Downsizing or Rightsizing: Choosing a House and More

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

• Insurance

• Utility costs

• Furniture

• Home maintenance

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

1. Home Office Insurance Implications

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

2. Downsize Number of Cars

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

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

3. Personal Auto Insurance Policy for Your Child

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

4. Consider a Smaller House Without a Pool

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

5. Smaller House Versus a Condo

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

Vargas & Vargas insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies. We work for our clients and not the insurance company. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price when downsizing or resizing. Contact us today — we’re here to answer all your insurance questions. 

A Quick Guide to Shopping for Condo Insurance

couple shopping for condo insurance on their computer

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

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

• All-in policy

• Bare wall policy

• Original specification policy

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

1. Look for the Best Rates

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

2. Consider the Features That You Need

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

• Damage to personal property

• Personal liability (for you and your family)

• Loss assessment

• Building property and fixtures

• Loss of use

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

3. Choose the Best Customer Service

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

Shopping for Condo Insurance Is Easy With Vargas & Vargas

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies — we work for our clients and not the insurance company.  We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price, and our team is here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today to get started.

What Does Condo Insurance Cover?

family sitting together in a condo

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

What’s Covered by Condo Insurance in Massachusetts?

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

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

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

Liability Coverage

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

What’s NOT Covered by Condo Insurance?

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

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

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

How Much Condo Insurance Do You Need?

couple sitting in their furnished condo

The purpose of condo insurance is to protect your financial investment in your belongings and provide liability coverage. If you under-insure your belongings, you won’t be made whole again after a fire or burglary. If you over-insure, you’ll be paying a higher insurance premium than you need to pay.

Imagine a fire rips through your condominium. Thankfully, everyone gets out safely. Your condo insurance will cover most belongings, less a deductible. Therefore, you should buy enough contents coverage to replace all your belongings and be made whole after a loss. 

So today, the team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance will explain how to decide how much condo insurance you need. We’ll talk about contents coverage and also touch briefly on liability coverage. The first step is to tally up your belongings.

Contents Coverage: Tally Up Your Belongings

Grab a notebook and take a walk through your condo. Start by jotting down the big-ticket items.

If you add it all up, then you’ve probably spent significant cash on:

  • Furniture — including bedroom sets, mattresses, dining room sets, and living room furniture
  • Appliances
  • Wardrobes, shoes, and accessories
  • Hobby items and craft supplies
  • Electronics — such as televisions, computers, tablets, cell phones, and all the related accessories and chargers
  • Decor — including area rugs and window treatments

Then, start thinking about the money you have tied up smaller items like linens, towels, and cosmetics. Also, don’t forget the medicine cabinet and medical devices. Suddenly, you’ll realize you have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of personal belongings in the bathroom alone!

What’s your final number? A single individual might own $50,000 worth of belongings easily. A family of five might need $200,000 in contents coverage for a start.

Next, it’s time to think about liability coverage.

Condo Insurance and Liability Coverage

Most condo insurance providers offer packages that include a pre-set amount of liability coverage. It may be $100,000, $250,000, and so on. You can always ask for more liability coverage, and in today’s litigious society, more coverage is better

We should also point out that some umbrella insurance policies (which are additional liability policies for families with many assets) have minimum property liability requirements. In other words, if you have an umbrella policy, it might require that you maintain $500,000 or $1 million of liability coverage at your residence.

We’re Proud to Be Your Premier Independent Insurance Agency for Condo Insurance

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to work for our clients, not the insurance company. We can customize your condo insurance policy to suit your specific needs and budget. We’re ready to answer your condo insurance questions, so contact us today.

Downsizing to a Condo vs. a Smaller House

older couple downsizing to a condo

There are different financial and practical reasons to downsize to either a small house or to a condo. The reasons for downsizing are all good, provided you are ready to move to your new community and the finances work in your favor.

Before you decide to downsize to a smaller house or a condo, you need to:

  • Assess your needs
  • Decide where you would like to live
  • Price it out
  • Realize that a smaller space is not necessarily cheaper
  • Avoid underestimating your emotional considerations

Benefits of Downsizing

Downsizing to either a condo or a smaller house has its considerations and potential drawbacks, and it is vital to learn more before making an offer. Moving to a condo or a smaller house is not only for singles or couples. It’s even for large families interested in changing their lifestyles.

Downsizing to both a small house and a condo means owning less, which can make you happier. Having a few things and fewer rooms reduces your chore time. This leaves you more time to take part in activities that can enrich your life.

Unique Considerations of Downsizing to a Condo

Condo living also gives you the luxury of less maintenance. You will not have to spend your time doing gardening related chores, such as mowing the lawn. While every condo community is different, most of them have an extensive list of amenities compared to small house communities.

Condo communities are characterized by the proximity of the quarters to each other. When you live in such close quarters, you enjoy a sense of community that is different from what you will find in a typical neighborhood of small houses. Taking great pride in your community makes it easier for you and your neighbors to become friends.

