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.

3 Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover. Number 3 is a DOOZY!

We encourage people to conduct an annual review of their insurance policies.  Too often, when consumers purchase insurance, they approach the transaction with an eye towards prompt resolution and a focus on price.  This formula of speed+money is a formula for failure in the event of a future claim.

The reason is simple.  A carelessly prepared insurance policy, one prepared in the heat of the customer’s desire for a quick resolution and demand for lowest price could result in a “skeleton” policy that may not properly cover the consumer for a catastrophic eventuality. 

The quality insurance agent, interested in protecting the consumer with the best possible risk coverages, and in protecting their own professional reputation, will take the time to educate the consumer and provide a comprehensive insurance policy.

You may be surprised to discover that there are 3 items, indicated below, that may not be covered by your current Homeowners Insurance Policy.  Spoiler alert, #3 may surprise you!  We’re happy to assist you with a comprehensive, careful, review of all of your insurance needs.  And, education is a key element to how we’ll proceed with assisting you to fully understand risks you can protect for with the right insurance.

#1: Sewer Backup.  Whether your home is connected to a public sewer or you have a septic system, a backup due to a blockage, storm-surge, or other calamity, can damage electrical systems, furniture, floors, and precious possessions. Standard homeowners insurance policies may not cover you at all for such damage or may only provide very limited coverage.  You can upgrade to more comprehensive insurance to include special coverage for sewer backup.

#2: Precious Collectibles.  Basic insurance policies may not cover your stellar baseball card or antique cookie jar collections.  If the policy does cover your collection, the limit of coverage may be far below the actual value of your collection.  When you review your insurance, be sure to mention your collection and an assessment of its value.  To be sure, consider obtaining an independent appraisal of your collection to include that with your upgraded, comprehensive Homeowners Insurance policy. 

#3: Termite infestation and damage.  Not covered by a standard, basic policy. Period.  Depending on where you live, especially in the Northeast of the United States, termites and the damage they cause are a real and impending menace.  Homeowners often realize there’s an infestation long after the termite colony has ensconced itself within the wooden borders and interior of your home.  The cost of treating and removing the infestation, along with the costs of repairing the damage, can easily escalate.  Be sure to address these concerns in your annual review.  Consider also contracting with a local exterminating company to inspect your home annually for these nasty pests.

Insurance involves assessing a future, unknown risk.  That risk could affect your health and/or your wealth.  A carefully prepared insurance policy protects you for a comprehensive array of possible risks.  But in the rush to purchase the insurance, the consumer shops without the appropriate due diligence.  And, in the interest of making the sale, an insurance agent may simply provide the basics of a policy to appease the consumer’s request for speed and low price. 

Call us today for your free annual insurance review.  We’re thrilled to spend the time with you to find you the best policy that comprehensively protects your health and your wealth at an affordable price!

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

What Happens When the Main Condo Furnace Fails and There is Damage To Your Unit

If your Condominium unit gets its heat from a main furnace controlled and maintained by the Condominium Management, but it’s not part of your unit for which you are responsible, you may have some interesting insurance challenges should the furnace fail during the cold winter months; and you experience damage inside your unit.

When you own a Condo you are covered by two different Insurance policies.  The “Master Policy” for the Condo Building, generally covers all the common areas of the Condo.  It does not cover the inside of your Condo unit.

You insure the interior of your unit with your own insurance policy, typically called a HO-6 policy.  This insurance very much resembles renters’ insurance for apartment-dwellers. The premiums for an HO-6 policy are typically reasonably affordable.  These policies insure you for any claims you may have inside your Condominium unit.

But what happens when the main condo furnace goes out and you have damage in your unit?

We recommend the following as your logical course of action:

1.       Immediately contact the Managing Agent and inquire about filing a claim against the Master Insurance Policy for the Condo.  You should expect that you’ll run into some resistance here from the Insurance carrier for that Master Policy. They’ll attempt to direct you to your own HO-6 Insurance policy since the damage is inside your unit.

Remember, that damage was caused by the main furnace failing.  Stand your ground.

2.       Assuming you are successful in filing a claim against the Master Policy, you still may need to file a claim against your HO-6 policy for the finer points of items that would not covered at all, or not covered to the full extent of value for your precious belongings inside your Condo.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late.

We’re happy to provide a free consultation to review your existing Master Policy and your HO-6 policy.  We want you to know the extent of your existing coverages for your protection and to help assure you of any additional coverages you may need.

The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

What Happens In The Event of a Water Leak in Your Condo?

If you own a Condominium (Condo), you may have equipment both inside and outside your unit for which you are responsible. In a closet inside your unit would be your water tank. There is also an HVAC unit that may be just outside your unit, to heat and cool your home.  Most of the time, you ignore these two quiet workhorses that keep you in comfort all year round.

Shockingly, every once in a while, and sometimes suddenly, the equipment may fail and need repair.  Most often and most inconveniently, the HVAC will fail when the temperatures outside are the hottest or coldest, depending on the time of the year. Thus, only your comfort is compromised.

