Wearing a Seat Belt in Massachusetts Saves Lives and Is Mandatory

driver putting on her seat belt
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More than 25% of people in Massachusetts do not wear a seat belt. Massachusetts law requires you to do so, and it is common sense. Learn more about how not wearing a seat belt in Massachusetts can affect your car insurance and your legal liability in certain scenarios.

Seat Belts for Safety and the Law

Wearing a seat belt lowers the risk of severe injury in an accident for the driver and a front-seat passenger by 50%, according to the Massachusetts Transportation Safety Department. It also cuts the risk of death by 45%.

According to the Center for Disease Control, car crashes are the number one cause of death in the U.S. for Americans between one and 54 years old. Even when simply driving to the store for milk, you should always fasten your seat belt. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, think of your loved ones. Then make sure they buckle up, too. 

Different states manage seat belt laws in various ways, but every state has them. Not wearing a seat belt is a driving infraction. You won’t be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt in Massachusetts. But a driver stopped for a traffic violation and found not wearing a seat belt can be fined $25. That driver may also be fined for passengers not wearing their seat belts. 

A Seat Belt Violation Affects Your Insurance and Any Claim

Receiving a citation for not wearing a seat belt in Massachusetts can increase your insurance rate by up to three percent annually. That is on top of any increase for the primary citation, such as speeding.

But being in an accident while not wearing a seat belt can affect your insurance in another way. It could harm an injury claim with your insurance company. If you are the driver in an accident and a passenger isn’t wearing their seat belt, they can file a claim. You, as an individual, may be solely responsible. If your insurance company is aware of the lack of a seat belt, it may not help you pay damages.

Having automobile coverage is the law in Massachusetts. In fact, you must have four mandatory coverages, each in a minimal amount, to register your car in the state. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help. As a premier independent and local insurance agency, we will work with you to ensure you have proper coverage to meet Massachusetts’s standards, as well as your own. Contact us today.

3 Essential Steps to Prepare Your Car for Hurricane Season

Family getting into their car before a hurricane after learning about how to prepare your car for hurricane season

Hurricane season comes around every year, and with it, the fear of damage to life and property. However, with the right strategy, you can prepare your car for hurricane season.

While many people think of preparing their home and personal property for hurricanes, it’s vital not to neglect to prepare your automobile. When a severe hurricane is on the horizon, evacuation may be the best option, and your car needs to be ready. These tips can help:

1. Auto Insurance Review

It’s important to review your insurance with your insurance agent each renewal — or annually, at the very least.  If you have, then a quick review of your coverage and deductibles may be all you need as a reminder of your coverage details for potential damage. If you haven’t, make an appointment for a phone, virtual, or in-person insurance review with your agent before hurricane season. 

Hail, wind, and flood damage are all common concerns. But many people attempting to evacuate at once can also create collision and liability exposure. Understanding your coverage in advance of a claim is much better than being surprised later, and it’s an essential step as you prepare your car for hurricane season. 

2. Maintenance

Evacuating due to an impending hurricane is not the best time to realize your vehicle is not in good working order.  Making sure these critical items have been thoroughly checked will help you avoid being stranded later:

  • Tires: The treads should have sufficient wear remaining. Also, the tires should be properly inflated. 
  • Brakes: Brake pads should have adequate friction material. 
  • Battery: Replace a weak battery. 
  • Gas: A full gas tank is essential, as it may be a long distance before you can refuel. 
  • Air: Ensure air filters are clean because you and your family may be in the car for a while. This is especially important for those with respiratory issues. 
  • Fluids: All fluid levels should be checked and topped off if needed. 

