Captive Versus Independent Insurance Agents For Your Automobile and Home Insurance; An Honest Comparison

When you’re shopping for insurance, knowing the different types of insurance agents is important as part of understanding whom you should work with.
 
There are two kinds of insurance agents — captive (who represents one insurance company) and independent (also known as an insurance broker).
 
Many online insurance companies, like State Farm, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual depend exclusively on captive agents, but some like GEICO and Progressive rely on a mixture of captives and independents.
 
Both types of agents can provide the kind of quality expertise you need to make one of life’s important financial decisions. But there are some big differences between the two.
 
Captive agents
 
Captive agents work directly for a single insurance provider and are limited to the products of that company. For example, if you call a captive agent who works for State Farm, he or she will market and try to sell you only State Farm products. How they get paid is set by their insurance company, and they are paid by that one company.
 
On the plus side, these agents are experts in what their insurance companies have to offer. But they cannot help a client who doesn’t need or qualify for their company’s products. And captive agents usually have quotas to hit to keep their job and earn bonuses. Although that’s not terribly different from independent agents, you might feel a bit more pressure to buy car insurance from a captive agent when all you really want is term life.
 
Independent agents 
 
Independent agents, meanwhile, work for themselves and not any one insurance company. They sell policies from a variety of insurance companies, not just one, there is no increase in the premium to work with an independent insurance agent, and make most of their money through sales commissions and bonuses from the carriers.
 
Independent agents can save you some time by getting insurance quotes from a few different insurers, we have 11 insurance carriers that we can provide you with an insurance quote.
 
Which is best?
 
The type of insurance coverage you choose depends on your needs and your budget.
 
If you’re looking for multiple quotes from different companies, an independent insurance agent probably is the way to go. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can save you time and money, reach our agents at 617-298-0655.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance Checklist to Prevent Home Insurance Claims

Want to maximize your spring cleaning schedule to include maintenance items that can help prevent home insurance claims? Read on for some helpful tips!

Organize and declutter

Go through each room in your home and remove any objects that are not useful or needed anymore. Organize your storage space so that useful items are contained neatly. By preventing clutter from accumulating, you are reducing your fire hazards.

Store chemicals and other dangerous items out of the reach of children and pets

While you are going through your home, keep an eye out for any items that could be a potential source of danger for your children or pets. Look for medicine or cleaning chemicals that need to be stored in safe places. Consider adding child locks to certain cabinets to minimize the danger for children. 

Create a Maintenance Schedule

Come up with a plan to help you prepare your home for general maintenance to help prevent serious issues down the road. Having a maintenance schedule helps you feel less overwhelmed by scheduling different services throughout the year, while also giving you peace of mind that your home will be up to date and as safe as possible.

Some must-include items for your maintenance schedule

  1. Check your carbon monoxide and fire alarms. According to staysafe.org, carbon monoxide poisoning and fires are two of the leading safety hazards for homeowners. Make sure your alarms have fresh batteries and are in working order.
  2. Change the air conditioning filter. Air conditioning filters are meant to sort out harmful particles such as dust and mold. By preventing the spread of mold you are keeping your house safer and your family healthier!
  3. Inspect your roof. Check for missing shingles and clogged gutters. This helps prevent water damage to your home and its foundation.
  4. Check Your Oil Tank. Unwanted oil tank leaks can cause a huge headache, especially because oil tank leaks are rarely covered with home insurance plans

Stay one step ahead of your maintenance needs!

By keeping your house clean and up-to-date on maintenance, you minimize your risks of safety hazards and damages in the future. It’s worth it! Click here to read one of our earlier posts on Spring cleaning.

When you finish cleaning your house, give Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency a call and we’ll help you clean up your insurance portfolio! One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents can review your home insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, and other insurance policies to make sure that you have all the coverage that you need, and at the right price. Don’t hesitate, call now – 617-298-0655.

What A Home Insurance Policy Doesn’t Cover

Is your home insurance policy covering you when you need it most? If you’re like most people on a “standard” home insurance plan, there are several things that aren’t actually covered with your policy!

Don’t worry – you’re about to find out what a home insurance policy doesn’t cover, and how you can quickly make a few updates to your plan to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need.

