How Does Condo Insurance Work?

Owning a condo is a great way to own your own home. It does come with a number of responsibilities, though, and one of the most important of these is to have a condo insurance policy. This policy protects you in a number of ways, and it’s never a good idea to be without it. If you need one of these policies, contact us today at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to talk to an agent. 

Protect Your Home

When you have a condo insurance policy, it covers your condo itself. This means that it will pay for certain damages to the inside of your condo, but not the outside. The condo board owns the outside and will insure that area. The only exception is when a condo owner makes some type of improvement to the outside of the condo. In that case, the owner is responsible for insuring that area as well. 

Protect Your Possessions

With all or most of your belongings inside your condo, a major accident or calamity that causes damage to your belongings can be devastating. However, your condo insurance will cover those possessions. It can pay for you to get repairs and/or to replace items that were ruined beyond repair. With this coverage, you won’t have to start over with nothing. 

Protect Your Finances

Another problem that can happen in a condo is a third party having an accident there. When that happens, it is often the owner who owes the medical bills. With a condo policy, there is liability coverage included. This will pay for the medical bills so that you won’t have to. 

Condo Protection

If you own a condo, you need protection. Call us at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to find out more about this coverage. 

What’s the Difference Between Builder’s Risk Insurance and a Home Insurance Policy? Part Two

Happy couple came to an agreement with their building contractors at construction site.

It’s easy to understand the importance of home insurance when your investment is immediately accessible to you, as are all of the belongings you put inside. However, a building under construction sometimes requires a little more explanation as to the importance of builder’s risk insurance.

Why Does Home and Builder’s Risk Insurance Differ?

A completed home provides all of the information for proper risk assessment. All of its features are fixed in place for determining the replacement cost value. The liability risks are mitigated as much as possible. Your coverage needs are clear. Thus, the home insurance policy can be tailor-made for your home as it stands, with all factors known. 

For a building under construction, there are many unknown or constantly changing variables. Your insurance provider calculates the replacement cost, and therefore coverage, based on the expected features of the completed home. The building’s completion stage is varied. So the liability risks also vary at any given time. At some points, there may be more materials on-premises than on the structure. Because the building changes, it needs a policy that addresses this reality. 

How Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Address the Changing Protection Needs of a Building Under Construction?

Why do you pay the same premium and have the same amount of coverage for a building in the beginning stages of construction as in the final stages? This is a fair question considering the amount of loss is much greater when the building is nearing completion.

Builder’s risk insurance addresses this by considering the most coverage needed at any time during the construction period. It also considers the premium needed to cover that risk. The insurance company then takes into account normal construction time periods. Instead of changing the coverage and premium throughout the build, they average the cost to insure the building over the entire construction period at various stages of completion into one premium. This assures that the building has proper coverage at a fair premium, regardless of the building phase. 

What Coverages Are Unique to Each Policy Type?

A home insurance policy provides much more personal property coverage and additional coverages. This includes additional living expenses in the event of a claim. These types of coverages would not necessarily be needed under a builder’s risk policy since the home is not occupied. 

What about a home addition? Home insurance policies vary on how they cover home additions. It may be that you would have adequate coverage under your home insurance policy. However, a larger addition may require a builder’s risk policy or a special endorsement of your home insurance policy. Having an insurance agent you can trust to advise you on your particular policy and needs is imperative. 

A builder’s risk insurance policy provides coverage for theft of building materials and often even for building materials in transit to the building site. It also provides liability protection for the enhanced risk of a building under construction. The liability does not extend to the contractors or subcontractors. But it does provide coverage if a child or neighbor were to wander onto the site and get injured. 

Ultimately, all builder’s risk insurance policies are temporary. Once the building is complete, you should consult your insurance agent to discuss whether you should convert to home insurance, rental dwelling insurance, or commercial insurance. For additional information, see part one of our series, What’s the Difference Between Builder’s Risk Coverage and a Home Insurance Policy?

Whether you need home, rental dwelling, commercial, or builder’s risk insurance, Vargas and Vargas Insurance is here to advise you on your journey. We work for our clients, not the insurance company, to provide individualized coverage at the right price. Contact us today to discuss your insurance needs. 

What’s the Difference Between Builder’s Risk Coverage and a Home Insurance Policy? Part One

Young happy couple standing at the construction site of their home and giving each other a high-five.

