Morning Motivation – Week of January 14, 2018

Happy Monday to you, friend!

I have another great quote for you this week, as well as my continuation of last week’s message!

Just a few days ago, Twas the Day Before Christmas

I went to some real live brick and mortar stores for a few stocking stuffer gifts for Kathy (we stopped exchanging gifts years ago) and found that most retailers had all but given up. Target was dirty and their shelves were filled with big open gaps of “I don’t care.” Kohl’s was the same. All kinds of places looked like they weren’t even going to try to keep up with the intent to look vibrant and ready for business.

But Amazon was ready! They wanted my business, and they were ready to show me how fast they could deliver (literally and figuratively). Lots of other places that weren’t Amazon did okay, too. They acted big and ready.

And then this other store said, “We’re out until January 3rd, so if you place any holiday orders now, they’re not arriving before mid-January.” And this was online retail. Well, okay then!

The World Changes Every Day

That may sound scary and daunting, but it’s no more scary than deciding what you want to eat from day to day. There are plenty of variables in life, it’s not too scary. You just have to commit to the mission and the goal of your business more than the straightforward practice.

If you want to win, the big plan is to serve your customer or buyer in some very vital way. Everything you put in place for your operation then must be in line with their needs.

Why did subject lines on newsletters and blog posts change? (Did you read my message last week?) It was because people are too “busy” (or so they say) to click if your link says “Best business tips ever.” You’ve got to give them even more reasons to open.

That’s what’s true in all of all this. It’s all in service of your buyers in some way, and whatever you’re doing that doesn’t serve that or that doesn’t better increase your capabilities for that is probably wasted effort.

Happy New Year (how long can I keep wishing Happy New Year?), Happy Monday and happy new selling year!

I’m here for you.

Carlos


Recap: What Does Home Insurance Cover?

“The best we can do is size up the chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate our ability to deal with them, and then make our plans with confidence.”

– Henry Ford

To protect your home, you have a home insurance policy – but do you know exactly what coverage is a part of your policy and what risks you may be more susceptible to? Every insurance policy is different, but there are a few basic coverages that you can expect.

Your home insurance will likely cover:

  • Damage done to your home or property due to perils stated in the policy.
  • The possessions of you and your family, including those not kept at your home.
  • Liability issues arising from injuries taking place at your property.

On the other hand, coverage for the following probably won’t be included:

  • Flooding caused by excessive rainfall or other natural disasters.
  • Earthquakes – some experts say that Boston could be hit by another significant one in the future!
  • High value items including fine jewelry, antiques, and collections.
  • High-risk items like trampolines or pools, or liability issues due to dog breeds deemed ‘high-risk’ by insurance providers.

The only way to find out exactly what your policy includes or doesn’t include is to talk to your Boston insurance agent at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency by calling 617-298-0655. We can comb through your policy and let you know if you have the right amount of coverage and recommend any additional protections that you may need.

Your Monthly Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, it can be a struggle to know exactly what should be on your to-do list to keep everything in your house running smoothly. There are some things that need to be done annually, quarterly, twice yearly, as needed… the list goes on.

If you have trouble keeping track of all these necessary tasks, consider using a task manager or even an adult chore chart to keep yourself organized. Many of these are available, so you only need to try a few and find what works best for you. Some people prefer paper lists, while others like online to do list organizers like todoist or any.do.

Today, we want to focus on the things that you should be checking or doing in your home every month. This list will be different for every home, but the items below are some that will be needed by most Massachusetts homeowners. You can tailor your list as needed. And remember, these tasks may seem like (and let’s face it – they are) chores, but

First, check your home’s HVAC filters. Some people will recommend you change the filters monthly, but we find that a monthly inspection will often do the trick. Look at the filter and see if you’ve used it enough to warrant installing a new one. Homes without pets and without residents with allergies may only need to change the filter every month or two.

Do you have a disposal in your kitchen sink? Every month, clean it by grinding up a few vinegar ice cubes (fill an ice tray with vinegar and let freeze – one tray of cubes will be enough for a few months’ worth of cleanings). The vinegar will freshen your disposal, and ice sharpens the blades!

In addition to cleaning your sink’s disposal, consider cleaning the filter on your range hood. Depending on how often you use the vent, these can get greasy quickly. Soak the filter in a degreaser mixed with hot water, and rinse – it’s that easy!

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen? Hopefully you never need to use it, but you should check monthly to ensure that the gauge shows that the internal pressure is in the right range, as well as that it is easily accessible in case there is an emergency and you need to grab it in a hurry.

Depending on the composition of the water in your home, your sink’s aerators and your shower heads may need to be cleaned often in order to ensure proper pressure and flow. There are plenty of products on the market that can help with those pesky mineral deposits and buildup, but first try plain white vinegar – you might find that it does the trick without the need for expensive and harmful chemicals.