Before we get into that, take a quick inventory of what you’re hoping is covered in the case an unfortunate event presents itself to you. As we take a deeper dive into what isn’t covered, you’ll be able to quickly identify whether you’ll need extra coverage or if you’re in the clear!

What Doesn’t A Home Insurance Policy Cover?

Most home insurance policies don’t cover the following:

  • In-Home Businesses
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Vehicles used for business
  • High-value Jewelry.

Take a quick look at each in more detail, and how you can protect yourself.

In-Home Businesses Are Not Covered By Your Homeowners Insurance

Did you join the recent surge of people deciding to jump into at-home work, including freelancing, or even starting a business that’s based in their home? Whether you’ve just started or you’ve been at it for years, many people are unprepared for a sudden loss to their business equipment.

Don’t let that be you!

There are several ways to get your business property covered if you’ve got a home-based business.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you can:

  1. Add a Policy Endorsement to your existing homeowners insurance. This simple endorsement is a simple way to increase your coverage to include business property. If your policy has minimal coverage for business property already (as some policies do), this can be a low-cost way to get the coverage you need.
  2. Add an In-Home Business Policy. This policy is for you if you need more comprehensive coverage for business equipment and have a need for liability coverage for your business. It can be a life-saver if you need to recoup costs beyond simple business property, such as loss of important papers, records, income, etc.
  3. Add a Businessowners Policy (BOP). If you’re a small/mid sized business that operates out of more than one location (including your home), you’ll want to consider the broader coverage offered by a BOP. 

Be Careful: Floods Are Not Covered In Most Home Insurance Policies

This one is slightly tricky, as most people don’t think they live in an area susceptible to flooding.

However, “flooding” can mean many things in your insurance policy. For example, a failed sump pump or water damage due to a clogged drain are generally not covered in a standard home insurance policy.

Many people have been saved by adding a separate flood insurance policy, as there is some gray area in standard policies, and they chose to be safe rather than sorry!

Earthquakes Aren’t Covered

Earthquakes are on the rise, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration branch of the US Government (and shown in this chart). Despite this, earthquakes are not covered by most home insurance policies.

If the thought of an earthquake hitting your area makes you tremble a little, you may want to consider specific earthquake coverage to be on the safe side.

Vehicles used for business

Not surprisingly, vehicles used for business are not covered in a homeowners policy, even if the damage to the vehicle happens on your property.

High-Value Jewelry

Jewelry-lovers take note! If you’ve got jewelry valued at over $2,000, there’s a good chance your homeowners insurance will not cover these pieces.

To make sure you’re covered, you can easily add on additional coverage into your policy to account for the loss if something should happen to your valuables. 

We’d recommend learning about coverage for commercial auto insurance if you own vehicles used for business, or check with your employer to ensure they have the correct coverage.

We’re Here To Help Find The Right Coverage For Your Situation

Don’t be alarmed if you’re in any of the categories above. Everyone’s situation is unique, and you deserve to be informed about what is – and what isn’t – included in your coverage. 

Let’s talk over your current policy and make sure you’ve got everything you need for your situation. 
Contact us today to get a customized plan, or to just get the peace of mind that you desire!

Homeowners Insurance Facts

If you own and home or condominium with an outstanding mortgage, you are required to carry homeowner insurance.  But, if you are thinking of purchasing one, you should know what insurance policies cover and don’t cover you for.

Some Loses are not a Part of Home Insurance

If you plan to purchase home insurance, you need to know that standard policies don’t cover earthquakes or floods. In these cases, you may need to add the coverage to your home or condominium policy or purchase separate policies that offer you coverage for these perils.

Some Dog breeds can make it Challenging to Purchase Comprehensive Insurance

All homeowner’s policies give you coverage if your dog bites someone. This way, the liability portion of your insurance saves you from financial ruin. But some insurance providers refuse to offer coverage to homeowners who have dogs with different breeds like Rottweiler and bulls. Therefore, you may have to dig a bit deeper to find the right insurance policy that will also cover you for dog bites.

Polices Can Cover Plane Crashes

Of course, there are chances of a plane falling from the sky onto your house, but some insurance companies still offer you coverage for this. They even offer you a plan for several things that can fall from the sky, including the tree.

