What to Do During and After a Hurricane

woman looking through the window at home as a hurricane approaches

Hurricanes can pose a serious hazard for people and properties in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. Floods, heavy winds, and other severe weather factors can cause damage quickly. Read this short guide about how to stay safe and protect your property both during and after the next hurricane.

What to Do During a Hurricane

During a hurricane, it is important to avoid going outdoors or driving because the winds and flooding can be dangerous. If you must be out in the storm, then it is important to:

  • NOT drive around road barriers
  • NOT walk through flowing water
  • NOT drive through flooded roads

Also, continue monitoring the media for any emergency information. Look for credible emergency information shared by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and other government agencies. Also, you need to follow instructions given by the public safety officials.  

If directed to evacuate, you need to do so immediately, and take only your essential items and any pets, if possible. Given that conditions change fast, you need to be ready for evacuation to different places as directed and if necessary.

What to Do After a Hurricane Has Passed

After a hurricane has passed and you had evacuated, return home if authorities say it is safe to do so. Continue to listen to news reports to know if the water supply is safe. Before local authorities declare your water supply safe, you need to boil the water before drinking or using it for food preparation.

As soon as it’s safely possible, check your home for any signs of damage. While checking your home, you need to:

  • Repair leaching systems and damaged septic tanks to minimize potential health risks.
  • Hire a qualified electrician to assess any damages to electrical systems.
  • Have a professional check your wells for contamination.
  • If you suspect there is a gas leak, go outdoors immediately and contact a licensed professional to check it out.
  • In case your home or property is damaged, document the damage by taking videos and photos and contact your insurance company.

Also, report any power outages to your utility company. If you’re waiting for the power to return, be careful to only use grills and generators outside because their fumes contain dangerous gases.

Try to avoid entering floodwaters in and around your property. Seek the services of a professional cleaning and repair company to clean and disinfect your home. Check on neighbors and friends, especially the elderly and those who live alone.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you protect your home, property, and family. Call us today to learn more about hurricane-related coverage, flood insurance, and safety tips to help you get through the storm.

Let’s Talk About Flood Insurance

For Massachusetts property owners looking to protect their investment, Dorchester, Massachusetts-based Vargas & Vargas Insurance is standing by to have a conversation with you about your flood protection insurance options.  It is easy to avoid thinking about such unpleasantries with the thought that, “those things happen to other people,” but the reality is that that is not necessarily true.  If you have questions about the state of your flood protection, our team of dedicated and licensed insurance agents are looking forward to having a conversation about your needs.

Flood Insurance Requirements in Massachusetts

Homebuyers searching for mortgage loans might be surprised to find that their lenders mandate that they purchase flood insurance as a condition of their loan acceptance.  Indeed, as an example, Dorchester, MA residents risk flooding from both coastal flooding and rising waters from the Neponset River, so lenders will likely call for a flood policy in addition to your regular home insurance requirements.  Working with one of our agents, we can write a policy that will not only keep your lenders at bay but will also protect you when Mother Nature begins stirring during storm season.  Let’s talk about flood insurance and how it can give you and your family peace of mind should the worst occur.

Contact Our Team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance

If you need to look at the full range of protection afforded by having flood coverage from Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we welcome you to contact us at our Dorchester, MA for a conversation about how to best protect your property.  Flooding can be a catastrophic event, but it does not have to wash your home down the street to devastate your life.  Indeed, from moldy carpets to damaged furnishings in the aftermath of a flood-related incident.     

Why You Should Buy Flood Insurance for Your Massachusetts Home

Floods happen far more often than most people realize. In the United States, flooding is a factor in 90 percent of natural disasters. Unfortunately, home insurance policies do not cover flood-related losses. That’s a fact that some homeowners only find out after they’ve experienced property loss from a flood. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you protect your property before a flood.

mother and child gardening in the backyard of their Massachusetts home

Why You Need Flood Insurance in Massachusetts

Although properties on the Massachusetts coast have a higher flood risk, flood insurance isn’t just for people who live there. No matter what part of Massachusetts your house or condo is located in, you need flood insurance.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a popular adage that goes: “Where it can rain, it can flood.” It’s another way of saying every home is at risk of flooding. While your home may have a lower or higher risk than other properties, a home with no risk of a flood doesn’t exist.

In fact, flood insurance claims for properties in low-risk areas are commonplace. FEMA reports more than 1 in 5 NFIP claims are associated with properties that aren’t in the high-risk zones. 

