Recap: 2018 Blogs in Review

“The process for finding, creating, and consuming information has fundamentally changed with the advent of the web and the rise of blogging.” – Ryan Holiday

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we have put a lot of effort into providing our clients with interesting and informative content all year round. In 2018 alone, we have posted dozens of blogs with varied content – you’re sure to find something of interest to you or your loved ones. Here are just a few examples of posts from the last year:

What was your favorite blog post from 2018? There are so many great ones from which to choose!

We also want to ask that you subscribe or stay tuned to our agency in 2019. We have a lot of exciting plans and we don’t want you to miss a thing! There will be plenty of blogs with tips about insurance, home ownership, automobiles, running a business, and much more.

And, as always, make sure that you call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency in 2019 if you have any insurance needs. We will always work hard to make sure that you get the coverage you need, so don’t fret – just call 617-298-0655.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog – 2018 in Review

2018 has been a great year here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We are proud to say that we help the residents of Boston protect their homes, cars, businesses and beyond, and we look forward to continuing our journey to complete customer protection in 2019. If you’ve been visiting our blog this year, you may be familiar with some of the content we have posted. For those of you that don’t subscribe, however, here is a quick recap of what you may have missed this year. Click on the title of the article to visit the full post!

January – Avoiding and Treating Frozen Pipes

When the outside temperatures drop, so too can the temperature in your home’s water system. Prevent frozen pipes by ensuring that pipes are properly insulated and letting faucets drip on especially cold nights. If your pipes freeze, call a plumbing professional for help.

February – What Is Liability Coverage, and Why Do You Need It?

Many of your insurance policies likely have ‘liability protection’ built in. What does this mean? As our post states, “Liability insurance is the critical coverage that offers financial protection if you are sued or held legally liable for damages to another person, such as property damage, injury or negligence.” This makes it an indispensable coverage for you and your loved ones!

March – 10 Essential (and Easy to Forget) Home Maintenance Tasks

Maintaining a home can be a chore, but there are certain things that need to be done in order to ensure the operation and safety of your things. Check out the link to the full blog post for tips on how to keep your fridge in tip top shape, the importance of testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, extending the life of your clothes dryer, and much more.

April – Common Insurance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In this springtime blog post, we covered the top three mistakes made with three of our most popular products: home insurance, car insurance, and business insurance. At Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we always aim to make sure that our customers get superior customer service, and that all these mistakes are avoided when choosing a policy.

May – Build Better Habits at Work

Do you ever wish that you could be a little more productive at work? In this post we shared tips for how employees can make the most out if their days at the office, and how business owners can encourage employees to be at their best.

June – The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping

Summer is a favorite time of year for Boston families to take road trips, so we published several tips including destinations that would be perfect for a long or short trip, a ‘to-do’ list for before you hit the road, and some ideas to avoid having all your passengers asking, “Are we there yet?”

July – Flood Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

What is flood insurance? Do you need a flood insurance policy? All our most frequently asked questions about flood insurance are in one place! Get answers to “What is federal disaster assistance?” as well as “What is a flood zone?” and much more in this informative post.

August – The Best Apps for Homeowners

Nowadays, there is a smartphone app for everything. We found eight great apps that every homeowner should check out. How many do you have, and are there any on our list that you might find you can’t live without? Includes recommendations for Android phones and iPhones.

September – The Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant

As a business owner, do you ever wish that you could take certain tasks off your plate? Having a virtual assistant can do just that. Hire someone that can balance your weaknesses and free up your time so that you can focus on more important factors in your business.

October – Savings Account: Critical for Your Financial Success

Do you have enough saved up for a rainy day? It’s estimated that 7 in 10 Americans would struggle financially after losing income for just one month. This blog espouses the importance of compounding interest, as well as gives several tips on how to boost the amount of money that you save.

November – Cancelling Auto Coverage Can Affect Future Rates

If you’re thinking about cancelling your auto insurance policy, make sure that you talk to your Massachusetts auto insurance agent first so that you can discuss potential repercussions, including increased rates on policies in the future.

December – Steps to Take Before Buying Business Insurance

Business insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. With the help of an experienced insurance agent, you can get the coverage that your business needs for a reasonable price. In this post, we highlight a few things that you should think about before purchasing a commercial insurance policy, including your business’s level of risk and the Massachusetts state requirements for coverage.

What did you think of our posts in 2018? We have lots more great content planned for next year, so make sure that you subscribe to the blog! Happy New Year from your friends at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency and remember – one call to 617-298-0655 and we will help you get the best possible insurance policies!

