How an Insurance Agent Can Help With Your Home Purchase

couple in front of their newly bought home

Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting events in a family’s life.  It is also a great time of confusion. So many pieces have to come together to turn a house into your new home. Having the right team throughout the home buying process is an important part of the puzzle. It’s common to think of realtors and mortgage brokers as part of your team, but did you know your local independent insurance agent can be a vital player, as well?

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Independent insurance agents are not only in the community. They are an active part of the community. Because of this, they know the answers to most of those all-important questions when you’re purchasing a home.  With knowledge of community services, neighborhoods, school systems, and referral partners, your insurance agent can be a great resource to help in your home purchase journey. 

Guarding Against Surprises

You wouldn’t purchase your home without knowing how much the mortgage will be. You’ll also want to review your homeowners insurance in advance of your home purchase. This way, you can detect any obstacles like pre-existing or current home damage, which may affect your insurance, before purchase.  Your insurance agent will review all the features of your future home to make sure you are properly covered. The replacement cost of your home versus its market value can be very confusing. Your insurance agent will walk you through the difference and explain your coverage in detail. This is also a great time to re-evaluate all of your insurance in consideration of your changing needs. 

Ease of Home Purchase

Your insurance premium is often escrowed, meaning it is included as a part of your mortgage payment. Your insurance agent can work directly with your lender to deliver all insurance documents before your closing. This takes one more thing off of your hands and ensures your coverage begins immediately. 

A home is an important purchase. Vargas & Vargas Insurance, a premier local independent insurance agency, will customize your homeowners insurance, answer all of your questions, and be there for you on the journey to your dream home. Contact us today to learn more.

When should your review your home insurance

About a month before your home insurance is due for renewal you will receive a copy of your policy details in the mail or maybe in an email. The front page of that is your Homeowners Policy Declaration. It includes your policy number, the dates your policy is in effect, your agent’s name, and the address of the property being insured. It also includes your liability limits, deductibles, and any additional coverages you have. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, our staff is focused on making sure our customers have a positive insurance experience. We put our customer’s needs first. 

When your policy renews

When you get this notice from your insurer, it is the perfect time to review all the figures. Look at the amount of coverage you have for the replacement of your home, contents, outbuildings, living expenses, and liability coverage. Do they make sense? Has the cost of your policy gone up substantially? Is there a legitimate reason for the increase? What is your deductible? After you have looked it over you may want to have a discussion with your insurance agent. 

When you add a significant amount of additional content

If you receive or purchase expensive jewelry, your policy may not cover it. Most traditional home policies have a low threshold for jewelry and other expensive items. You can add a rider to your policy to cover these items. 

You make upgrades

If you make changes to your home: finish the basement or attic, add an extension or upgrade a kitchen the value of your home may have increased. If you replace your roof or add a home security system, you may be eligible for a discount. Make sure your agent knows all the latest information about your home. 

Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA with your home insurance needs. 

Should You Have an Office in a Downsized Home?

man working in his home office

Downsizing requires careful consideration of whether you need various features of your home or whether they can be eliminated. A home office is a full room that many people who are downsizing to a smaller home can eliminate. This can have a positive impact on your home insurance policy.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Deciding whether to include an office in a downsized home or not is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It can be tempting to make this decision solely based on space or insurance implications, especially when you are being intentional about downsizing. But it is also important to consider how keeping or creating a home office fits into your current career, educational, or recreational goals. 

The past year has led to a drastic shift in many employees’ interest in working from home. Other people have begun to see the benefits of taking courses from home, both for credit and for fun. Online side gigs have also gained popularity.

Suppose you are currently participating in any of these activities or are considering doing so in the future. In that case, the benefits of having a dedicated home office space for working and learning may outweigh the cost of having an extra room. However, if you have no interest in working from home or are downsizing because you are retired or your children have moved out of your home, choosing a smaller home that does not include an office space is often the best option. 

Insurance Implications of an Office in a Downsized Home

A home office is, of course, an extra room that needs to be insured. At best, it will add additional square footage to your insurance policy. In addition, your homeowners insurance may not fully cover your office in your downsized home. Why? It blurs the line between typical issues that all homeowners could experience and business-related expenses that are more complex. You will likely need to purchase an additional insurance policy if you are working from home. This is even more important if you are running your own business. Some employers may also require additional insurance coverage for remote employees that may not be fully covered by their regular workplace insurance policy.  

A home office can be beneficial under the right circumstances. But choosing a home that does not include one can benefit your insurance policy. At Vargas & Vargas, we are the premier local independent insurance agency. Contact us today with any questions you have or to learn more about customizing your insurance policy to meet your pricing needs.

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. 

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

mother and son playing in the kitchen

Ever wondered what the difference is between homeowners insurance and property insurance? Maybe you saw both listed somewhere and wondered if they are different. Well, if you were wondering, here is a quick overview of the terms and what they mean — and why they are important to know. 

