Does Your Renters Insurance Cover Your Side Hustle at Home?

A side hustle is an excellent option for most people to generate extra income. If you run a side hustle from your home, you may not have insurance to cover the business. Without proper insurance, you could find yourself at a loss if you get sued or if your property is damaged.

woman working on her side-hustle in her home office

Renters Insurance

Your renters insurance policy covers an extensive range of property inside your home. It can help you recover laptops, computers, tablets, projectors, and printers after theft or damage. Sometimes, renters insurance can cover items you keep outside and use for deliveries such as a bicycle. In some cases, you can cover your side hustle by adding a rider to your current policy.

However, there are exceptions. Most renters insurance policies cover items you use at home and not for business. Some policies might not extend to cover items used outside the home. For example, if you are a photographer with expensive equipment that you use outside the house, a standard renters policy might not help you.

If your policy provider chooses to cover property that you use for business, the limit might be lower than one provided under a business policy. When the business item you want to include in your renters insurance is not part of your current contract, talk to your provider about an endorsement.

How to Know When Your Side Hustle Needs Insurance

When you are considering finding separate insurance for your side hustle, there are several questions you should ask yourself. Those include:

  • Do customers come to pick products from your home?
  • Do you handle critical and private information?
  • Do you handle people’s children or pets?
  • Could anyone get sick as a result of your business?
  • Would a lawsuit leave you broke?

Commercial Policies

Let’s face it, your side hustle may be safe for now, but there is no assurance. When tragedy strikes, you need to be prepared. Finding commercial insurance for your business will provide better coverage than your current policy. There are various commercial policies available depending on the risks of your business.

Looking for Insurance?

To find the right insurance cover for your side hustle, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today!

Does Commercial Insurance Cover Storm Surge Damage?

People often get confused when referring to storm surge damage as opposed to flooding. Storm surge creates damages as a result of the force of the water pushing and pulling a structure, whereas flood damage occurs with inland flooding and standing water. 

Storm Surge Damage

When it comes to storm surge damage, most commercial insurance policies directly cover this type of damage. Although the damage stems from water, it isn’t classified as flood damage. Anyone who lives near a coastline or waterway adjacent to an open body of water that experiences storms should make sure their commercial policy mentions this type of protection specifically to help prevent losses when a storm occurs.

Getting the Right Policy

Finding the right commercial insurance policy can be tricky, which is why it helps to use reputable insurance agents who have agents with insight and experience helping clients get the right coverages. Anyone who lives near the Dorchester, MA area, should sit down with an agent from Vargas & Vargas Insurance to find out what options are available and can help protect from threats such as storm surge damages. With an agent to assist you, losses and gaps can be minimized and you get greater peace of mind knowing that you are covered. 

Don’t guess when it comes to selecting commercial insurance coverage that will protect property from storm surge damage. Call or stop by Vargas & Vargas Insurance, serving Dorchester, MA to find out what policy terms and conditions outline and how to find a policy that matches current and future needs. Agents are ready to help serve clients to give them ultimate protection. 

What You Need to Know About the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

entrepreneur working at home in her kitchen due to COVID-19 and reading about the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

The forced indefinite closure of many small businesses throughout the nation has caused many owners uncertainty about their ability to retain employees and successfully reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, which was passed on March 27, provides emergency funds to qualifying businesses with a maximum of 500 employees. 

What Is the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act? 

The Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act is a $377 billion package of grants and loans intended to help keep small businesses across the nation functional during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, the largest section of the act, provides small businesses with loans that are to be used to continue paying employees while businesses are closed. These loans may be obtained immediately through over 800 SBA-certified banks and credit unions. Other aspects of the act include:

  • Entrepreneurial assistance.
  • Emergency EIDL grants.
  • Small business debt relief. 

Paycheck Protection Program

Under the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, the Paycheck Protection Program will provide loans to qualifying small businesses. The amount can be as great as 250 percent of the business’s total monthly payroll. It provides temporary funds to cover employees’ salaries, tips, and benefits. In doing so, the act hopes to minimize the financial difficulties that both employees and the small business will face in the coming months. 

Other Elements of the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

The act also includes several billion dollars in funds that may be used to grant immediate relief to qualifying businesses. This section allows for:

  • Up to $10,000 through the EIDL program.
  • The provision of counseling, training, and other services to struggling businesses.
  • The provision of sick leave.
  • Easier access to other loan programs.

Many small businesses will need to adjust how they handle their finances in the coming weeks and months in order to successfully reopen and stay open. However, the emergency funds provided by the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act make it easier to pay bills and employees. By keeping employees paid throughout the pandemic, businesses keep their employees’ financial struggles to a minimum and increase their likelihood of returning instead of searching for new positions.  

