Facts You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Do you have life insurance? If not, what’s stopping you from having this policy?

If you’ve family members who depend on you for their daily bread, then you need to think again. Consider the state you’d leave them in if you were to die today. The funeral costs alone are too high. Consider any mortgage or student loans you’d been paying. Clearly, these are not debts you want to pass on to your loved ones.

You need to save your loved ones from such problems by purchasing a life insurance policy. If you’re not sure why you need one, our team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance has compiled this guide for residents of Dorchester, MA. 

You Need Term Life Insurance

There are different types of life insurance, and term life is one of them. If you’re like 90 percent of people with life insurance, you’ll choose to go with a term life insurance policy. 

As the name suggests, term life insurance covers a specific period. In most cases, it is 20-30 years. The aim is to ensure that your loved ones are protected if you die during this period, mostly your working years. It has no cash value until you die, and the premiums you pay are smaller than for whole life insurance.

Insurance is Not an Investment

Since some life insurance policies have cash value, you might think that this is a form of investing in the future. However, this should not be the case. If your goal is to grow your capital over time, you’re better off trying something else.

What you need to put in mind is that you’re protecting your loved ones. If they don’t need any protection, you don’t need this policy. 

Are You Considering Buying Life Insurance in Dorchester, MA?

If you’re shopping for life insurance, this is part of the information you should know. There’s still much more you need to know about life insurance. That’s why you need to reach out to our Vargas & Vargas Insurance experts for more information. 

Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know, Part One

couple researching home insurance terms in their kitchen

When it comes to your home, proper home insurance coverage is vitally important. However, insurance terminology can make reading a quote or policy feel like reading a foreign language. Without understanding home insurance terms, you could find yourself with far less coverage or far different coverage than you thought. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is committed to making sure you have the knowledge you need to make the right insurance decisions regarding your home insurance. 

General Home Insurance Terms

Declarations (Declarations Page)

This refers to the page of your policy that gives your basic information, including the name and address of the insurance company, coverage to and from dates, basic coverages, deductible, premium, and any additional interests. It’s an overview of your policy and is often what your mortgage company will ask for to show proof of coverage. 

Insured/Insurer

The insured is the person that coverage is being provided for—generally, the owner of the home. The insurer is the insurance company providing the coverage for your home. 

Additional Insured

The declarations page will list the additional insured, along with the insured. The additional insured is anyone else, other than the homeowner, who has a legal interest in the home. The most common additional insured for a homeowners policy is the mortgage company. An additional insured will be notified of the policy renewal and if the policy is in danger of cancellation. They may also be payees on larger claims checks. 

Policy Period

This is the time period your home is currently insured for, which is usually one year. Most homeowners insurance policies renew automatically, assuming the premium is paid. 

Premium

The annual amount you pay for your homeowners insurance is the insurance premium. This premium can come in convenient payments of monthly, quarterly, or semiannual installments. Typically, homeowners pay it directly to the insurance company through a mortgage escrow account. 

Deductible

The deductible is the amount the insured (homeowner) is responsible for in the event of a claim. If a claim is less than the deductible amount, the insurance company bears no responsibility for payment of the claim. If the claim is more than the deductible, the deductible will be subtracted from the claim’s total amount before the insurer pays out. The deductible is not paid to the insurance company. 

All-Risk/Named-Peril

An all-risk insurance policy covers all potential causes of loss other than the ones specifically excluded in the policy. A named-peril policy covers the causes of loss specifically listed in the policy and no others. While an all-risk policy can be more inclusive, it is generally much more expensive and not as common. Most insurers choose to cover the most common risks, providing a broad scope of protection while keeping premiums affordable. 

Replacement Cost Value (RCV)/Actual Cash Value (ACV)

When you purchase your home, the sales price is based on the market value of your home. The price depends on the desirability of the location and many other factors. When you have a loss, however, the location’s desirability has no bearing on the cost to rebuild your home or replace your roof. That’s why it is important to understand the difference in replacement cost and actual cash value.

The replacement cost value is the cost to replace a damaged item or item, whether it be your TV or your roof. The actual cash value takes into account the depreciated value of the item. If your roof is ten years old, you got ten years’ worth of value from your roof, so a deduction is taken from the amount paid for your claim to account for the age of the roof. Knowing which type of coverage you have before a claim can prevent many misunderstandings during the claims process.

General home insurance terms are important to know, but there are many more terms that can make all the difference in understanding your home insurance. For more insurance terms, see the second part of our series on Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is a premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price and are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

5 Home Improvements for Lower Insurance Costs

couple setting their home's security system

Home improvements breathe new life and style into your home. They can also bring a decrease in your homeowners insurance premiums. Both can be exciting. Which home improvements not only bring new form and function to your home but also can decrease your homeowners insurance?

1. New Roof

Roof insurance claims compose a large portion of total homeowners insurance claims. Newer roofs are typically better able to handle wind and hail storms. Perhaps when you first purchased your home, you didn’t qualify for a preferred policy due to your roof’s age. But because of the new roof, you may now qualify. Your new roof’s material can also impact your homeowners insurance rates. More importantly, by keeping your roof maintained, you may be able to avoid claims. This will have a positive impact on your insurance through claim-free discounts. 