You’ve found your dream home, and now you need to protect that dream with home insurance. Maybe you couldn’t find the perfect home you had envisioned, so you are building it. That investment also needs protection, either through builder’s risk coverage or home insurance. How are these two types of homes and home insurance protections the same, and how do they differ? Most importantly, why does it matter? 

Who Needs Home Insurance or Builder’s Risk Coverage?

Home Insurance

If you are the owner of a fully constructed home and you and your family reside in the home, home insurance is the right choice for you. Home insurance provides coverage for your dwelling, personal property, and liability you might incur as a homeowner, among other optional coverages. Home insurance is not for rental homes (when you’re the renter), commercial properties, or homes in the construction process. 

Builder’s Risk Coverage

Coverage for buildings in the process of being built requires specialty coverage to meet the unique risks associated with a building that is changing daily. The building may be residential or commercial, and coverage may be needed by a variety of individuals, such as:

  • Homeowners
  • Property Owners
  • Contractors
  • Subcontractors

Ultimately, the individual named on the construction loan, or the person who retains the deed to the property, needs the builder’s risk coverage. They are the one taking on the risk of a loss until ownership changes hands. 

When Should You Begin Coverage?

A home insurance policy should begin immediately upon ownership, effective on the date of the home closing. If you change insurance providers, it is imperative that there is no gap in coverage from one insurance company to the other. Make sure you understand the date and the time coverage will cease with the current company and coordinate coverage with your new insurance company to prevent any unprotected gap in time. 

A builder’s risk policy provides coverage from the time construction begins until the project’s completion. Because the construction phase is constantly changing, the coverage and premium are designed with this in mind. Most insurers require a builder’s risk policy at the beginning phase of construction. They will not provide a policy mid-construction.  It’s just as important to convert your builder’s risk policy to a home or commercial insurance policy once completed for coverage more appropriate for a completed and occupied building. 

Now you know who needs home insurance versus builder’s risk coverage and when coverage should begin. For further explanation on how these two policies differ and why it matters to you, see the second part of our series on What’s the Difference Between Builder’s Risk Coverage and a Home Insurance Policy?   

Vargas and Vargas Insurance understands the importance of having the right insurance for every stage of your journey. We are an independent insurance agency that works for our clients, not the insurance company. We will customize your coverage for your unique needs at the right price. Give us a call today. 

How Personal Property Insurance Protects Your Property

A family playing a board game in their family room with books in the background

If you are a homeowner, you probably have homeowner’s insurance. This type of insurance generally provides some coverage for your personal property. This coverage is only for the homeowner’s property — it does not cover real estate or property belonging to renters or roommates. If your personal property exceeds the value covered, or if you are a renter, you will need to purchase a personal property insurance policy. If you live in a condo, check out our blog post about condo insurance coverage.

What Does Personal Property Insurance Cover?

According to Insurance.com, most home insurance policies only offer coverage for 40-70% of the home’s insured value. What does a personal property insurance policy cover? Many of the items that you own including clothes, appliances, furniture, and home decor. If these items are damaged or stolen, the policy will reimburse policyholders the estimated cost to repair or replace the property.

But some of the property that you own may not be covered. This could include jewelry, artwork, firearms, pets, and collectibles. Insuring these high-value items will require the purchase of a scheduled endorsement. Many insurance companies will also ask for an appraisal of the items.

Making a Claim

If your property is damaged or stolen, then you will need to contact your insurance company to file a claim. The company may ask you to provide pictures as proof of the damages. Any receipts that you can provide as proof of purchase of your property should go to the company, as well.

When your insurance approves your claim, you will receive reimbursement according to the terms of your policy. The policy will either pay the actual cash value, which includes depreciation and pays out for the estimated current value of items, or replacement cost value. This provides the amount needed to replace the property and does not include depreciation.

How Do You Get Coverage?

When you need insurance coverage, you can contact a direct writer. These agents work directly for a prominent name insurance provider. You could also contact an independent agent. Independent agents can often offer better coverage prices because they will have several options for you to choose from. Also, they will be familiar with insurance needs in your area.

If you live in Massachusetts, Vargas & Vargas is here to help you find the policy that fits your needs. Vargas & 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 and are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

How Much Liability Insurance Do I Need to Buy?

family and their dog playing in their backyard

Homeowners are responsible for ensuring safety on their property. Consequently, you can be held accountable if someone is injured on your property because of unsafe hazards. This is why homeowners need liability insurance coverage

How Does Liability Insurance Coverage Work? 