Food Spoilage Coverage

A power outage can occur due to several problems. When your fridge is not working, your stored food may get spoiled in a few hours. Some insurance policies offer food spoilage coverage, this kind of coverage will pay you for your spoiled food.

Volcano Damage Plans

It might surprise you, but there are home insurances that cover volcanic damage. If you live near volcanic mountains, this plan is beneficial for you. Even if the volcanoes have been dormant for centuries, it still has some risks. Well, it’s better to save yourself than feel sorry.

Birds Damages and Vermin

Any damages caused by birds, Racoons, or squirrels making their way into your attic are not part of standard homeowner’s insurance plans. Whether wild birds have made a nest on your roof or have damaged your windows, you have to make repairs and replacements all by yourself. The best way to prevent further damage is to call animals experts like Clancy Bros Pest Control who can help you get rid of these creatures.

The Bottom Line

These homeowners insurance facts may have encouraged you to read the policies and plans carefully to get the coverage you are looking for. You can also read our blog on Home insurance terms you need to know..

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help you keep your business safe during the winter season. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs as we offer affordable prices. So contact us today for a free quote.

Insurance Check-Up

Insurance Check-Up

Life Changes and it’s Time for an Insurance Checkup

Having insurance policies is vital to gain great security and protection from unexpected problems. Ensuring everything in your life at an early stage is also a great idea.

While getting yourself and your house, vehicle, and assets insured is vital, you also need an insurance checkup to review your policies yearly. This allows you to ensure that the insurance coverage will be of help to you when your circumstances and lifestyle change. But if your insurance doesn’t cover you as it should, you need to make some changes to the policies or, even purchase new policies to cover your changing needs.

Here are some reasons why you need to opt for an insurance checkup.

Change in Family Status

Are you planning to get married or expect a baby? It would help protect your growing family by purchasing the right insurance plan. Insurance checkups will allow you to ensure whether the coverage is enough to support your entire family when you are not around. The loss of a family member through disability and death is also the right time for an insurance plan review.

Remodeling or Moving Your House

If you plan to remodel your house, your house value will surely increase. Similarly, if you move from the house, you might own a property with a higher value than the one you have before. Since your assets have increased, you need an insurance plan that covers these assets.

Retirement Time

When you decide to retire, you need something to rely on for your future expenses, especially final expenses, it’s vital to choose the right insurance plans to protect you properly. It would also be helpful if you had the proper insurance that will pay for your funeral, medical care, and debts.

Chance in Assets Value

Many people insure their jewelry and other assets to get the money if they get damaged or lost. But they forget the fact that these valuable assets increase over time. By keeping the coverage updated regularly for these valuable assets, you are protected in the event you lose them or they are stolen.

Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts on different insurance plans. This way, you can purchase the right insurance plans at much lower prices. So, if you have not received your discounts, it’s time to have an insurance checkup.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s life, house, vehicle, or assets insurance, insurance is not something that you purchase and forget. You need to always look for ways to lower your premiums and avail optimal benefits from your policy. For this purpose, you need to opt for an insurance checkup.

Missing Coverage

If you have any assets at all, an umbrella policy is a valuable protection. Home insurance and car insurance policies have liability limits that are often not high enough to protect you adequately. If you are found to be at fault beyond your liability limits, you may be required to pay the remainder of the money out of pocket. It could take all of your savings and assets and even your future assets to make that payment.

This will help you look for flaws in your insurance and allow you to get the features that you don’t have. Not only this but practicing this method can help you lower your premiums and get interesting discounts and offer. So, if you currently have any insurance, consider reviewing it.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs at incredibly affordable prices. Contact us today for a free insurance review or quote.

Preventing Frozen Pipes at Your Home and Office

Cold temperatures can mean frozen pipes and finding solutions to prevent bursting pipes and flooding of your home are very important. Water will expand in the freezing environment, while metal pipes get a contract in colder days. Since the water in the pipe responds to winters oppositely, this causes pipes to damage or burst.

Here we have mentioned some simple and accessible tips that you can use to prevent this problem in your home and offices.