3. Load Up

You may find yourself in your vehicle for a long period of time — even days in the worst-case scenario.  Having the following items ready to load up at a moment’s notice means you won’t forget them when you’re in a rush:

  • Important documents 
  • Medications
  • Pets
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Cell phone and other chargers
  • Blankets
  • Food and water
  • First aid kit
  • Cash
  • Clothing/Shoes/Personal hygiene Items

With the right preparation, you can approach the hurricane season without fear. Here are some tips for preparing your home, as well. As a premier local independent agency, Vargas & Vargas Insurance understands your concern for your family and your property. We work for you, not the insurance company. Contact us today to make sure your coverage is ready as you prepare your car for hurricane season.

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. 

4 Tips on Preparing Your Car for Spring

driver looking at the spring weather in a parked car

Preparing your car for spring helps to ensure it functions properly in the warmer weather. Spring cleaning not only allows you to remove all the dirt and snow debris, but the simple maintenance and checks that you do in the process can save your car from potential damage and save you money through your auto coverage. You can choose to clean your vehicle yourself or take it a professional. Here are tips for preparing your car for spring:

1. Wash Inside and Outside Your Car

Wash your car thoroughly and remove all the salt buildup and snow debris accumulated in the undercarriage. Removing the salt and buildup prevents rust and keeps your vehicle in good condition. Also clean the interior of the car, including the floor and mat.

2. Check Your Wipers

During winter, windshield wipers do a lot of work. Check and see if they are in good condition, then replace the blades if they are worn out. New wiper blades will give you better functionality and improved visibility as spring begins. Good visibility when driving is essential to reduce accidents.

3. Inspect Your Tires

Align and rotate each of your tires. Check the alignment and make sure the car is driving straight. Check the treads, as well. If you changed your tires to winter tires, you should switch back to all-season tires for better functionality in the spring.

4. Confirm Your Insurance 

Check your insurance policy and make sure it sufficiently covers claims that are common in the season. For example, you can look at the comprehensive coverage and familiarize yourself with what it entails.  You can also check with your insurance agent in case of any auto insurance benefits or discounts now available.

Transitioning from winter to spring requires proper preparation to ensure the safety and proper functionality of your vehicle. Whether preparing your car for spring is a DIY project or you choose to seek professional services, these tips will help your vehicle serve you better in spring. Vargas and Vargas is a premier local independent insurance company. We are here to answer all your insurance questions, so contact us today

Winterize Your Auto and Auto Insurance With These Tips

mom and child smiling in a car while it's snowing

As winter continues, it’s important to prepare your car for the harsher conditions. At the same time, you want to make sure that your auto insurance policy provides you with sufficient coverage for the season. Here are some tips on how to winterize your auto — and your auto insurance.

Winterizing Your Automobile

  • Make sure your 4-wheel drive works if you have it.
  • Check your vehicle’s belts and hoses. Cold weather can cause them to weaken and even break, so you may want to take your car in for a tune-up ahead of time.
  • Change your windshield wipers.
  • Always keep your fuel tank full. A near-empty tank in extremely cold weather can result in severe damage to your car.
  • Top off your fluids (coolant, wiper fluid, and so forth).
  • Check your oil. If you need to give your car an oil change, make sure you use a product with the right viscosity (or thickness).
  • Check your car’s battery. The last thing you want is a dead battery in freezing temperatures.
  • Check your air filters, and replace them as needed.
  • Make sure your tires have enough air pressure. You’ll likely have to periodically check on this throughout the winter. Also, consider putting on snow tires if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice during the cold season.

Winterizing Your Auto Insurance

It’s true that you can never foresee an auto accident or other winter-related damage. However, you can prepare. You may want to add collision coverage to your automobile insurance policy in the event that you slip or slide into something and damage your car that way. Also, comprehensive coverage will cover just about any other accident that causes damage to your car, such as a branch falling on your hood or damage from a snowbank.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you winterize your auto insurance so that it works best for you. We are one of the premier local independent insurance agencies, and we truly work for our clients, not ourselves. Our team of friendly experts would be happy to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

Do You Need Car Insurance If You Aren’t Driving Your Car?

