Understanding the ABCs of Medicare

4.18.16 - Understanding Medicare Img

 

Do you know the four parts of Medicare and what they do? It may seem confusing at times, but once you understand the four distinct coverage types offered by Medicare, you will be on your way to being able to make your selections with confidence. Here is a quick guide of what each of the Medicare parts will cover:

Part A – Hospital Coverage

This coverage is a default part of every Medicare plan – in fact, you are automatically enrolled in Part A coverage when you sign up for Medicare. This coverage plan will provide hospital stays and nursing care, as well as some at home health services and nursing care. As long as you (or your spouse) paid enough Medicare payroll taxes while working, you will not need to pay monthly premiums. If you didn’t pay enough in payroll taxes, you can still purchase Part A coverage – you will simply need to pay a monthly premium.

Part B – Medical Coverage

While you are automatically enrolled in Part A when you sign up for Medicare, part B is optional coverage. It pays for a portion of your visits to the doctor, as well as some health care, medical equipment, outpatient procedures, rehab, lab tests and X-rays, and more. If you have coverage through a union or current employer, you may wish to discuss your coverage options with a health insurance expert, because you may wish to opt out of the coverage initially and switch over to Part B when the time is right for you.

Part C – Private Insurance Option

Also known as Medicare Advantage or Medicare Health Plans, Part C offers you the option of having a health insurance policy through a private company, provided that it is approved by Medicare. It is important to note that you must enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B before you are eligible to enroll in coverage through Part C. If you want to learn more about the advantages of enrolling in Part C, call your local Boston insurance agent today – a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent can help guide you through the process of enrolling in Medicare part C.

Part D – Prescription Drug Plan

If you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you are eligible for prescription drug coverage with Medicare Part D. Like Part C, prescription drug plans are available through private insurance companies. When you have Part D coverage, you will pay a monthly premium and copayment for your drugs. In some cases, a deductible will also be necessary. Find out more about the coverage you could receive by talking to your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your needs.

Hopefully, that explanation will help you understand the four types of Medicare coverage. If you need further explanation, or would like to speak with a Massachusetts health insurance expert from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, just call 617-298-0655. We will be happy to help you understand your health insurance coverage options, and select the plan that’s best for your unique needs.

Keep Your Pets Cool This Summer

3.30.16 - Summer Pet Safety Img

If you’re planning on enjoying the lovely weather this summer, make sure that you practice sun safety – for yourself, your family, and your pets. You probably know a lot of the tips on how to protect the humans in your life, but do you know what your furry friends need to stay cool and safe during the higher temperatures? Here are some tips to help you keep the furry friends in your life cool:

Provide Plenty of Water

When it’s warm outside, your pets will probably drink more than usual. This goes for dogs, cats, bunnies, and lizards alike. Whether you’re inside or outside, make sure that your pets have ample water available at all times, and encourage pets to drink if they spend any time outdoors.

Take Breaks in the Shade

If you take your dog on a walk or to the park, they will probably act like they can go nonstop – thankfully you know better. Regularly take Fido into the shade for a few minutes to cool off. This is also the perfect time to offer them the water mentioned in the last section.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in the Car

While the summer temperatures are nice outside, cars overheat very quickly in the summer. Even on lovely days, the temperature in a car can quickly reach over 100 degrees. Unless you have someone in the car with your pet (and you can keep the car running) it’s best to just leave them at home in the air conditioning where they won’t overheat.

Consider Pet Friendly Sunscreen

We can never recommend enough that humans practice sun safety, but did you know that these tips are equally as important for pets? We’ve already mentioned the basics like staying hydrated and taking breaks from direct sunlight – what most people don’t know is that your pet can also stay protected with sunscreen! Just make sure that you use a brand that’s meant for animals, because human sunscreen often contains zinc oxide, which is unsafe for pets.

Using sunscreen on areas of your pet’s skin that aren’t covered by fur can help to reduce their risk for skin cancer – just like regular sunscreen can for humans!

Know the Signs of Dehydration and Heatstroke

Make sure that you are always conscious of the water your pet consumes. If you think you pat may not be drinking enough, watch for dehydration. This will typically come with signs like dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and excessive drooling.

Heatstroke is a very serious condition that needs immediate treatment. If you see your pet behaving abnormally – with symptoms such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, or vomiting – take your pet into a shady area immediately. Let them have small amounts of water and take them to a vet immediately.

The more you know about pet summer safety, the safer you will be while you enjoy the summertime with your furry friends. If you’re interested in reading more blogs about summer safety, stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog. And if you need an insurance quote, call our agency at 617-298-0655!

Four Green Habits that Will Save You Money

3.24.16 - Green Habits Img

Did you know that you can help the environment while simultaneously saving yourself money? Here are some tips from the experts on how to cut down on your energy use while you’re at home and on the go. The best part about most of these tips is that they require minimal effort – some only a few moments each day.

Take Advantage of Natural Light

On bright, sunny days, don’t waste energy turning on the lights in your home. Instead, take advantage of natural light by opening your blinds. As an added benefit, getting a few minutes of sunlight each day will allow your body to begin natural processes that help you synthesize vitamin D. Just make sure that you practice sun safety if you’re going out in the sun for more than a few minutes.

Adjust Your Appliances

Are your appliances working harder than they should be? When was the last time you checked the settings on your fridge, or your water heater? Make sure that your appliances are at the manufacturer’s recommended settings so that you’re not wasting energy unnecessarily. For example, your hot water heater should be set so that your water is hot but not scalding when you turn on only the hot tap – otherwise you’re wasting energy heating up water. Likewise, your refrigerator and freezer should be set so that they keep food at a safe temperature, but no lower.