Add Insulation to Different places

Adding insulation to basements, attics, and crawl spaces will help you get higher temperatures in these areas. Not only will this help you live comfortably in your house, but it also keeps your pipes in these spaces from freezing. 

Close Garage Doors

Most people keep their garage door open while doing a different task. However, this can lead to great problems if you have a water supply in this area. The cold and freezing air can reach the pipes and cause them to freeze. Closing all the passages for wind can help you maintain a warm environment around the pipes.

Allow Water to Drip from Faucet

You need to keep open one or two faucets in your house or office throughout the winter weather. Running water through the pipe prevents water from freezing by staying in one position. Of course, you don’t need to open the faucets, allowing faucets to trickle completely will do the trick.

Seal Leaks

Hire an expert to identify air leaks in your house and office, especially near the pipes. Ask the experts to use different methods to seal leaks around the windows, doors, and electrical wiring. You can also use insulation or caulk to keep the cold air out of your personal space.

Open Cabinet Doors

This might look like a bizarre idea, but it can help you save yourself from great troubles. Keeping your cabinets open in winter will allow heat to get to the pipes present in your walls. This technique is more important for pipes under appliances and sinks that have more risk of bursting.

Drain Outside Water Lines

Water lines in uninstalled or unheated areas have more risk of freezing. Since the outside pipes and water lines are more exposed to freezing weather, you need to drain them before winter. So, prepare your water lines and empty them before winter.

Drain Water from Swimming Pool

Water in a swimming pool can get frozen, which can freeze other pipes connected to a swimming pool. Draining water from your house or office pool will save your pipes from getting affected by the freezing wind. Make sure to do this task before winter knocks on your door.

Wrapping Up

 Frozen pipes can ruin your day, as it can lead to costly repairs. Not to mention, bursting frozen pipes also waste your time and effort that you can use for some productive work. So, it’s vital to prepare your water lines for this problem, rather than getting into trouble. For this, you can keep your cabinets open and the garage door close to maintain a warm temperature. Also, you can seal leaks and insulate different spaces in your office and home.

Protect Your Property with Vargas & Vargas Insurance

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we offer top-rated insurance services that will help you keep your property safe and protected. Should you suffer a frozen pipe that you need help with, we are but a call, text, or email away. All our clients enjoy customized insurance coverage to match their unique needs, and we offer affordable prices. Contact us today for a free quote.

Home Renovations That Might Lower Your Massachusetts Home Insurance

Home Renovations That Might Lower Your Massachusetts Home InsuranceWhen you are getting ready to renovate your home, you may be thinking of additional costs such as your home insurance. Some improvements will typically lower your home insurance rates.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we want Dorchester, MA homeowners to get their home renovations done right.

If you are thinking of renovating, you may want to add these modifications to your home to help with your Massachusetts home insurance policy.

Alarm System With Monitoring

When you have an alarm system on your home, with the audio or video monitoring, you increase your security. You are likely to see a reduction in insurance rates with an alarm system from an approved company.
You may not need to get your alarm company approved but check with your provider. Adding an alarm system during home renovations will also keep your new changes secure from safety threats.

Install a Sewer Backup Valve

Sewer backup is a significant home insurance risk. You can even update your home insurance policy to include coverage for this, as the costs are exorbitant.

Adding a sewer backup valve is easy, and can help you in the event of a sewer backup disaster. When water has nowhere else to go, it will come into the home. This is an expensive problem, and your insurance company knows this. Add a valve to the sewer and this could save you from this problem, and also from insurance costs.

Install a Sump Pump

A flood in the basement is a disaster. If you don’t have one already, a sump pump is a very affordable way to prevent flooding when bad weather hits. Overland flooding in Massachusetts is on the rise and could lead to an increase in claims. Add one to avoid this mess, and to potentially lower your home insurance costs.

Get a Quote

When you are renovating your home, you need to talk to your insurance company or update your home insurance policy. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we want Dorchester, MA homeowners to have the most thorough policy, through every change in love. Call us for a quote and update your policy today.

