How an Insurance Agent Can Help With Your Home Purchase

couple in front of their newly bought home

Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting events in a family’s life.  It is also a great time of confusion. So many pieces have to come together to turn a house into your new home. Having the right team throughout the home buying process is an important part of the puzzle. It’s common to think of realtors and mortgage brokers as part of your team, but did you know your local independent insurance agent can be a vital player, as well?

Resources

Independent insurance agents are not only in the community. They are an active part of the community. Because of this, they know the answers to most of those all-important questions when you’re purchasing a home.  With knowledge of community services, neighborhoods, school systems, and referral partners, your insurance agent can be a great resource to help in your home purchase journey. 

Guarding Against Surprises

You wouldn’t purchase your home without knowing how much the mortgage will be. You’ll also want to review your homeowners insurance in advance of your home purchase. This way, you can detect any obstacles like pre-existing or current home damage, which may affect your insurance, before purchase.  Your insurance agent will review all the features of your future home to make sure you are properly covered. The replacement cost of your home versus its market value can be very confusing. Your insurance agent will walk you through the difference and explain your coverage in detail. This is also a great time to re-evaluate all of your insurance in consideration of your changing needs. 

Ease of Home Purchase

Your insurance premium is often escrowed, meaning it is included as a part of your mortgage payment. Your insurance agent can work directly with your lender to deliver all insurance documents before your closing. This takes one more thing off of your hands and ensures your coverage begins immediately. 

A home is an important purchase. Vargas & Vargas Insurance, a premier local independent insurance agency, will customize your homeowners insurance, answer all of your questions, and be there for you on the journey to your dream home. Contact us today to learn more.

5 Reasons to Use an Independent Agent for Business Insurance

two co-owners of a small business smiling as they manage the business

Every business owner needs multiple insurance covers. From health policies to general liability business insurance, entrepreneurs must protect themselves, their employees, and customers from unforeseen accidents. Using an independent agent for business insurance comes with many benefits that direct writers cannot offer.

1. Better Premium Deals

Independent insurance agents are usually knowledgeable about business insurance policies in their states. This, combined with their networks of insurers, makes them a valuable asset to your business. They can help you get the best premium deals at discounted prices. Since they are bound by law to serve your interests, you are assured that they will give you a variety of options that offer you maximum protection at lower costs.

2. Tailored Risk Assessment

Most independent insurance agents are trained risk assessment and management experts. They can therefore assess the potential areas of liability in your business and correctly advise you on the premiums that can protect you. They are also familiar with the latest business liability regulations. As such, they can guide you on any risks that need to be covered in your business. Direct writers may not offer such tailored risk assessment services, leaving your business inadequately protected. 

3. Multiple Coverage Packages

Getting insurance policies from multiple insurers can be quite a hassle. Unfortunately, most direct writers specialize in specific policies. This is unlike independent agents, who often provide a one-stop-shop for all your business insurance needs. When you combine multiple premium coverages, you will have more room to negotiate the best rates for your entire insurance package.

4. Excellent Customer Service

Once you purchase your insurance from a direct writer online, you might never hear from them again. When you choose an independent agent for business insurance, on the other hand, your agent is just a call away. They will keep in touch and offer you after-sales customer care services by continually assessing your business whenever necessary. They will also inform you of the latest premiums that you might need, giving you room to revise your business insurance cover as you deem fit.

5. Hassle-Free Claims

Nobody likes the hassles of filing for claims because of the paperwork and long procedures involved. An independent insurance agent will save you from all these hassles by following up on your claims and handling the entire process on your behalf. They will also guide you on the correct claim estimates based on your cover.

Using an independent agent for business insurance can save you and your business a lot of money, time, and stress. They can handle all your insurance needs and give you room to focus on more productive activities.

If you are looking for licensed and experienced insurance experts who will place your interest before those of insurance companies, then contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance. Our premier local independent insurance agency has independent insurance agents who will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price and answer all your insurance questions. Contact us today to get the best insurance premiums for your business.

Should You Have an Office in a Downsized Home?

man working in his home office

Downsizing requires careful consideration of whether you need various features of your home or whether they can be eliminated. A home office is a full room that many people who are downsizing to a smaller home can eliminate. This can have a positive impact on your home insurance policy.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Deciding whether to include an office in a downsized home or not is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It can be tempting to make this decision solely based on space or insurance implications, especially when you are being intentional about downsizing. But it is also important to consider how keeping or creating a home office fits into your current career, educational, or recreational goals. 