If your home is in a high-risk flood plain, you need to know what that risk level means in practical terms. According to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, that risk level means you have a 26 percent risk of a flood damaging your property over the course of a 30-year mortgage.

Consider the town of Northampton in western Massachusetts. Many years ago, mid-March warming caused winter’s ice and snow to melt so rapidly that the Connecticut River overflowed to the extent that Northampton flooded. Today, Northampton officials are concerned that climate change could cause the town to flood again. Town officials are currently working diligently to prevent a repeat of that historic flooding. Homeowners should protect themselves for the risk of a flood in any season.

How to Get Flood Insurance

If climate change or another weather event brings flooding to your community, it’s important to be prepared. Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days to go into effect. Therefore, now is a good time to contact your local independent insurance agent to discuss your options for flood insurance coverage.  

Does Flood Insurance Only Cover Natural Floods

Flood insurance is something that most people never need and that most people cannot benefit from. That being said, you should take the time to figure out if you need flood insurance at all or if it is a coverage that you can do without. For those in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you find out if you need a flood policy or not.

Flood insurance works to cover flood damage from natural flooding only. This means that it covers flooding that is caused by some outside water source. Flooding from broken pipes is covered in your normal home insurance policy. Flood insurance is something that is not required and that is not going to be beneficial for all users. Flood insurance is something that is going to work well for your home if you live in an area where you are near water, in an area where you are near flood planes or where flooding is possible.

Flood insurance does not cover flooding that is associated with things like holes in the roof from storms, burst pipes, or other things that would otherwise be covered on your normal home policy. When buying flood coverage, it is always best to take the time to really look at what the coverage is all about and see if you can truly benefit from it. For the most part, you are not going to need to use a flood policy and your home policy is going to cover some flooding to a certain extent. For those in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you determine if you need a flood insurance policy or if your home policy is sufficient for your needs.  

The Two Most Effective Steps When You File A Claim

Your Insurance is in place to protect you from risks that may affect your wealth and your health.  When an incident occurs, you’ll want to file your claim in order to receive payment for your loss as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Luckily, there are two easy steps to ensure a smooth claim process.  Best news of all, you can manage these two easy suggestions in a short time, maybe even while you’re binge watching whatever is the latest and greatest on Netflix. 

#1: Paperwork

Gather your insurance policies to an easy-to-find (and easy to remember) location.  You might want to consider scanning your policies to PDFs and saving those on your Smartphone, home computer, or Cloud Storage. 

If you’re saving paper or scanning to PDF, be mindful with how you label each document.  Using the Insurance Carrier’s name along with the purpose of the policy is helpful.  For example, “ABC INSURANCE Homeowners Policy.” 

Use different color post-it notes strategically placed on each paper document to easily flip through multiple policies. If you’re storing PDFs on a computer or Cloud drive, create different folders for each policy and be sure to “rename” each PDF for easy search.  In a pinch you’ll want to quickly locate “XYZ MUTUAL INSURANCE 2017 PONTIAC.”

#2: Photos

Smartphones make it easy to snap photos of your belongings around your home or to grab a quick photo of damage to your vehicle after an incident. Be sure to have the date stamp feature enabled.

In your home, while running your vacuum around or changing the bed linens, snap photos in each room where you have valuable belongings.  Take a photo of the entire room, too, with different angles. Capture clear, up close photos of individual valuables. 

Upload your photos and save to your home computer or Cloud Storage. Or both.

We’d be honored to spend a few minutes with you to discuss how to organize your files, review to see if your valuables are insured properly or to prepare the step-by-step of the “what to do” and “what not to do” after a claim.

When you’re organized in advance, your claim can be processed efficiently. This gets you paid faster in order to begin the repairs.

You can call us now for a free educational moment or to review your existing insurance policies to be sure you’re covered for every eventuality. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

4 Things Your Homeowner Policy Should Include

Shopping for Homeowners Insurance is often rushed and daunting.  And exhausting.  In the flurry of activity leading up to a Home purchase closing, the harried home buyer may speed through the insurance process with the goal of quick and cheap. Let’s slow down ever so slightly! 

Take your time and ask your insurance agent if the quoted policy includes the following 4 vital coverage parts. Your standard Homeowners Insurance Policy covers you in the event of damage from fire, lightning, hail, and explosions.   However, these 4 items are not automatically included.