Property Insurance

Property insurance is an umbrella term for all different kinds of dwelling insurances and can include: 

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Renters insurance
  • Flood insurance
  • Earthquake insurance

Property insurance is normally part of your homeowners policy, but the homeowners policy doesn’t have to be the entire property insurance policy. For example, a property insurance policy could be for a dwelling that isn’t your home (see renters insurance). The homeowners policy will be more than just the property insurance. 

Home Insurance

Your homeowners policy will most likely be a hybrid policy that will include both the property insurance element and some riders that have other things on it. An example of a rider is if you have some expensive art or jewelry in your home, then you will get an additional rider to cover those expensive pieces. Here are a few of the perils that your homeowners insurance will typically cover: 

  • Fire
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects 
  • Loss of Use: This is when a part of your home ends up needing to be repaired. If it causes you extra expenses, your homeowners policy will reimburse you for those extra costs. Another part of this applies to rental properties. You may suffer from loss of rental income or “loss of rents” if you have a rental property that becomes unlivable due to a covered event. You will be reimbursed for the amount you would typically receive in rental income per month in this instance.

This list is not complete, but it should give an idea of the types of things that are covered in the typical homeowners insurance plan. Each homeowners insurance plan is customized for you, the homeowner, so the best way to discover what kind of coverage you currently have (or don’t have) is to check out the exclusions page of your policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is the 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. We’re also here to answer all of your insurance questions — contact us today.

Home and Home Insurance Winterization Tips

mother and infant child looking out their home's window during winter

The weather outside is definitely on its way to being frightful, and the fire may be so delightful. Have you winterized your home and checked to make sure your home insurance is ready for winter? Below are some home and home insurance winterization tips to make sure you are prepared for the season. 

Start Before Cold Winter Weather Sets In

Some basic steps to start your home winterization checklist include:

  • Clean your gutters. Get all the debris out to ensure that the winter rain and snow will have someplace to go.
  • Check for drafts, and seal up any extra breezy areas. This could be done using chalk or by installing door sweeps.
  • Have your furnace maintained to make sure that it’s working properly.
  • Change out the filter in your furnace. The furnace filter should be changed out regularly.
  • Change all the batteries in the detectors (carbon monoxide and smoke). It is recommended that you change your batteries in your detectors twice a year.
  •  Have your chimney swept. There could be dust, dirt, or even birds in there.
  • Check your windows and insulation.

Review Your Home Insurance Coverage

Add home insurance winterization to your to-do list. You will also want to check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure that you have enough coverage. There are many things that can happen in the winter, and you will want to make sure that your coverage has you prepared for any eventuality. It is a good idea to make sure that your insurance has flood coverage before you have a burst pipe in your home. This coverage takes time to take effect, and it will not cover you after the event has occurred. If you don’t know what you have, contact your insurance agency to find out.

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

Will Security Cameras Lower Home Insurance Costs?

Almost always, yes! Security cameras or a home security system will almost always lower your cost to insure a home. They might also help you sleep better at night and reduce your stress when you’re away from home.

man installing a security camera in his home

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, our goal is to provide you with honest, thoughtful answers to your insurance questions. Customers ask us about security cameras and security systems and how they relate to homeowner’s insurance in Massachusetts. So let’s explore the issue.

Massachusetts Homeowner’s Insurance Basics

Homeowner’s insurance in Massachusetts is based on fire coverage. If your home burns down — in whole or partially — a homeowner’s insurance policy will protect the investment by paying the homeowner for the amount of the loss. The idea is to make the homeowner “whole” again after a loss, and it’s called indemnity. Here are some other important facts to keep in mind:

  • Homeowner’s insurance also covers other “perils,” like theft, hail, lightning, smoke damage, and so on.
  • It rarely covers earthquakes or floods. Earthquake coverage can be added to most homeowner’s policies with a rider. Flood insurance will need a separate policy. 
  • Millions of homes in the US face flood risk, even ones not in a federally mandated flood zone area. You can purchase flood insurance.

Insurance companies know that security systems reduce theft instances and can reduce the damage caused by fire or other emergencies. That’s why all insurance companies will offer a discount when your security system is centrally monitored and a smaller discount when it is not.

There are a few other ways to reduce your insurance premium too.

Other Discounts and Savings on Homeowner’s Insurance

Every insurance policy is a unique contract between the insurer and the insured. In addition to savings for a home security camera, you might also save money by:

  • Bundling multiple lines of insurance — like your car insurance — with a single provider
  • Installing sprinklers
  • Replacing an old roof
  • Adjusting your deductible to a higher amount — though that means you’ll be on the hook to pay for more damage out-of-pocket in an emergency, and your mortgagee might have minimum deductible requirements

The staff at Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work hard for our clients — not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your homeowner’s insurance coverage to your specific needs and budget. We’re also glad to answer all your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance questions. Need a quote? Then let’s talk!

Do You Need Home Insurance in Massachusetts

One of the largest investments you will ever make is the money you invest in your home. To create a true sanctuary, you will need peace of mind, and the best way to achieve that is to obtain a home insurance policy. The agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA understand the importance of obtaining a home insurance policy for all homeowners to protect your assets.