In these times, most of us have experienced extreme upheaval when it comes to our routines. That may include working from home. You may be ordering groceries or take-out to be delivered instead of going out. This means that our cars remained parked. As a result, many car owners are starting to wonder if they should even have car insurance during these times.

man next to his car on his driveway

The short answer is, yes! Let’s explore why.

It’s Better to Maintain Coverage Than Have On-and-Off Coverage

Unless your car is completely out of commission — as in, it’s been totaled and is no longer drivable — you should keep insurance on it. The reason why is relatively simple: if you can still drive it, at some time, you probably will. That means there is always that chance that something could happen. 

Another reason is that if you cancel your car insurance, and then you end up needing it again, you will be labeled as high-risk to the underwriters. This means you may have a hard time obtaining car insurance, or you will end up paying more. So, it’s cheaper and safer to maintain insurance. 

Options for Stored Cars

If your car is locked away in a storage facility and you are definitely not going to be driving it anytime soon, meaning it will not be anywhere near any public road, you may be able to drop the coverage to comprehensive insurance only. This type of insurance protects the car from anything except a collision with another vehicle. For this reason, comprehensive insurance is sometimes referred to as “car storage insurance.”

How to Save on Car Insurance

Essentially, you do need to have insurance on your car (even if you aren’t driving that much). However, if you are concerned about the cost of premiums, it is always worth looking into different kinds of insurance and ways that you can save. Liability insurance is something that you have to have if your car is registered. But you may be able to take other kinds of coverage off of your car if you feel that you are not driving it enough to warrant having full coverage. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help answer your insurance questions and make sure you have the coverage you need. Contact us today to get in touch with a local representative.

Do I need comprehensive coverage if I have collision

Auto insurance is not just one type of insurance. In most cases, you will need to have liability insurance coverage to protect other drivers from you and any mishap you may have. This is mandated by each state and differs from place to place. When you have a car loan, the lender will make you carry certain other types of insurance to protect them. But after your loan is paid, you can decide what other parts of auto insurance you want to carry. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA we pride ourselves on our ability to help you solve your insurance problems at the most competitive rates available. 

When it comes to the question do I need comprehensive coverage if I have collision coverage it is important to understand the type of coverage both of these types of insurance providers. In some ways, it is like comparing apples and oranges, the things that are covered by both types are really quite different. 

Collision insurance pays for repair or replacement of your vehicle in an accident where you are deemed to be the responsible party or at least partially responsible. This is coverage that usually involves another vehicle but it can also be an inanimate object like a pole or a tree. Comprehensive is often referred to as non-collision coverage. It covers things that are beyond the driver’s control like a large animal running into the road in front of your vehicle. Glass coverage is usually also included. Comprehensive insurance includes weather events that impact your vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen or vandalized comprehensive insurance coverage will kick in. 

As you see, these are both very important types of coverage and there is no overlap in the coverage. For more information about both of these types of auto insurance give the office of Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA a call. 

The biggest benefit of working with a local independent insurance agent like Vargas & Vargas is that our licensed local agents work with many insurance companies. We will customize your insurance policy to your own specific needs, then we can move forward getting quotes from the best companies for your unique situation

Need some Massachusetts insurance quotes? Let’s talk!

Progressive vs. Geico Insurance

younger couple comparing Progressive and Geico insurance coverages

All insurers are not created equal, nor are all insurance policies. We’re not here to sling mud or speak badly about any insurance provider! But we are going to explain how every insurance company has an ideal customer in mind, and show you some specific differences between Progressive and Geico insurance policies as examples. Our duty at Vargas & Vargas Insurance is to connect every customer with the right insurance policy. We work with many major insurance companies, and we can help take the guesswork out of any of your Massachusetts insurance policies. As always, if you have questions beyond the scope of this article, reach out to us today.

About Progressive

Progressive is a well-respected insurer with an excellent reputation. Their ideal client is a multi-line household — in case you hadn’t noticed “Flo’s” focus on insurance “bundling” in their advertising campaigns. Progressive will insure your home and autos, and the company offers life insurance choices, too. They provide great coverages for adults with multiple insurance needs.

