Home safety is a significant concern for people everywhere. Home is where your heart is, but it is also where many accidents happen. Many accidents in the house are preventable if the correct measures are taken in advance. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, we want to make your home safer by providing you with the best and most affordable home insurance.
Keep poison out of reach.
Many things we use daily in our homes are not safe if ingested by pets or children. It can be things like cleaning products or even laundry detergent. If you treat weeds in your lawn, these products may be unsafe if your pet or children get into them. Keep these products in a locked cupboard if possible but at the very least in a high location.
Falls are a major risk in the home. Some simple things, such as never placing things on stairs and removing clutter, can help decrease the risk. Don’t run extension cords across spaces where people walk; they are a trip hazard. Add slip-resistant mats or decals to your tub or shower. Make sure that the lighting is adequate so that you can see where you are going, and use night lights or motion activation lights.
Some things that can help keep you safe are just common sense things. Set your water heater temperature to a safe temperature. One hundred twenty degrees is recommended. Never climb a ladder alone; always have a spotter. Have a fire extinguisher in your home for small fires. Have smoke detectors and make sure they are working.
Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, either through our website or by calling or visiting our office.
The agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance serving the Dorchester, MA area offer home insurance policies to protect and secure one of your most significant investments.
While home insurance is not required under Massachusetts law, having a good policy in place is still very important. If you owe money to a bank or mortgage lender for the purchase of your home, you will be required to carry a home insurance policy. Even if you’ve already paid off your house, you should still have homeowners insurance because you never know when disaster will hit.
What Does Home Insurance Cover?
A home insurance policy will cover the structure of your house along with the items inside of your house. These can include your personal belongings, such as toiletries, clothing, and jewelry, as well as your furniture, appliances, and so much more.
A variety of home insurance policies also cover any outbuildings on your property. These can include garages and sheds as well as decks and porches.
You never know when your house will become damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster, a fire, or even an act of vandalism. You also can’t predict that your home will be burglarized, but in any of these cases, your home insurance policy will help replace the lost items and repair or rebuild your house.
Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance
The old saying, "It’s better to be safe than sorry," applies to home insurance policies. To create the best home insurance policy for you and your situation, contact the agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance serving the Dorchester, MA area today!
There are many things that will affect how much you pay for home insurance. Of these, a credit score can make a big difference in how much you pay.
Much like using your credit to secure a loan or an account with most banks, your score will help insurers determine risks.
For this, they’ll use a “credit-based insurance” score, or CBI.
The Key Difference Between Credit-Based and FICO Score
Although both the CBI and FICO use the same data, the processing is a bit different. Insurers are using most of the data associated with your credit, but not all of it.
Unlike trying to apply for a line of credit, the CBI is essentially used from the perspective of property risks and management.
What Affects your Credit-Based Insurance Score?
Essentially, a lot of the same factors are at play when using a credit-based insurance score as everything else. As I said before, the biggest difference is what data is used when determining your rates.
So, what kind of things will affect your CBI?
Length of Credit History Affects Your Score
The longer you have a history of credit, the better. Unfortunately, this can hinder some of the younger people looking to buy a home and secure insurance.
This is why it’s important to start working on your credit as soon as you’re able.
Credit and Bank Accounts in Good Standing
The number of bank and credit accounts you have in good standing are great benefits toward your CBI and FICO scores. This tells insurers that you’re responsible and can manage your finances well.
In fact, a lot of people will hang on to bank accounts they don’t necessarily use often simply because of how long they’ve had it.
Zero Late Payments and Your Credit Score
Having no late payments on your account is another vastly important factor.
Now, this doesn’t mean that a few late payments here and there will result in an overwhelming poor score. But keep in mind, they will affect your insurance rates.
Overall Credit Usage
How many credit accounts do you have maxed out? The percentage of how much credit you have available for each account will weigh in on your CBI.
Try to pay down your credit as much as possible when applying for new accounts or when looking for new insurance.
Debtor Collection Issuance
Have you had debt collectors call you up in the last seven years? Having a debt collector against your credit score will impact virtually any type of account.
But keep in mind that every agent is different when figuring out your CBI. Having a debtor against your credit may not weigh too heavily, depending on the account.
Recent Multiple “Hard” Hits Affect Credit Score
Having several hard hits on your recent credit history will decrease your score. Mostly, this is because it throws up a red flag to issuers that you run the risk of over-extending your monthly finances.
In other words, don’t apply to every credit card company that comes your way right off the bat. Too many recent inquiries will sink your score quite quickly.