The Essential Insurance Checklist for Massachusetts Restaurants

The Massachusetts restaurant industry is thriving, and you have invested substantial time and money into launching a successful eatery. It is important to protect your investment, but the dining industry poses certain risks that may not be covered by standard commercial property, general liability, or workers’ compensation insurance policies.

Owner of a restaurant standing in the doorway of her restaurant

Restaurant entrepreneurs should be aware of several specialized coverages available to them:

  • Product Liability Coverage: The food-service industry demands rigorous health and safety standards. However, even with sound food-handling protocols, foodborne illness may strike and make guests ill. Also, cross-contamination in the kitchen may trigger allergic reactions in some diners. Product liability coverage can help insure against claims made by guests who become ill from eating at your restaurant.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Restaurant equipment can be expensive to own, lease, maintain, and repair. Unfortunately, this expensive equipment can break down or fail as a result of weather events or a power surge. Equipment breakdown insurance can help you cover out-of-pocket costs associated with certain instances of equipment failure.
  • Food Contamination Coverage: This insurance may protect against losses arising from spoilage resulting from mechanical or power failure.
  • Liquor Liability Insurance: If you serve alcohol, you should already maintain the liquor liability insurance required by Massachusetts law. However, you will want to check your limits and exclusions and make sure you are covered for both your on-site and catering activities.
  • Loss of Business Income Insurance: If your business is closed for any period of time because of property damage or severe weather, loss of business income insurance may help bridge gaps in income so you can meet your financial obligations.  
  • Commercial Auto Insurance: You may need commercial auto insurance for company-owned vehicles like food trucks or catering vans that employees drive. If your employees use their personal vehicles to deliver food, you may require hired and non-owned auto insurance to protect against accidents caused by the employee in the course of his delivery duties.
  • Additional Coverage: Your restaurant likely has furniture, furnishings, and artwork, and you will want contents coverage to help pay the cost of replacing these items in the event of damage or destruction. If you lease the building in which your eatery operates, you may also need betterment coverage. This coverage provides protection against loss or damage to fixtures or improvements you have made to the space.

A restaurateur who owns her building will have different insurance needs than one who leases space in a food court. Similarly, a steakhouse that offers a selection of expensive wines may require different coverage than a deli that serves paper-wrapped sandwiches. Contact the local experts at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to ask about a customized insurance package that is suited to your specific needs.

How to Read Your Declarations Page(s)

Have you ever read an insurance contract? Not many have.

However, this voluminous document has everything you need to know about your insurance coverage and is essential in the event of a claim.

There is a short cut: The Declarations Page.

This document outlines and summarizes your insurance coverage. And it’s easy to read and only a few pages. It’s also key to determining if you have adequate coverage at an affordable price.

Policy Number and Policy Period  This is the top of your policy.  If you need to speak to your Independent Insurance Agent about your policy, you should direct your attention to this section at the outset of your conversation.

The policy period also helps for you to mark your calendar so you can be reminded of your annual review.

Maybe your credit score is improved or maybe your kids are grown. These are just a couple examples of life events that can occur that warrant an annual insurance review.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there is the likely possibility that insurance carriers have revamped their policies. You may be eligible for new discounts or more competitive pricing.

Coverages and Premiums.  The different coverages of your policy are presented line-by-line with the attendant premium in the right column, or in some cases, the discount in a line item, such as a security device.

The coverages are accompanied by the coverage limit. For your homeowner’s policy for example, the dwelling limit will show what your house would cost to be replaced. Notice your liability limit. This coverage limit should never be lower than the value of your home.

Total Annual Premium.  Down at the bottom of the page is the TOTAL PREMIUM for your Insurance Policy.  Usually this will show as an annual number, although that may be different depending on your payment plan for the policy.  You can also see different payment options for your premium; some insurance plans give you discounts depending on the frequency of payments. 

These declaration pages will help when it’s time to review with your independent agent. Know your coverage, know your renewal date so you can discuss with your agent if your coverage is maximized and your premiums are competitive.

Please read our other blogs related to annual insurance review suggestions.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Managing Growth

Growth can sneak up on us.  Whether it’s your family or your business, one day you realize you’ve grown larger than when you started. 

  • Two cars when once there was one.
  • Five employees when previously you had two. 
  • A new spouse when you once lived alone. 

Growth is a good thing, it’s the keeping-up-with-growth that’s difficult.  Unless you’re organized and prepared, then growing becomes easy-peasy.

One area we often overlook, when growth occurs is whether it sneaks up on us or we prepare for it, is with our insurance.

Here’s where your Independent Insurance Agent comes in. We help your growth spurt feel smooth, organized, and best of all, prepared for any happenstance.

We often advocate that our clients undertake an annual review with us to see what coverages best suit their needs with natural changes over time. This helps to ensure quality coverage at an affordable cost whenever possible.