The past year has led to a drastic shift in many employees’ interest in working from home. Other people have begun to see the benefits of taking courses from home, both for credit and for fun. Online side gigs have also gained popularity.

Suppose you are currently participating in any of these activities or are considering doing so in the future. In that case, the benefits of having a dedicated home office space for working and learning may outweigh the cost of having an extra room. However, if you have no interest in working from home or are downsizing because you are retired or your children have moved out of your home, choosing a smaller home that does not include an office space is often the best option. 

Insurance Implications of an Office in a Downsized Home

A home office is, of course, an extra room that needs to be insured. At best, it will add additional square footage to your insurance policy. In addition, your homeowners insurance may not fully cover your office in your downsized home. Why? It blurs the line between typical issues that all homeowners could experience and business-related expenses that are more complex. You will likely need to purchase an additional insurance policy if you are working from home. This is even more important if you are running your own business. Some employers may also require additional insurance coverage for remote employees that may not be fully covered by their regular workplace insurance policy.  

A home office can be beneficial under the right circumstances. But choosing a home that does not include one can benefit your insurance policy. At Vargas & Vargas, we are the premier local independent insurance agency. Contact us today with any questions you have or to learn more about customizing your insurance policy to meet your pricing needs.

Should You Insure Your Diamonds?

woman holding a diamond ring

Americans spent a record-breaking $20 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2020. This year, even in the wake of a pandemic, retail experts predict Valentine’s retail sales numbers around $27 billion! More specifically, Americans will buy anywhere from $5 to $10 billion in diamonds this year. That’s a lot of bling! At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we know our customers wonder if jewelry should be insured. Like everything else related to insurance, the answer is: it’s complicated. If you think you should insure your diamonds, we recommend speaking to an agent about your unique needs.

Homeowners Insurance and Renters Insurance Have Strict Limits on Jewelry

Before you start looking into policies, know that a property policy will usually only cover a few thousand dollars of jewelry. 

Depending on the insurer you choose, most homeowners and renters insurance policies will have a low limit for jewelry. You can add individual items — like that $10,000 bridal set — to your property policy by contacting your insurance agent. Usually, they’ll need to see some photos and an appraisal to “schedule” the jewelry onto your policy, and your premium will increase.

Your agent can schedule other expensive items on a policy, too. The Massachusetts Division of Insurance says artwork, fine silverware, and expensive furs are also good candidates for extra insurance.

On Appraisals and Valuations

The purpose of insurance is to protect a financial investment and to make you financially whole after a loss. Jewelry is sold with a very high markup. So your insurer will need to see some documents to prove the value of your gems. 

The most respected certificates and reports come from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), but a professional appraiser can provide them, too. Other certificates, reports, or receipts from the seller might not be enough to prove the value of your diamonds. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your property insurance to fit your needs and budget. Remember, if you have deeper questions about how to insure your diamonds, then contact a licensed agent today.

Downsizing or Rightsizing: Choosing a House and More

You may want to downsize from your primary residence to a smaller home that suits your current stage in life. Choosing a house that fits your lifestyle based on where you are in life is also known as rightsizing. You can downsize or rightsize for various reasons, including reducing expenses like housing costs proportional to the size of the home you live in. Some of these costs to consider include:

• Insurance

• Utility costs

• Furniture

• Home maintenance

A smaller house can significantly reduce your expenses and impact your insurance coverage. So, if you are wondering how downsizing or rightsizing will impact your insurance coverage, read on.

1. Home Office Insurance Implications

A home office can alter your home insurance coverage and increase the cost. The insurance company may consider additional people who come to your house as an insurance risk, increasing your home insurance cost. If you plan to rightsize and cut costs, a downsized home should not have a home office.

2. Downsize Number of Cars

When downsizing the number of cars you have, you save on insurance costs. The insurance quotes for your family cars include the car model and how often you drive it. 

If you own a sports car that’s expensive, it will cost more to insure compared to an SUV or a minivan. If you have two vehicles, you can eliminate the second one if that’s possible, depending on your family transport needs. This will save you money, especially on car insurance quotes.

3. Personal Auto Insurance Policy for Your Child

If your last child moves out, it will be wise to make sure the child has personal auto insurance coverage under their name. If they don’t have this policy, you might have to pay for expenses, or they will be expected to pay directly. Most auto insurance policies’ definitions of a family member require the family member to be part of your household.

4. Consider a Smaller House Without a Pool

A pool can be a liability, especially if you want to cut costs. As a homeowner, you will be liable for anyone that uses your pool with or without your permission. You may have to incur expenses up to 100,000 dollars in case of a pool accident. You can avoid these costs by not having a pool in your smaller house.