Your homeowner’s insurance policy has a liability portion that provides coverage for accidents and damages associated with your property, family members, and pets. For example, a visitor may sue you for compensation if they are attacked and injured by your pet. Additionally, anyone can sue you if they slip and fall on your slippery pavement or sidewalk. 

Liability coverage can protect you from the resulting financial loss. To this end, a typical liability policy will cover the following expenses: 

  • The injured party’s medical expenses 
  • The cost of your legal defense 
  • Repair costs for the other party’s damaged property

Some policies cover a wider range of risks. Your policy’s coverage will depend on how much insurance you buy, as explained below. 

How Much Coverage Should You Get? 

Standard homeowner liability insurance policies cover up to $300,000 worth of injuries and property damages. However, this may not always be sufficient to cover all of the resulting expenses. Consequently, you may need to pay for the extra costs out-of-pocket, which can be financially crippling. 

Alternatively, you can increase your insurance coverage. For example, you can extend coverage to up to $500,000 by paying higher premiums. You can also buy an umbrella liability policy that will extend coverage to $1 million and more (up to $5 million). 

Final Thoughts on Liability Insurance

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies. We work for our clients and not the insurance company. Our team can customize your homeowner’s insurance coverage to meet your specific needs at the right price. 

We are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today to learn more. 

Car Insurance Terms, Part Two: Car Insurance Claims

family with a dog preparing for a fun drive

Understanding the basic language of your auto insurance policy is important. However, knowing your coverages and car insurance claims terminology is what really matters when your insurance suddenly becomes more than just another monthly bill. Learn more about these important terms:

Liability

Liability coverage has three distinct coverages under one heading. All of them protect the claimant in an accident. The first is the bodily injury liability per person. The amount of coverage shown is the maximum pay-out amount for injuries to any one claimant in an accident. 

Next is the bodily injury liability per accident. This amount is the maximum pay-out amount for bodily injury per accident, regardless of how many people receive injuries. 

Lastly, property damage liability is the maximum amount that will be paid out for damage to property (autos, buildings, etc.) per accident, regardless of how many vehicles you are held responsible for.

There is a maximum pay-out under your auto insurance. But you are still legally responsible for any remaining damages. That’s why it’s vitally important to discuss your coverage choices with your insurance agent. Maintaining state-required minimums does not release you from full responsibility to the claimant. 

Medical Payments

After car insurance claims, your policy may provide coverage for medical expenses to you and/or your passengers up to the limit listed. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

PIP coverage provides a little more extensive coverage when you receive injuries in an auto accident. This includes elements such as lost wages and other damages, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. 

Comprehensive

Sometimes referred to as “other than collision,” this is for covered damage to your vehicle that is not the result of a collision. Some examples include fire, theft, vandalism, glass breakage, and animals. Coverage is subject to your deductible.

Collision

When your vehicle collides with another object, whether it’s a vehicle, building, pothole, or something else, the damage falls under your collision coverage. It is also subject to your deductible. Comprehensive and collision coverages are required when your vehicle has a lien or leaseholder. It protects their interest in the vehicle until it is paid off. 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you when your vehicle is struck by a vehicle that does not have enough coverage, has no coverage at all, or commits a hit-and-run. It may include coverage for bodily injury, property damage, or both. The coverage amount limits the amount paid. 

Additional Coverage Options

Insurers offer a variety of additional coverages for your convenience, including emergency road service and car rental reimbursement. 

Claim

A claim is when an insured or claimant believes an insurance company should reimburse him or her for damages resulting from an event. 

Claimant

An individual who makes car insurance claims against another party (or their insurance company) is a claimant. 

At-Fault/No-Fault

Some states require that fault be assigned in an accident and that the responsible individual be held accountable for the entirety of the accident’s damages. But other states are no-fault. That means each vehicle owner’s insurance takes care of damages for their insured, regardless of fault. Massachusetts is a no-fault state.

Subrogation

Even in an at-fault state, it is common for the insurance of the not-at-fault party to pay for damages upfront. Then repairs can happen quickly. The insurance company will then subrogate, or pursue, the responsible party or their insurance for reimbursement of paid-out expenses. 

See the first part of our series on car insurance terms for more helpful auto insurance explanations.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance understands that insurance terminology can be confusing. That’s why, as a premier local independent insurance agency, we strive to build the relationships necessary to customize your insurance coverage to your needs at the right price. Contact us today.