Turn Back The Clocks; Turn Back Time

It’s Autumn; you know what that means! “Spring” towards those clocks and “fall back” an hour! 

This year, Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. on November 3rd.

Turning back the clocks is a great reminder for some basic security measures to protect your home.

Smoke Detectors: Do a survey of your smoke detectors to ensure you have sufficient safety coverage around your house.  Change the batteries.  Generally speaking, smoke detectors should be placed inside bedrooms and in hallways near to sleeping areas.  You should also have smoke detectors strategically placed in your basement within a reasonable distance to your furnace.

The more smoke detectors you have, and the better-placed they are, the chances of early warning and survival in the event of a fire increase dramatically.

You might also consider at this time installing carbon monoxide detectors, definitely in your basement near to the furnace area, but also near windows and doors that either lead to indoor garages or face onto close proximity driveways.  Car idling can quickly lead to carbon monoxide buildup that seeps through windows and past doorways to cause lethal harm.

Password Review: In our modern technological age, we recommend adding a password review protocol to your “Turn Back Time” routine.  In general, you should change passwords more frequently than once a year, but we’re often too busy to accomplish this.  So, at least spend some time to update your password security this November 3rd.  Check your security challenge questions on websites and definitely consider implementing a Two-Factor authentication.

Annual Insurance Review: We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that this is another great opportunity to consider calling your agent and scheduling an appointment for your annual insurance review. Things change each year with life and with the insurance carriers. It is your responsibility to know how your insurance portfolio is structured.

Once you’ve run around on November 3rd getting all that done, you’ll be exhausted for sure! Not to worry, you’ll get an extra hour of sleep this weekend!

3 Reasons Why You Need Renters Insurance

Renter’s insurance is an important thing to have, no matter what stage of life that you are in. There are many misconceptions about renting, and some Dorchester, MA area residents wrongly think that their landlord’s insurance will cover their possessions if anything should happen to their rental unit. The Vargas & Vargas Insurance team is here to help you learn more about the options that are available to you. Renter’s insurance is something you hope you won’t need but are grateful it’s there if you do!

3 Reasons You Need a Renter’s Policy

  1. The landlord’s insurance will only cover damage to the building itself. Damage that occurs within your unit will not be covered by your landlord’s policy, as typically, they only cover the building structure and common areas.
  2. A comprehensive renter’s policy will cover your items from theft, even away from your apartment. A good renter’s policy will protect you from the theft of any covered articles if they are stolen. In many cases, this also includes losses that occur away from your home.
  3. Your belongings may be worth more than you think. Many renters skip insurance because they don’t think that they have anything of value that requires coverage. This is rarely the case, as most people’s electronic devices add up to a healthy amount! Also consider all of your clothing, sports equipment, household items, and furniture. Your belongings may be worth a lot more than you initially thought. 

If you are living in a rental unit without insurance, now is a great time to find out more about the options that are available in the greater Dorchester, MA area. Call or stop by Vargas & Vargas Insurance today and meet with one of our helpful and knowledgeable local insurance agents.

Flashback: Fallen Leaves in Autumn Leave You Liable!

There is no doubt that the beauty of the autumnal leaves is a highlight of the season.  But such splendor can mask danger. 

Those same beautiful leaves can be dangerous once they hit the ground! Fallen leaves can cause slippery conditions because they contain a large amount of water. 

Fall is also a time when we experience the first frost,which can add to the slippery surfaces. As the temperature drops, the wet leaves can freeze with a thin layer of ice creating hazardous conditions.

In addition, during the fall, the sun rises later, sets earlier, and often brings foggy days.  This limited exposure to sunshine does not allow for wet/frozen leaves to dry out and pathways and walkways are now dim.   All can contribute to a greater potential for accidents.

School is in session and children are walking out and about, your postal worker delivering your mail, and of course come Halloween “trick or treaters” will be traversing your property. 

These are all potential liability claims should they slip and fall on your property. It only takes one false step to become the victim of a “slip-and-fall”accident.

Avoid any chance of injury to yourself or others by clearing walkways and driveways of all fallen leaves, and ensure that they are well lit.  If you currently use landscape lighting on a timer, be sure to reprogram your timers in anticipation of the end of daylight savings time.

Protect your family and yourself against these all too often occurring accidents by reviewing your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance coverage with your agent today. Call us at 877.550.0025.

Electrical Hazards in Your Home

Our world is electric!! No, I mean, literally.

Electricity flows all around us, yet we are so inured to the wonders of electricity and the conveniences it brings that we too often take for granted the hazards of electricity. 

When we see a video of a lightning strike, we’re amazed, and maybe a little frightened.  But that very dangerous electrical connection that can cause bodily harm and property damage is literally all around us, everyday.

Here are five electrical hazards in your home to be aware of and to check and prevent against catastrophe.

  1. Extension Cords.  Electricity seems so safe as we go through our days using it.  We plug away with nary a thought of the dangers of electrical shock or fire.  Extension cords are the best, and worst, example of our thoughtlessness about electricity. 