How is Your Credit Score for Insurance Rates?
A poor credit score can make it more difficult to buy properties, but it can also increase your home insurance premiums. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll use our network to find the best policies for you. Contact us today to find out how we can help you, even if you have terrible credit.
Home insurance is not equal across the board. In fact, there are many, many factors that come into play when figuring your premiums. This includes how rates are affected by the location of the property.
This boils down to how much of a risk factor is associated with your home because of its physical location. And this goes beyond the base an insurer may use for calculations.
What Location Factors Affect Rates?
There are many aspects to consider when pricing out a home insurance policy. Today, we’re just looking at the most common locality issues that will adjust your rates.
While every insurance company is different, these are some of the most used elements for consideration.
State and City Make a Difference
Perhaps one of the biggest location factors for a lot of industries is that of state and city. Your zip code could say an awful lot about everything from insurance rates to groceries.
For instance, what you pay in Boston, Massachusetts, would be significantly different than in Williamstown, Massachusetts, for an identical home. That’s before other factors are even calculated.
Rates can also be adjusted for the location of the neighborhood itself. If your home is in a particularly dangerous area, rates could easily go up. This is because occurrences like vandalism, theft and other crime-related events are more likely to result in claims.
Proximity to Houses and Buildings
How close your home is to any other structure may result in higher insurance rates. This is because there is a greater risk to the property.
For instance, let’s say your home is very close to another. If that other house catches fire, your home is at a much higher risk of joining the blaze. And it’s not just other homes, as your rates may increase if any building is extremely close to your house.
Proximity to Fire Protection Services
In many instances, simply the location of a fire department may affect rates. This includes elements such as whether there is a nearby fire hydrant.
The bottom line is that the longer it takes departments to put out a fire, the more damage that is done. This results in a higher rate of claim, which then translates to higher premiums.
Weather Risks of Locations
Weather will also play a factor in home insurance rates, especially as you’ll have to add extra coverage for specific types of weather events.
For instance, those who live in a tornado-prone area are more likely to face tornadoes, while those closer to the west coast have more concerns about earthquakes. People who live in hail-prone areas that cause damage to vehicles, homes, and other property.
If the location of your home experiences specific weather patterns, you’ll be on the hook for more expensive policies.
As Location Will Affect Your Rates, Keep Discounts in Mind
Where your home is located will directly impact your home insurance premiums. However, there are also many ways you can secure discounts to save you on your annual insurance premium.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you find those discounts while accessing a network of providers to save you the most money possible. Contact us today to find out how we can assist with your insurance needs.
Homeowner’s insurance helps to alleviate financial issues in the event of an emergency. However, not all insurance policies are the same across the board. There are a lot of things that are considered when setting up the policy. In fact, it’s quite possible that your premiums will be different from someone who lives across the street.
Even if your neighbors are using the same insurance provider.
Age of the Residence
One of the primary elements that will adjust your premiums is the age and condition of the home. If you have an older structure, there is a good chance you’ll pay more in premiums.
This is partly because of the increased risk involved in outdated materials and repairs. Things like plumbing, wiring, the condition of the foundation, and more can affect how much you’ll pay for your policy.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects is that of the roof. Leaks will easily cause an incredible amount of damage, especially if you don’t catch them in time.
Home Repairs and Costs
Repairs and rebuilds make up a significant portion of many insurance policies. And things like inflation will affect the costs of these repairs.
For instance, if the price of wood goes up, so will your homeowner’s insurance. This is because it becomes more expensive to pay for repairs or rebuilds if the home requires wood, which most will.
Generally speaking, higher-priced homes often have a higher premium due to the cost of repairs. For instance, it’s more expensive to replace French doors to a patio than a regular backdoor.
Preventative Measures and Upgrades
Did you know that installing some preventative measures may actually reduce your insurance policies?
Case in point, some insurers will provide as much as a 10% discount if you have a central station burglar and/or fire alarm installed. This is because these things help reduce the risk of theft and damages, which then saves the insurer money in future claims.
The discounts will vary from one insurer to another. But generally, most offer discounts in some form if you install preventative devices or by updating parts of the home.
For example, if you update your roof or install new electrical and heating systems, your home could go from a “standard” rating to one that is “preferred.” This can save additional money on your premiums.
Working from Home
Since 2020, the prospect of working from home exploded throughout the world. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance policies don’t ordinarily cover business expenses or losses.