  • Progressive provides homeowners insurance in-house; they don’t farm it out. 

About Geico

Geico began as an insurance provider for government employees and gradually broadened their scope. Geico’s focus is providing economical pricing on auto insurance, though they also insure recreational vehicles like motorcycles and RVs. They usually have somewhat better rates for some riskier drivers, like those who have had many at-fault accidents, those with many speeding tickets, and young inexperienced drivers.

  • Geico does not write their homeowners insurance policies. They can provide you a quote, but they “farm out” the policy to a partner.

Our Perspective

At Vargas & Vargas, we work hard to match the right type of insurance policy to our customers. Both Progressive and Geico homeowners policies, for instance, will provide replacement cost coverage. Still, they offer different bells and whistles, as well as different rates. 

Both Progressive and Geico homeowner’s policies provide medical payments to others in case of injury, liability coverage, and coverage for water or sewer damages. However, Geico and Progressive recommend lower limits of liability and deductibles on glass coverage, where most insurance professionals do not. And both companies offer varying discounts (like paid-in-full discounts, paperless billing discounts, multi-line discounts, and so on).

The biggest benefit of working with an independent insurance agent like Vargas & Vargas is that our licensed, independent insurance agency works with many insurance companies. We know their underwriting criteria and know their ideal customer. Our goal is to spend time with each prospective client to get a feel for your insurance needs. Then we can move forward getting quotes from the best companies for your unique situation

Need some Massachusetts insurance quotes? Let’s talk!

These Auto Insurance Companies Are Giving Money Back During COVID-19

couple looking at reduced insurance premiums during shelter-in-place orders

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused immense strain — physically, mentally, and financially. While the uncertainty of the coming months continues to weigh heavily on everyone’s minds, more and more stories are coming to light every day about individuals and corporations trying to do what they can to help. The insurance industry is among them. Several companies have implemented plans in recent days that will attempt to lessen the monetary burden their customers are facing for car insurance and other policies. Wondering if your company is one of them? Check out the list below. 

Farmers

Customers with Farmers or 21st Century-branded policies will see a 25% reduction on their premium for the month of April. The discount will be applied as a credit to next month’s billing statement. If you paid your premium in full, it will be issued as a check or direct deposit to the account on file. The reduction is being applied automatically and requires no action on your part. 

State Farm

State Farm policyholders will be apportioned part of a $2 billion dividend from the company. While exact percentages for individual customers will vary by state, policyholders will be credited a percentage of their premium from March 20 through May 1. The company estimates that the average will be about 25% of the premium for that time frame, and customers don’t need to take action to receive the credit. 

Progressive

Policies active with Progressive at the end of April or May will receive a 20% premium credit. The company will notify its policyholders when the credit will appear, and it will be automatically credited toward the balance of their next bill. If you’ve paid your policy in full, then either a check will be issued, or the amount will be deposited into the payment account on file.  

Allstate and Esurance

Through the months of April and May, Allstate and their family company Esurance are offering customers a 15% refund based on their premiums for those months. The money will be directly deposited into whatever account their latest payment was made (or credited to their account) – so no action is required by customers to receive the money. The company is also offering payment relief plans upon request, extended coverage for personal vehicles in certain commercial capacities, and the ability to sign up for free identity theft coverage through 2020. 

Nationwide

For policies active as of March 31, 2020, Nationwide will be offering policyholders a one-time premium refund of $50. When you’ll see the money will vary by state regulatory approval. The company is also offering the ability to suspend some cancellations, defer payments for certain policies, and waive some late fees in certain circumstances due to COVID-19 related hardships. While no action is required for the premium refund, you’ll need to reach out to a representative for additional considerations.

USAA

Every member with USAA who has an auto policy in effect as of March 31, 2020, will receive a 20% credit on two months of premiums without needing to contact the company. Extended coverage, policy leniency, and special payment arrangements are also available upon request. 

