Home Insurance for Room Additions

It is a good time to get a home insurance review when you begin planning a room addition to the home. Let your agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, serving Dorchester, MA and the surrounding area, know what you are planning so that there are no gaps in the home insurance coverage.

Your agent can also review the insurance coverage that is carried by the contractor you select to do the work. This is a good double-check to make sure the contractor is carrying adequate insurance and the insurance policies are active.

You want to think about replacement cost coverage if you do not already have it. The cost of construction keeps going up. If you only insure the home for its purchased value, you may not have enough money to rebuild the home if everything is lost. The vast majority of homes are underinsured. Don’t make this mistake. Having to come up with a large amount of money, when you are already experiencing a major disaster, is very difficult.

Home insurance, during the construction of the room addition, can be adjusted to cover the progress of the job. Make sure there is a discussion of where and how any building materials will be stored and who is responsible if they get stolen.

The contractor’s insurance should cover any workers; however, your home insurance needs to protect your family and any guests that come to visit. There are extras risks when a construction project is underway to those who are on the job site. In this case, the job site will be your home.

Contact your agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to have a home insurance review and to make plans for the necessary home insurance upgrades that will provide adequate protection for your new room addition as well as your home.

Warning for Jewelry Owners: How to Avoid Fake Gem Lab Reports

Near the end of 2019, the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA) issued an alert to consumers and its industry. The AGA had learned fake gem lab reports are circulating that feature the unauthorized use of AGA’s logo. AGA’s notice is similar to an announcement the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences issued in 2018, when that organization became aware of fraudulent lab reports bearing its logo. The following tips can help jewelry owners and consumers avoid fake gem lab reports.

couple looking at watches in a jewelry store

1. An “AGA Lab Report” Is Always a Fake

Any report supposedly issued by the Accredited Gemologists Association or bears AGA’s logo is always a fraudulent report. The AGA is not a lab. The organization never issues gem lab reports.

2. Look Carefully at the Lab’s Name

Frequently, fraudulent labs try to confuse the public by using a name that’s very similar to the name of a respected laboratory. According to Jewelry Insurance Issues, a newsletter for the insurance industry, fake labs are using names such as GIE and GLA to mimic the name of the well-known and highly-respected GIA.

3. Research the Lab Report Number

Gem lab report numbers are checked easily online. Jewelry owners can enter the report number on the websites of trustworthy gem labs like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Gem Certification and Assurance Laband American Gem Society Lab. Researching the report number may reveal conclusions such as:

  • No such report number exists.
  • The number is associated with a report that describes a different gem.
  • Your report is authentic.

4. Learn Other Signs of a Fake Gem Lab Report

Reputable labs do not assign a value to the gem or carry a retailer’s logo. If either appears on the gem report, the report has not been issued by a reliable, independent gem lab. 

The Takeaway

A gem lab report from an unreliable or nonexistent gem lab is completely worthless. Jewelry owners need to seek the services of a qualified gemologist who also has insurance appraisal training. The AGA maintains an online directory of accredited gemologists that can be sorted by state.

Your jewelry needs to be appraised to be properly insured at the right value. When you purchase new jewelry or receive jewelry as a gift, you should always notify your local independent insurance agent.

The Financial Benefits of Getting Life Insurance Early

Young adults can save a significant amount of money by obtaining life insurance before they turn age 35. Yet, most young adults miss this opportunity. If you’re in your twenties or early thirties, it’s important to consider the financial advantages of getting life insurance now. 

Your Total Lifetime Cost Is Lower

Age is the primary factor insurers use to determine the amount of your life insurance premium. Generally, the cost of life insurance increases with each year of age. For term life insurance policies, the premium remains the same for the duration of the policy. Someone who purchases term life insurance as a young adult could potentially pay thousands of dollars less than someone who buys the same coverage at an older age.

To illustrate this, let’s meet Robert and Matthew. Matthew is a healthy 30-year-old man. He purchases a 30-year term life insurance policy for $299 a year with a $250,000 benefit. His 40-year-old brother Robert is in good health, too, and he decides to get a policy with the same term and coverage amount. Robert pays a $442 a year.

Although they bought the same coverage, Matthew saves $4,290 because of his age. Also, since Matthew’s annual premium is lower, his youth would give him the advantage of paying less overall — even if he had a longer coverage period than Robert.

Good Health Has a Financial Benefit

Your health also has an impact on how much you’ll pay for life insurance premiums. Adults under age 36 are more likely to be in good health. It’s the period in your life when you’re least likely to have chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, or hypertension. Chronic illnesses raise the cost of life insurance.

In summary, as a young adult, you have a window to reap an incredible financial benefit by not waiting to get life insurance. Contact us today to learn more about our term life, whole life, and universal life insurance services.

These Home Improvement Projects Can Raise and Lower Your Insurance Rates

If you’re updating your home, you may have to make updates to your home insurance policy, as well. When you increase the value of your home, such as by adding square footage or doing a major bathroom renovation, you need to make sure you don’t end up underinsured. Your current policy was designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, and it needs to reflect your home’s current value accurately.

Also, some home improvement projects can actually lower your premiums if they make you less likely to file a claim. By not upgrading your policy, you could miss out on these substantial savings.

Women setting the alarm on her home security system

Take a look at some home upgrades that will require modifying your insurance policy.

Home Improvement Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

If you purchased your policy when you had laminate countertops and decided to upgrade to marble and high-end appliances, you added tens of thousands of dollars to your home’s value. But, if you don’t inform your insurance company, you’re left in a very vulnerable position if the worst happens and you need to file a claim. Purchasing more coverage protects the value of your home and ensures you get an adequate payout to replace any covered damage. The same is true for adding livable square footage by renovating a basement or building an addition.

