What Happens In The Event of a Water Leak in Your Condo?

If you own a Condominium (Condo), you may have equipment both inside and outside your unit for which you are responsible. In a closet inside your unit would be your water tank. There is also an HVAC unit that may be just outside your unit, to heat and cool your home.  Most of the time, you ignore these two quiet workhorses that keep you in comfort all year round.

Shockingly, every once in a while, and sometimes suddenly, the equipment may fail and need repair.  Most often and most inconveniently, the HVAC will fail when the temperatures outside are the hottest or coldest, depending on the time of the year. Thus, only your comfort is compromised.

However, every once in a while, these machines break down and leak.  With water. Lots of water.

If your HVAC unit is outside your Condo, this may not be as terrible of an event, unless you own a Townhouse and the unit is in the basement and there’s a danger of the water seeping into your basement.

But it can be really bad if you’re on an upper floor and one or several of your Condo neighbors lives below you.  Water loves to follow the powerful attraction of gravity: downward. Downward towards your neighbors’ Condo unit!

Yes, your first step is to call the emergency number for your equipment repair tech. If you’re not sure, call the property manager so they can dispatch someone immediately to mitigate the damage. If the property manager is not available, call your local insurance agent who will have access to reputable Restoration Services companies. They all have emergency lines so you’re covered seven days a week.

In the event of a leak which could lead to a potential claim, mitigating the loss is critical and required under your insurance contract. You’ll want the restoration company onsite as quickly as possible to dry out all the water and repair the water damage.  Do not forget to take photos of the damage before the restoration company arrives. It’s key that you document the extent of the damage at the time of the event. This also mitigates any confusion or misunderstanding of the extent of the loss when the claim is settled. The key word here is “mitigate”.  

You don’t want to be caught by surprise when a leak happens all over your downstairs neighbors’ precious Star Wars toy collection.  Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Review Condominium Financials Before You Purchase

Condominium (Condo) Buyers should obtain and review the financial statement of the Condo as part of your purchase process.  Have the statement reviewed by a professional such as an Attorney or CPA.  The financial health of the Condo can affect you in the future as you settle into ownership of your Condo unit.  The financial statements can also give you a good indication of the competence of the Condo Board and Managing Agent.

Condo Complexes on the smaller size may be exempt from having their financials audited. The ByLaws will identify if an audit is required.  Audited financials means the CPA firm has verified the numbers presented in the statement rather than compiling from information provided by the Condominium Board Members and/or Managing Agent.

The financial statement should cover the previous two years (three is preferable) and often a Year-to-Date statement.  A Financial Statement includes:

  • Income and Expenses for the entire Condominium.  This is also known as “Operating Statement.”
  • Balance Sheet demonstrating Assets and Liabilities.
  • Cash Flow Statement.

Some key areas you want to focus on include:

  • Reserve Fund (for major capital repairs and improvements),
  • Cash Flow to determine if the building is taking in as much money as it is paying out monthly, Maintenance Fees owed (an indicator of the financial responsibility of your soon-to-be-neighbors),
  • Footnotes.

The financial well-being of your future home is as important to the transaction as every other aspect of your purchase.  Request the Financial Statement as early as possible in the negotiating process, even before you’ve presented your Offer, if possible.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Home Inspection for Your Condominium Purchase

Condominium Buyers often ask:

Should I have an inspection done by a Certified Home Inspection service? 

The answer is a definitive YES!

While a Condominium (Condo) typically features construction and/or maintenance features addressed by Condominium Management, the Buyer should conduct an inspection for two main reasons.

First, the interior of the Condo. This area is not the responsibility of Condo Management. A Buyer needs to be aware of concerns such as deferred maintenance for appliances, windows, bathroom fixtures and interior plumbing.  You want to avoid a costly repair in the first 3-5 years after your purchase.  Likewise, the Condo Buyer needs to be aware of potentially catastrophic issues that could cause reconsideration of the purchase.  Lastly, the inspection may reveal items that are of immediate concern, leading to a request for a repair or pricing credit from the Seller.

