4 Add-ons to Consider For Your Auto Insurance

If you own a vehicle in Dorchester, MA, you understand that auto insurance is as critical as car maintenance. Unfortunately, many car owners purchase the minimum auto insurance coverage just to comply. While this may seem like a way to save funds, it can bite you hard when the unthinkable strikes. That said, Vargas & Vargas Insurance shares add-ons you can consider to boost your auto insurance for maximum protection. 

Emergency roadside assistance coverage

Have you ever thought about what you may go through when your car breaks down away from home? You might have seen it in movies, but it can happen in real life. While you can’t predict how your car behaves, you can cover yourself with a roadside assistance add-on to ensure that you get services like gas delivery, puncture repair, towing, and other roadside repairs in case your car breaks down.

Engine protection cover

If you reside in a location prone to waterlogging, this coverage is a must for you. Your engine is, perhaps, the most expensive component of your vehicle. As such, insuring it against damage is a smart move to avoid you forking cash from your pocket when a disaster occurs.

Zero depreciation cover

If you have a new or luxurious car, this add-on cushions you against wear and tear when replacing expensive parts. Instead of removing the depreciation factor when replacing parts, the insurance company covers the entire cost of replacement when you have this cover. 

Consumable coverage

When your claim is being processed, consumables like nuts, bolts, and oil aren’t covered in the typical insurance coverage. However, as small as they might be, consumable costs can stack up to significant figures when involved in an accident. Thankfully, with consumable coverage, you don’t have to worry about consumable expenses.

Buy auto insurance today!

Would you like to buy auto insurance in Dorchester, MA? Please contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance for a competitive quote. 

Car Insurance Terms, Part One: The Basics

woman driving in her car and smiling

The average U.S. driver spends 55 minutes per day behind the wheel of an automobile. With that kind of exposure, there’s a good chance you’ll need to utilize your auto insurance coverage at some point. However, waiting until you have a claim is not the best time to learn what common car insurance terms mean. By understanding your car insurance policy now, you can avoid coverage concerns when a claim arises. 

Start with these car insurance terms:

Declarations (Declarations Page)

This is the page of your policy that gives your basic identifying information. Examples of this information include the name and address of the insurance provider, to and from dates of coverage, basic coverages included in the policy, deductible amount, premium, and any lien or leaseholders. Your insurance identification cards provide the most basic information about your policy, but your declarations page goes a little more in-depth. 

Insurance Identification Card

Most insurance companies provide a paper, wallet-sized proof of coverage. This card shows the very basics of your policy to provide to law enforcement in the event of a traffic stop or accident. It is also very common for an electronic version of the identification card to be provided through a mobile app for even greater convenience. After all, the paper version has to be replaced with an updated version with each policy renewal. 

Insured/Insurer

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

Lienholder/Leaseholder

The lienholder is the financial institution, or individual, who holds the title to your vehicle. They hold it until you pay the lien in full. The leaseholder serves the same role for a leased vehicle. Both of these parties hold a financial interest in your vehicle, so your policy will list them. 

Policy Period

This is the time period your auto is currently insured — usually semiannually, although some auto policy periods are for a year. Most auto policies renew automatically, provided you continue to pay the premium. 

Premium

The semi-annual or annual amount you pay for your auto insurance is the insurance premium. This premium can usually be divided into payments that are convenient for you, such as monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual payments. 

Deductible

The amount the insured is responsible for at the time of claim is called the deductible. When a claim is less than the deductible amount, the insurance will not make payment. If the claim is more than the deductible, the amount of the deductible is deducted from the total claim amount before the check is written. The deductible is never given to the insurance company by the insured. 

State-Required Minimums

Most states require a certain amount of auto insurance for drivers to maintain a vehicle tag and drive public roads legally. State-required minimums refer to the basic amount of coverage required by law in your state. It is important to note that abiding by state-required minimums for your insurance coverage does not relieve you of the legal obligation to pay for damages that exceed that coverage. So discuss your individual risk with your agent. Securing appropriate coverage in excess of the state-required minimums ensures compliance with state laws and prevents out-of-pocket costs in larger claims. 

Vargas & Vargas understands there is a lot more to choosing the right coverage than knowing car insurance terms. That’s why we are a premier local independent insurance agency. We work for you, not the insurance company. We are here to answer all of your questions and customize your coverage to your specific needs at the right price. Give us a call to discuss your coverage today. 

Condo Insurance Coverage Terms You Need to Know, Part Two

couple buying their first condo

Having a condo insurance policy brings peace of mind — that is, until you’ve had a claim and realize you don’t understand any of the policy’s terminology. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is committed to making sure you have all the tools you need (and a full understanding of common condo insurance coverage terms) to make the best decisions about your condo insurance coverage. Your home is important to you. Understanding your condo insurance policy is vital to making sure your home has the right protection. 