Our facility as your Independent Agent is there for you to advocate and manage when the “growth” word pops up.  Not only can we find the right insurance coverage for your new larger family or business, but we can help you control the costs of that insurance. 

Call us today so we can discuss all of your wonderful growth opportunities and reduce any growing pains so you experience the best possible insurance solutions.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Recap: Business Spring Cleaning

“Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a dreaded list of chores. It can be a rewarding experience that helps provide some structure and organization in your life.”

– Peter Walsh

March has arrived, and on the 20th it will officially be Spring! We know that life as a business owner can get busy, but have you put any thought into your business’s spring cleaning routine? In last week’s blog, we made a few suggestions, including:

  • Deep clean your office space, bust through clutter and organize any scattered paperwork.
  • Your virtual workspace also probably needs to be organized – clean your computer’s files and move yourself down to a zero inbox if you can.
  • When was the last time you backed up all of your business’s files? If it’s been a while, now is the perfect time for a backup (and a thorough virus scan too).
  • Most businesses nowadays have a website. When was the last time you looked at yours? Check to make sure your content is still accurate, and that all the links work properly.
  • Have you been working on your 2019 goals? Reevaluate your progress and continue to plan your business’s future.

And remember, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is here to help you clean up your business’s insurance portfolio! One call to 617-298-0655 and you will get a free business insurance consultation. Our agents can asses whether you have enough coverage or if there is anything we can do to help lower your premiums. Who knew that Spring Cleaning can save you money? Don’t wait – call Vargas and Vargas Insurance today!

7 Spring Cleaning Steps for Boston Businesses

March is nearly here – are you ready for spring in Boston? As we prepare for the snow to start thawing, the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office is preparing for its annual spring cleaning. Want to use this opportunity to organize your Boston business? Here are a few things that you can do to ‘Spring Clean’ your way to success!

1. Clear the Clutter

The most well-known Spring Cleaning task is unarguably the physical cleaning. It’s time to break out your sanitizing supplies and make sure that your office sparkles. Get rid of dirt and grime, and make sure not to miss any of the hard-to-reach spots.

Now is also the perfect time to evaluate the state of your office. Could the paint use a little touching up? Have you been putting off a cosmetic repair? Get those done now, especially in areas that clients see. Remember – your office only gets one chance at a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one for both customers. Employees will also appreciate a new and fresh look, so think about improving your décor or rearranging your office space.

2. Get Organized

Now is also the perfect time to go through your pesky files and make sure that everything is in order. Shred anything you don’t need and organize the rest. Remember that your digital files should also be included in this task! All of your files should be logically organized and easy to find in a jiffy.

Now is also the perfect time to organize your Social Media pages. Who in your business takes care of these? Do they have a posting schedule? Are they planning out posts ahead of time? How quickly are they able to answer any questions that come in via these platforms? All of these questions need to be addressed.

3. Assess Your Expenses

When was the last time that you cleaned up your business’s expense account? You should be combing through your outgoing payments often, but a deep cleaning once a year will give you peace of mind. Keep a keen eye out for any recurring expenses that you no longer use or need, since those types of charges can add up fast and end up affecting your bottom line.

4. Put Safety First

The safety of your employees, your customers, and your business should be your topmost priority, so make it a focus when you do this year’s spring cleaning. Make sure that your shop or office space is a safe environment so that everyone is less likely to suffer an injury.

Also practice cyber safety! Back up all files with company information – preferably on the cloud where it is easily retrievable in case of a hard drive failure. If you store customer data, you should make sure that it is safe from hackers. Also teach yourself and any staff that you have about digital password safety, and learn the benefits of a password manager.

5. Check Your Website

Your business probably has a website, but when was the last time you visited it with the eyes of a customer? Set aside some time during your Spring Cleaning to dust off your website. Open it and try to see it as a new customer would and look for anything that needs a little freshening up. Make sure that all of the links still work! Also, when was the last time that you updated your content or posted a blog? Now is the perfect time to start anew.

6. Evaluate Your Goals

Did you set a 2019 resolution for your business? Now that two months of the year are in the books, it’s a great time to evaluate your progress. Are you on track to achieve what you planned, or does your goal need to be reevaluated? Have you been taking the steps necessary to accomplish (and maybe even exceed) your goal?

If you need help getting your business on track to succeed, talk to Carlos Vargas about his business coaching and consultations!

7. Plan for the Future

Once your Spring cleaning is complete and your business is sparkling, it’s time to take a look at your future. There should be fewer tasks on your ‘to-do’ list, but that is no excuse to sluff off! Create a list of things that you should be doing to keep your business running smoothly and make your experience better for your clients.