This means that if you run your business or otherwise work from home, you’ll need additional coverage for anything you use. This could include products, computer equipment, and anything else you’ll need to perform your job.
The additional equipment will easily increase your premiums.
Bundling Insurance Policies
A lot of people will bundle their policies together to reduce the overall cost every month. This is when you have your homeowner’s, automobile, and even life insurance policies from a single provider.
It’s quite a common practice, really. Some providers will offer discounts if you use them for all of your insurance needs. And in many cases, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper alternative by using a separate insurer for everything.
Insurance Policies are Different for Everyone
When it comes to homeowners insurance policies, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Every home and situation will differ greatly, especially if you decide to include additional coverage for certain valuables, especially if you plan to work from home.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll do our best to find you insurance policies that fit your needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help keep your home, and your property, protected in the event of a catastrophe.
Not all insurance policies are the same, and we can help you secure one that is ideal for your situation.
Taking care of your property is nothing short of improving your investment. And although homeowner’s insurance can help recover in some cases, it doesn’t cover a lot of maintenance costs.
This is especially true if damages are the direct result of being neglectful. These are just some of the costs that might come out of your pocket.
Termites and Other Insects
Although you may find your home tranquil, there are a lot of insects that might find it tasty. Termites and other insects can quickly turn your home into a sanctuary.
In some instances, insurance policies do not cover the damages created by these bugs, including pest control or home-cleaning services.
This often includes insects such as termites, cockroaches, ants, spiders, and a whole host of pests that tend to invade your privacy. If you see any of these bugs on your property, there’s a good chance they’re also in your home.
Bird, Rodent, and Animal Damage
Another of the most common damages from nature comes in the form of birds and rodents just looking for a place to live. Unfortunately, they will tear apart your home from the inside.
In fact, a lot of people don’t even know there is a critter problem until something like a leaky ceiling or various smells start emanating from the walls.
It’s not just the little ones that can wreak havoc, either. Raccoons are well-known for utilizing roofing materials for both houses and garages to create nests.
Rust, Rot, and Mold
A small leak in your roof created during the winter can lead to costly repairs in the summer. Rust, rot, and mold are common results of neglecting the property. And not all insurance policies will cover the repairs.
For example, let’s say that you neglected to notice that leak in the roof. Over time, the water invading your home can lead to rotting out the drywall as well as propagating mold within the walls.
In this case, your insurance coverage might not cover the maintenance costs and repairs that will accumulate.
General Wear and Tear
Perhaps one of the most obvious elements of being a homeowner is repairing the general wear and tear of the property. This can include everything from replacing an old carpet to buying a new air conditioning unit.
While insurance coverage might not reimburse you for most of these expenses, you might still qualify for discounts. That is if you upgrade the home with preventive appliances, such as fire alarms or anti-theft devices.
To find out more about what discounts you qualify for as a homeowner, be sure to contact your policyholder.
Your Insurance Policy Might Not Cover Maintenance Costs
Although every insurer is different, many won’t cover repairs and other costs related to the upkeep of your home. Instead, those expenses will come out of your pocket.
This is why it’s vital to perform routine maintenance on your property. Even the slightest leaky pipe under the sink can lead to severe and costly water damage.
Preventative maintenance is crucial for keeping your home safe and secure.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we strive to help people understand their policies while finding the best deals for their needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you keep your home protected.
Always remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.
Your home insurance policy doesn’t provide a blanket of protection from everything. For example, you might not have coverage if a flood causes water damage to your property. But that also depends on the type of flood and what was damaged.
Today, let’s take a quick look at flooding and what you can do to protect yourself.
What kind of Flooding Isn’t Often Covered?
Although home insurance can help with some costs caused by flooding, there are quite a few that may not be in your policy. This may include:
Natural disasters, such as extreme rain or snow.
External sewage line breaks or backups.
Sump pump flooding.
However, your policy might include coverage in the event of damages from broken pipes inside the home, flooding from a bad water heater, or if a fire was the result of various types of water damage.
Generally speaking, a “flood” is considered any excess water on the property that is normally dry. If a sewage backup is caused by flooding, and you have a sewer backup endorsement on your policy, that is covered by insurance.
Of course, you review your policy with your local independent insurance agent or review your policy.
What Affects Flood Coverage Policy Costs?
Like any other type of insurance, the costs of flood coverage depend on a wide range of factors. This is why people will often pay different premiums even though they live in the same city.
Some of them include:
Risk of Flooding If your home is in a location that is prone to floods, your policy could increase.