    You find yourself in need of an outlet to plug in your phone charger, vacuum cleaner, a lamp, or cordless drill charger.  “Oh! There’s an extension cord right here!”   Never mind that cord is loaded with other plugs, and the cord is plugged into another extender from one to three outlets back at the wall plate.  So much electricity drawn through such a receptacle builds heat very quickly.  It’s the heat that causes the fire, not an electrical spark.
  2. Water Hazards.  We have electrical devices and connections we’re using very close to water sources all through our homes.  In the kitchen, the bathroom, laundry room, in work rooms, outlets and extension cords and appliances in close proximity to water is a recipe for disaster.  The Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) outlet was designed to minimize these hazards.  This outlet has a tripping circuit breaker built into it so there is no delay from the moment a hazard/overload is detected and the source of electricity is shut off.  That could be the difference between life and death.
  3. Kids and Pets.  You can’t control either one. But you can take extraordinary precaution to prevent the hazards associated with rambunctious little ones.  Install tamper-resistant outlets and outlet covers to prevent children’s access with sharp point metal objects.  Secure extension cords in such a way to prevent pet nibbling access.  Use heavier duty extension cords.
  4. Coffee machines and similar appliances.  These devices use high heat to brew or cook.  Left unattended and with no beverage/food product left in the device can soon lead to overheating and burning and fire.  Be sure your coffee machines and other self-cooking appliances have automatic off features.
  5. Battery-Less Smoke Detectors.  Smoke detectors save lives!  We often recommend you check the batteries at least once a year and replace with fresh batteries.  But checking more often can’t hurt, either.

Please check out our other blogs on claim prevention tips. You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review.

Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

How to Read Your Declarations Page(s)

Have you ever read an insurance contract? Not many have.

However, this voluminous document has everything you need to know about your insurance coverage and is essential in the event of a claim.

There is a short cut: The Declarations Page.

This document outlines and summarizes your insurance coverage. And it’s easy to read and only a few pages. It’s also key to determining if you have adequate coverage at an affordable price.

Policy Number and Policy Period  This is the top of your policy.  If you need to speak to your Independent Insurance Agent about your policy, you should direct your attention to this section at the outset of your conversation.

The policy period also helps for you to mark your calendar so you can be reminded of your annual review.

Maybe your credit score is improved or maybe your kids are grown. These are just a couple examples of life events that can occur that warrant an annual insurance review.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there is the likely possibility that insurance carriers have revamped their policies. You may be eligible for new discounts or more competitive pricing.

Coverages and Premiums.  The different coverages of your policy are presented line-by-line with the attendant premium in the right column, or in some cases, the discount in a line item, such as a security device.

The coverages are accompanied by the coverage limit. For your homeowner’s policy for example, the dwelling limit will show what your house would cost to be replaced. Notice your liability limit. This coverage limit should never be lower than the value of your home.

Total Annual Premium.  Down at the bottom of the page is the TOTAL PREMIUM for your Insurance Policy.  Usually this will show as an annual number, although that may be different depending on your payment plan for the policy.  You can also see different payment options for your premium; some insurance plans give you discounts depending on the frequency of payments. 

These declaration pages will help when it’s time to review with your independent agent. Know your coverage, know your renewal date so you can discuss with your agent if your coverage is maximized and your premiums are competitive.

Please read our other blogs related to annual insurance review suggestions.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

From the Vault: Choosing a Safe Halloween Costume

As Halloween approaches, it’s time to think about what you or your little ones will wear for the big holiday. It’s exciting to wear a costume, but when you’re out shopping, make sure that you follow these costume guidelines so that you and your children can have a sweet and safe holiday:

Make sure that your costume fits properly – When choosing a costume, make sure that you purchase the right size. As with clothing, costumes should be snug without being too tight. Make sure there are no tripping hazards, such as pants or dresses dragging on the ground.

Look for costumes that are flame resistant – Candles are a great way to set a spooky atmosphere, but they are a huge risk when wearing a costume. Ensure a costume is safe by checking to make sure that the outfit is flame-resistant.

Ensure proper visibility – If a costume requires a mask, make sure that they can see properly. This may mean altering the mask so that the eye-holes are larger, or opting for makeup instead of a mask. Remember, though, to always do a patch test on costume makeup before Halloween night.

Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes – It doesn’t matter if you’re trick-or-treating or going to a party, everyone should wear the right shoes for Halloween. Little ones may fight you on this one, but they will be miserable after just a couple of minutes of walking in other shoes. If they insist, bring a pair of comfortable sneakers and socks as a backup.

Avoid dangerous accessories – If there is a sword, broom, or other accessory that goes with your child’s costume, make sure that it is pliable, and will not injure your child if they fall on it. It also helps to make sure that accessories are lightweight and east to carry.

Make sure drivers can see trick-or-treaters – A big part of Halloween safety is making sure that you and your children are visible to drivers while you’re out and about. Children with bright costumes should be easy to spot, but dark costumes may need a little work to make them visible. Have children with dark costumes carry a colorful treat sack, or strategically affix reflective tape to their costumes.

Don’t overlook Halloween weather – Remember, it’s usually pretty chilly in Boston on Halloween night. Historical temperatures show an average high of 56 and a low of 42. Make sure that you and your children don’t feel that chill by choosing warm costumes, or wearing long underwear. Go out earlier to avoid the nightly temperature drop.

When you have all of these tips in mind, picking out a safe costume will be easy. And make sure that you stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog throughout the month for more safety tips. Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance for an insurance review at 617-298-0655.