Condo Insurance Coverage Terms

Bare Walls/Single Entity/All-In Master Policies

Your condo association will have a master policy in place to cover the building itself and common areas. There are multiple types of master policies. Knowing which type of coverage your condo association master policy has will help you determine what coverage you need.

Bare Walls

This coverage covers the condo building and common areas. The master policy covers everything from the sheetrock back. But the area within the bare walls is the condo unit owner’s responsibility, including light fixtures, faucets, and everything else. This is the most common type of condo association master policy.

Single Entity Coverage

In this case, the master policy covers the unit as is when the owner moves in, including cabinets, flooring, etc. 

All-In Coverage

This rarest form of condo association master policy covers everything but your personal property, including any alterations and improvements you make after moving in. 

Dwelling Coverage

Once you’ve determined what your condo association’s master policy covers, you are responsible for the rest. Your condo insurance policy’s dwelling coverage will cover all the permanently affixed items not covered by the master policy up to the dwelling coverage limit. 

Personal Property Coverage

This includes all of your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, electronics, household tools, and more. It’s important to speak with your agent about items you think fall into this coverage area but may actually not. Examples might be golf carts and four-wheelers. Keeping an inventory of your personal property is important, too; you will need to itemize them in the event of a loss. 

Unit Improvements and Betterments Coverage

This coverage protects the upgrades you’ve made to your condo unit, which your condo association’s master policy might not cover. This could include upgraded flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures, or faucets. You’ve worked hard to make your condo personalized for your family. So make sure those upgrades have coverage. 

Liability Coverage

While the condo association master policy may provide some coverage for liability incidents on common property, that doesn’t release you from responsibility for liability within your residence. In a condo, your liability risk increases due to the proximity of other condo units. Liability coverage provides legal protection up to your policy limit. Most policies come with a basic amount, but you can increase it for a minimal additional premium. 

Additional Living Expense/Loss of Use

When a claim occurs, your condo may not be inhabitable for a time. This is why Additional Living Expense coverage, also known as Loss of Use coverage, is so important. This coverage will help with the cost of displacement up to the time period specified in the policy. 

Endorsement

An endorsement is an addition to your condo policy. You may need more coverage than allotted in your basic policy in a particular coverage area. Endorsements allow you to add that coverage. A common example is jewelry. Most policies provide a limited amount of jewelry coverage but allow more coverage through endorsements. 

Exclusion

An exclusion is a coverage area that is specifically not included in your policy. Your policy will have a list of exclusions. It’s imperative to review these exclusions because there are often options to provide coverage for the excluded perils separately. One example is flooding. A flood is usually an excluded peril; however, flood insurance is available as a stand-alone policy. 

Inflation Protection

The cost to repair or replace damage to your home and belongings does not stay static. So most condo insurance policies include inflation protection, which raises your coverage in small increments each renewal, as needed, to keep pace with inflation. 

Risk/Peril

A risk is the possibility of something unexpected happening. A peril is the cause of something unexpected happening. For example, the peril of a fire increases the risk of damage to personal property. Knowing what perils are covered under your policy is imperative for you to have proper protection from the risks you face as a condo unit owner.

 For more condo insurance coverage terms, see part one of Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know. Condo insurance coverage terms can be intimidating while also being vitally important. That’s why Vargas & Vargas Insurance, a premier local independent insurance agency, is here. 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.

Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know, Part One

family on the upstairs balcony of their condo

Your condo is your home. It’s the place where you make memories. Insuring it properly can be confusing because condos are a little more complicated to insure than your typical home. Condo unit owners share responsibility for the home with the condominium association. What does this mean, and how does it affect your insurance? Vargas & Vargas insurance can help you navigate the often confusing world of condo insurance and condo insurance terms. 

General Condo Insurance Terms

Condo 

A condominium (condo) is a unit that is individually owned within a building that contains other units, which are also privately owned. All unit owners share ownership of commons areas, including pools, gyms, playgrounds, etc. 

Insured/Insurer

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

Additional Insured

The declarations page will list the additional insured, along with the insured. The additional insured is anyone else other than the condo owner who has a legal interest in the home. The most common additional insured for a condo 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. 

Condo Association/Condo Association Master Policy

A condo association is an organization that handles the day-to-day operations and decision-making for a condo community. They and the policies they handle are the major differences between home insurance and condo insurance.