Downsizing to a condo can be more expensive compared to moving to a smaller house. Considerations of location and convenience might increase your payment for a condo.

If you have questions on how to start the downsizing process, Vargas & Vargas Insurance can guide you through the process and get it done for you. You can depend on our expertise for your insurance needs and referral to experts in your local area. 

How to Shop for Condo Insurance If You’ve Only Owned a House

couple shopping for condo insurance in their new home

Condo owners independently own their individual units (though there is common ownership of the common areas), and that means you need to protect it. If you are looking for coverage for your condo, it is essential to understand the different aspects of insuring a condo compared to a home.

What Do You Need to Know Before You Start Condo Insurance Shopping?

When shopping for condo insurance, it is important to be aware that the primary dwelling is protected under the condominium association’s Master Policy. Your condo community may provide all-in coverage or less inclusive insurance like single entity coverage Additional structures do not apply to a condo and are not included in the coverage. When you pay for your condo association’s fees, personal property protection is not covered by the policy. Therefore, it is crucial to consider this when looking for condo insurance.

Aspects of loss of use, medical payments, and personality liability are the same for both condos and homes. Therefore, when shopping for insurance for your condo, it is vital to ensure that you obtain a policy with high-level protection for personal property. This is because your condominium association’s primary dwelling coverage only covers the structure and does not include your belongings inside the walls.

Typical condo insurance covers:

  • Vandalism
  • Fire and smoke
  • Burst pipe
  • Theft

Factors to Consider While You Look for Condo Insurance

When shopping for condo insurance, you need to consider the cost. The cost of standard condo insurance depends on different factors, including:

  • The amount of deductible
  • Your coverage options
  • Aspects covered by your condo association’s insurance
  • Materials used in the construction of the condo
  • Location of the condo

It is essential to review the master policy of your condo association before deciding the amount of your condo insurance. This is because, in some instances, some insurance policies do not cover anything inside the walls of your condo. In such a case, you need to include more items when calculating your insurance coverage.

It is not easy to make general recommendations about condo insurance due to variations in state laws and condominium association bylaws. Consider working with local independent insurance agencies because of their business relations with financially robust insurance entities. Also, local insurance agencies can tailor your policy to meet your specific needs. 

For more assistance choosing the right condominium insurance for you and your family, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today. We’re here to help.

How to Know If You Are Financially Ready to Buy a Condo

couple with a young child analyzing their finances before buying a condo

Besides the convenience that accompanies owning a condo, who wouldn’t appreciate the freedom from the hustle and bustle of having to take care of the land while getting to have a roof over your head? However, just because buying a condo suits your needs, and you feel the need to buy one, it does not mean you are ready to own one.  Here are pertinent questions whose answers will help you find out whether you are really prepared to buy that desired condominium:

1. Can You Afford the Down Payment?

Whether you have sufficient cash to pay off for that condo or not is important, but it’s not the only cost to consider. A good down payment amount is a must-have. You are in an excellent position to go ahead and take the leap towards owning your dream condo only if your savings match the down payment requirements that accompany the property you have in mind.

2. Are You Managing Your Debt Well?

Second on the financial checklist that determines your readiness for buying a condo is how debt-free you are. Debts will certainly put constraints on your desire to acquire that condo you crave. You will want to ensure all impending bills and maxed credit cards are brought under control to free up more income that is needed for buying your condo.

3. Are You in a Position to Handle Hidden or Unforeseen Costs?

Before engaging the seller of the property, ensure you have set aside some money for unforeseen costs and any other unconsidered charges that will arise before closing the deal. For instance, many sellers throw all kinds of fees at you. These fees might range from recording fees and underwriting fees to the appraisal fees. There is also the hurdle of moving costs and money for decorating and furnishing the new condo in line with your tastes. Also, you may need to pay property taxes upfront.

4. Have You Considered the Cost of Purchasing a Condo Insurance Policy?

When looking to buy a condo, the last thing you would want is to risk any insurable outcome forcing your hard-earned investment down the drain. From the onset, you will then need to know from who and where you can shop around for a reliable and affordable condo insurance policy.

Condo insurance saves your money in case of any accidents and incidents in your condominium. For instance, without condo building insurance, you may not be able to replace your custom cabinets or fittings in the event of a fire. To avoid losses in terms of money or property, purchase proper condo insurance and protect yourself.

If you answered yes to these questions, step out of that bubble of uncertainty and get ready to buy that desired condo. Want to learn more about the condo insurance policy that suits you best from someone you can trust? Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance for help with all the condo insurance concerns you might have.

Condo Owners Need More Coverage Than the Master Policy

Although most new condo owners are added to the property’s master policy upon purchase of the unit, the claim that this policy is all owners need is misleading. You may have been told that your unit’s coverage under the master policy prevents you from having to purchase separate coverage, but the policy is only meant to protect the property, not your personal possessions. If your condo is only covered under the master policy, now is a good time to purchase additional coverage that meets your needs. 

couple researching condo insurance as they move into a new condo

What Is a Master Policy? 