Your Deductible A higher deductible of the coverage will reduce your monthly premiums.
Property Location The neighborhood of your home could affect the cost aside from the flood risk.
Age of the Property As older homes are more prone to needing repairs, their age could increase the cost of a flood policy.
Itemized Schedules Not everything is covered in the home through flood insurance. Valuables such as jewelry and antiques may need to be scheduled separately.
How to Get Coverage in Case of a Flood
If flooding is a concern, you need to contact your insurance agent to buy a new policy. You can also renew an existing policy to include flood coverage.
The average premium in the United States is around $750. But this can be higher or lower depending on where you live. This is especially true if you live in a location that is prone to some kind of flooding.
At its average cost, flood coverage is only an extra $62.50 per month. Considering the sheer amount of damage water can do to a home, this is not that bad of an expense to protect your family and property.
Water Damage Can Be Devastating
The important thing is to have the flooding repaired immediately. Even the slightest trickle within the walls can result in mold growth, extreme drywall damage, and compromise the framework of your home.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help ensure that your policy includes covering floods and other types of water damage. If this is a concern for you, contact us today to see how we can help.
You don’t have to face water damage and flooding on your own if you have proper coverage.
The replacement cost includes materials needed to “replace” the property, the cost of labor, and other elements to make it whole. If the cost of wood goes up, so will the replacement cost.
If your policy was frozen at the replacement costs from 20 years ago, it would be short. The end result is the costs coming out of your pocket.
As you can see, this kind of increase is good as it reduces how much you’ll have to pay in the event of an emergency, I recorded talking about replacement cost versus purchase or market value on your home, click here to watch the video.
Home and Auto Rates are Similar
Houses are not the only types of property that may have an increase. Insurance rates for automobiles go up as well.
In order for an auto to become “whole,” you’ll need the cost of materials and labor. Nowadays, this can also include a variety of technological advancements, such as rear cameras, sensors, and the wiring to make it all work.
In some cases, insurers will also consider things like the cost of medical bills when making adjustments. So, if the cost of medical care goes up, so do insurance rates.
Like ripples in a pond, anything affecting specific industries will take a toll on many. For example, the cost of computer chips will impact the cost of replacing the cameras I mentioned earlier.
What Can You Do to Lower Insurance Rates?
Depending on the type of property, there are quite a few methods at your disposal to reduce rates. The first thing you should do is ensure your policy is correct. If you’re paying for something you don’t need or have scheduled, it’s a waste of money.
A few other ways to decrease insurance rates include:
Preventative measures. Fire alarms, anti-theft devices, safety features, and other preventative add-ons often work to reduce home and auto insurance premiums.
Keeping claims to a minimum. The more often you have to file a claim, whether it’s for the home or auto, the more you’ll pay. This is because insurance providers will see you as a high-risk factor.
Shopping around. You can always look around for a lower-cost insurer. However, keep in mind that low cost doesn’t mean superior service.
Insurance Rates Are Part of the Cost of Living
Sure, insurance companies need to make money. Otherwise, they would be out of business. However, not all increases in insurance are the result of greedy CEOs or banks.
Sometimes, increases are simply the result of an increase in the cost of wood or other materials.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you find affordable rates and plans throughout our network. Contact us today to see how we can help you save money on home and auto coverage.
After all, we may help you keep more money in your pocket to cover the other cost-of-living expenses.
In a previous article, we covered a couple of the most common home insurance questions when it comes to the purchase price and replacement cost. Today, we’re going to dive a bit deeper to answer a few more questions when it comes to these two elements.
It is our goal to help you further understand your home insurance policies, which could save you a lot of miscommunications down the road.
Is the Purchase Price and Replacement Cost the Same Thing?
The purchase price of your home depends on several factors. These often include values such as location, age, amenities, and other things that increase its “curb appeal.” However, replacement cost is based on how much it will cost to replace something after damages occur.
Replacement costs can vary depending on current market values. For instance, if the cost of lumber increases, as it did at the beginning of 2022, it would directly impact how much it would cost to rebuild a part of the home.
Can a Replacement Cost Be Higher Than the Purchase Price?
The current market influences the value of any home. If the market is particularly low, it is possible for replacement costs to surpass a home’s value.
This is especially true if the replacement materials are at an all-time premium.
In fact, there are a lot of things that can decrease the value of a home. This could include the safety of the neighborhood, previously sustained damages or even unkempt or dangerous landscaping.
What is the 80/20 Rule for Insuring a Home?
