Is the FAIR Plan Home Insurance the Best Choice for Your Insurance Needs?

Not everyone lives in the most serene locations or moves into the most perfect of homes. And sometimes, issues can arise that make finding quality insurance quite difficult. That’s when a FAIR Plan insurance policy might be the best course of action.

Whether it’s from outdated wiring, roof damages, owning a high-risk dog breed, or filing too many claims, you could find yourself losing coverage of your home. However, there are options available when facing these high-risk elements.

What is the FAIR Plan?

Fair Access to Insurance Requirements, or FAIR, are plans that offer protection to homeowners, Condominiums, and nonowner-occupied properties, also known as Dwelling policies who usually cannot otherwise get coverage elsewhere. These types of policies focus on the home itself rather than the owner.

For instance, if your home is in a location prone to various severe weather conditions or crime, you may qualify for FAIR Plan coverage. This also includes residences that have old plumbing or electrical systems, as they are more likely to have been flooded or fire damaged.

Essentially, the Fair Plan offers insurance for people who are sometimes unable to qualify for a regular type of insurance plan due to the high-risk nature of the home or high insurance premium communities.

How Do You Qualify for FAIR Plan Insurance?

The qualifications for FAIR home insurance vary from state to state. Nonetheless, a lot of plans follow several eligibility requirements across the board.

Still, you may want to look into the specific requirements for your area or call us to help you.

In any case, having a “high-risk” home doesn’t automatically qualify you for FAIR Plan coverage. And in most cases, you may need to make improvements to your property before coverage is allowed.

For example, repairing prior damage or making sure that your home has no safety hazards.

What is Covered By FAIR Plan Insurance?

FAIR Plan home insurance policies provide the same coverage that traditional plans do. The FAIR Plan provides you coverage when you most need it.

The FAIR Plan will cover damages from fires, vandalism, windstorms, and other severe weather. This includes the contents of the home in some instances.

When it comes to liability, some FAIR Plan home insurance plans provide a cushion of up to $500,000 for personal protection. This includes up to $5,000 if your property injures a third party.

What are the Best Home Insurance Plans in Massachusetts?

FAIR Plan home insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you have a policy that can cover you. Regardless of your situation, there are coverage options available.

At Vargas & Vargas insurance, we specialize in all forms of insurance, including high-risk properties, homes that have outdated wiring, and various dog breeds I mentioned earlier. Contact us today and find out how we can help you get home insurance for your house or condo or investment property.

I’m Going On Vacation, How Do I Keep My Condo Safe While I’m Away?

As summer vacation approaches, many people enjoy time away from their busy schedules and responsibilities. While relaxing on a beach or touring Europe is exciting, there are some risks associated with being away from home that many people don’t consider until they arrive at their destination.

Leaving your Dorchester, MA condo unattended for even a short period can significantly impact your life and the lives of those around you. Whether visiting a friend or traveling across the country, Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help you understand the risks of leaving your condo behind and what you can do to protect your property.

Simple Steps To Protect Your Condo:

  1. Lock the door. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to lock their doors. Furthermore, use a deadbolt with a strike plate to make it harder for intruders to break in. Also, lock your windows.
  2. Unplug your electronics. Avoid a potential fire hazard by unplugging your TV, kitchen appliances, and other electronic devices.
  3. Don’t tell everyone you’re leaving. A lot of the time, potential thieves will use social media to find out the details of your travel plans. Please don’t make it easy for them. Tell your friends and family directly, if need be.
  4. Hide your valuables. Don’t leave your valuables in plain sight if you’re on vacation. Store them in a safe place or leave them with a friend or family member.
  5. Be careful with your mail. If you’re going away for a long time, ask someone you trust to check your mail. Letting your mail pile up is a massive sign to burglars that you’re not around.

Even when you take the proper precautions, it’s still possible that you’ll be a victim of a crime or some disastrous event. Contact  Vargas & Vargas Insurance can you make sure that you have the right insurance coverage at the right price, Contact us today 

Insurance Check-Up

Insurance Check-Up

Life Changes and it’s Time for an Insurance Checkup

Having insurance policies is vital to gain great security and protection from unexpected problems. Ensuring everything in your life at an early stage is also a great idea.