However, every once in a while, these machines break down and leak.  With water. Lots of water.

If your HVAC unit is outside your Condo, this may not be as terrible of an event, unless you own a Townhouse and the unit is in the basement and there’s a danger of the water seeping into your basement.

But it can be really bad if you’re on an upper floor and one or several of your Condo neighbors lives below you.  Water loves to follow the powerful attraction of gravity: downward. Downward towards your neighbors’ Condo unit!

Yes, your first step is to call the emergency number for your equipment repair tech. If you’re not sure, call the property manager so they can dispatch someone immediately to mitigate the damage. If the property manager is not available, call your local insurance agent who will have access to reputable Restoration Services companies. They all have emergency lines so you’re covered seven days a week.

In the event of a leak which could lead to a potential claim, mitigating the loss is critical and required under your insurance contract. You’ll want the restoration company onsite as quickly as possible to dry out all the water and repair the water damage.  Do not forget to take photos of the damage before the restoration company arrives. It’s key that you document the extent of the damage at the time of the event. This also mitigates any confusion or misunderstanding of the extent of the loss when the claim is settled. The key word here is “mitigate”.  

You don’t want to be caught by surprise when a leak happens all over your downstairs neighbors’ precious Star Wars toy collection.  Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Review Condominium Financials Before You Purchase

Condominium (Condo) Buyers should obtain and review the financial statement of the Condo as part of your purchase process.  Have the statement reviewed by a professional such as an Attorney or CPA.  The financial health of the Condo can affect you in the future as you settle into ownership of your Condo unit.  The financial statements can also give you a good indication of the competence of the Condo Board and Managing Agent.

Condo Complexes on the smaller size may be exempt from having their financials audited. The ByLaws will identify if an audit is required.  Audited financials means the CPA firm has verified the numbers presented in the statement rather than compiling from information provided by the Condominium Board Members and/or Managing Agent.

The financial statement should cover the previous two years (three is preferable) and often a Year-to-Date statement.  A Financial Statement includes:

  • Income and Expenses for the entire Condominium.  This is also known as “Operating Statement.”
  • Balance Sheet demonstrating Assets and Liabilities.
  • Cash Flow Statement.

Some key areas you want to focus on include:

  • Reserve Fund (for major capital repairs and improvements),
  • Cash Flow to determine if the building is taking in as much money as it is paying out monthly, Maintenance Fees owed (an indicator of the financial responsibility of your soon-to-be-neighbors),
  • Footnotes.

The financial well-being of your future home is as important to the transaction as every other aspect of your purchase.  Request the Financial Statement as early as possible in the negotiating process, even before you’ve presented your Offer, if possible.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Why you need to have home insurance

Buying a home in Dorchester, MA can be a great long-term investment. When you do purchase a home, there are many important decisions that need to be made. One decision that you will have to make is in regards to home insurance. There are several reasons why you need to have home insurance on your property at all times.

Protects Your Valuable Asset

When you purchase a home, you will be making one of the biggest investments of your life. Eventually, the equity in your home can make up a large percentage of your net worth. Because of the importance of this asset, you need to make sure that you have it properly protected by home insurance. This will ensure that you are financially protected if the home is damaged by a fire, bad weather, or another issue.

Liability Coverage

When you have your own property, you are also taking on liability risk whenever someone comes into your home. If someone is hurt while they are on your property, you could be found liable. Having a full home insurance policy in place will provide you with protection in these situations. If you are found liable and are sued, your home insurance policy will trigger and provide you with the protection that you need. 

Having insurance on your Dorchester, MA is very important. Since you need to make sure that you are properly covered by insurance at all times, you should speak with the team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to discuss your home insurance needs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you to figure out what the best home insurance coverage is for your situation and can get you into a great policy. 

Home Inspection for Your Condominium Purchase

Condominium Buyers often ask:

Should I have an inspection done by a Certified Home Inspection service? 

The answer is a definitive YES!

While a Condominium (Condo) typically features construction and/or maintenance features addressed by Condominium Management, the Buyer should conduct an inspection for two main reasons.

First, the interior of the Condo. This area is not the responsibility of Condo Management. A Buyer needs to be aware of concerns such as deferred maintenance for appliances, windows, bathroom fixtures and interior plumbing.  You want to avoid a costly repair in the first 3-5 years after your purchase.  Likewise, the Condo Buyer needs to be aware of potentially catastrophic issues that could cause reconsideration of the purchase.  Lastly, the inspection may reveal items that are of immediate concern, leading to a request for a repair or pricing credit from the Seller.

The second reason you want to complete an inspection is to determine the overall “physical health” of the Condo.  A roof in need of a future repair is as much of a concern to a Condominium Buyer as to a Home Buyer.  Any repairs to the common areas of a Condominium are paid for from the “Capital Expense Reserve” fund.  Should there be a major repair on the near horizon, such as a roof replacement, the Condo Buyer wants to determine there are sufficient funds in the Reserve Fund to cover the cost of repair.  Otherwise that Buyer, once they are an Owner, could be subject to an assessment or multiple assessments as well as an increase in the maintenance fee, resulting in an increase in their monthly payment.