About once a month, when you have the vacuum out for your normal cleaning routine, take a few extra minutes and clean a few more things around your home. This should include any dust or debris around your HVAC system, as well as the vents connected to the system. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, slide your fridge out from its usual spot (or open the bottom, depending on your model) and give the coils a dusting to keep the system running efficiently.

In addition to these monthly home maintenance tasks, you need to ensure that you are performing less frequent tasks – for example, those that need to be done seasonally. Here on vargasinsurance.com, we often post blogs recommending seasonal maintenance tasks, so stay tuned for our advice on some of the maintenance that your home needs in order to run smoothly. We post seasonal tips all year long, like Surviving Winter in Your Boston Home, Spring Cleaning Tips that Everyone Should Know, Summer Tips for Small Business Owners, and Fall Home Maintenance Tasks, just to highlight a few examples.

Do you ever feel like some of these maintenance tasks are too hard or too time consuming to complete properly? Don’t worry – there are plenty of handymen and maintenance professionals that can help you with any tasks that you need help completing. As always, the agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency have connections in the community and can connect you to the perfect person for the job. For our recommendation, just contact an agent and ask for a referral.

While it may be an annual home maintenance task, checking your Boston home insurance policy is a critical part of making sure that your home is protected against several types of catastrophes. When was the last time you talked to an insurance agent about whether you have the right levels of coverage? If it’s been more than a year, call 617-298-0655 and speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your home protection. We are always available to give insurance advice and free Massachusetts insurance quotes, so contact us today.

Morning Motivation – Week of January 7, 2018

You know that I like to start each week with some positive words of wisdom:

While at Christmas Mass, I was thinking about the story of Jesus from a business perspective. He comes along and tells people that huge chunks of what religion and government are doing are all messed up through telling stories. His perspective shakes up everything.

You don’t have to be religious to follow along. Just think about a guy showing up on the scene and saying, “I’m the son of God and you’re doing it all wrong.”

All the Rules Have Changed

The other day, I was on a coaching call with one of my clients and I pointed out that the rules for subject lines on newsletters and blog posts have changed. Instead of simply stuffing in a few keywords, the new rule is to create a subject line that will really grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to click in. What we had originally been taught was wrong!

Everyone tells you to use lots of pictures. I started doing the opposite… (maybe I’m wrong, but my email open rate increased immensely!) This is the big point: lots of things change. Lots and lots of the rules change. You CAN’T adhere to something just because you learned it once.

You Have to Learn Over and Over and Over

When I launched my coaching program, I made sure that what I was coaching still worked. Sometimes, within a very short period, the subject that I’m coaching on has changed. Other times, I’m safe, because what I coach on has worked for me for the last 15 years and for most savvy business people for eons! But some things do change and I have to learn things over and over.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to thank you for your time and attention in 2018. I hope that I continue to add value to your inbox. I’m here any time you want to hit reply – I’m never too busy to talk with you.

I appreciate you.

Carlos

Recap: Phishing Scams

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.”

– Jodi Rell

Do you ever worry about your electronic security? It seems like nowadays there are hackers around every digital corner, looking to take advantage of users everywhere. The key to avoiding being taken advantage of is to stay vigilant. Here are some tips from our recent blog about how you can avoid being the target of a phishing scam when you are online:

  • Have unique, secure passwords for each of your online accounts. A secure password should include a random assortment of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Use two-factor authentication in addition to a password whenever possible, especially on accounts for banking and other sensitive information.
  • Never click on a link or open an attachment when you don’t know who sent you an email. Check URLs to make sure that they are legitimate and not misspelled or using special characters.
  • When browsing the web, be aware if a website is secure and encrypted by checking to see if the URL starts with “https.”

If you’re looking for more than just digital protection, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for all your Massachusetts insurance needs. We offer many types of insurance policies that will provide you and your loved ones with financial protection for your home, car, business, and much more. One quick and easy call to 617-298-0655 will get you on the road to great insurance protection.

What Your Home Insurance Does (and Doesn’t) Cover

Everyone knows that when you own a home, it needs to be insured with a great home insurance policy. But what does that mean? What types of protection does a typical Massachusetts home insurance policy cover? While each policy will be slightly different based on the home and the needs of the homeowner, there are certain things that you can safely bet that any home insurance policy will (and won’t) include.

What Is Covered

Your Property

When you purchase home insurance, the most basic type of coverage included in your policy is coverage for the property itself. This should include your walls, windows, floors, roof, and all the basic structural elements of your home. Just be aware that damage due to specific causes or events may not be covered, as noted below.