The second reason you want to complete an inspection is to determine the overall “physical health” of the Condo.  A roof in need of a future repair is as much of a concern to a Condominium Buyer as to a Home Buyer.  Any repairs to the common areas of a Condominium are paid for from the “Capital Expense Reserve” fund.  Should there be a major repair on the near horizon, such as a roof replacement, the Condo Buyer wants to determine there are sufficient funds in the Reserve Fund to cover the cost of repair.  Otherwise that Buyer, once they are an Owner, could be subject to an assessment or multiple assessments as well as an increase in the maintenance fee, resulting in an increase in their monthly payment.

The bottom line answer to the question posed by Condominium Buyers is a resounding yes when it comes to obtaining an inspection by a Certified Home Inspection service as part of the purchasing process.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Recap: Surviving Winter for Bostonians

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” – Aristotle

There are only a few weeks left in the year, and as snowfall becomes a more regular occurrence here in Massachusetts, we want to make sure that our clients stay warm, healthy, and happy throughout the cold winter months. Here is a quick recap of our full blog post with ideas on how to make this winter the best one yet:

  • Be Warm – Keep the freezing temperatures outside of your home by making sure that your windows and doors aren’t drafty. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees for optimal heating and energy consumption, according to ready.gov.
  • Be Healthy – Colds and flus run rampant in the winter, so get a flu shot and wash your hands often. Exercise at your local gym or try a winter sport to stay in shape.
  • Be Happy – Don’t let the cold get you down – there are plenty of wintertime activities in the Boston area! Or, if you would rather stay inside, now is the perfect time to binge watch a new show, read a book, have a family game night, or try a new recipe that you’ve been craving!

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance policies with a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent? Call 617-298-0655 and we can chat about your home, renters, or condo insurance policy to make sure that it is providing full coverage for you and your loved ones.

Surviving Winter in Your Boston Home or Condominium

Winter is in full swing once again here in the Boston area. What are your favorite winter activities? We want to share some tips for staying warm, healthy and happy this winter in your home, apartment or condo. Choose one or try them all! Hopefully they can make your winter a little more joyous.

How to Stay Warm

The average low temperature in Boston for winter months is easily below freezing, so staying warm can be a challenge. Before you crank up the heat, check to ensure that the cold air is staying outside where it should be. This is best done with energy efficient (and non-draft-prone) windows and doors. See about refitting your home’s windows and doors if you are falling victim to drafts – these will cost you money year-round, cooling your home in the winter and heating it in the summer.

Do you have a programmable thermostat? Setting it to 68 degrees will heat your home while also conserving energy, according to ready.gov. Make sure to lower it by 10 or more degrees at night, though, to save approximately 10% on your heating bill. Also see if you can close the heat vent and shut the door to any unused rooms in your home or condo to cut your heating costs even further. It is also prudent to ensure that you have a back-up heat source in case of a power loss.

How to Stay Healthy

During the winter, more people stay indoors, and this means an increased number of germs in your home, apartment, or condo. Stay healthy by getting a flu shot if you can, and by washing your hands often. Also, regularly disinfect the surfaces of your home that are touched often. Just in case someone in your household falls ill, have the necessary medical supplies on hand so that you don’t have to make a rushed trip to the pharmacy.

Staying healthy in the winter also means finding the opportunity to exercise. Not many people want to go for an outdoor jog in the middle of winter in Boston, but there are plenty of alternatives that will keep you fit until the warm weather returns. Many people will choose to exercise at their local gym, where cardio and weight equipment are available year-round. Some gyms in the area also offer indoor pools and/or fitness classes that can keep your exercise routine fresh and new. There are also plenty of options available for people that would rather exercise at home, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive equipment.

If you would rather continue to get your exercise out in the fresh air, choose an appropriate wintertime activity. Ice skating can be a great cardio workout, you can also try something more off-the-wall, like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Just make sure that you are dressed appropriately, and that you take plenty of breaks from the cold and that you stay hydrated as you work out outside.