Geico

 A 15% renewal discount is being offered by Geico for auto, motorcycle, and RV policies set to renew between April 8 and October 7, 2020, for 6-month policies and between April 8 and April 7, 2021, for 12-month policies. The credit is also being extended to new business policies written between April 8 and October 7, 2020.

No action is required on the customer’s end; the discount will be credited automatically upon renewal. Cancellations due to nonpayment have also been paused through at least April 30, 2020, for all states, while some states may get longer windows. You can see if your state has a longer grace period here.  

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual customers with personal auto insurance policies will receive a 15% refund on two months of premiums, based on the premium amount as of April 7, 2020. The refund will be automatically deposited into the account used to make your last payment or by check. When the funds will arrive is subject to individual state regulations, but customers do not have to take any action to receive their money. 

Vargas and Vargas Insurance is here to help you. As local independent insurance agents, we represent many local insurance companies that are also offering to lessen the burden when it comes to your automobile insurance premiums. Contact us with your insurance questions or to get a quote. We’re available during business hours at 617-298-0655, or you can reach out through text and online. We take pride in helping you with all of your coverage needs and look forward to taking care of you today.

What Should You Do If Your Car Insurance Gets Canceled?

Car insurance is something that we have to have if we legally want to be able to drive our automobile. However, we have all been in situations where we forget to pay for it. Car insurance is something we know we need, but it often falls through the cracks. We either have it or we don’t, but most people generally don’t think about it. 

man smiling and driving a sedan
Talk to your insurance company about your options instead of letting your car insurance lapse.

Did you forget it, or were you out of town and fail to see the “due by” notices? Maybe you moved, and the notice got lost in a moving box. Either way, it can be a frustrating mess. But don’t just let your coverage lapse. Here’s what you can do instead.

The Right Way to Handle Car Insurance Cancellations

In Massachusetts, a car insurance provider has the right to cancel your car insurance for lack of payment. However, they will send you a warning ahead of cancellation. Insurance providers are obligated to give you a notice 20 days in advance of the cancellation. 

This means if you fail to pay by December 1, they can send out a notice giving you until the 21st of December. Failure to pay by the 21st will mean that your policy ends and you are no longer covered. 

If you are unable to pay and wish to avoid cancellation, there are a few things you can do. They include:

  • Contacting your insurance provider
  • Asking for a negotiation to keep your policy active
  • Providing proof of why you lapsed in payment (for example, in the event of a hospital stay or a family emergency)

Often, if you talk to your insurance representative, you can get your coverage reinstated if you show good cause. Otherwise, you can appeal through the Board of Appeals

What If I Want to Just Cancel My Policy?

Once you receive a cancellation notice, it can be tempting to just let it happen and search for new coverage. But you should never allow your policy to lapse. There’s a right way and a wrong way to cancel a policy that you no longer want. 

  • The Right Way: If you want to improve your coverage by switching to a new company or policy, you are legally able to do it. There may be a penalty for canceling mid-policy, but it is still better to avoid the company canceling. Contact your insurance provider and explain to them why you want to cancel and ask about the penalty cost for doing so. You can also choose to cancel as your policy ends, especially if you are just changing companies. 
  • The Wrong Way: Simply allowing your insurance company to cancel your policy may come with some pretty nasty consequences. Your insurance providers are obligated to tell the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) if your policy lapses, which could result in you losing your license. If you are caught driving without insurance coverage, you could face fines and more. It is topped off by the fact that a lapse will impact your credit rating

Plan Before You Cancel

Canceling a policy should never be done without thought. If you are switching companies, look at your current provider’s penalties for canceling an existing policy. You may also consider having your new insurance company talk to your current provider to resolve the issue. This will prevent cancellation penalties and ensure a gap-free transition.

If you are considering changing your insurance policy, Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help. You can contact us or request a free quote.