The agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance serving the Dorchester, MA area offer home insurance policies to protect and secure one of your most significant investments.
While home insurance is not required under Massachusetts law, having a good policy in place is still very important. If you owe money to a bank or mortgage lender for the purchase of your home, you will be required to carry a home insurance policy. Even if you’ve already paid off your house, you should still have homeowners insurance because you never know when disaster will hit.
What Does Home Insurance Cover?
A home insurance policy will cover the structure of your house along with the items inside of your house. These can include your personal belongings, such as toiletries, clothing, and jewelry, as well as your furniture, appliances, and so much more.
A variety of home insurance policies also cover any outbuildings on your property. These can include garages and sheds as well as decks and porches.
You never know when your house will become damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster, a fire, or even an act of vandalism. You also can’t predict that your home will be burglarized, but in any of these cases, your home insurance policy will help replace the lost items and repair or rebuild your house.
Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance
The old saying, "It’s better to be safe than sorry," applies to home insurance policies. To create the best home insurance policy for you and your situation, contact the agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance serving the Dorchester, MA area today!
Every location has its own practices when it comes to insurance premiums and what affects them. In this case, I’m talking about the insurance surcharge you could face after an accident in Massachusetts. Today, I break down the steps for the appeal process and why it’s important.
What is an Insurance Surcharge?
A surcharge on your insurance is a fee that is added to your premiums. This usually happens if you’re regularly involved in at-fault accidents, pay your premiums late, or have a lapse in coverage.
However, a surcharge can also affect your insurance if you’re simply adding another vehicle to the policy. In those cases, though, you can work with the insurer to see if there are discounts available for multiple-car policies.
In this article, I’m focusing on appealing the insurance surcharge that comes after an accident.
Steps to Appeal the Insurance Surcharge
The insurance surcharge will kick in if the insurer deems that you are more than 50% at fault. According to Massachusetts law, you have up to 30 days from the notice of the surcharge to file an appeal with the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.
1. Complete and submit the Appeal Form that is located on the backside of the Notice of At-Fault Accident Determination. You’ll need to enclose the $50 filing fee made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The address is located on the Appeal Form.
2. You will receive a notice in the mail acknowledging the receipt of your appeal.
3. In approximately three weeks, you’ll receive a hearing notice. At this hearing, you can attend yourself, submit a statement at least five days before the hearing, or have a representative appear on your behalf.
4. The hearing will last around 15 to 20 minutes to determine the justification of the surcharge.
5. About two to four weeks after the hearing, you’ll receive a decision from the Board of Appeals as to whether the insurance surcharge will remain.
Note: If the surcharge is added to your insurance premiums, you’ll still have to pay the additional amount. Otherwise, the insurer can cancel your policy.
How Much Will Rates Increase if You Don’t Appeal?
The increased amount of your insurance premiums will depend on a lot of factors. It’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all answer, to be honest.
For example, rate increases are subject to:
your previous driving record.
how many years you drive that are accident-free.
how often you file insurance claims.
Essentially, it all comes down to how much of a risk the insurer deems you for coverage. If you have a spotless driving record and make your payments on time, the increase might be nominal.
Use the Appeals Process Correctly
The appeals process is meant to help the innocent avoid paying out when accidents were clearly not their fault. As long as you explain your position to the magistrate, and are not at fault, you may avoid these extra fees.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you further understand the process and what you need after an accident. Contact us today to understand your options and what you can do to avoid issues like this in the future.
Auto insurance is not only necessary to financially protect you in the event of an accident, but it’s also the law when you’re behind the wheel. Unfortunately, a lot of us wind up paying far more than we need to for this protection. Today, let’s go over the basics of getting the best rates for your auto insurance.
There is a bit more at play than just finding a “cheap” company.
How to Get the Best Rates for Auto Insurance
In most instances, you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re not a high-risk driver. The higher the risk to the insurance company, the more you’ll pay.
Keep a Clean Driving Record
Perhaps one of the most vital methods of lowering your insurance rates is by keeping a clean record behind the wheel. This goes along with most “Good Driver” discounts as it demonstrates how low of a risk you are while driving.
Group Discounts with Work or Organizations
Some organizations and places of employment offer group discounts. This is when an insurance plan is offered to members and is usually considerably cheaper than getting one of your own. The catch is that sometimes these will have “enrollment periods” of maybe once or twice per year.