2. Security System

An alarm system monitored by a central station is another way to avoid potential claims by discouraging burglaries and quickly notifying emergency services in the event of smoke or fire. This helps you retain your claim-free discount and prevent damage to your home and loss of property. Your insurance company rewards these efforts in the form of a discount. 

Most insurance companies require that the alarm system automatically notify emergency services. It cannot simply sound an alarm or record video. However, they may offer a partial discount for these options. A central station burglar alarm will save you between 5%-15% on your home insurance if your smoke alarms are connected to the monitored system. 

3. Wiring and Plumbing Updates

Fire from faulty wiring and water damage from plumbing concerns are also common homeowners insurance claims. The age of these systems may have prevented you from receiving a preferred rate initially. Updating these systems could change that. 

While discounts can be available for wiring and plumbing updates, these updates may require the wiring and plumbing to be completed updated by removing and replacing all existing writing and plumbing, rather than a partial update. But any updates to your wiring and plumbing can prevent damage. It can therefore reduce claims and benefit your homeowners insurance over time, even without a specific discount. 

4. Simple Updates: Deadbolt Locks and Fire Extinguishers

Deadbolt locks are a simple update to your home that can provide added protection and a potential discount for your insurance. Fire extinguishers may be another easy addition to your discount portfolio.

5. Pool Fencing

Insurance companies often require fencing around a pool due to the inherent risk of an accessible attractant to a drowning hazard. If you do not have a fence around your pool, adding one will reduce the risk of a tragedy. It could also prevent surcharges on your insurance for this risk.

Home improvements provide value to your home regardless of the potential benefits to your insurance. However, when determining which improvements are suitable for your home and the costs associated with each, possible decreases in your homeowners insurance should be considered. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, your premier local independent insurance agency, we work for our clients, not the insurance companies. Contact us for advice on how the home improvement projects on your list can reduce your homeowners insurance premiums. 

2 Ways Home Improvements Change Insurance Premiums (And How to Protect Your Investment)

mom and her daughters in a new pool at home

When deciding the monthly premiums for your home insurance policy, your insurer has to consider multiple factors. However, with time, you may feel the need to improve your home for a better living experience. What most homeowners do not know is that such improvements can expose them to uninsured risks. Here’s how home improvements change your premiums and what you should do after such enhancements to keep things in check

1. Effects of Home Improvements on Insurance Premiums

Once you improve your home, you either increase the property’s value, increase the likelihood of peril, or protect the property from risk. Based on the following three scenarios, your insurer may increase or reduce your monthly premium.  

Home Improvements That Increase Your Premiums

At some point, you may decide to expand the size of your house, upgrade your kitchen space, or even redesign your bathroom. Such improvements increase the value of your property to an amount exceeding the sum insured. Increasing the value of your property means increased your monthly premiums.

You also attract higher monthly premiums on home improvements that your insurer considers risky. For example, you may decide to spice things up with a private pool. While this increases your property’s value, your insurer may increase your monthly premiums to bolster your liability cover.

Home Improvements That Reduce Your Premiums

Depending on the nature of your home improvements, your insurer can also reduce the amount you pay in premiums. You can decide to renovate your roof or install one that is resistant to disaster. You can even choose to have a locking fence around your pool or install a protective cover. Such improvements are likely to reduce your monthly premiums as they reduce the likelihood of peril.  

2. What You Should Do Before Home Improvement Projects to Be Safe

Before starting on any home improvements, you need to contact your insurer. Whether it is a simple addition or a major renovation, your insurer should let you in on its effects on the value of the property. Failing to notify your insurer of improvements may lead to underinsurance.

Almost all home improvements change insurance premiums. Let’s face it; there’s still a chance that you made some home improvements without notifying your insurer. It is not too late. Be sure to contact Vargas & Vargas for guidance on the best way forward. We are a premier local insurance agency that places your interests before those of your insurers. We work for you only and will help you find the best insurance coverage for your needs.

How Inflation Affects the Cost of Replacing Your Home

couple standing outside of their home

The country’s economy depends on various variables, which include inflation. Inflation has a negative or positive impact on the local industries. Among the sectors affected by the fluctuation of prices is the construction industry. The following is an overview of how inflation affects the cost of replacing your home and how this impacts your home insurance premium.

How Does Inflation Affect the Construction of a House?

As a result of inflation, the building material rates, machinery rates, and labor wages increase annually. The prices of most house equipment also rise due to inflation. When replacing a home, the changes in rates cause a deviation between the initial project budget and the final budget.

The high cost incurred during house construction results in an increase in the insurance premium. The insurance companies raise their premiums to cover and keep up with the increasing repair cost caused by inflation or annual property tax increase. Homeowners should have their property valuated regularly. The new data can be used in the settlement process if the house is damaged.

Home Replacement and Its Effect on Insurance Premium

While determining the initial home insurance premiums, insurance companies consider factors such as the square footage, the year it was built, the number of stories, the number of kitchens or bathrooms, flooring, and roof covering.

During property replacement, the insurance company will replace the lost asset with a similar replacement of the same value and functionality as the original one. However, quality items and luxury add-ons such as swimming pools are expensive to fix or replace if damaged.

The increase in the new items’ prices and the risk of maintaining them force the insurers to increase their premiums.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies. We work for our clients and not the insurance company. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. Also, we are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.