during the day – and no, a cup of coffee or something from the vending machine doesn’t count as a meal!

If it’s too late to prepare and an afternoon nap is already calling your name, here are a few things that you can do to stay awake and increase your productivity through the lull:

Have a snack and a drink

Again, we don’t mean a candy bar and a soda from the vending machine! Instead of a sugar high (and subsequent sugar crash), try eating a food that is high in protein, fiber, or complex carbohydrates, like peanut butter and crackers, vegetables with hummus, or an apple and some string cheese. These snacks will give you a steady boost to your blood sugar and can help keep you alert for several hours.

You may also benefit from some water or a little caffeine. If you’re worried about a soda keeping you up at night, try a beverage with lower caffeine levels, like a cup of tea.

Get some sunshine

If you’ve been stuck in an office all day, a quick ‘reset’ out in the sun can help wake your brain. Take a short walk to your car, around the building, or just sit on a bench for a few minutes to recharge. The change of scenery can help you break out of a rut and feel less tired, plus the sunshine will allow you to absorb some Vitamin D in through your skin!

Do some exercises

A light workout is another great way to recharge when you start feeling sluggish in the afternoon. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, you can still get in some movement. Take that walk that we mentioned earlier, or just do a few quick exercises or a stretching routine at your desk. Getting in some movement can boost your productivity and improve your mood, making you ready to take on the rest of your day!

Switch activities

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes all you need to get rid of that tired feeling is a change of scenery, or a change of pace. It may not always be possible, but try doing something new when you feel an afternoon nap beckoning. For example, instead of responding to emails, go chat with a coworker (in fact, frequent breaks from computer screens are recommended in order to reduce the risk of eye strain).

Each of these four tips is a tried and true way to get an afternoon pick-me-up during the regular 2 or 3 o’clock slump, so give each a try and find out which of the four works best for you! And if you need a break from the grind and want to check on your home or auto insurance policy, remember that you can always call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

How to Improve Your Commute

TRAVEL(1)Do you wake up in the morning dreading the long journey into work? For most people, the day improves greatly once work begins because that means the commute is over. If this sounds like your feelings, you may be suffering from the commuting blues.

Thankfully, there are several things that you can do to improve your commute. Here are just a few ideas that may be able to make your daily trips a little less infuriating and a little more enjoyable:

Avoid Traffic

Everyone agrees that a shorter commute is a happier commute. This means that it is well worth your while to search for the route that gets you to and from work in the shortest amount of time. While you’re probably happy with the suggestion given by your map application of choice, you need to be aware of the traffic changes every given day. By using a ‘Social GPS’ app like Waze (free on both Google Play and the Apple App Store) you can make sure that your commute is the shortest possible route each day.

Do Something Rewarding

You are much more likely to get frustrated on your commute if you feel like you are wasting your time sitting in the car. Counter this feeling by increasing your productivity while on the road. It’s true that driving will occupy both your eyes and your hands, but even then your ears are available for productive activity! Instead of idly tuning in to a radio, do something more productive (and engaging) like listening to a podcast or an audio book. You can choose to listen to things that are of personal interest, or double your productivity and listen to a show or a book that will help you professionally.

Stress Less by Driving Less

If you don’t like driving, remember that there are always other options available. Depending on the location of your home and workplace, you may be able to use public transportation to get to and from work each day. It may make the journey a little bit longer, but you will be helping the environment while also reducing your own stress levels. If public transportation isn’t an option, you can also look into carpooling. Find a friend or neighbor with about the same commute, and share the driving responsibilities.

Not doing the driving all yourself will also open up your rewarding activities even more. You can include reading and writing to your potential activity list. If work is close enough, consider skipping traffic altogether and getting some exercise by walking to and from work on days with good weather.

It is also important that you let your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent know if there are any changes to your commute. Your auto insurance coverage changes based on how much you drive, so if you reduce (or eliminate) your travel to and from work each day, your agent will need to adjust your policy accordingly. To make a policy change, or to ask an agent a question, all you need to do is call 617-298-0655. We are always happy to help you with your insurance needs!

Supplementing Employer-Sponsored Life Insurance

Massachusetts life insurance policyThere is a saying that we strongly believe in here in the insurance world. It’s “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.” While you’re always hoping that things will go smoothly, insurance policies like home insurance, life insurance, and business insurance help to ensure that you are protected if things get a little bumpy.

