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.

Recap: Smart Home Guide

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”

– Dean Kamen

Smart homes and connected devices are the way of the future – are you staying up to date with all of today’s innovations? If you missed it, make sure that you read our Massachusetts Smart Home Guide from last week, where we outlined many of today’s smart home devices, including:

  • Thermostats that you can set without even leaving the couch.
  • Light bulbs to turn on and off without having to cross a dark room.
  • Security cameras that you can watch in real time while you’re out.
  • Switches and outlets that can turn any device into a smart device.
  • Speakers that can control smart devices with your voice and will answer your burning questions.

These devices can make your life a lot easier, especially if you are someone who is never far from their phone. Make sure that you do your research before buying, however – some brands and devices are meant to be used together, and others won’t play nice with each other.

Want to find out how your smart home devices affect your insurance? Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can tell you whether you should increase your coverage to include your devices, and if your new technology qualifies you for a new home insurance discount.

A Massachusetts Smart Home Guide

Have you noticed that everything nowadays is connected to the internet? Once ‘smartphones’ caught on (to the point that it seems like everyone has one) it seems like everything need to be ‘smart.’ Have you adopted any smart devices in your home, or are you thinking of adding any to your repertoire? Whether you’re deep into the Internet of Things lifestyle or you’re thinking of dipping your toe in the waters of smart home devices, this guide is for you!

Thermostats

One of the first innovations in the smart home space was the smart thermostat. As with the majority of smart devices (as you will see as we go through each of the following categories) this product allows you to connect a household object to the internet and therefore control it from the comfort of your phone.

This means adjusting the temperature of your home without leaving the couch, or even being able to do it while you’re away from home! Imagine being able to go on a vacation in the summer and turning your air conditioning off to save money. This used to mean coming home to a stifling house! Now, however, you can use your phone and smart thermostat to turn on the air a few hours prior to arriving home – allowing you to benefit from the savings of turning off your thermostat without the hassle of waiting for the house to cool down when you arrive home.

Light Bulbs

How often do you wake up before dawn and have to avoid tripping over things to turn on the light? Or get ready to watch a movie only to have to get up to dim the lights? These annoyances are no more when you install smart lights in your home. Not only can you turn the bulbs on and off from your Wi-Fi enabled devices, most bulbs are able to dim, and some are even able to broadcast colored lights!

Security Cameras

Home security cameras used to be a passive possession. You would turn the camera on and forget about it unless something happened – then you could pull the tapes and hope that there was something useful recorded.

Now, having a security camera is much more useful. When positioned correctly, you can use a security camera to watch people enter and exit your property in real time, including delivery workers and even your children getting home from school in the afternoons. Some of these devices are connected to smart doorbells, which will send you a notification if they are rung, and sometimes even allow you to communicate with your visitors from afar.

Indoor security cameras can monitor older children that are home alone, as well as any elderly residents of the home and mischievous pets that should be checked on occasionally throughout the day. This monitoring for the indoor and outdoor cameras can be done via the internet from anywhere that you have a device with access to your camera system.

Switches and Outlets

Have another object that you wish could be powered on and off with your phone? Just plug it in through a smart outlet or hook it up to a smart switch. This works on many things, including fans, holiday lights and trees, coffee makers, and much more.

Speakers

Another great innovation in the smart home space is the smart speaker. Most smart speakers have the ability to connect to and control many of your other smart devices through voice commands. So most of the devices above that you can control with a phone can also be controlled with your voice and a smart speaker. This means that futuristic commands like “turn on the lights,” “turn down the temperature,” and “turn on the ceiling fan” are now possible to execute!

Smart speakers are also able to access a vast wealth of knowledge from the internet. Have a question? Try asking your virtual assistant! You won’t need to pull out your device – the speaker will often answer basic questions in seconds.

This list of devices may seem long, but it barely scratches the surface of what’s available to homeowners, and new smart devices are coming out all the time!

Does all of this talk about technology and smart homes have you considering upgrading your home with these devices? If you do decide to make a change, remember to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency and talk to your Boston home insurance agent. Let them know what changes you have made to see if it affects your insurance rates. You may need extra coverage to protect your new device, or your insurance rates could lower because of added security features in your home!

There is only one way to know for sure what the impact on your Massachusetts home insurance policy will be – call 617-298-0655 and talk to your agent now!

Make Sure Your Valuables are Covered by Your Home Insurance

Natural disasters can put your home in Dorchester, MA, and all your personal belongings at risk of damage or total loss. Home insurance can help mitigate that loss. Standard homeowners insurance, however, comes with limits on how much protection you receive for personal belongings. This protection may not be enough to replace valuable goods if they are stolen or damaged. How, then, can you make sure your valuables are covered under your home insurance policy? 

Purchase an Endorsement

An endorsement is additional insurance you can obtain to fully protect valuable items. The first step towards getting this coverage is to have your valuables appraised to determine their worth. You’ll then have a better idea of the kind of protection you need.  

There are two kinds of endorsements you can obtain for your valuable items: blanket coverage or individual floater. Blanket coverage enables you to protect entire collections of goods such as jewelry, stamp collection, coin collection, fine art, wine collections, etc. Floaters or riders cover specific items such as one painting or piece of furniture. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you select the best option for your valuables so you can get the insurance protection you need.

Benefits of Endorsements

There are numerous benefits to obtaining an endorsement for your valuables. Endorsements give you greater control over insurance protection for valuable goods, up to the replacement cost of your valuables. They also protect you against more perils than standard policies to include pet damage, accidents, and mysterious disappearance. Under many policies, floaters have no deductibles, saving you from having to pay anything out of pocket when making a claim.

If you’re looking for additional protection for your valuable goods, contact us at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA. 

Recap: Monthly Maintenance

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Taking care of your home can seem like a colossal task – but just like any big job, it is much easier to handle when broken into more manageable pieces. Consider, for example, the post on our blog from last week about a few simple monthly home maintenance tasks that you should have set on your schedule to keep your home running smoothly.

  • Check your HVAC filters and determine if they need to be replaced.
  • Clean your dish disposal in the kitchen by grinding a few vinegar ice cubes.
  • Use a combination of degreaser and hot water to soak your range hood’s filter.
  • Ensure that your fire extinguisher has adequate pressure and is accessible.
  • Clean your sink aerators and shower heads with vinegar

If you ever need help with a home maintenance task, call a Boston professional! Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know many qualified professionals in the area, and would be happy to provide you with a referral.

And to ensure that you will have a smooth recovery in case anything ever happens to your home, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to talk about your home insurance policy. Having a great home insurance policy is crucial, and to make sure that your home insurance policy is up to date, you should talk to your insurance agent yearly to update it based on your changing needs.