This includes purchasing a condo association master insurance policy. The master policy covers the areas common to all unit owners. The unit owners are typically responsible for everything within the unit’s walls. The condo association master policy covers the rest of the commonly owned structures. However, each policy can be different, so understanding your condo association’s master policy is essential to understand your own condo insurance needs. 

Policy Period

This is the time period your condo is currently insured for, which is usually one year. Most condo policies renew automatically, assuming you continue to pay the premium. 

Premium

The annual amount you pay for your condo insurance is called the insurance premium. This premium can usually be divided into convenient payments of monthly, quarterly, or semiannual installments if it’s not paid directly to the insurance company through your mortgage escrow account. 

Deductible

The deductible is the amount the insured (the condo unit owner) 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 does not go to the insurance company. 

All-Risk/Named-Peril

An all-risk insurance policy covers all potential causes of loss other than those specifically excluded in the policy. A named-peril policy covers events if the policy lists out those specific causes of loss. 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 (RCV/ACV)

When you purchase your condo, the sales price is based on the market value of your home. The desirability of the location and many other factors determine that price. But when you have a loss, 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 all of your belongings. The actual cash value takes into account the depreciated value of the item. For example, if your sofa is five years old, then you got five years’ worth of value from your sofa. So your company will take a deduction from the amount paid for your claim that takes into consideration the age of the sofa. Knowing which type of coverage you have before a claim can prevent many misunderstandings.

General condo insurance terms are important to know, but there are many more terms that can make all the difference in understanding your condo insurance. For more insurance terms, see part two of Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know

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

Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know, Part Two: Homeowners Coverage Terms

homeowner reviewing homeowners coverage terms as she renews her policy

The only thing worse than having a homeowners insurance claim is having a claim and realizing you didn’t understand the home coverage terms in your insurance policy. Now you don’t have the coverage you thought you had. Vargas & Vargas Insurance wants you to have the knowledge you need to make the right decisions about your insurance. Arming yourself with the knowledge of homeowners coverage terms is crucial in preventing unwelcome surprises when a claim occurs. 

Homeowners Coverage Terms

Dwelling Coverage

A dwelling is the building in which you live. In home insurance terms, your home is your dwelling. It is insured for the perils in your policy up to the policy dwelling coverage limit. But this is for the main structure only and does not include the contents. Contents have their own coverage area in a home insurance policy. 

Additional Structures Coverage

Any structures on the premises not attached to the main dwelling are other structures or additional structures. This includes a workshop or shed, for example. An amount equal to 10% of the dwelling coverage is usually also allotted toward additional structures as part of your basic coverage. However, you may want to purchase additional coverage, if needed. This coverage does not apply to the contents of the additional structure. Those are covered with your personal property coverage.

Personal Property Coverage

This is for all of your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, electronics, household tools, etc. It’s important to speak with your agent about items you think may fall into this coverage area but actually may not. Examples might be golf carts and four-wheelers. Keeping an inventory of your personal property is important, as you will need to itemize them in the event of a loss. 

Liability Coverage

Homeowners can be held liable for a wide variety of events occurring on their property. Liability coverage provides legal protection for the majority of these, up to your policy limit. Also, most policies come with a basic amount that you can increase for a minimal additional premium. 

Additional Living Expense/Loss of Use

When a claim occurs, your home may not be inhabitable for a time. This is why Additional Living Expense coverage, also known as Loss of Use coverage, is so important. This coverage will help with the cost of displacement up to the time period specified in the policy. 

Endorsement

An endorsement is an addition to your homeowners policy. You may need more coverage than allotted in your basic policy in a particular coverage area. Endorsements allow you to add that coverage. A common example is for jewelry. Most policies provide a limited amount of jewelry coverage but allow more coverage through endorsements. 

Exclusion

An exclusion is a coverage area that insurers specifically do not include in your policy. Your policy will have a list of exclusions. It’s imperative to review these exclusions, as there are often options to provide coverage for the excluded perils separately. One example is flood coverage. Floods are usually an excluded peril, but flood insurance is available as a stand-alone policy. 

Inflation Protection 

The cost to repair or replace your home and belongings does not stay static. Most homeowners policies include inflation protection, which raises your coverage in small increments each renewal, as needed, to keep pace with inflation. 

Risk/Peril

A risk is the possibility of something unexpected happening. A peril is the cause of something unexpected happening. The peril of a wind storm increases the risk of damage to your roof. Knowing what perils are covered under your policy is imperative for you to have proper protection from the risks you face as a homeowner.

For more homeowners coverage terms, see the first installment of Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know. Homeowners coverage terms can be intimidating while also being vitally important. That’s why Vargas & Vargas, a premier local independent insurance agency, is here to help. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price and are here to answer all of your insurance questions. So contact us today.