Increase the Deductible of the Auto Insurance
In some cases, you’re able to increase the deductible of your insurance policy. This means you’ll need more money upfront in the event of repairs and such. The trade-off is a lower annual premium as you’re taking on more of the financial responsibility yourself.
Work on Your Credit Rating
Like most other things in life, your credit rating can affect your auto insurance premiums. The better your score, the more likely you’ll have to pay less. This is one of those things that can take some time to improve. However, the end results are often worth the effort.
Anti-Theft Device Discounts
Many insurers will have discounts available if your vehicle has anti-theft devices installed. Alarms, cut-off switches, and other technologies prevent people from stealing your vehicle. This means the auto is at a lower risk of being stolen, which then reduces the risk to insurance companies for claims.
Don’t Pay for What You Don’t Use
If you don’t use a specific service, don’t add it to your insurance policy. For example, there are a lot of people who pay for roadside assistance but have never used it. Talk with your agent and find out what you can remove that you know you’ll never really use.
Shop Around for Auto Insurance Rates
Another one of the most common methods of getting the best auto insurance rates is by shopping around. However, don’t assume cheap equates to being better. Sometimes the lower price tag comes with a vastly reduced capacity of financially protecting you.
Consider Pay-per-Mile Insurance
Some insurance companies will offer a pay-per-mile plan. This is when you need insurance but don’t really drive all that much. It goes along the lines of a “Low Mileage” policy. These are usually the most ideal for students and people who drive less than a few miles per day.
Annual Policy Updates
Lastly, don’t forget to update your auto insurance policy at least once per year. A lot of things can change in 12 months, including your credit rating and good driving record. Not to mention it gives you a chance to customize the policy further depending on your foreseeable needs.
Auto Insurance is a Necessity
A lot can happen when you’re in control of more than a ton’s worth of steel. It takes a fraction of a second for an accident to occur whether you’re paying attention or not. Having the best auto insurance for your needs will protect you from breaking the bank in most cases.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we understand just how imperative insurance is, especially in today’s world. Contact us today to find out how we can help you find the best rates possible for your situation. We’ll use our network of companies to help secure something affordable that will keep you safe.
Many experts agree that owning property is a great investment, as the need for housing will always exist. Owning and managing a rental property can be very profitable, but what are the pros and cons of this venture?
Making a house feel like a home is made up of many things, from our belongings, pets, and family. Therefore, having the right insurance coverage to protect you from any unforeseen events is essential. As each home is unique, your insurance should be tailored to your needs and requirements. Otherwise, you may find that your claim for damages isn’t covered and have to pay for it yourself.
Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you in making sure your home is fully insured. Don’t put off checking if your coverage is sufficient until it’s too late! Homeowners are sometimes shocked to discover some areas of their insurance policies are not covered. Although dealing with insurance can be tricky, we can help make it easier by providing some helpful advice about what may be overlooked or insufficiently covered in your policy.
A Comprehensive Coverage Level
When it comes to ensuring your home is secure, the insurance policies you choose should be comprehensive and detailed. Many insurance holders purchase coverage at various levels, with one being more extensive than the other. Generally, we suggest getting the highest tier available as it usually provides sufficient protection for what we need. Some agents start with a lower tier and gradually increase their coverage; however, this is not recommended when it comes to home insurance as there can be areas left unprotected or overlooked.
When protecting the things we value most, it’s not advisable to skimp on specific areas as you will discover that you get what you pay for. You need to ensure, first and foremost, that you have the right protection at an affordable cost, even if it is not the lowest price available.
Sufficient Insurance Coverage Levels
Your home insurance policy consists of six different coverages, each with its own coverage limit – the maximum sum your insurer will pay out should you file a claim. Some insurers may provide lower limits to reduce the cost of the quote they offer, however this could be inadequate for certain types of claims. In what follows, we will outline each coverage and suggest suitable limits for each.
Dwelling coverage safeguards the physical structure of your dwelling from destruction caused by a range of causes. With regards to dwelling, you are not permitted to decide on the coverage amounts. Instead, it is determined automatically depending on the cost of replacing your home.
Home insurance policies also cover damage to structures not attached to the main house, such as fences, garages, pools, driveways and sheds.