How to Stay Happy

As we mentioned, the cold weather of the winter often means spending more time indoors. For some people this can lead to wintertime blues and boredom. Instead of being unhappy that you must spend so much time inside, try to be thankful for the extra time in your cozy home. Get your family together to play a board game, binge watch a tv show that looks interesting, cook up a new recipe, or check something off your reading list.

Need to get out of the house? You’re in luck! There are lots of activities in the Boston area in the winter, so you don’t need to feel like you’re cooped up – even when the city is blanketed in snow! Family activities are especially popular this time of year, including the Holiday Bricktacular at Legoland Discovery Center, Santa Saturdays at the Franklin Park Zoo, and Snowmazing! at the Boston Children’s Museum, among many others.

A few more favorites from the agents here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency include seeing The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet, catching a Holiday Pops performance at the Boston Symphony Hall, and seeing the Christmas trees at Faneuil Hall and the Boston Common. There are plenty of events happening in the area, so bundle up and have some fun out in the city to ward off the boredom often brought by the cold weather.

We also want to make sure that you know that Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is here for all your home, renters, and condo insurance needs this winter (and all year-round). If you want to have a chat about your current insurance policies, or if you have an insurance question, all you have to do is call us at 617-298-0655. One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will be happy to take care of you!

When Can You Claim Your Condo Insurance?

You can claim your condo insurance in case of a covered risk. Different condo insurance policies cover different risks. As the policyholder, you need to know the kind of risks that your condo insurance policy covers. Get the help of an insurance agency such as Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to find the best condo insurance for your needs.

When You Can Claim Your Condo Insurance

If You Lose Your Personal Possessions

You can claim your condo insurance if you lose personal belongings such as furniture, electronics, clothing, or jewelry in your condo as a result of covered perils such as theft or fires.

If You Incur Additional Living Expenses

If your condo is damaged by covered risks, it may become unsuitable for you to live in. You can claim your additional living expenses coverage to pay for the unplanned costs of living such as hotel bills. The policy can offer you compensation for the period it takes to repair your condo.

If You are Liable For Property Damage or Personal Injury

You can claim your condo insurance if a visitor gets injured in your condo. If, for example, a guest trips and falls down your stairs, you can make a claim to pay for their medical costs. You just need to be sure that the fall is accidental. If they choose to sue you, you can make a claim to pay for the legal charges. You may also file for a claim if you lose or destroy the property of a visitor in your condo unit.

If There is Damage to Structures of Your Condo

You can file for a claim if insured risks cause damage to your condo units. The risks could include fires or vandalism.

Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA for your home insurance needs. Our agents can help you get started.

Tips for Filing a Condo Insurance Claim

Condominiums are a great alternative for homeowners. With a Massachusetts condominium, you get perks of homeownership and perks of apartment living in one place.

When there is an issue, however, you need to know which policy covers the damage. This will tell you who must file the claim – you, the unit owner, or the condo association. Here is a quick breakdown of what each policy typically covers.

Master Insurance Policy – Often considered “walls-out” coverage, a condo association’s master policy often covers the walls of their buildings, as well as common areas. They may have liability insurance in case an accident occurs in a common area. There is often additional Directors and Officers Liability coverage built in to the policy.

Unit Owner’s Coverage – Insurance for condo unit owners often covers everything inside the walls. This includes personal property, fixtures, appliances, and more. Sometimes unit owners will also need to insure carpeting and cabinets as well. In addition, it is always advisable to have liability insurance – just in case an accident occurs inside the unit.

While this is typically how the coverage falls, each condominium association will have their own unique policy, and the verbiage in that policy will affect your Unit Owner’s policy. To know for sure who is responsible for damages, call your insurance provider.

And if you need a Massachusetts condo insurance policy, just call our agency at 617-298-0655. We are experienced at writing both master insurance policies and unit owner’s coverage, so we are ready to take care of your needs, no matter how big or small they may be. Call today!