In the state of Massachusetts, you are not required to have a homeowner’s insurance policy but if you have a mortgage on your home, the bank or other lender you used for your loan will more than likely require you to have a policy in place to protect their investment in your home.

Coverage Options

Homeowners insurance is designed to assist you in paying for to repair or replace your house if it is damaged or destroyed by an act of vandalism, a fire, or a natural disaster, such as a tornado or windstorm.

Your home insurance policy will also cover the rest of your property. For example, if you have a garage and it is destroyed by a tornado, your home insurance will pay to rebuild your garage.

If your home is broken into and several items are stolen and the door is damaged, your items will be replaced through your policy, and your door will be repaired or replaced. It will also provide coverage if a visitor to your home is injured or their property is damaged. For example, if a tree in your yard falls on their vehicle, your home insurance will help cover the damages to their vehicle.

Call For A Quote

To create the home insurance policy that works best for you and your home, you should consult with an experienced insurance agent. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, the home insurance agents you can trust are ready to assist you. Call for a quote or an appointment today to start your policy.

What a Standard Home Insurance Policy Covers

happy family sitting outside on their patio

A standard home insurance policy compensates you if your home is damaged or destroyed by certain events. Home insurance also typically provides coverage for personal belongings and structures on your property. Here’s a brief overview to explain what’s covered by a standard home insurance policy.

What Are Insured Events?

A standard home insurance policy covers losses due to the events specified in the policy. Insured events for most policies include:

  • Fire
  • Hail storms
  • Lightning strikes
  • Windstorms 
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

It’s important to note that sewer backups, floods, and earthquakes are not insured events on a standard policy. If you desire coverage for such events, your independent insurance agent can help determine if you need additional coverage or a separate policy.

When an insured event makes a home uninhabitable, loss of use coverage pays additional living expenses related to fleeing the home, such as the cost of temporary housing. Loss of use coverage also provides protection for loss of rental income. The policy limit for loss of use coverage is usually a percentage of the dwelling’s coverage limit.

What Structures Are Covered?

Home insurance typically covers the interior and exterior of the building itself. That includes the home’s roof, walls, foundation, and structures attached to the home, such as a deck or a garage. Most policies also protect structures on the property that aren’t connected to the home, such as a fence, a shed, a gazebo, or a detached garage.

Is Personal Property Covered?

Generally, personal items within the home are covered for losses due to insured events. Here are examples of covered personal property:

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Sporting equipment
  • Musical instruments

Although home insurance does cover costly items like fine jewelry, antiques, art, and furs, the limits on a standard home insurance policy are usually insufficient to compensate for their full value. You may be interested in purchasing additional coverage for such items.

What Is Liability Protection?

A standard home insurance policy usually includes liability protection. If someone who isn’t a resident of your home is injured on your property, liability protection provides coverage for expenses, such as the injured person’s medical bills or your legal costs in the event the injured person sues. 

When you’re uncertain whether you have coverage for damage, it’s always best to check with your local independent insurance agent. If your agent is not available, look at the exclusion page of your insurance policy.

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 home insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. We’re also available to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today to get started.

How Can I Get the Best Home Insurance Rate?

couple researching home insurance rates in their new home

Whether you are a first-time homeowner or you are shopping for a new policy for your current home, there are some things you can do to ensure you have the best home insurance rate possible without having to skimp on insurance coverage. In this article, we will outline three tips on how to receive excellent coverage while paying a reasonable premium.

1. Clean Up Your Credit

When it comes to offering a homeowners insurance policy, an insurer mainly focuses on the risk they will take on by extending a policy to an individual or couple. That means they will likely be reviewing your current personal credit rating(s). Insurers know that homeowners with a good credit history are generally more financially stable and interested in doing whatever is necessary to maintain their credit status.

If you think you have a good credit history but still get turned down by an insurer, it’s a good idea to obtain a free copy of your credit report to determine if it contains errors that need correction.

2. Consider Fido’s Breed 

Canine pets can be a wonderful addition to a home. But some breeds are more prone to biting or causing some other type of injury than others. Before heading out to the animal shelter, consider how certain dog breeds may adversely impact your home insurance rates.

3. Review the Policy Deductible

Most insurance policies come with a standard annual insurance deductible. Suppose a homeowner submits a claim to the insurance company. In that case, the deductible is the amount the homeowner must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company covers their claim(s) in any given policy year. By increasing one’s annual deductible, a homeowner can save on the annual cost of their insurance policy. For those who rarely file a claim, this can translate into significant savings over time. 

4. Bundle to Save

Many insurance companies offer their clients discounted rates if they bundle their other insurance policies along with their homeowners insurance. Home or condo owners can save significant amounts every year if they bundle their policy along with their auto insurance. 

5. Get Started

Here at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we are committed to creating a customized insurance package with the best home insurance rate options for our clients, without compromising on coverage for the largest investment they will likely ever have. We are a leading local insurance agency, and we’re ready to answer all of your insurance questions today. Please call us for a personalized consultation.