Need help cleaning up your insurance portfolio? Talk to the commercial insurance experts at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency about your business insurance needs. We can help you evaluate your risks and find the perfect coverage options to meet and exceed your expectations. We will even help to ensure that you’re receiving all of the discounts for which you qualify! It will be one of the easiest tasks on your Spring Cleaning to-do list, so don’t put it off any further – call 617-298-0655 today to speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance representative.

Recap: New Business Owner Tips

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

–Guy Kawasaki

Small businesses are the key to making a neighborhood special and unique. As a Boston small business owner, you know both the rewards and struggles inherent in running your own business. If you’re looking for some motivation and advice for running your business (and let’s face it – you should always be looking for advice!) then look no further than the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog from last week. There, we highlighted several tips for new business owners, such as:

  • When it comes time to bring in additional people to work in your business, make sure to look for quality employees.
  • Show others how great your business is, and then let them spread the word! Good marketing is infectious, so get the word out and let it spread – your network is a key part to bringing in new clients.
  • Focus on your business, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is always here to help you with your Massachusetts small business. We also happen to provide the best small business insurance in the area! Want a free quote, or some insurance advice? Just call 617-298-0655 and speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable commercial insurance agents about your business’s unique needs.

Tips for First-Time Business Owners in Massachusetts

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we love our neighborhood, and one of our favorite things about the local area is the diversity of the businesses. Instead of shopping at huge national chains, we love to make our purchases at the local ‘mom and pop’ shops that make the area unique.

As a business owner, you are no doubt always looking for ways to make your business better (and make yourself a better business owner). In service of that, we want to share with you some of the tips that we have found useful in our journey of becoming one of the businesses that ‘makes it’ and even, dare we say it, thrives!

Build a Great Team

The vast majority of small businesses start off as a one-person operation. At some point, though, you will need (or you already have) brought on another (or several extra) sets of hands. The quality of the people that you bring in to business is a critical factor in determining your business’s success or failure. You have to realize that experienced workers will cost more, but the extra quality that they will bring to their work will help your business stand apart. So, before you hire your neighbor’s college-age kid that’s home and looking for a summer job, do a cost-benefit analysis of whether they are the right person for the job.

Networking is Critical

You can have the perfect product, but you won’t sell anything unless you have help getting the word out about it. Instead of being a lone wolf when it comes to marketing your business, use the power of networking to spread the word. Think of it like this – if you can recruit 10 raving fans, and they each recruit 10 more fans, etc., the results are exponential! It’s much more effective than one-on-one marketing.

One of the best ways to network is to meet new people and give them your ‘elevator pitch’ – it may sound like business school 101, but it really is that important. You need to know how to explain who you are and what your business does succinctly. And remember that you will need several different versions depending on your industry. You may need one for potential clients and another for referral sources, for example.

Prioritize Your Customers and Clients

As a business, you want to keep old clients while also recruiting new ones into your fold. Remember, though, that when looking for a place to shop for a product or service, many potential customers will look at reviews for the businesses that they are considering shopping at. This means that in order to bring in new customers, you need to make sure that your current customer experience is excellent, and that your satisfied clients are leaving you great reviews online to promote your business.

Carefully Evaluate Opportunities

Small businesses are given a lot of opportunities. As the new owner of your small business, it is your job to evaluate potential opportunities and to decide whether they are worth it. Remember – small businesses only have a limited amount of resources (including funds) so you need to pick and choose wisely. It is inadvisable to try and take advantage of every offer that comes along, since you could easily stretch yourself too thin and end up suffering.

Learn to Adapt to Circumstances

For a new business, things can change on a dime. You need to be prepared to roll with the punches. As famed businessman Michael Scott would say, “Adapt, react, readapt, act.” When your business is still small, you have the flexibility to make things work – unlike your bigger counterparts that are plagued with regulations and red tape. Take advantage of this to figure out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure to account for the fact that you will hopefully need to scale up your processes in the future!

Take Care of Yourself

When you’re running a fledgling business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything you can to make your business perfect. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, though! Make time to sleep, eat right, and exercise – that will keep you in shape so that you can continue to shape and grow your business for years to come.

Take Care of Your Employees

You can’t make your employees take care of themselves, but you can give them the tools that they need to do exactly that. Ask your Boston insurance agent about adding employee coverage to your business insurance policy – it’s a great way to show your employees how important they are to you and your business.

If you’re looking for business insurance for your new Boston business, talk to the local agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. There’s no better small business to use for your commercial insurance policy – we are an independent agency, so we can compare quotes from several insurance providers to find the one that’s right for you and your new business.

And if you need help with getting your new business on track, call the agency and ask to speak with Carlos Vargas about his business coaching! He is available to help you get your business running and will help you take it to the next level.