Befriending Your Homeowners Association

Some folks would rather not deal with a Homeowners Association in the first place. If you’re a very private person, you’re probably not likely to buy a suburban house or a condo. You’d probably prefer a ranch style home out in the mountains. If you like being where the action is, if you love your condo, if you like living in a neighborhood of green lawns and pretty houses, you’re going to have to learn how to get along with your HOA. Here are some tips:

Get A Great Insurance Policy

If you live out on your own land and a window breaks, you can go ahead and cover it with a sheet of plastic until you have time to fix it. If you’re part of a Homeowners Association, they’re going to want you to get it fixed ASAP. When talking with Vargas & Vargas Insurance, try to find an insurer that works quick to get you the money you need should something go wrong.

Fraternize!

The HOA’s in Dorchester, MA like it when you’re friendly. Ask them how it’s going when you see your neighbors walking around. Invite them to your barbecues. A few hours of socializing can help to ensure that they weigh in your favor any time there’s a problem.

Invest in Curb Appeal

Part of the appeal of condos is the uniform look from one home to the next, but once you’ve checked with your HOA guidelines, you shouldn’t hesitate to spruce the place up a bit. Your HOA wants nice looking homes to keep the property values up.

There are a lot of places to live in Dorchester, MA. A condo community with a HOA have a lot to offer, and a policy from Vargas & Vargas Insurance can keep you in their good graces.

Tips for Buying Your First Condo

Condominiums are one of the best-kept secrets of the real estate world. When looking for a new home, some people still only consider buying a house or renting an apartment, without realizing that purchasing a condo may be the perfect balance between the two – allowing you to have the ‘best of both worlds.’ If you’re in the market for a condo in Boston, check out these buying tips:

  • Hire a professional Real Estate Agent to help you with your search. If you need a referral, please let us know so that we can connect you to a top-notch agent in the area.
  • When you’re looking for a unit, make sure that you consider resale value. More bedrooms and bathrooms, scenic views, and better school districts are just a few of the features that will make your condo more appealing the next time you look to move.
  • Consider the amenities offered at each condominium you tour. Does the complex have a gym? Laundry facilities? Rentable event space? These are all important things to think about when making your decision.
  • Before you make a final decision, make sure that you are clear on the extra fees associated with the unit you choose. Condos often have monthly maintenance fees, and some will charge property taxes separately.

Once you’ve found your perfect Boston condominium, make sure that you call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to get a quote on Condo Insurance. This policy is tailored specifically for the needs of a condo owner, and will cover your personal belongings, your unit, and anything else not covered in your association’s master policy. For more information, or if you have any questions, simply call our office and speak to an agent!

Insuring a Vacant or Unoccupied Home

 

In today’s world, more and more properties are vacant or unoccupied. This happened for many different reasons, including dividing time between a primary residence and vacation home, leaving a property while it is being renovated or is on the market to be sold, a rental property being between tenants, and more.

Vacant and unoccupied properties present a risk to insurance providers – whether the unit in question is a home, apartment, or condominium. Vacant and unoccupied properties can attract vandals and thieves, and accidents are more likely to occur and have serious repercussions. Just consider this scenario – you leave your home unoccupied while you are on an extended vacation and a pipe bursts. The damage is likely to be substantial because there is no one in residence to notice and remedy the issue. This makes it easy to see why insurance companies have limits and provisions for these situations.

Oftentimes, a short trip away from your home is not enough for it to be considered vacant. Most insurance providers will require a place of residence to be unoccupied for 30 consecutive days before they begin to drop coverage.

Many insurance policies contain a vacancy provision. Two similar terms—vacant and unoccupied—have specific meanings in the language of insurance and are specifically defined in some policies. A vacant building contains little or no furniture or other personal property.

 

If you are planning on leaving your home, apartment, or condo vacant or unoccupied in the future, call your local insurance agent to ask about how to make sure that you stay covered by your Massachusetts insurance policy. Depending on your insurance provider, you may only need to pay a small fee to ensure that your current protection continues. In other cases, you may be required to purchase a special policy tailored specifically to a vacant or unoccupied property. For more information, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 today.