Consider a Strategic Business Alliance to Expand Client Base

 

A business alliance with a company that provides products or services that complement those of your company may help you grow your business.

One reason to consider a business alliance is that it does not have to be a legal partnership requiring contracts and lawyers. You may team up in an informal arrangement with another business, to share customer contacts and marketing strategies. This type of group effort may save both businesses money.

When pooling your resources with that of another company, this may enable both of you to diversify your product and service offerings. This may have the potential of expanding your clientele considerably. You may pool your resources with advertising, internet marketing, participating in local festivals or trade shows, and effectively cut back on expenses.

Before you make a decision on a business alliance, you should do some research on how much business you potential business partner does, what kind of market presence they have. After all, you do not want to partner up with a business that is only waiting for you to send them business and not be reciprocating.

Should you not want to have such a structured framework for your business alliance, you may consider an arrangement in which your company and another company simply refer each other to customers for certain kinds of jobs. Any business expansion may bring with it a need for additional Massachusetts business insurance coverage. You may want to contact your agent to determine any extra policies you may need.*

If you have decided to start such an alliance, it’s important to move slowly and see if in fact you and your partner are really compatible in the “real world”. And many such alliances may make both partners look better.

When you experience business growth, you may want to consider reviewing your Massachusetts business insurance policies in case you need additional financial protection.

Should you have additional questions or wish to learn more about setting up an alliance, please call me at 617-298-0655 ext 101 or leave a message below.

Carlos

How to Spend Less at the Grocery Store

Did you know that an average family of four spends between $200 and $250 at the grocery store each week? The dollars spent feeding your family are important… after all, nutrition is key to a long, healthy life. But what if you could get the same results by spending less? If you want to reduce your grocery bill, try integrating one (or all) of these tips into your next shopping foray:

  • The more you can plan ahead for your shopping trip, the less room there will be in your cart for impulse purchases. Plan your family’s meals ahead of time, and you will know exactly what you need to buy before you even leave your home. You can even search out budget-friendly recipes!
  • Learn to compare unit prices. Sometimes, you can save money in the long run buy buying a larger size product – just make sure that buying the larger product won’t increase your consumption, and that you aren’t buying more than you need just to save per ounce or per piece.
  • Clipping coupons used to be the most popular way to save money at the store. It’s still a great option, but there’s an app (actually, several) for that. If you can use a smartphone, you can use great apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 to save at the store. Again, just make sure that you don’t get lured into buying items that you don’t need.

Want to save even more? Let Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency do your insurance shopping for you! We will review your insurance needs and find the perfect policy for you, ensuring that it has both the right coverage and the right price point! Call 617-298-0655 to find out if we can save you money today.

Forget the New Year Resolutions and Set SMART Goals

Is this crazy or what? December has completely snuck up on us. Did you know that there are only 6 “work days” left between now and December 22nd when things will shut down for the holidays? While December is a month of celebration and cheer, it’s also the time to get planning for a successful 2017.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “What you don’t measure you don’t improve”?

I started this writing last week thinking that I would be writing to you about New Year resolutions, but the more that I dug through my past resolutions, I found that I have never succeeded with almost any of them. Some of my past resolutions have been; lose weight, become more physically active, be a better life partner (I hope that I have made some headway with this one), be a better parent, be a better person, prospect for more of this or that kind of insurance lines of business, etc.. This quote became so poignant when I read it.

Don’t get me wrong; I think that New year Resolutions may be worth making for some, but, perhaps they are a guideline for us to follow, rather than an exact recipe that will place more pressure on our already overburdened lives.

It’s certainly true in business, sports, and science, but what about in life? How do you measure progress in your life? With work or business, we could use our income. But what about our health, relationships, or intellectual growth?

So, are You ready for 2018?

Will 2018 be your best year yet?

What are you doing to make 2018 your best year yet?

I will be truthful with you, I failed a lot in 2017, but also had many successes. I have learned from those failures, and hope to harp on the achievements.

Do you know the feeling; I mean the failure feeling?

Don’t use the “failure feeling” to rekindle those strong negative emotions (it’s not easy, especially if they were severe). Instead, I hope that you learn from your failures as I do.

Like many people, I sometimes struggle to stay focused on my goals. Week in and week out, there is always a “new way of doing things” or a “new shiny whistle” that tries to take my attention away from what is important.