Massachusetts Home Insurance – What You Need To Know About Home Insurance

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest expenditures that you will have in your lifetime.  Insuring this investment is one of the smartest things that a homeowner can do to protect it.  Think of the amount of time that a homeowner spends residing in the home, that’s a lot of time for possible incidents to happen.  What exactly entails home insurance coverage?  What does homeowner’s insurance cover? We will cover these questions and how best to approach coverage below.  Home Insurance can be purchased from Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA.

Protection Against Damage

Home Insurance offers coverage under certain incidents or events such as house fires.  If you lose items in a fire (clothing, appliances, etc.) these items would be covered in such an event.  The insurance company will either cut you a check for the amount of the item or they’ll make arrangements to replace the item with the same or similar brand.  This coverage also extends to the garage which would cover your car in case of a house fire that also damaged your garage or destroyed it.  

Add-Ons

You can also purchase riders or add-ons to your home insurance coverage which will add protection for unique events such as flooding or storm damage.  In either case of events, your insurance will also pay for your temporary stay abroad should you need to have your home repaired after an event.  This temporary residence could be an extended hotel stay or renting an apartment or house for a few weeks.  

Liability Coverage

Home Insurance also comes with liability coverage which can be purchased to varying limits.  This portion of your policy covers events that happen either inside or outside the home which affect visitors or friends visiting such as a slip-and-fall accident or other incidents along those lines.  

More Information

You can learn more about home insurance by contacting Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA today!

How to Decide How Much Homeowners Insurance You Need

homeowner calculating the replacement cost of her home as she determines how much homeowners insurance she needs

Figuring out how much homeowners insurance you need to cover your home and belongings can be challenging. But there are steps you can take to determine what types of insurance you may need and how much you should purchase. Here are some tips for calculating how much homeowners insurance will meet your needs.

Determine Local Risks

Most homeowners insurance plans cover:

  • Basic storm damage
  • Interior water damage from burst pipes
  • Fires
  • Other types of damage that any homeowner could sporadically experience.

But most homeowners insurance policies do not automatically extend to severe flooding from hurricanes or other types of natural disasters that do not affect homeowners in all parts of the country. 

For this reason, you will need to assess what specific issues your home may be prone to based on your location. Then you can determine whether you need to purchase extra policies, such as flood insurance, on top of your regular homeowners insurance policy. 

Determine the Overall Value of Replacing Your Home

Knowing approximately how much replacing your home would cost if it were completely lost is also important. It’s another key to determining how much homeowners insurance you should have. This should include the value of your home itself and your possession. It should also include any costs associated with having your home rebuilt. 

This information can generally be determined by this formula: multiply the square footage of your home by the approximate cost to rebuild per square foot. But this formula is not always accurate. Other factors to consider that may help you come up with a better estimate include:

  • The materials used to build your home
  • Any improvement projects you may have done over the years
  • Any vintage or other unique features your property has

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we prioritize protecting you and your property. We don’t work for your insurance company. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you determine how much homeowners insurance you need to keep your home and property adequately covered without overpaying.  

The Smartest Home Insurance Deductible Move

Do you know that you can save hundreds of dollars on your yearly home insurance bill by simply increasing your home insurance deductible? By this, we don’t mean changing from $500 to $1,000. We want you to think bigger: $2,500. Opting for a low deductible is a characteristic mistake. Read further to understand why.

1. Lowered Monthly Premiums

For home insurance, a higher home insurance deductible means that you will be paying low premiums. A lower deductible, on the other hand, equals high monthly premiums. Therefore, the most effective way to lower your premiums is to increase your deductible.

2. Increased Premium Savings

A great way to save money on your insurance is to review your deductibles. There is an inverse relationship between your cost of deductibles and your cost of monthly premiums. One way to look at this is to make a comparison of your potential savings over several years against the additional out-of-pocket risk you incur. While this is by no means a definite way to make a decision, it is an important piece of information to help you measure your risk trade-off. 

3. Higher Deductibles Mean Fewer Claims

You could raise your deductible to avoid making many claims.  Your premiums increase each time you make a claim. You most likely do not want to make claims for small losses. Therefore, it is in your best interest to get a higher deductible, so you are only worried about paying up for major disasters or larger claims.

Your home insurance deductible should be the amount of money you are comfortable paying in case your home is damaged. We recommend having a minimum of $1000, but you might increase this to access long-term savings. 

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, and we are also here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.