Personal Property

In addition to covering the structure of your home, most home insurance policies will also cover your personal possessions, up to a stated limit. Thankfully, you can talk to your local insurance agent to adjust this limit to fit your needs and the needs of your family. It is also worth noting that your belongings don’t necessarily need to be in your home in order to be covered – ask your agent whether your coverage includes protection for items stolen out of your car, or a child’s belongings while they are away at college, for example.

Personal Liability

The final type of protection often included in a standard home insurance policy is personal liability protection. This coverage will help to ensure that you are financially protected if you are involved in a lawsuit because, for example, a guest trips and injures themselves on your property and sues you for medial expenses and lost wages. You never know what the future will bring, so while you never expect to be involved in a lawsuit, this insurance coverage is a good safety net to have just in case.

What May Not Be Covered

Flood

Your basic home insurance policy will cover several perils, but flood damage isn’t one of them. To learn more about flood insurance, read our FAQ blog here. One of the most important things to know is that to be a flood, waters must cover at least two square acres of normally dry land and/or affect at least two properties. If you want coverage for flood damage, ask your insurance agent about getting a flood insurance policy to add to your insurance portfolio.

Earthquake

Like floods, earthquake coverage is contained in a separate insurance policy and won’t be included with your home insurance. New England regularly gets hit by smaller magnitude earthquakes, but there is always a chance that a big one will hit. The most famous earthquake to ever hit our area was the 1755 Cape Ann earthquake – at over a 6.0 on the Richter scale, it damaged hundreds of buildings and could be felt all the way from Nova Scotia to South Carolina!

Collectibles and High Value Items

Your home insurance will probably include coverage for your possessions, but you may want to offer special consideration for your high value items. As stated above, policies have limits on the amount of coverage they offer, so adding extra protection for some of your items may be recommended. This is especially true for fine jewelry, antiques, collections, etc. Talk to your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about any items that you fear may not be covered under a standard home insurance policy – they will be able to tell you whether you need additional insurance protection for these items as a floater on your home insurance or as a separate policy.

High Risk Items and Situations

Here is another reason that you may want some expert help in reading the small print of your home insurance policy: some high-risk situations and items may not be covered! Every insurance provider is different, but some may not cover, for example, trampolines or offer liability protection for certain breeds of dog. If you have any special needs when it comes to having a high-risk situation like these, an insurance agent can help you select a policy that will offer coverage for you. The most common of these is pool accidents – and even if your policy offers coverage for incidents pertaining to your pool, you may want to consider some extra liability insurance to offset the additional risks associated with it, especially if you will have children or young adults swimming often.

As we mentioned earlier, this blog should not serve as a definitive guide for every home insurance policy. To find out what your unique home insurance policy covers, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Want to find out what types of coverage we recommend for your Boston home? Call or click for a free home insurance quote from our coverage experts, and have us craft a unique policy tailored to your needs.

Morning Motivation – Week of December 31, 2018

Hello again, friend!

Are you ready for my last words of wisdom for 2018? Here they are:

Last week, I talked about how it is hard to market your business nowadays because it is so easy for messages to get lost in the crowd. In the old days, it was enough to get a logo, a tagline, some colors and maybe a theme song. That was a brand. But those days are LONG gone.

In 2019, brands are about action and motion and relationship building and connectivity and repetition. (Repetition. Repetition.) And I can bet that you’re not doing NEARLY enough to help your business by creating the relationships and actions necessary for excellent branding.

Here’s what you should be doing to win even be recognized in your space:

  • Show what you do into something memorable
  • Show that you care about your community and other businesses
  • You need to say and do what you’re afraid to express
  • Use your brand to support your friends and customers’ stories

The newest ideas or shiny objects that have worked in the past are not going to take you far in 2019. You have to build something concise, flexible, repeatable, and that connects and serves others (the people we most want to see win).

(Name here), let’s rock this coming year together, and let’s do that by starting with a look at how we are branding ourselves. And make sure that you stay tuned for my first message of 2019 next week!

Happy New Year!
– Carlos

Recap: New Year’s Success

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Have you decided on a New Year’s resolution for 2019 yet? Many people around the world will be choosing personal and professional goals to work on throughout the year, but statistics show that many of them won’t succeed! Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we want to make sure that you achieve all your goals, so we shared some tips to help you make your New Year’s resolution a reality this year:

  • Choose a goal or two, but don’t overextend yourself by trying to do too many things at once: remember – quality over quantity.
  • Make sure that your goal is well-defined by using the SMART goal guidelines.
  • Hold yourself accountable and do what it takes to ensure success in your endeavor.
  • Treat yourself to small rewards on your journey – they will help motivate you to keep going and make process toward your desired result.

If there is anything our agency can do to help you reach your goals this year, please call us at 617-298-0655. We can review your insurance policies, refer you to a local professional, and much more. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance we are passionate about helping our neighbors, so let us know what we can do to help you in 2019 and beyond!