While planning and goal setting is vital in the business world, I hope that you don’t forget that it is just as important to establish goals for your personal life. Don’t forget that without our health and our relationships, many of our lives would be meaningless!

Setting and achieving your goals may be difficult, but there is help available. Here are few of my recommendations:

Here’s what Michael Hyatt says about goal setting:

Make them “SMART.” This is an acronym, as you probably know, and it is interpreted in various ways by different teachers. When I refer to SMART goals, I mean goals that meet five criteria. They must be:

  • Specific—your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster.
    • Bad: Write a book.
    • Good: Write a book proposal for The Life Plan Manifesto.
  • Measurable—as the old adage says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If possible, try to quantify the result. You want to know absolutely, positively whether or not you hit the goal.
    • Bad: “Earn more this year than last.”
    • Good: “Earn $5,000 more this year than last.”
  • Actionable—every goal should start with an action verb (e.g., “quit,” “run,” “finish,” “eliminate,” etc.) rather than a to-be verb (e.g., “am,” “be,” “have,” etc.)
    • Bad: Be more consistent in blogging.
    • Good: Write two blog posts per week.
  • Realistic—you have to be careful here. A real goal should stretch you, but you have to add a dose of common sense. I go right up to the edge of my comfort zone and then step over it. (If I am not out of my comfort zone, I’m not thinking big enough.)
    • Bad: Qualify for the PGA Tour.
    • Good: Lower my golf handicap by four strokes.
  • Time-bound—every goal needs a date associated with it. When do you plan to deliver on that goal? It could be by year-end (December 31), or it could be more near-term (September 30). A goal without a date is just a dream. Make sure that every goal ends with a ‘by when’ date.
    • Bad: Lose 20 pounds.
    • Good: Lose 20 pounds by December 31st.

Once you have SMART goals for your professional and personal life, make sure to Write them down and place them in a visible location, like on your desk or the refrigerator (I have my goals taped to the wall in my closet).

Click here for more information on Michael Hyatt’s goal setting techniques.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
-Helen Keller

I hope that you have a happy, prosperous and safe new year!

Carlos

 

 

 

Going dark to recharge the batteries!

 

Summertime is quickly coming to an end.  I am going dark for a little while.

Kathy and I are headed out of town to refuel. Years ago, we started vacationing “on the shoulder” of seasons, due to the cost, less hustle, and bustle at popular vacation spots.

After many months of doing my best to encourage, inspire and serve, giving many presentations, coaching some amazing business people, and making many new friends, we are taking some time to refresh our batteries.

Doing good for others without doing good for yourself isn’t very good, is it?

This is why you will not be hearing from me for the next few weeks.

So I’m taking this time to regenerate, spend time with friends and loved ones, swim, golf, continue my quest to be better physically fit, read, reflect, and just be a human being versus a human doing. I’ve been at this for a long time (37 years) and hope to be around many, many more years. Vitality is essential for longevity, so I’m protecting mine.

I will also be using my “dark time” to reread some of my favorite books. Try to reshape my thinking, develop my philosophy, and reset my being, so I come back strong in early October so that I can serve you even better.

One of the books that I am re-reading is Questions for the Dalai Lama: Answers on Love, Success, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life. Here is a passage that I felt was worthy to share with you:

 

What did you enjoy reading this summer? Leave a reply below, I would LOVE to know.

Hope all this helps. After all, our world needs more heroes. Why wait for them when you have it in you to become one of them?

In my absence, please remember that Jeff Camara and the Vargas and Vargas Insurance team are always available to help you and your clients with insurance questions, quotes, and any problems you may encounter.  They can be reached by:

Telephone: 617-298-0655
Text: 617-409-0329
Quote team email: quotes@vargasinsurance.com
Service and claim team email: customerservice@vargasinsurance.com 

And know that you are loved! Now go out and have some awesome weeks!

It’s your turn (it’s always your turn)!

C

How to File a Life Insurance Claim

The death of a loved one is a stressful event, and the agents here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency want to make sure that you are able to navigate the process as easy as possible. If you are the beneficiary of the deceased’s life insurance policy, there are a few steps that you will need to take in order to submit a claim on their Massachusetts life insurance policy.

  1. Get several copies of the Death Certificate. Many financial institutions will need an official copy of the certificate in order to close accounts, and life insurance companies are no different.
  2. Call the insurance company. When you call, you will most likely need the following information: the insured person’s full name, date of birth, life insurance policy number (if known), and date and cause of death.
  3. Complete all necessary paperwork. Depending on the deceased’s insurance provider, you will probably need to fill out some paperwork in order to make a claim.
  4. Decide on the payout type. Some insurance providers only provide lump sum payouts for life insurance claims, but others will offer installments or annuities
  5. Wait for payout. Often, payouts will be sent soon after the insurance provider reviews and approves the claim. Ask your Massachusetts insurance agent the approximate timeline, and when you should expect to receive a check.