A master policy is the most basic type of insurance used by condo owners. It typically covers damage to the building itself, as well as common areas and liability for the condominium association. However, unlike other policies, your master policy does not cover your belongings or personal liability. The master policy provides the necessary protection for your condominium association. But only being covered under the master policy is not sufficient to protect yourself. 

How Should I Cover My Condo?

Every condo owner’s coverage should be comprised of both the master policy and individual condo insurance. Condo insurance is similar to regular homeowners insurance, but it is designed to meet the unique needs of shared property ownership. It covers owners’ belongings and personal liability, as well as additional coverage for the building itself. Upgraded features may also be covered only by condo insurance, as many master policies only cover standard features.    

What Happens If a Claim Is Made?

If a claim is made for something that happens within your unit, you will generally be defended by your private insurance company, not the master policy. Your insurance company will cover the necessary funds, minus the deductible. If you are only covered by the master policy, you will likely be responsible for the claim.  

Your master policy should work together with private condo insurance to provide the best possible protection, rather than being considered the only insurance you need. In order to adequately protect yourself and your belongings, select a condo insurance policy that effectively fills in the gaps of your master policy.  At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you find the right coverage.

How Much Condo Insurance Do You Need?

In order to determine how much condo insurance you need in Dorchester MA, you should plan to look at your condo’s association master policy.

How Much Dwelling Coverage Do You Need?

There are two types of master policies that affect how much dwelling coverage you need. All-inclusive means that the policy insures the exterior and interior surfaces of the unit and you would just need to worry about the stuff you own. Fixtures attached to the wall, such as the shower, cupboards, and toilets, also fall under this master policy. However, improvements are considered a gray area. A bare wall in policy means that everything inside the condo’s four walls needs insurance. This means fixtures and appliances have to be covered by your individual policy. If your condo association has bare walls in the policy then you will need more dwelling coverage. 

Once you have figured out what type of dwelling coverage you need you to evaluate your options with an agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance and discuss what it would cost to recreate your condo in the event a major accident happens. You can use an estimate from your mortgage lender or an estimate from a contractor or architect. Sometimes a mortgage lender will have a requirement for the specific amount of dwelling coverage you should have. It’s important to keep your dwelling coverage updated as you make improvements to your condos, such as a bathroom or kitchen renovation since it would be a higher cost to replace these new items.  

How Much Property Coverage Do You Need?

The easiest way to determine how coverage you need for your personal property in Dorchester, MA is by doing an inventory. Be sure that all your valuable items, such as jewelry, are covered. 

Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance to get a quote on condo insurance. 

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

Insurance is vital, regardless of whether you own a home or a condo. It can help offset damages to your property, so you don’t have to worry about paying for those damages out of your pocket.

happy young couple buying a condo and talking to the property manager
Protect your new condo by learning how condo insurance is different from home insurance.

However, the type of insurance you choose will dictate how any damages to your property will be handled. While both home and condo insurance might cover your property, there are some subtle differences between the two. Here is how home and condo insurance differ:

Condo Insurance

Condo insurance covers any non-communal property that you use as a property owner. Ideally, it should cover certain ‘walls-in’ losses, replacements, and repairs, as well as your personal property. For any damages that happen outside your unit walls, the condo association’s master insurance policy should offset them. But you should always verify the details before you purchase a condo or change your insurance policy.

Condo insurance also comes with loss assessment coverage. In situations where the condo association levies condo damage fees on all unit owners, this will cover the ad hoc fees. Condo associations will typically do this if the cost of offsetting damages to the communal assets is more than what their master insurance policy covers.

Home Insurance

Traditional home insurance tends to be for single-family dwellings, and it can be as simple or complex as mortgage lenders allow it to be. It should cover your entire home structure, including construction materials and other permanent elements. Most insurance policies also cover any personal property that is valued at 50% or greater of the insured home itself. The insurance can also cover other structures within the vicinity, such as detached garages and sheds.

Filing Claims

Filing claims is typically easy for home insurance, as it can be made directly with the insurers. On the flip side, there are some complexities in filing claims through condo insurance, and the specifics will depend on the situation.

For instance, the condo association insurance should take care of water damages as long as they are as a result of burst pipes outside your condo walls. Your condo insurance will, however, take care of damages arising from burst kitchen sink pipes, as they are within the unit’s walls.

Insurance policies tend to have rules that property owners have to adhere to for an easy claiming process. Regardless of the insurance policy you have, it pays to follow these rules. Be sure to read through the fine print of your insurance policy documents to choose the right coverage. If you have any questions about condo insurance or you’re looking for a new policy, we’re here to help. Contact us online or at 617-298-0655 to talk to our team.