While getting yourself and your house, vehicle, and assets insured is vital, you also need an insurance checkup to review your policies yearly. This allows you to ensure that the insurance coverage will be of help to you when your circumstances and lifestyle change. But if your insurance doesn’t cover you as it should, you need to make some changes to the policies or, even purchase new policies to cover your changing needs.

Here are some reasons why you need to opt for an insurance checkup.

Change in Family Status

Are you planning to get married or expect a baby? It would help protect your growing family by purchasing the right insurance plan. Insurance checkups will allow you to ensure whether the coverage is enough to support your entire family when you are not around. The loss of a family member through disability and death is also the right time for an insurance plan review.

Remodeling or Moving Your House

If you plan to remodel your house, your house value will surely increase. Similarly, if you move from the house, you might own a property with a higher value than the one you have before. Since your assets have increased, you need an insurance plan that covers these assets.

Retirement Time

When you decide to retire, you need something to rely on for your future expenses, especially final expenses, it’s vital to choose the right insurance plans to protect you properly. It would also be helpful if you had the proper insurance that will pay for your funeral, medical care, and debts.

Chance in Assets Value

Many people insure their jewelry and other assets to get the money if they get damaged or lost. But they forget the fact that these valuable assets increase over time. By keeping the coverage updated regularly for these valuable assets, you are protected in the event you lose them or they are stolen.

Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts on different insurance plans. This way, you can purchase the right insurance plans at much lower prices. So, if you have not received your discounts, it’s time to have an insurance checkup.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s life, house, vehicle, or assets insurance, insurance is not something that you purchase and forget. You need to always look for ways to lower your premiums and avail optimal benefits from your policy. For this purpose, you need to opt for an insurance checkup.

Missing Coverage

If you have any assets at all, an umbrella policy is a valuable protection. Home insurance and car insurance policies have liability limits that are often not high enough to protect you adequately. If you are found to be at fault beyond your liability limits, you may be required to pay the remainder of the money out of pocket. It could take all of your savings and assets and even your future assets to make that payment.

This will help you look for flaws in your insurance and allow you to get the features that you don’t have. Not only this but practicing this method can help you lower your premiums and get interesting discounts and offer. So, if you currently have any insurance, consider reviewing it.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs at incredibly affordable prices. Contact us today for a free insurance review or quote.

Everything You Need to Know About a Condominium Master Policy

condo owner opening her door and smiling
Shot of a happy female opening front door of her home with a smile

A condominium master policy is an insurance policy that the condominium association purchases, and the unit owners routinely share the cost. It is a policy that protects the ground of a unit, the common areas, and the unit owner’s personal belongings. The policy also offers liability protection in case there is an accident within the unit’s walls. 

A condominium master policy has effects on both the condominium association and the condominium unit owners. The coverage of the condominium master policy, however, is dedicated to the master deed of the association.

Like other insurance policies, policyholders can decide on the three main plans depending on their preferred coverage:

1. Bare Walls-In Coverage

Bare walls-in coverage is the plan with the smallest area of coverage. It covers the physical or actual structure of the condominium. This includes the materials used to construct and erect the building. But bare walls-in coverage does not cover anything inside the unit. So it becomes the responsibility of each unit’s owner to seek additional coverage.

2. Single Entity

This plan covers everything listed on the bare walls-in coverage and some types of built-in property, such as fixtures and finishes. These fixtures and finishes must be original to the unit and not anything that the unit owner added.

3. All-In Coverage

This policy covers all the elements listed above. It also includes all the fixtures and structural elements associated with each unit, including in-built appliances and upgrades by the unit owner.

Advantages of organizing a master condominium plan are that:

  • It makes it easy for the developer to sell or separately finance different portions of the premises.
  • It makes it easier for sub-residential condominium owners to get mortgage financing.
  • Residential condominium developers have control over portions of residential sub-condominiums for longer than the period outlined in the Georgia Condominium Act. The developer will have control over the master condominium association, which maintains all the building structures.

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

How Does Condo Insurance Work?

Owning a condo is a great way to own your own home. It does come with a number of responsibilities, though, and one of the most important of these is to have a condo insurance policy. This policy protects you in a number of ways, and it’s never a good idea to be without it. If you need one of these policies, contact us today at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to talk to an agent. 