Life insurance may be the best example of this – while you probably don’t expect to leave this world anytime soon, a Massachusetts life insurance policy will ensure that your family is financially protected… just in case.

Once you are ready to purchase a life insurance policy, you have a few options: some employers offer life insurance policies to their employees. Otherwise, you can purchase a policy from an insurance agency directly. So which option is right for you? Read on to find out about your life insurance options:

How much life insurance is enough?

Every family’s life insurance needs are different. While a life insurance professional can work with you to determine your unique needs, it is possible to take an educated guess at how much life insurance you should have with one simple computation: a middle aged person with a spouse and children should have a life insurance policy worth about ten times their annual salary. This should be adjusted based on the age of each family member, whether the other spouse works, and other factors.

Unfortunately, employer-sponsored life insurance policies don’t tend to offer this amount of coverage. In fact, most employers only offer anywhere from six months to six years of annual salary in their life insurance policies. This means that your employer-sponsored life insurance policy may be a good start (especially if the coverage is free), but you should probably have another supplemental life insurance policy in order to guarantee enough coverage.

The drawbacks of employer-sponsored coverage

Having some extra coverage through your employer is great, but make sure that you read through the fine print of the life insurance policy that they offer. Sometimes, the restrictions on these policies are numerous, making them very difficult to use should the need arise. It is also worth noting that should you leave the job, your coverage will expire, which could leave you temporarily vulnerable.

What’s the bottom line?

For a person with grown children and no mortgage or outstanding debt, an employer-sponsored life insurance policy may be enough. For people with children, a mortgage, loans, or other financial burdens, a supplemental life insurance policy may be worth exploring to ensure full protection.

Getting a supplemental life insurance policy

If you’re beginning to think that your employer-sponsored life insurance policy isn’t enough to protect your loved ones, just give Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency a call at 617-298-0655. We can get you a quote for a life insurance policy to ensure that your loved ones will be financially protected in the worst case scenario. And remember – Vargas and Vargas Insurance is always here when you have something to protect, so call us or visit one of our offices whenever you need some help with your insurance.

General Car Insurance FAQs

General Car Insurance FAQs

Insurance is a complicated business – there’s no denying that! Thankfully, the insurance experts here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are here to answer some of your general car insurance questions.

Here are five questions that we are asked all the time by our current and prospective customers:

Do I need to have a certain amount of auto insurance coverage?

Yes! Each state requires that you purchase a certain amount of auto insurance. In Massachusetts, the current requirements are as follows:

$20,000 per person ($40,000 per accident) for Bodily Injury to Others.

$8,000 per person and per accident for Personal Injury Protection.

$20,000 per person ($40,000 per accident) for Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto.

$5,000 per accident for Damage to Someone Else’s Property.

How much coverage should I have for my vehicle?

We listed the minimum amounts required in the state of Massachusetts, but for the most part, it is recommended to have more than the minimum amount of coverage. When deciding how much coverage you need, you should consider the value and size of your vehicle, as well as whether your vehicle is paid off.

An insurance agent from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency can help you wade through the process of deciding on your car insurance coverage amounts, as well as setting a premium and deductible that make sense for you and your financial situation.

What kinds of auto insurance discounts do you offer?

We offer so many different auto insurance discounts that we couldn’t possibly list them all! Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we compare several different insurance providers when looking for a car insurance quote, and we will help you choose the one that will get you the best coverage at the best price based on the discounts that each provider offers.

Can I make changes to my car insurance policy?

Absolutely! You can always call our office to make changes to your policy. Whether you’re getting married, there’s a new driver in your family, or you need to increase or decrease the amount of coverage in your policy or your deductible, a Vargas and Vargas Insurance staff member will be glad to help you update your policy.

Depending on what you need to change, your policy could be updated immediately, or we can set an ‘effective date’ for the change to go into effect at a later time.

I’m looking to switch insurance providers – How do I get a car insurance quote?

Getting an insurance quote is as easy as contacting Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. The quote process is quick and simple. All you have to do is answer a few questions and we will have quotes from major insurance providers that you can compare.

Make sure that you keep our number in your phone, too. You can always call us at 617-298-0655 if you need to ask a question or update your policies. That’s also the number that you want to dial if you need help with any other type of insurance – from home to health to business and more!