#1: Higher Liability Coverage.  The dollar value of an insurance payout in the event of a claim is often the number one most overlooked and undervalued part of a quickly-quoted insurance policy.  We like to explain liability coverage to our customers like this: imagine if someone fell on the pathway leading up to your front door.  Imagine that person suffered a serious injury, such as broken bones.  Now imagine that person, whether friend, family, or otherwise, hires an aggressive Personal Injury Attorney to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and medical bills.   Do you think that $300,000 liability coverage is sufficient payout in such a dire event to protect your other cash assets (your bank accounts, your retirement accounts, your children’s college fund)?   Whether it is or is not sufficient, do you want to gamble your wealth away with insufficient liability coverage?   Consider increasing your Liability Coverage to at least $1,000,000.

#2: Storm Damage.  Severe weather over the past dozen years or so has cost Homeowners considerable sums of money.  These Homeowners lived in contentment with their homeowners insurance policies thinking they were covered for all kinds of occurrences.  When the severe weather hit—storm surges from oceans, rivers, and creeks; high-wind conditions; flooding inside basements from ground water saturation due to heavier than normal rains—too many Homeowners discovered to their dismay the lack of coverage for damage sustained due to severe weather.   Discuss flood insurance with your insurance agent.

#3: Power Outages.  Should your home lose power for a sustained period of time you could experience loss of foodstuffs due to your refrigerator not functioning.  Adding this extra coverage to your policy protects your money…and your food.

#4: Additional Coverage for “earth-movement”.  Have an in-ground pool in your backyard? If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, landslides, or sinkholes, you’ll want to add additional coverage to your standard policy to protect your assets and your home against these risks.

We’re happy to spend the time necessary to educate you on the best comprehensive insurance for your Home.  Call us today!

Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Does Flood Insurance Cover the Cost of Associated Medical Bills?

Flood insurance is something that is very important if you live in areas where flooding is frequent, and it does cover a wide range of things. Flood insurance covers more than you might imagine and if you take out special policies that cover extra, you can have a policy that is fairly comprehensive. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you to find the policy that you need.

Flood insurance as a general rule covers things like the repair of homes that have been damaged, mold mitigation; sometimes it covers the cost of a place to stay while your home is repaired and more. In some cases, you can get an illness or medical bills associated with flooding covered but, in most cases, your health insurance is going to cover any medical bills. You can take out particular flood policies that have medical coverage built in, but for the most part, it is going to be best to use your health insurance to cover your costs.

For those that do need to use flood insurance to cover medical costs, you need to make sure your policy covers medical expenses. Most flood policies are only going to include the replacement and repair of items and the home. You need to take the time to really look at your coverage and you need to make sure you understand the ins and outs of flood insurance. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you to find the perfect flood policy so that you can get the coverage you need to keep your home safe no matter what disaster may befall it.  

Recap: Flood Insurance FAQs

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Did you know that your Massachusetts home insurance policy likely won’t cover you for certain instances of flood damage, including some of the damages caused by flooding during a hurricane? This time of year, we get a lot of questions about flood insurance, so make sure that you didn’t miss our blog post from last week where we answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding flood protection, including:

  • What constitutes a flood?
  • Will my home insurance cover me if there is flood damage to my property?
  • I don’t live near any water. Do I still need a flood insurance policy?
  • What is federal disaster assistance? Won’t that help me if there is a flood?
  • How are flood insurance premiums calculated? Are discounts available?
  • How long after I purchase flood insurance will my policy go into effect?

Want to talk to a Massachusetts insurance agent about whether you need a flood insurance policy? Call us at 617-298-0655 or fill out our online quote request form and we will get back to you right away. We will show you that flood insurance is a great way to protect your property against potential flood damage for a relatively low price, so don’t wait – call today!

Flood Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

Now that hurricane season is in full swing, the agents here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are getting a lot of questions about coverage for their homes and other possessions. One of the biggest tips that we have for our clients is to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy, because it will cover some instances that a home insurance policy alone will not.

In an effort to help our customers understand the importance of flood insurance and to outline some of the basic information about the policy, here are answers to some of our most frequently asked flood insurance questions:

What is a Flood?

Ok, this may seem like a silly question at first, but how your insurance policies define ‘flood’ will play a huge factor in determining whether you are covered for a loss. While insurance providers may differ slightly in their definition, most agree that to be a flood, waters must cover at least two square acres of normally dry land and/or affect at least two properties. When you purchase your flood insurance policy, ask your agent the specifics on what your insurance provider considers a flood so that you can know for the future.

Does my home insurance cover flood damage?