In this tough time, we hope to make the life insurance claim process as stress-free as possible. If you have any questions about your coverage, or about how much life insurance you should have as a benefit to your loved ones, just call 617-298-0655. One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will be able to answer your questions or get you a free life insurance quote.

Should You Stage Your “For Sale” Home?

When trying to sell your Massachusetts home, you know that it is important to do everything you can to entice buyers. One of the best things you can do to increase interest in your home is to stage it. Depending on the Boston real estate agent you work with, they may recommend staging your home right away, or waiting to see the initial interest to evaluate the need for professional staging services.

It is important to note the value in staging a home that’s for sale. In the 2017 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of Realtors, you can see facts that may convince you to stage your home from the outset of your sale, including:

  • 49% of buyers’ agents said that a staged home had an effect on their buyer’s view.
  • About one third of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered on the home. 50% of sellers’ agents said this increase was up to ten percent.
  • In addition, nearly 40% of sellers’ agents said that staging a home ‘greatly reduces’ the amount of time that the home is on the market.

If you’re thinking of listing your home for sale, contact Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a list of trusted Massachusetts real estate agents. We work with some of the best in the business, and we would be happy to help you chose the real estate agent that’s right for you. And remember to call us at 617-298-0655 for help with all of your Massachusetts insurance needs.

Massachusetts Traffic Safety Initiatives

 

We are all so lucky to live in the great state of Massachusetts. But I think there’s one other thing we can all agree on – traffic is sometimes (if not often) a mess. If you’ve ever encountered a traffic jam and thought you may never make it to your destination – fear not… you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are many traffic programs here in Massachusetts that are aimed at making the roads better for all drivers. Here are three examples of these traffic safety initiatives:

Click It or Ticket

Did you know that the national average for seatbelt use is 90%? However, Massachusetts has one of the worst seatbelt use cases – 78%. In order to raise the state’s seatbelt use to be closer to the national average, the Highway Safety Division has been using the Click It or Ticket campaign since 2002. It has worked wonders, and has greatly increased seatbelt use and the number of serious injuries and fatalities associated with vehicle accidents.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

In 2014, 40% of Massachusetts traffic deaths were a result of impaired driving. In order to lower the number of intoxicated drivers, Massachusetts began the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” education and enforcement campaign, targeted at men aged 21-34 – the most likely group to drink and drive.

Move Over Law

First responders and police officers are hurt and killed every year while providing aid in emergency situations. In 2009, the state of Massachusetts aimed to keep these people safe by implementing the “Move Over Law,” which requires drivers to move into the next available lane (or, if no other lane exists, to reduce their speed) when emergency vehicles or personnel are present.

For more traffic safety tips, make sure that you follow the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog. We love to post articles that will help to keep you and your loved ones safe while out on the road. And the next time you’re looking for a fair and honest auto insurance review, call our agency at 617-298-0655. We can help you save money while ensuring that you and your vehicle are protected in case of an accident

How to Get Better Gas Mileage

Have you ever looked at your car’s gas gauge only to realize that it’s time for another fill-up? That glum feeling of needing to refuel doesn’t happen to just you – many people think that they spend more than they should on gas. If you’re looking to get the most of your fill-ups, use these tips:

  • Take more efficient trips – instead of going out several times in a week to run errands, try to combine your trips so that you’re travelling fewer miles and using less gasoline.
  • Maintain proper tire inflation – your car will be able to use its fuel more efficiently if its tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI.
  • Keep your car tuned – engine tune-ups can ensure that your car runs at its best and therefore uses less fuel.
  • Don’t carry excess weight – every extra few pounds in your car will mean your car uses more gas to accelerate and maintain speed, so decluttering your car could save more than your sanity.
  • Use good driving habits – aggressive driving has been proven to waste gasoline. This means that defensive drivers could spend less at the pump. In addition, avoiding rapid acceleration and not speeding can further improve your gas mileage.

To save even more, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for an auto insurance review! One quick and painless call to 617-298-0655 could save you money on your Massachusetts car insurance premiums. We will also check to ensure that you are getting all of the discounts that you deserve. Don’t put it off any longer – call now!