If you add a pool, updating your insurance becomes crucial: swimming pools are a potential hazard. To have peace of mind, consider adding liability insurance included in your policy.

Upgrades That Can Lower Your Premiums

Your home insurance policy isn’t just calculated based on your home’s value. It also considers how likely you are to file a claim. Getting a new roof can help you qualify for a lower rate, especially if you have an older home. Roof damage from rain and snow is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners file a claim, and your roof is now better able to withstand extreme weather.

Upgrades to your security, such as a burglar alarm, are another potential investment that can lower your rate. Modernizing older heating, plumbing, or electrical systems can result in a discount if there’s less risk of fire or water damage.  

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll be glad to give you detailed guidance about the right policy for your current home’s value.   

4 Things First-Time Homebuyers Won’t Ask about Home Insurance

As insurance agents, we get requests for quotes from first-time homebuyers all day long. It’s essential to remember that these folks aren’t insurance agents or realtors. They may not understand how home insurance works, what it covers, and why they need it. Many first time buyers will assume a home insurance policy is just like an auto policy.

Realtor explaining home insurance to first-time homebuyers

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help! With this blog, we’re going to cover a few concepts every agent should be reviewing with first-time homebuyers.

1. What Is Replacement Cost Value vs. Actual Cash Value, vs. Purchase Price

Most home insurance policies are written at Replacement Cost (RCV). It’s crucial to explain to new buyers that we’re insuring the home and its contents for what we estimate it will cost to replace the home with a brand new home and brand new contents on the same piece of property. 

This is important because:

  • Many buyers assume we’re insuring a home for Actual Cash Value (ACV) — what the building is worth today, considering depreciation.
  • Buyers may not understand that the purchase price of the property does not equal the cost to replace the home completely.
  • The purchase price of a property and replacement cost of a home are not the same thing. 

2. Are Their Vehicles Covered When Stored in Other Structures?

First-time buyers might think that their stored vehicles, which aren’t insured with an auto policy, will be covered by Other Structures coverage. This is not the case!

3. Will a Swimming Pool Change Their Rates?

Possibly. Swimming pools present a significant risk, even when they’re empty. New homebuyers should consider purchasing an umbrella policy if the home has a swimming pool. 

4. Is Your Client’s $10,000 Diamond Engagement Ring Covered? 

Generally, no. Most home insurance policies will set a specific limit on valuables like:

  • Jewelry
  • Furs
  • Cash
  • Musical instruments
  • Artwork

Ask your prospective client if they own these sorts of expensive items, and explain what the limits of coverage are. If your customers do have these sorts of belongings, often in the form of precious wedding jewelry, they probably need a Personal Articles Floater (PAF).

Be sure to put notes in their file, describing your conversation. At Vargas & Vargas, our goal as insurance agents is to be sure that customers have the protection they need so that they won’t face any surprises. Check out our blog for more great insurance topics, or get in touch with us today.

The First-Time Homebuyer’s Quick Guide to Finding Insurance

If you are purchasing your first home through a home loan, you will need to show proof of home insurance to your lenders before they can finalize the loan.

First-time homebuyers moving into their home

Since lenders do hold a lien on your property until you finish paying off your loan, having clients under home insurance is in their best interest. This can help protect the equity they have in your home in case of damages, such as electrical hazards.

While you might not always need to have insurance if you are paying your home through an unsecured line of credit or with cash, it pays to invest in it. Home insurance helps keep your home protected. When shopping for insurance, comparing prices and policies makes it easy to pick an insurance policy that covers your home optimally and is affordable enough.

Here are some insights on finding home insurance:

1. Pay Attention to the Limits

Home insurance coverage is divided into categories. Typically, any personal belongings you own will be covered under Coverage C of your insurance (personal property), and it pays to ensure that the limit will be enough to cater for what you own. However, some items, such as jewelry, will fall under a category containing a sub-limit, which tends to be set by your insurance company. If the sub-limit isn’t enough for such valuables, you have to add a rider for protection.

On the other hand, coverage E (liability) will protect your liability in case someone gets injured by accident in your property. When picking insurance, ensure that the liability limit awarded is enough to cover all your assets. Since most insurance policies set their liability limits at half a million dollars, you should consider buying umbrella insurance for extra coverage if this limit will not be enough for your property.

2. Understand Your Deductibles

Deductibles in insurance are the amount of cash you will pay out of pocket to cover any damages. When setting your deductible, choose a figure that is right into your budget. Unlike car insurance that fixes the deductible to a specific amount, home insurance deductibles might vary.

Some policies wills set your deductible at a percentage of your dwelling coverage. Others tend to have a split deductible system, whereby most claims will work under a set dollar deductible amount, while some claims (such as wind damage and other perils) may work under a percentage.

Also, some carriers might include a wind and storm deductible — or a named storm deductible — as a percentage of your dwelling coverage. To save on insurance costs, you can always increase your deductible. But it might be wise to save an amount equal to the deductible in a savings account for a rainy day.

3. Beware Of Exclusions

In some states, insurance agencies might exclude certain things from your policy. Under most policies, landslides, mudflows, and even earthquakes might be excluded. Flooding, in particular, isn’t always covered. For instance, in Massachusetts, earthquakes and floods are excluded. Even though you do not live in an earthquake or flood-prone area, it might be wise to purchase the extra coverage to eliminate the financial risks.  If you think you need coverage for an excluded peril, talk to your agency about purchasing the ad hoc coverage.

The future is not set in stone. It can be very easy for a disaster to destroy your most prized investment: your home. Home insurance ensures that you can protect your investments. If you want to buy home insurance or get insights on how to save on insurance, feel free to contact us.