Let’s Talk About Flood Insurance

For Massachusetts property owners looking to protect their investment, Dorchester, Massachusetts-based Vargas & Vargas Insurance is standing by to have a conversation with you about your flood protection insurance options.  It is easy to avoid thinking about such unpleasantries with the thought that, “those things happen to other people,” but the reality is that that is not necessarily true.  If you have questions about the state of your flood protection, our team of dedicated and licensed insurance agents are looking forward to having a conversation about your needs.

Flood Insurance Requirements in Massachusetts

Homebuyers searching for mortgage loans might be surprised to find that their lenders mandate that they purchase flood insurance as a condition of their loan acceptance.  Indeed, as an example, Dorchester, MA residents risk flooding from both coastal flooding and rising waters from the Neponset River, so lenders will likely call for a flood policy in addition to your regular home insurance requirements.  Working with one of our agents, we can write a policy that will not only keep your lenders at bay but will also protect you when Mother Nature begins stirring during storm season.  Let’s talk about flood insurance and how it can give you and your family peace of mind should the worst occur.

Contact Our Team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance

If you need to look at the full range of protection afforded by having flood coverage from Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we welcome you to contact us at our Dorchester, MA for a conversation about how to best protect your property.  Flooding can be a catastrophic event, but it does not have to wash your home down the street to devastate your life.  Indeed, from moldy carpets to damaged furnishings in the aftermath of a flood-related incident.     

What Is Personal Property Insurance?

Personal property insurance is part of a home insurance policy. It provides coverage for the items in your home that are damaged or lost due to events, called named perils, such as fire, lightning, smoke, theft, and vandalism. In this article, we’ll discuss what types of coverage you can have and what you need to know as you shop for a policy.

couple playing on an insured piano in their home

Personal Property Types of Coverages

There are two types of personal property coverage:

  1. Actual Cash Value (ACV)
  2. Replacement cost value

An actual cash value policy is where an agreed-upon amount is decided upon when drafting your policy, which is the replacement value of the item minus depreciation. This amount is what you will be paid if the property is damaged or stolen. The insurance company will reimburse the agreed upon actual cash value in qualifying circumstances. 

Replacement value is the second type of coverage. This coverage allows you to replace the item with another item of “replacement value.” In other words, it covers the cost of replacing the item with another similar item — a TV for another TV, for example. To get reimbursed by your insurance company with this method, you must generally buy a replacement item and submit your receipts to the insurance company for payment.

Personal Property When You Have a Home, Condo or Renter Insurance Policy

Personal property is covered differently depending upon whether you have traditional home insurance or condo or renter’s insurance. Home insurance will usually cover your personal property for an aggregate amount of up to 50% of the dwelling amount, or the amount your home is insured for. So if your home is insured for $240,000, your personal property will be insured for $120,000. If you’d like to have more insurance for your personal property, you may have the option to choose more than 50%, but with a higher premium. 

Renter’s or condo insurance provides coverage amounts a bit differently. You will be able to pick the amount of insurance you want based on your estimate of coverage needed. This amount will depend upon what you own and how much it is worth. The coverage amounts vary by the insurance provider and by the specific type of policy offered.

More Valuable or Expensive Personal Property

If you own items that are more valuable, such as antiques or collectibles, you might invest in additional insurance for this coverage. You may hear terms such as floater, endorsement, or scheduled personal property. These actually refer to additional coverage that you may purchase to cover valuable items that might not be covered specifically under your home owner’s insurance coverage limits.  

Contact us and let us help you with your personal property insurance needs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance provides friendly assistance with all of your coverage needs.

Condo Owners Need More Coverage Than the Master Policy

Although most new condo owners are added to the property’s master policy upon purchase of the unit, the claim that this policy is all owners need is misleading. You may have been told that your unit’s coverage under the master policy prevents you from having to purchase separate coverage, but the policy is only meant to protect the property, not your personal possessions. If your condo is only covered under the master policy, now is a good time to purchase additional coverage that meets your needs. 

couple researching condo insurance as they move into a new condo

What Is a Master Policy? 

A master policy is the most basic type of insurance used by condo owners. It typically covers damage to the building itself, as well as common areas and liability for the condominium association. However, unlike other policies, your master policy does not cover your belongings or personal liability. The master policy provides the necessary protection for your condominium association. But only being covered under the master policy is not sufficient to protect yourself. 

How Should I Cover My Condo?

Every condo owner’s coverage should be comprised of both the master policy and individual condo insurance. Condo insurance is similar to regular homeowners insurance, but it is designed to meet the unique needs of shared property ownership. It covers owners’ belongings and personal liability, as well as additional coverage for the building itself. Upgraded features may also be covered only by condo insurance, as many master policies only cover standard features.    

What Happens If a Claim Is Made?

If a claim is made for something that happens within your unit, you will generally be defended by your private insurance company, not the master policy. Your insurance company will cover the necessary funds, minus the deductible. If you are only covered by the master policy, you will likely be responsible for the claim.  

