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

Snow Safety: A Complete Guide

Now that the New Year has arrived, we must face the fact that the snow isn’t going away any time soon. For the next few months, you need to make sure that you and your loved ones stay safe in the frigid Massachusetts temperatures. Here are links to a few blogs that we’ve posted over the years that can help make sure of that:

  • Prepare for Winter Storms – We see a few major storms every winter here in the Boston area. When one threatens, make sure that you are prepared by following these guidelines.
  • How to Shovel Snow Safely – Shoveling snow isn’t a coveted task, but if you get stuck with the chore make sure you perform it safely with these tips.
  • Tips for Driving in the Snow – You’ve probably got plenty of practice driving in the ‘white stuff,’ but there’s no harm in a little refresher. Brush up now, and forward the link along to a new driver you know!
  • The Potential Dangers of Melting Snow – It always seems like the snow will stick around forever, but one day the temperatures will warm up enough to start the yearly melt. Be ready for the risks of melting snow with a flood insurance policy.

And there’s one more bonus blog for you in this guide – Free Activities for Snow Days! There are days where snowfall and freezing temperatures make going to work (and school) impossible, so make sure that your family has a plan for the inevitable upcoming snow days.

Here’s the bottom line. Be safe in the snow, and make sure that you have the right Massachusetts insurance policies in place just in case you have to make a claim. To check on your home or renters insurance, auto insurance, and flood insurance policies, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Is Your House Located in a Flood Plain?

It’s not always obvious that a house is in a flood plain. If you live near a river or oceanfront, you may think you’re safe based on how many buildings or hills there are between you and the water. Even if you can’t see the waterfront from your home, that doesn’t mean the water can’t get you. Agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance serving Dorchester, MA can help you find out if flood insurance is required, and if it is worth the purchase if not.

The federal government requires that homeowners who live in an area at high risk for flooding purchase flood insurance. Homes that are further away from the waterfront and lack the federal flood insurance requirement may still need flood insurance. Your mortgage lender may require that you purchase flood insurance, depending on the location of the house. Some may assume that flooding is covered by a home insurance policy, but this is not the case. It is also sometimes important to take research into your own hands to learn more about your geographical location.

For starters, you could look up how many floods have occurred in your area in a specific date range. On the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website, you can find a visualization tool that allows you to select your state and see how many times a flood has occurred in each county in recent years.

Ultimately, even if your house isn’t in a flood plain and flood insurance isn’t mandated on your home, the decision about purchasing a policy is up to you. Contact an agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance if you live in the Dorchester, MA area, and they can offer you guidance on this important decision.

Everyone lives in a Flood Zone!

Hurricane season is upon us, and based on the devastation that Houston is going through (and with another hurricane on the way) this season may not turn out to be a walk in the park for homeowners and renters.

I am not sure if you are aware, but flood damage (and earthquake damage) are excluded under all homeowners, condominium, and renter’s insurance policies. If you are in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you are required to purchase flood insurance to satisfy your Mortgage Company or bank.  But there is a misconception that if you are not in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you are not able to purchase flood insurance – that is incorrect.

Everyone who owns a home or condominium or rents an apartment is able to purchase flood insurance, and if you are NOT in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you could receive a “preferred rate.”

As an example, the flood insurance policy that Kathy and I carry on our home costs us $1389 per year for $50K on contents and $50K on the building because we are in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area. If we were NOT in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area our rate would be around $499.00 per year for up to $250K on the building and $100K on contents, a big difference.

Here is the second misconception to flood insurance: many people think that they will purchase a flood policy when they need it or a hurricane is heading in their direction. It does not work this way, as there is a 30-day waiting period on all new flood insurance policies (unless you are purchasing the coverage for a closing or refinance).

Here are some statistics for homeowners:

1. In the past several years, 60% of all declared disasters involved flooding
2. 25% of all insurance claims paid by FEMA involved losses outside Federally Mandated Flood Hazard areas.
3. 51% of all homeowner insurance claims are related to weather or flooding

And it gets worse for business owners. Here are 3 statistics that every business owner should know:

1. Almost 40% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a flood disaster.
2. Floods happen everywhere. 25% of all flood damage occurs in low to moderate flood risk areas. Business owners should not rely on a line of credit at their bank for protection.
3. Business insurance policies exclude flood damage. Only flood insurance pays qualified claims quickly so a business owner can get back to business

I strongly urge you to call Vargas & Vargas Insurance (your Lolocal independent insurance agent) and request a FREE flood insurance quote. Or click here.

If you are inclined to make a donation to help the wonderful people of Houston Texas, my mortgage friend, Richard Smith, recommends making a donation on this site, click here.

Thank you!

Carlos