5. Smaller House Versus a Condo

Depending on your needs, you can choose to downsize to a condo or a smaller house. Condos are typically cheaper to maintain, considering that the condo association is responsible for the exterior walls, roof, and shared spaces. You will also not be thinking about landscaping.

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 when downsizing or resizing. Contact us today — we’re here to answer all your insurance questions. 

A Quick Guide to Shopping for Condo Insurance

couple shopping for condo insurance on their computer

If you are shopping for condo insurance, there are some things that you will need to understand to ensure that you get the right coverage for your specific needs. Knowing what the condo association insurance already covers is an excellent place to start. This will enable you to get condo insurance coverage that fills the gaps.

Condo association insurance covers mostly common areas within the building like roofs and shared spaces like walkways, but check with your condominium association for specifics on what they cover. Most master policies provide coverage for these areas:

• All-in policy

• Bare wall policy

• Original specification policy

Most contracts of the association will cover exterior damages of the building, and the condo owner will be responsible for managing the interior. With this information, you can assess your specific needs before getting condo insurance to fill the gaps. Here is a guide to what you need to look for as you shop:

1. Look for the Best Rates

If you have a car, you can get a discount of between 5% and 15% for a package that includes auto and condo insurance.

2. Consider the Features That You Need

Assess your needs and choose the policy that fits. Typically, condo insurance coverage will include coverage for:

• Damage to personal property

• Personal liability (for you and your family)

• Loss assessment

• Building property and fixtures

• Loss of use

You can also find additional features like identity theft and many more that might be specific to you as you start shopping for condo insurance.

3. Choose the Best Customer Service

You will need to get in touch with your insurance at a time when you are stressed. This can be due to theft or a disaster. Good customer service will be beneficial at that time. Look out for a company with a good customer service reputation.

Shopping for Condo Insurance Is Easy With Vargas & Vargas

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 our team is here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today to get started.

Entrepreneurs — Quickly Review Your Commercial Insurance Policy for 2021

small business owner wearing a mask and holding an open sign

Commercial insurance policies are complicated. At Vargas & Vargas, we know small business owners are focused on running their businesses. You don’t always have the time to pour over commercial insurance policies in detail. Today, we will make a few key points that you should consider as we move forward in 2021.

Review the Most Important Points of Your Commercial Insurance Policy

The declarations page (dec page) of your commercial insurance policy is usually the first page. It contains a ton of essential information. 

Before getting into the minutia, check that all the information on your dec page is correct:

  • A correct property address is vital for claims.
  • Ensure the contact names and business owner names are right. Only the named insured can make changes to a policy.
  • Be sure the contact phone numbers and email addresses on your policy are correct, too.

Then, consider your coverages. In the wake of COVID-19, we know many small businesses have evolved.

Has Your Business Changed Much in 2020? If So, Talk to an Agent

From social distancing and healthcare concerns that limit foot traffic to increased online shopping and curbside meals, we know the business landscape has changed in Massachusetts. You might need to adjust your insurance if:

  • You have much lower sales numbers than predicted in 2019 — maybe you’re stocking less inventory or hosting fewer customers. Either way, you might be able to reduce your premium because your risks are lower.
  • You’ve sent your workforce home.
  • You’ve scaled back operations.

In short, if you made any significant changes to your business in 2020, it’s time to talk to an insurance agent. 

If You’re Concerned About Civil Unrest

Commercial insurance policies usually cover civil unrest, riots, and malicious mischief. But if you’re worried about political turmoil in your neighborhood, then check your policy to be sure.

What if you’ve closed up the shop, but you’re still operating out of your home? Know that your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover much related to your business. You might still need a business owner’s policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your commercial insurance to your unique needs at the right price, and we’re here to answer your questions. Remember, if you have deeper questions about commercial insurance in Massachusetts or need help with a Business Owners Policy (BOP), contact a licensed agent today.

What Does Condo Insurance Cover?

family sitting together in a condo

Condo insurance is property insurance for condo owners. It’s designed to protect the condo contents and repair the unit in instances of fire or burglary. Condo insurance provides liability coverage for the condo owner, too. Today, we’ll take a closer look at Massachusetts condo insurance. We’ll explore the coverages and perils that policies can insure against — and highlight some gaps, too. Remember, if you have deeper questions about condo insurance, talk to a licensed insurance agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance today!