Generally, the amount of coverage is set at 10 or 20 percent of the amount for the dwelling coverage; however if you have expensive other structures that are worth more than these limits allow for, you can purchase additional coverage.
This coverage applies to any possessions you have in your house and garden. If they are destroyed or taken, the insurance will pay to repair them or get new ones.
The amount of coverage is usually equivalent to 50-70% of the dwelling protection provided by the insurance company, and this limit is pre-set.
Loss of use
If you need to leave your home due to a disaster or emergency, loss of use coverage will pay for temporary housing. Generally, the maximum amount covered is 20-40% of the dwelling coverage.
Medical payments to others
This policy provides financial protection for medical costs incurred by someone hurt while on your premises. This includes damage from falls, cuts, dog bites and other injuries.
Generally speaking, the minimum coverage limit for this part of the policy is $5,000.
When a person is hurt on your property and you are sued for it, this section of the policy can help pay for medical bills, legal costs or settlements.
It is essential to choose a coverage limit that is high enough – usually between $100,000 and $1 million – as lawsuits today can be expensive. In some cases, they may even exceed that amount, which is why we advise people to get umbrella insurance too.
Additional insurance options
This optional coverage can be a useful addition to your policy; it is not included in the main categories listed above. Personal injury coverage safeguards you from potential libel, slander, or defamation lawsuits.
Sewer and Water Backup Endorsement
This coverage, which is an additional expense, covers any overflow due to backup in the plumbing system, such as pipe backups, drain blockages, sewer line clogs or sump pump overflows. This is distinct from the standard overflow protection, which guards against backups in toilets, sinks and drains.
Service line coverage
This coverage, available for an additional fee, covers any repairs that need to be made to pipes or wires coming into your premises. These may include electrical lines, water pipes, or septic lines. The typical limit for this type of coverage is usually between $10,000 for services and $50,000 – 100,000 for equipment repair.
Equipment breakdown coverage
This coverage compensates for any damage to your home appliances (air conditioning, furnaces, etc.) caused by power surges, electrical shorts, mechanical failures, motor burnout or operator mistakes.
Scheduling items is a great way to guarantee your valuables are protected. By paying a few extra dollars, jewelry, art and other precious objects will be insured if they are damaged or stolen.
One of the benefits of this policy is that if you make a claim there is no deductible and mysterious disappearance (losing an engagement ring down the drain) would be covered too. T
o avoid having to pay out-of-pocket for losses, we recommend speaking with your insurance agent to ensure these important coverages are included in your policy.
New Additions and Alterations Yo Your Home
Making improvements to your home can be enjoyable, but it is important to evaluate your insurance policies to guarantee that any new changes are adequately insured.
Adding value to your property through renovations or new additions requires special attention when reviewing your home insurance policy. Not only does a stunning kitchen renovation affect the look of the house, but also any expansion of the square footage should be noted as well. If you are increasing the size of your house, then you need to modify the limits for dwelling coverage. Likewise, if you are making significant changes in outdoor areas such as a swimming pool or patio area, then other structures limits need to be adjusted accordingly.
Examining any considerable alterations to your home can be a beneficial technique to review and adjust your existing insurance policies, or search for another provider if you don’t feel satisfied with the amount of service from your present insurance company.
Working Remotely Or Running A Business From Your Home
It is easy to think that working from home would be included in a typical home insurance policy, given the increase of people who do this. However, this is not necessarily true. If you are just doing paperwork at home in your pajamas, there is no need for extra coverage. However, if you are starting a business from your house such as selling jewelry or running a photography studio, it may be necessary to take another look at your policy since some risks associated with those kinds of businesses may not be covered by the standard plan.
When talking to your insurance agent about any business activities conducted in your home, they will confirm if it is a “permitted incidental occupancy”. This would qualify you for restricted liability and property coverages. In the event that your business venture isn’t covered by this exception, you will need to get a complete commercial insurance policy to ensure proper protection.
Starting a home business can be an economical way of entering many industries from the comfort of your own home, but it is essential to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the business succeeds.
Local Independent Insurance Broker
It can be difficult to know how to best insure our homes, but these tips should help point you in the right direction for obtaining the most suitable coverage. If you still have queries regarding your policy or would like further information, Vargas & Vargas Insurance will be happy to answer your questions; contact us at 617-298-0655.