Protect Your Home

When you have a condo insurance policy, it covers your condo itself. This means that it will pay for certain damages to the inside of your condo, but not the outside. The condo board owns the outside and will insure that area. The only exception is when a condo owner makes some type of improvement to the outside of the condo. In that case, the owner is responsible for insuring that area as well. 

Protect Your Possessions

With all or most of your belongings inside your condo, a major accident or calamity that causes damage to your belongings can be devastating. However, your condo insurance will cover those possessions. It can pay for you to get repairs and/or to replace items that were ruined beyond repair. With this coverage, you won’t have to start over with nothing. 

Protect Your Finances

Another problem that can happen in a condo is a third party having an accident there. When that happens, it is often the owner who owes the medical bills. With a condo policy, there is liability coverage included. This will pay for the medical bills so that you won’t have to. 

Condo Protection

If you own a condo, you need protection. Call us at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA to find out more about this coverage. 

Condo Insurance Coverage Terms You Need to Know, Part Two

couple buying their first condo

Having a condo insurance policy brings peace of mind — that is, until you’ve had a claim and realize you don’t understand any of the policy’s terminology. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is committed to making sure you have all the tools you need (and a full understanding of common condo insurance coverage terms) to make the best decisions about your condo insurance coverage. Your home is important to you. Understanding your condo insurance policy is vital to making sure your home has the right protection. 

Condo Insurance Coverage Terms

Bare Walls/Single Entity/All-In Master Policies

Your condo association will have a master policy in place to cover the building itself and common areas. There are multiple types of master policies. Knowing which type of coverage your condo association master policy has will help you determine what coverage you need.

Bare Walls

This coverage covers the condo building and common areas. The master policy covers everything from the sheetrock back. But the area within the bare walls is the condo unit owner’s responsibility, including light fixtures, faucets, and everything else. This is the most common type of condo association master policy.

Single Entity Coverage

In this case, the master policy covers the unit as is when the owner moves in, including cabinets, flooring, etc. 

All-In Coverage

This rarest form of condo association master policy covers everything but your personal property, including any alterations and improvements you make after moving in. 

Dwelling Coverage

Once you’ve determined what your condo association’s master policy covers, you are responsible for the rest. Your condo insurance policy’s dwelling coverage will cover all the permanently affixed items not covered by the master policy up to the dwelling coverage limit. 

Personal Property Coverage

This includes all of your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, electronics, household tools, and more. It’s important to speak with your agent about items you think fall into this coverage area but may actually not. Examples might be golf carts and four-wheelers. Keeping an inventory of your personal property is important, too; you will need to itemize them in the event of a loss. 

Unit Improvements and Betterments Coverage

This coverage protects the upgrades you’ve made to your condo unit, which your condo association’s master policy might not cover. This could include upgraded flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures, or faucets. You’ve worked hard to make your condo personalized for your family. So make sure those upgrades have coverage. 

Liability Coverage

While the condo association master policy may provide some coverage for liability incidents on common property, that doesn’t release you from responsibility for liability within your residence. In a condo, your liability risk increases due to the proximity of other condo units. Liability coverage provides legal protection up to your policy limit. Most policies come with a basic amount, but you can increase it for a minimal additional premium. 

Additional Living Expense/Loss of Use

When a claim occurs, your condo may not be inhabitable for a time. This is why Additional Living Expense coverage, also known as Loss of Use coverage, is so important. This coverage will help with the cost of displacement up to the time period specified in the policy. 

Endorsement

An endorsement is an addition to your condo policy. You may need more coverage than allotted in your basic policy in a particular coverage area. Endorsements allow you to add that coverage. A common example is jewelry. Most policies provide a limited amount of jewelry coverage but allow more coverage through endorsements. 

Exclusion

An exclusion is a coverage area that is specifically not included in your policy. Your policy will have a list of exclusions. It’s imperative to review these exclusions because there are often options to provide coverage for the excluded perils separately. One example is flooding. A flood is usually an excluded peril; however, flood insurance is available as a stand-alone policy. 