What’s Covered by Condo Insurance in Massachusetts?

Condo insurance policies in Massachusetts are similar to homeowners insurance, with a few key differences. The basic idea is the same — it’s an insurance policy that protects the condo owner from loss from perils like:

  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Burglary or theft
  • Civil riot 
  • Malicious mischief

In a nutshell, if your condo burns down or gets burglarized, then your insurance company will reimburse you for your belongings. Remember, condo insurance will only pay up to the policy limits (after the policyholder pays a deductible). It’s vital to know whether your condo insurance policy will pay you the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your belongings or Replacement Cost (RC)

Liability Coverage

“Liability” means responsibility. In Massachusetts, most condo insurance policies will include liability coverage. If a visitor stumbles in your home and breaks their ankle, this insurance covers you. 

What’s NOT Covered by Condo Insurance?

Condo owners don’t have an interest in the outer property. Your condo insurance policy won’t cover the condo building’s exterior, separate structures and outbuildings, fences, trees, and landscaping. 

Also, know that certain luxury items in your condo might not be covered. If you own an $18,000 painting by Pablo Picasso or a luxury strand of pearls, you’ll need to have them specifically added to your condo insurance policy. In addition, a standard condo policy in Massachusetts doesn’t cover some perils. Floods, for instance, require a separate flood policy.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your condo insurance to your unique needs at the right price, and we’re here to answer your insurance questions. Contact us today.

What’s the Difference Between Home Insurance and Property Insurance?

mother and son playing in the kitchen

Ever wondered what the difference is between homeowners insurance and property insurance? Maybe you saw both listed somewhere and wondered if they are different. Well, if you were wondering, here is a quick overview of the terms and what they mean — and why they are important to know. 

Property Insurance

Property insurance is an umbrella term for all different kinds of dwelling insurances and can include: 

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Renters insurance
  • Flood insurance
  • Earthquake insurance

Property insurance is normally part of your homeowners policy, but the homeowners policy doesn’t have to be the entire property insurance policy. For example, a property insurance policy could be for a dwelling that isn’t your home (see renters insurance). The homeowners policy will be more than just the property insurance. 

Home Insurance

Your homeowners policy will most likely be a hybrid policy that will include both the property insurance element and some riders that have other things on it. An example of a rider is if you have some expensive art or jewelry in your home, then you will get an additional rider to cover those expensive pieces. Here are a few of the perils that your homeowners insurance will typically cover: 

  • Fire
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects 
  • Loss of Use: This is when a part of your home ends up needing to be repaired. If it causes you extra expenses, your homeowners policy will reimburse you for those extra costs. Another part of this applies to rental properties. You may suffer from loss of rental income or “loss of rents” if you have a rental property that becomes unlivable due to a covered event. You will be reimbursed for the amount you would typically receive in rental income per month in this instance.

This list is not complete, but it should give an idea of the types of things that are covered in the typical homeowners insurance plan. Each homeowners insurance plan is customized for you, the homeowner, so the best way to discover what kind of coverage you currently have (or don’t have) is to check out the exclusions page of your policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is the 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. We’re also here to answer all of your insurance questions — contact us today.

Home and Home Insurance Winterization Tips

mother and infant child looking out their home's window during winter

The weather outside is definitely on its way to being frightful, and the fire may be so delightful. Have you winterized your home and checked to make sure your home insurance is ready for winter? Below are some home and home insurance winterization tips to make sure you are prepared for the season. 

Start Before Cold Winter Weather Sets In

Some basic steps to start your home winterization checklist include:

  • Clean your gutters. Get all the debris out to ensure that the winter rain and snow will have someplace to go.
  • Check for drafts, and seal up any extra breezy areas. This could be done using chalk or by installing door sweeps.
  • Have your furnace maintained to make sure that it’s working properly.
  • Change out the filter in your furnace. The furnace filter should be changed out regularly.
  • Change all the batteries in the detectors (carbon monoxide and smoke). It is recommended that you change your batteries in your detectors twice a year.
  •  Have your chimney swept. There could be dust, dirt, or even birds in there.
  • Check your windows and insulation.

Review Your Home Insurance Coverage

Add home insurance winterization to your to-do list. You will also want to check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure that you have enough coverage. There are many things that can happen in the winter, and you will want to make sure that your coverage has you prepared for any eventuality. It is a good idea to make sure that your insurance has flood coverage before you have a burst pipe in your home. This coverage takes time to take effect, and it will not cover you after the event has occurred. If you don’t know what you have, contact your insurance agency to find out.

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