No! Home insurance policies often have a strict set of coverage exclusions, one of which is damage due to flooding. If you want to be covered for this potential peril, you will need an additional flood insurance policy for your home. Thankfully, your home insurance will likely cover damages due to hail and wind, which is not a part of a Massachusetts flood insurance policy.

Do I need flood insurance if I don’t live near water?

Floods are the product of many different situations. It’s not just torrential rainstorms that causes flooding. Flooding can also occur because of hurricanes, water backups, and even melting snow. Did you know that your home is more likely to be affected by a flood than by a fire? In fact, it has been estimated that over $2 billion of damage is caused by flooding each year in the US.

What is a flood zone?

A flood zone is an area that has been evaluated for its flood risk, and its designation will affect your flood insurance premium. Properties in Zone A are high risk, Zone B is moderate risk, and Zone C is low risk. The higher your risk for floods, the higher your flood insurance premium will likely be.

If there is a flood, won’t I be covered by federal disaster assistance?

It is a possibility that federal disaster coverage may be available, but only if the President declares a disaster, but over 90% of disasters are not declared. Plus, even if you receive federal disaster coverage it is a loan that you would have to repay, but flood insurance will cover you without you having to repay any of the amount paid out for your claim.

How will my flood insurance premium be calculated?

There are many factors that will be considered when insurance providers determine your premium. These include (but are not limited to) the amount and type of coverage you are purchasing, the location and flood zone of the property being insured, as well as the age of the building.

How much does flood insurance cost?

A flood insurance policy will probably be more affordable than you expect! For a low premium payment, you can get a lot of coverage to protect your property from flood damage.

Are flood insurance discounts available?

It is a possibility that you could receive a discount on your flood insurance premium. For more information on whether you qualify for a flood insurance discount, speak with your Massachusetts insurance agent from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. They will be able to check to see if there are any applicable savings.

When will my policy go into effect?

For most flood insurance policies, there is a 30-day waiting period before the policy goes into effect. This means that you can’t wait until the last minute to purchase a flood insurance policy if a hurricane or other big storm is heading toward Massachusetts! There are a few exceptions to this rule, including a change in the building’s flood zone, and when there is a renewed mortgage on the property.

How do I get a quote?

Getting a quote is always easy with Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency! There are several ways that you can get in touch with a Boston insurance agent to talk about your coverage – fill out our online quote form, email us, or call our office at 617-298-0655. Someone can answer all of your coverage questions and get you the policy you need with minimal hassle. And remember, our quotes are always free, and we search many different insurance providers to make sure that you are getting the best possible deal on your insurance coverage.

Storm Damage Tips From Vargas & Vargas Insurance

This weekend’s Nor’easter, which is not a storm named by the National Weather Service, produced widespread damage including downed trees, sump pump failures, and power outages. The Vargas & Vargas Insurance team handled dozens of calls throughout the entire weekend and remains available at this time to assist you.

We understand there is great difficulty locating tree removal services and roofers to patch or tarp roof openings. We also note that finding generators and or sump pumps to remove water from basements is a challenge at this time.

Below are some tips should you have suffered any damage:

Tree damage: If there is tree damage to a building or home the first order of business is to ensure everyone’s physical safety. Once that has been completed, contact a licensed tree removal company. Currently, tree removal companies are focusing on calls involving severe damage. We suggest a number of companies be contacted to secure competitive quotes and, if necessary, to get on waiting lists for assistance.

Sump pump failure: Be extremely mindful of entering a flooded basement as water that has risen to certain levels may have caused an electrical short creating a dangerous situation. Elevating personal belongings and removing the water as soon as possible is important. Pumps and generators are in high demand currently and most local hardware and big box home improvement stores are out of stock. Contacting stores within a reasonable driving distance may be good option.

Roof damage: Much like tree removal services, licensed roofers are in high demand after a storm of this size. While likely well-meaning, this will cause individuals without the necessary level of expertise to offer assistance. As we have suggested in the past, please do not let anyone on your roof that you did not contact directly, and please be sure those that do provide help are appropriately licensed and insured.While these are the most common types of losses after a storm of this nature, we recognize these are not the only issues currently being experienced. Please contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance with any questions or concerns you may have.

To report a loss, you can contact us by telephone (617-298-0655), email(customerservice@vargasinsurance.com)
or text (617-409-0329).

If you suffer an emergency that cannot wait until we are open for business, please contact our after-hours claim telephone number  617-322-5289. 

Also, you may find our blog titled, “Home insurance, should you file a claim”, interesting to read, can read it by clicking here.

Sincerely,Carlos