The bottom line answer to the question posed by Condominium Buyers is a resounding yes when it comes to obtaining an inspection by a Certified Home Inspection service as part of the purchasing process.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Recap: Room-by-Room Safety Tips

“Precaution is better than cure.”

– Edward Coke

Your home is your safe place, but there are probably dangers lurking inside that pose a threat to you and your family. Make sure that you put safety first with the tips that we posted in last week’s blog, where we went room by room identifying safety concerns and how to prevent potential incidents, including:

  • Be wary of tripping hazards in your living room, like area rugs and children’s toys.
  • Kitchens should be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Never store sharp tools or knives in open drawers.
  • Beware of dryer lint buildup! Clean filters after each load and clean the harder to reach areas regularly.
  • Bedrooms should each have a smoke alarm and working window that can function as an escape route (bedrooms on the second floor should also have an escape ladder for said window).
  • Equip bathrooms with plenty of non-slip bath mats to avoid accidents when floors become slick.
  • Do your research on pool safety and grilling safety before taking part in these outdoor activities.

As much as you do to prevent incidents, you can never guarantee that nothing will happen to your home. That’s why you need a Boston home insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. Call 617-298-0655 to get your free quote and find out what we can cover so that you feel protected.

Safety Tips for Every Room in Your Home

Your home insurance is meant to be financial protection in case of a mishap in your house. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we are proud to provide our clients with top of the line insurance coverage, but in truth we would rather these mishaps never occur! That is why we dedicate many of our blogs to safety – in the home, in your car, in the snow, and even at work.

In this blog, we want to take a thorough look at the place where you likely spend the majority of your time: your home. Let’s break it down and go room-by-room pointing out safety hazards and how to avoid potential perils.

The Living Room

While your living room may seem pretty safe, there are still a few things that you need to keep an eye on. Entertainment systems should be hooked up using a reliable surge protector, and any tripping hazards (area rugs or children’s toys) should be monitored so that they don’t cause someone to trip and fall.

The Kitchen

Arguably the most dangerous room in the house, the kitchen is full of potential hazards. Make sure that knives and other sharp implements are properly stored (covered, never loose in a drawer). Every kitchen should have an up-to-date fire extinguisher that every family member knows where to locate and how to use in case of a kitchen fire.

There is also a lot of moisture present in the kitchen, so make sure that you keep an eye out for black mold. If you see a spot and suspect that it could be mold, call a professional – it’s not something that should be trifled with. Also be watchful for this hazard in other moist places, like in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.

The Laundry Room

Dryer lint causes many house fires in the US every year, so make sure that you clean your dryer’s lint trap after every load. Also check the dryer’s vent (or have a professional clean your vent) regularly to prevent buildup. If your dryer runs on gas, also regularly check the gas hook-ups to make sure there is no leak.

The Bedrooms

You spend a large chunk of the day asleep in your bedroom, so it is critical to ensure that you have an escape route in case of an emergency (like a fire). Bedrooms on the first floor should have a window that can be opened and climbed through. Bedrooms on the second floor will each need an additional escape ladder for a quick and easy exit.

The Bathrooms

Bathrooms (especially those with tile floors) are a slipping hazard. To ensure that there is less of a chance of someone having an accident, place non-slip bathmats in key locations in each bathroom, especially around showers and tubs.

The Garage

Your car may seem safe and sound when it is parked in a closed garage, but you can never be too careful. Lock your car even when it is at home and remove any valuables from the vehicle. Remember that vehicles are a source of carbon monoxide, so make sure to never run your car in the garage when the garage door is closed.

If you store tools in your garage, make sure that they are secured – especially if you have children. Chemicals and flammable materials should also be stored safely and away from places that are exposed to extreme heat and cold.

The Backyard

We’ve posted several in-depth blogs about how to deal with safety in the backyard, so before the weather warms up do your research on pool safety, grilling safety and more.

In addition, consider adding security cameras to the outside of your home – they’re not just for the rich and famous anymore! These constantly vigilant eyes on your property can help to protect you from package thieves, monitor pets and children, and much more.

General Safety

Speaking of home security, do you have a security system in your home? You can install one yourself or have a professional installation – the important thing is that you have a system that you can arm when you are away. Nowadays, you can also connect most home monitoring systems to your internet of things, allowing you access to the information from your smartphone.

Throughout your home, you should have one specific item: smoke alarms. They are critical in ensuring that your family is protected in case of a house fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends one in every sleeping room of your home, as well as at least one on each floor of your home. Also make sure that you test or replace the batteries in your smoke alarms with every Daylight Saving Time clock change.

Now that you know these safety tips for all the rooms in your home, double down on your protection with a five-star home insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance. Call 617-298-0655 to speak to an experienced Dorchester insurance agent about your options, and to find out what we can offer you with a free home insurance quote. There’s no need to hesitate, because there’s no obligation.