Your master policy should work together with private condo insurance to provide the best possible protection, rather than being considered the only insurance you need. In order to adequately protect yourself and your belongings, select a condo insurance policy that effectively fills in the gaps of your master policy.  At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you find the right coverage.

Stay Current on Massachusetts RMV Extensions and Reduced Insurance Rates

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, and new changes continue to roll out. Drivers and car-related industries have experienced some unique challenges. What should you do if your vehicle registration is due? In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) renewal deadlines are extended. Also, many car insurance companies are giving back money to their customers.

women standing by her car at home

Registration and Renewal Extensions

The shutdown, phased reopening, and social distancing measures are necessary to ensure public safety and health during the COVID-19 crisis. But because of the changes and importance of staying home, the Massachusetts RMV has posted COVID-19 changes and updates regarding important registration and renewal dates. Driver’s license and permit renewals, which were due in March and April, were initially allotted a 60-day extension. However, the RMV has updated the timeline, with March-June renewal dates now extended until July 30, 2020. Plate registration and inspection sticker renewals that were initially due by May 31, 2020, are extended until July 31, 2020.

Customers are encouraged to use the RMV online services whenever possible. Residents who require in-person assistance at an RMV service center must reserve an appointment ahead of time. Reservations can be scheduled by phone or online.

Reduced Car Insurance Rates

The various social distancing measures have caused many people to spend more time at home. As people are commuting less, many auto insurance companies have stepped forward to offer reduced rates for customers. Many national and local insurance providers — including Allstate, Progressive, Geico, Plymouth Rock, Arbella Insurance, Vermont Mutual, MAPFRE, and many others — are participating in relief options for premiums during the current pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the auto and insurance industries continue to provide customers with valuable updates and changes to accommodate customer needs during this challenging time. Contact us today to stay on top of your coverage needs and adapt to ongoing changes. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you stay informed on how COVID-19 is impacting vehicle registrations and auto insurance policies.

What You Need to Know About Phase Two of Massachusetts Reopening

The state of Massachusetts is reopening in phases. On Monday, June 8, Phase Two of the plan was initiated. With the peak of COVID-19 on the decline in the state, Phase Two for many parts of the economy and communities has had many businesses reopening their doors for the first time in months. Below are what residents can expect in the next couple of weeks. 

woman opening her store during Phase 2 of Massachusetts reopening

Retail Stores and Restaurants

At the beginning of Phase Two, restaurants with outdoor dining options were able to reopen to patrons. All dining tables are mandated to be six feet apart, allowing for the required social distancing requirements. 

Retail stores also can begin to open their doors, but capacity limits will be in place. In addition to staff members, only eight customers will be permitted in the building per 1,000 square feet. This allowance keeps the store at 40 percent or lower occupancy at all times. 

Healthcare Facilities

With non-essential services postponed during the pandemic, many healthcare facilities were closed indefinitely. During Phase Two, many of these facilities can start to reopen and resume standard services. Patients in the hospital will be permitted one visitor, which is up from the no visitor policy in Phase One. Non-essential and cosmetic surgeries will continue to be delayed during Phase Two with plans to resume in Phase Three. 

Child Care Services

If certain distancing requirements are met for child care and summer camps, they may be allowed to reopen during Phase Two. 

Lodging and Personal Services

All services that do not require close contact between employees and customers are able to reopen under the same social distancing requirements of six feet between individuals. In terms of lodging, hotels can reopen to guests. However, community areas such as meeting rooms and pools will not be allowed to open. 

Outdoor Recreation

As long as sporting events can be practiced and played with social distancing regulations in place, they will be permitted. All adult sports games will be moved to outdoor facilities during this phase in order for them to continue. Local and state parks will continue reopening for public use over the next couple of weeks. 

These changes are expected to continue throughout Phase Two, leading into the next phases as cases of the virus continue to decline. The importance of Phase Two is to allow Massachusetts residents the ability to acclimate back into society safely and cautiously. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you feel safe at home and as you work. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today to maintain your insurance needs. 

Happy “Interdependence” Day 2020

This Fourth of July holiday will be very different this year. I have started calling this year’s Independence Day “Interdependence Day” because we need each other now more than ever!

This is the time when we enjoy spending time with family and friends, and maybe watch the sparkling fireworks. However, social distancing limits seats at the picnic table, if any at all, especially with the report of a new wave of COVID-19 cases. 

We continue to believe our doctors and medical community will help us conquer this disease; however, with more than 10 million* confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the globe, this terrible fight is far from over. Meanwhile, the US economy appears to be turning a corner and better times may be ahead.

Voltaire said, “History never repeats itself. Man always does.” which means history may be a guide for what may happen next. 

While we’ve faced several health, social, and economic crises this year, Fourth of July is a good time to think about how lucky we are to live in this great country and to remember the resilience and perseverance we’ve demonstrated over the past 244 years. History has shown us that better times will come.

Thank you for allowing us to be your local independent insurance agent!

Best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July!!

Carlos