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.

Is Buying a Condo the Right Choice for You?

Here in the great city of Boston, we have many choices when it comes to where to live. You can rent an apartment, buy a home, or anything in between. Sometimes, though, people tend to skip over one of the options – buying a condominium. If you’re looking to find the perfect place for you and your family, consider these reasons to buy a condo:

  • You don’t have to handle any of the outside work. Mowing the grass, shoveling snow, gardening, and more will be taken care of by the condo association. Costs for these services are shared by the owners in the development.
  • Unlike homes, condos often have amenities. Some will offer a pool, theater room, gym, tennis court, party room, or many other possible perks.
  • When you’re renting, your customization options are typically quite limited. A condo, however, you can customize to your heart’s content, since you own your unit.
  • Oftentimes, working with a reliable real estate agent or broker can save you time, effort and disappointments, we work with many very experienced real estate agents and brokers, and we can connect you with one of them.
  • You may find a condo with a smaller price tag than a comparable traditional house. This makes condo living a great option, as long as you consider the monthly fees

If you have considered all of these reasons and decide that condo living is a perfect fit for your lifestyle, (it has been for Kathy and me) remember to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance for your Massachusetts condo insurance needs (even if you are told that you do not need unit owners coverage). We are experts at writing personal condo insurance policies, Condominium Master Insurance policies and we can make sure that all of your belongings are covered, in addition to making sure that your policy contains enough personal liability coverage for your needs. Call 617-298-0655 for a free quote today!

Best and Worst Places to Store Your Wedding Rings

When you get married, you may think that you will never take your wedding rings off. And while some people don’t, many prefer to err on the side of caution occasionally, like when things in the kitchen get messy (mixing meatloaf or kneading dough), when using harsh cleaning products, or when exercising.

If you are the kind of person that occasionally takes your ring or rings off, where do you put it? Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) with your precious jewelry:

  • DO store your rings in a fabric pouch or a ring box
  • DO put your rings in a memorable place
  • DON’T put your rings on the edge of a sink or counter
  • DO opt for a drawer where the rings can’t fall into the drain or trash
  • DON’T leave your rings in a locker when you’re at the gym
  • DON’T put your rings in your pocket – they could fall out or go through the wash
  • DO thread your rings onto a necklace if you need to take them off in a pinch

To make sure that your expensive jewelry is protected, ask your Massachusetts insurance agent about using a jewelry rider. This rider is typically an addition to your home insurancerenters insurance or condominium insurance that covers expensive items, like jewelry, art, collections, and more. This is especially important because your home or renters insurance may not fully protect expensive items like these – call 617-298-0655 and ask your insurance agent for a full explanation.

Valentine’s Day – Time to Rekindle with Your… Insurance Agent?

When was the last time you had a real ‘heart-to-heart’ with your insurance agent? Even though it may have been a while, now is the perfect time to rekindle your relationship – it is Valentine’s Day, after all!

Did you know that you should talk to your insurance agent at least once a year to ensure that all your policies are up to date, and that you have the right amount of coverage?

As you chat with your agent, you can expect to review all the major changes in your life, including:

  • Changes in relationship status (marriage or divorce)
  • Children being born, starting to drive, or leaving the household
  • Windfalls or (hopefully not) major monetary losses
  • New ‘toys,’ including cars, boats, RVs, and motorcycles
  • Other purchases – like Valentine’s Day jewelry, perhaps?

In addition to updating your insurance policies to reflect the recent changes in your life, your insurance agent will use your annual meeting as a chance to search for any new discounts for which you may qualify. This means that you may come out of your meeting with a decreased insurance premium! Wouldn’t that be nice?

If you’re ready to rekindle your relationship with your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent, just call 617-298-0655. We can set you up with an appointment and let you know what to bring to get the most out of your meeting. Also bring a list of all your insurance questions – we love to make sure our clients are well-informed about their insurance!

Planning Your Patriots Super Bowl Party

The New England Patriots have done it again – our boys will soon be on their way to Houston to play in the Big Game! Now that we know the lineup, it’s time to start planning a watch party with a red, white, and blue theme (my apologies to anyone from Atlanta).

If you’re going to have anyone over to watch the game on February 5th, make sure that you consider these party planning and safety tips from your friends at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency:

  • Ask your guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies, and plan your menu accordingly.
  • Before anyone arrives, move valuable and breakable objects to a room that isn’t a part of the festivities. If any of your belongings (or a part of your home) is damaged during the party, call your local insurance agent to start a home insurance claim!
  • Make sure that everything is safe for your guests – you don’t want any hazards around the house, like an icy sidewalk or rug that could be tripped over.
  • If you are serving alcohol, make sure that all partygoers have a designated driver, and don’t let anyone get too impaired.
  • If you’re going to be frying any of your party foods, keep guests (especially children) away from the fryer and out of the kitchen.

Have a great party, and make sure to show your Patriots pride on the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Facebook Page! We want to see how you are rooting for the team! And remember – to make sure that you are fully prepared for any house party, call for a free home insurance review at 617-298-0655.