Use a Power Strip to Ward off Energy Vampires

Did you know that things you keep plugged in use some power even when they’re turned off? The very slight energy consumption is called ‘vampire energy’ and it’s easy to remedy. First, if something is easy to keep unplugged when it’s not in use, do so. Then just plug it in when you need it.

Otherwise, use this trick involving power strips – plug several things into a strip, and turn the strip on and off as needed. This is especially helpful for the more wasteful energy vampires, like your television and game consoles. Just make sure to keep essentials (like the refrigerator) running at all times.

Don’t Waste Water

In addition to lowering your energy consumption, make sure that you are aware of your water use as well. There are many ways that you can save water every day, including:

  • Not running water while you brush your teeth
  • Plugging leaks in faucets and pipes right away
  • Install a greywater system in your home
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use water efficient fixtures
  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine

Know of another way to save energy or water in your home? Let us know on our Facebook Page about your money saving, environmentally friendly tips!

If you take advantage of even a few of these tips, you will be well on your way to saving energy – which will help the environment as well as your wallet. Want to help out your wallet even further? Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 for an insurance review!

Why to Insure Your Home for More than it’s Worth

3.21.16 - Home Ins and Value Img

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we are always happy to answer questions from our customers. We have been in business for many years, and have answered a lot of questions. One of the questions that we get asked most often is “Why should I insure my home for more than it’s worth?”

While it may seem counterintuitive at first, there are actually several good reasons why your insurance is set at such a high level.

First, consider the purpose of your Massachusetts home insurance policy. You get a home insurance policy so that you are covered – even in the direst situation. If your home was ever deemed a total loss, your home insurance would be there to protect you, and it would cover the cost of rebuilding – assuming you have enough coverage. It’s important to realize that the cost to rebuild your home is rarely the same as its market price – often the rebuilding cost is much higher, and that’s the number you need to consider when choosing a home insurance coverage level.

In addition to covering the cost to rebuild your home in the case of a total loss, your insurance should also include enough coverage to clear out debris and damage before the rebuilding begins. This is a costly process, and it’s certainly not something that you want to pay for out of pocket – so it’s included in your insurance coverage.

And that’s not all – your home insurance also covers all of your belongings. So in addition to paying for the cleanup and rebuilding if there is a total loss, your home insurance will reimburse you for either the replacement cost or actual cash value of your destroyed property.

So remember, you should be insuring your home with the cleanup and rebuilding costs in mind, plus the value of all of the property within. Your insurance provider’s coverage recommendation may be very different than the home’s market value, but that is totally normal – your insurance provider is just making sure that you will be fully covered, even in the worst case scenario. If you aren’t fully covered in the case of a total loss, you could find yourself paying for some of the repairs out of pocket, and that can get very expensive very quickly.

One thing that’s important to consider is that the replacement cost of your home is not a static number. As the price of things like building materials and labor change, so too does your home’s replacement cost. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have a Massachusetts home insurance expert review your policy annually to ensure that it’s up to date.

And if you’re worried about the cost of your home insurance policy, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to talk about your premium. We can do a complete review of your current insurance policy and make recommendations on how to lower your insurance costs, including how to get discounts through your current provider, or if another provider may be a better fit for your needs. Remember, we’re an independent insurance agency, so we work for you!

How does having a Pool Affect Home Insurance?

3.02.16 - How Does a Pool Affect Home Insurance

Whether you’re thinking about adding a pool to your existing home or thinking about purchasing a new home with a pool already included, you should know the risks and the rewards of having this feature. While having a pool is a great way to get some exercise, and to cool off in the heat of summer, the simple fact that you have a pool will affect your home insurance, and here’s why:

Safety Requirements

Depending on your local laws, you may be required to have certain safety measures in place for your pool. Check with local zoning officials to find out if you live in an area where safety regulations are necessary. Some insurance providers also require pool owners to have certain safety devices, or offer an insurance premium discount if safety measures are taken.

Safety devices may include, but are not limited to, pool fences with child-proof locking gates, door alarms, water displacement alarms, and safety covers. Tell your insurance agent if you have any of these to find out if you qualify for a discount. And for more great information and tips about pool safety, visit PoolSafely.gov.

Increased Risks

A pool is a great way to cool off and have some fun, but it also represents an increased risk for damage or injury. According to poolsafely.gov, there were 390 deaths of children aged 0-14 from 2011 to 2013. The number of emergency department pool and spa related injuries to children in the same age bracket were nearly 5,000 – at least 47% of which were in a residential setting. Because you are at an increased risk when a pool is present, you need to adjust your insurance coverage accordingly.

To further ensure that you have enough coverage in case someone gets injured on your property, ask your local independent insurance agent about getting an umbrella insurance policy. They are typically inexpensive, but carry coverage that can be indispensable in certain claim situations.

Property Values

It is very important that your home insurance policy accurately reflect the value of your home. As you probably know, having a pool will raise your home’s value, which needs to be accounted for in your policy. And the pool itself is only the beginning. Make sure to evaluate your increase in personal property if you get lawn furniture or any other pool or patio items. Also ask your insurance agent about ensuring that your pool’s equipment is covered. Those pumps and filters can be expensive, so make sure that you’re protected!

If you want to talk to an experienced Massachusetts insurance agent about how much a pool will affect your home insurance rate, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We will be able to tell you the estimated cost change and any necessary safety precautions based on your insurance provider. Get balanced coverage at the right price every time with the help of your favorite local insurance provider. And remember – one of the best ways to combat increased risk is with extra insurance protection.