The 80/20 rule often refers to insuring your home for a minimum of 80% of the replacement costs. This doesn’t necessarily mean 20% will come out of your pocket during a claim, though.
In practice, a lot of insurance providers will pay out a claim in full if you maintain the 80% coverage.
Remember, the purchase price has no influence on replacement cost. This means you wouldn’t insure the home for 80% of what you’re paying for it.
When the insurance you carry is lower than 80% of the replacement cost of your home, you are penalized when you have a partial loss, call us, and we can explain further based on your particular circumstances.
Do Insurance Companies Pay the Replacement Value of Items in the Home?
In certain policies, items within the home have coverage in the event of theft, damage, or if destroyed. This is known as the Replacement Cost Value, or RCV. And in some cases, this only applies to objects scheduled in the policy itself.
In this instance, insurers pay the current market value of replacing the item.
For example, technology usually depreciates rapidly. The replacement cost of something like a television or computer is often much lower than the original price.
Know Your Home Insurance Terms
Purchase price and replacement cost are only a couple of home insurance terms you need to know. And the more you understand what’s in your policy, the better prepared you are in the event of an emergency.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you gain some clarity when it comes to your policy. Contact us today and find out how we can further help you with home insurance.
Don’t let a misunderstanding hinder your ability to process a claim.
Understanding the terms of your home insurance policy can alleviate a lot of confusion and problems down the road. It’s not simply a form full of non-sensical legal jargon; it’s the plan to keep your home and family safe from financial ruin.
Today, let’s take a look at those terms and clear some of the confusion.
General Home Insurance Terms
While a lot of insurance plans are unique to certain vendors, there are terms that are usually universal. So, no matter who is holding your policy, this list will still be of great benefit.
The Declarationspage is essentially a quick overview of the policy details. It delivers fundamental information such as:
Your basic info
Name and address of the insurance company
Basic outline of coverages
and other basic interests
Essentially, this page is the “proof of insurance” when a mortgage company asks.
The Insuredparty is the individual for which the coverage is being provided. This is typically the home or property owner.
An insureris the insurance company providing that coverage.
The Additional Insured party is anyone other that the homeowner who has a vested interest in the property. This is often the mortgage company if applicable.
Also, this party can be a payee for larger claim payouts in the event of something major. For example, if a hurricane disintegrates half of your home, the mortgage company may receive the funds.
The Policy Period is the calendar date when the insurance is active. This is often processed annually, but some policies may be month-to-month.
Now, the Premium is how much your insurance costs every 12 months. This is not to be confused with a monthly payment, which is a considerably different amount.
However, the premium can be broken up into monthly, quarterly, and semi-annually payments to make it more immediately affordable.
Usually, homeowners will pay the amounts directly to the insurer through a mortgage escrow account.
One of the more important home insurance terms to know is the Deductible. This is the amount a claim has to reach before the insurer bears any financial responsibility.
For instance, if you have a deductible of $500, but the damage repair or placement cost is only $450, the insurer doesn’t have to pay and it will come out of your pocket.
Of course, this is just an example. Every insurance company has its own levels for deductibles, and the higher the deductible, the less your annual premium you pay.
An All-Risk policy will cover all potential losses other than specific exclusions of the policy. These are not very common as they are more expensive. However, they tend to be far more inclusive.
The Named-Peril policy covers causes of loss specific to the policy and nothing else. For instance, an insurance policy for the midwest may include tornado damage as it is a common risk for the property. However, it may not include earthquake coverage should one happen.
Replacement Cost Value / Actual Cash Value
Replacement cost and actual cash values are very different, especially when considering coverage and when filing insurance claims.
The Actual Cash Value, or ACV, is the cost to fix your home minus its decrease in market value due to age, location, and other environmental factors.
The Replacement Cost Value, or RCV, is the cost to replace or repair elements of the home or property according to today’s prices.
Other Valuables Not Included
Did you know that not all of your valuables may be covered by your home insurance policies? Things like jewelry, guns, cash, and antiques are not often covered unless you schedule them specifically on your policy.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Take a look at your policy and talk with an agent today to identify things of value in your home that are not currently covered.
Knowing Home Insurance Terms is Vital
Knowing how to read your home insurance policy is an essential facet of life, and understanding the terms is an excellent first step. It can help reduce a lot of confusion in the event of an emergency.
Not to mention making sure certain things in the home are covered.
At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll help you understand the details and terms of your home insurance policy. Contact us today and let us provide assistance that will give you peace of mind.