Inflation Protection

The cost to repair or replace damage to your home and belongings does not stay static. So most condo insurance policies include inflation protection, which raises your coverage in small increments each renewal, as needed, to keep pace with inflation. 

Risk/Peril

A risk is the possibility of something unexpected happening. A peril is the cause of something unexpected happening. For example, the peril of a fire increases the risk of damage to personal property. Knowing what perils are covered under your policy is imperative for you to have proper protection from the risks you face as a condo unit owner.

 For more condo insurance coverage terms, see part one of Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know. Condo insurance coverage terms can be intimidating while also being vitally important. That’s why Vargas & Vargas Insurance, a premier local independent insurance agency, is here. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price and are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know, Part One

family on the upstairs balcony of their condo

Your condo is your home. It’s the place where you make memories. Insuring it properly can be confusing because condos are a little more complicated to insure than your typical home. Condo unit owners share responsibility for the home with the condominium association. What does this mean, and how does it affect your insurance? Vargas & Vargas insurance can help you navigate the often confusing world of condo insurance and condo insurance terms. 

General Condo Insurance Terms

Condo 

A condominium (condo) is a unit that is individually owned within a building that contains other units, which are also privately owned. All unit owners share ownership of commons areas, including pools, gyms, playgrounds, etc. 

Insured/Insurer

The insured is the person coverage is being provided for, generally the owner of the condo. The insurer is the insurance company providing the coverage for your condo. 

Additional Insured

The declarations page will list the additional insured, along with the insured. The additional insured is anyone else other than the condo owner who has a legal interest in the home. The most common additional insured for a condo policy is the mortgage company. An additional insured will be notified of the policy renewal and if the policy is in danger of cancellation. They may also be payees on larger claims checks. 

Condo Association/Condo Association Master Policy

A condo association is an organization that handles the day-to-day operations and decision-making for a condo community. They and the policies they handle are the major differences between home insurance and condo insurance.

This includes purchasing a condo association master insurance policy. The master policy covers the areas common to all unit owners. The unit owners are typically responsible for everything within the unit’s walls. The condo association master policy covers the rest of the commonly owned structures. However, each policy can be different, so understanding your condo association’s master policy is essential to understand your own condo insurance needs. 

Policy Period

This is the time period your condo is currently insured for, which is usually one year. Most condo policies renew automatically, assuming you continue to pay the premium. 

Premium

The annual amount you pay for your condo insurance is called the insurance premium. This premium can usually be divided into convenient payments of monthly, quarterly, or semiannual installments if it’s not paid directly to the insurance company through your mortgage escrow account. 

Deductible

The deductible is the amount the insured (the condo unit owner) is responsible for in the event of a claim. If a claim is less than the deductible amount, the insurance company bears no responsibility for payment of the claim. If the claim is more than the deductible, the deductible will be subtracted from the claim’s total amount before the insurer pays out. The deductible does not go to the insurance company. 

All-Risk/Named-Peril

An all-risk insurance policy covers all potential causes of loss other than those specifically excluded in the policy. A named-peril policy covers events if the policy lists out those specific causes of loss. While an all-risk policy can be more inclusive, it is generally much more expensive and not as common. Most insurers choose to cover the most common risks, providing a broad scope of protection while keeping premiums affordable. 

Replacement Cost (RCV/ACV)

When you purchase your condo, the sales price is based on the market value of your home. The desirability of the location and many other factors determine that price. But when you have a loss, the location’s desirability has no bearing on the cost to rebuild your home or replace your roof. That’s why it is important to understand the difference in replacement cost and actual cash value.

The replacement cost value is the cost to replace a damaged item or item, whether it be your TV or all of your belongings. The actual cash value takes into account the depreciated value of the item. For example, if your sofa is five years old, then you got five years’ worth of value from your sofa. So your company will take a deduction from the amount paid for your claim that takes into consideration the age of the sofa. Knowing which type of coverage you have before a claim can prevent many misunderstandings.

General condo insurance terms are important to know, but there are many more terms that can make all the difference in understanding your condo insurance. For more insurance terms, see part two of Condo Insurance Terms You Need to Know

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is a premier local independent insurance agency. 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 are also here to answer all of your insurance questions. So contact us today.

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.