Save Money This Summer with AC Maintenance

As we’re nearing the warmer months of the year, it’s time to start thinking about how your air conditioner performs. And I’m talking about both central air and window-based units. With proper AC maintenance, you could save quite a bit of money.

Not only does maintenance help you save on the electricity bill, but it can also prevent accidental fires and other forms of property damage. For example, do you know how much a leaky swamp cooler could cost you in repairs if not dealt with immediately?

So, what are some ways to protect your home and your bank account?

Clean and/or Replace Filters

A clogged filter can cause all kinds of issues for any HVAC system. Even window-mounted air conditioners can form sheets of ice if the filter is clogged. And that causes a completely different problem.

This isn’t to mention how a clogged filter causes the unit to work much harder to cool the home. This, in turn, results in wear-and-tear leading to malfunctions and repair costs much sooner than anticipated.

Make sure all of your filters are either replaced or cleaned, depending on the type of system you have in the home.

Ensure Ductwork and Intakes are Clear of Debris

Over time, ductwork and air intakes for HVAC systems can become filled with dust and various forms of debris. Part of your annual AC maintenance should include ensuring the system has clear access to move air.

This means also going outside and making sure bushes, plants, and other elements are clear of the air conditioner.

In the event of a swamp cooler, it’s probably a good idea to install new pads. Wind can blow all kinds of debris into the wells of the evaporative cooler, which means it will have a harder time pulling air in to cool.

Properly Inspect Power Cords and Electrical Connections

Always ensure your power cords and electrical connections for the HVAC system are properly secured. In some cases, it may be a good idea to call an electrician to verify your power cables don’t pose a threat to the home.

While you’re at it, also make sure you don’t have too much of a load on a single power socket.

A lot of people will use extension cords and power strips to accommodate their electronics. The end result could be a fire caused by an over-taxed power cable trying to draw more power than the strip can handle.

Out of the different forms of ac maintenance, your power consumption is perhaps one of the most important to verify.

Inspect Weather Stripping Along Windows and Doors

Weatherstripping is one of the most important facets of saving money for both heating and cooling needs. This is the fine strip or silicone that lines the edges of windows and doors.

Making sure the strip is in good condition means less cool air escapes to the outside. Thus, your home stays cooler for longer periods of time.

Consider Shades or Blackout Curtains

Sunlight coming into the home can generate a great deal of heat. Depending on where your windows are located, the home could be exposed to a continuous bombardment of sunlight.

Blackout curtains are relatively cheap and can stop the light and heat from the sun.

If you don’t like the idea of sunlight being completely blocked, you can always go with shades or other window dressings that limit how much light comes into the home.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of the Cure

Preventing issues through ac maintenance today can save you a small fortune down the road. And don’t forget, you could always approach the homestead from the perspective of going green. For example, adjusting your thermostat so the AC isn’t constantly running.

After ensuring your cooling systems are running efficiently, give Vargas & Vargas Insurance a call to also make sure your home is protected in the worst-case scenarios. Don’t let accidents this summer cost you. Contact us today for a customized plan and keep your home safe year-round.

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.

How to Keep Your Home Safe While Using Your Fireplace

a couple sitting in front of a fireplace place in a modern-style home

A fire quietly roaring away in your fireplace creates a cozy, romantic, and relaxing atmosphere, especially during winter. Though they are aesthetically pleasing and warm, fireplaces can be dangerous. Unfortunately, accidents have occurred due to negligence and lack of awareness. It is prudent to follow safety measures to protect your home when you’re using your fireplace.

Safety Measures to Follow When Using Your Fireplace

To avoid incidents that may result from fireplace accidents, you should follow the tips below:

Maintain Your Chimney Regularly

Carbon particles can build up on your chimney’s walls over time. Too much buildup of particles in the duct is a fire hazard. It’s because that gunk is highly flammable and can cause a fire in the fireplace. It can also block the chimney and cause smoke to fill up your home. It would be best if you considered hiring a professional chimney sweep to clean and maintain your chimney.

Always Use a Fireplace Screen

A fireplace screen is a crucial component of your fireplace setup. It has two primary purposes:

  1. Keeping the fireplace inaccessible to children and pets.
  2. Preventing embers from tumbling out into your living room. Spitting embers is a significant fire hazard.

Don’t Leave a Fire Unattended 

Despite it being a no-brainer, most people often forget and break this rule. Most fireplaces, even the most well-maintained, can spit out fire embers that can cause a fire. Even a tiny ember can ignite a flammable item like a couch when it lands on it.

Have a Fire Extinguisher in Your Home

If you have a fireplace burning in your home, you need to have a fire extinguisher and/or a fire blanket to help combat a fire outbreak. It would help if you got an ABC-rated fire extinguisher. This will help put out electrical, regular, and gas or liquid fires.

Having a fireplace in your home requires you to follow fire safety tips to avoid incidents. However, accidents can occur sporadically. You need to have measures in place to ensure that you recoup anything you’ll lose.

It would help if you considered getting your home insured through Vargas & Vargas Insurance. We can tailor your insurance coverage to meet your specific needs and price point. Feel free to contact us here.

3 Reasons Why You Should Trim Your Trees Before the First Snowfall

homeowner looking at freshly trimmed trees in her yard during winter

Most Boston-area homeowners don’t realize how important it is to trim your trees before the winter season. After all, there is very little information about winterizing the landscape to minimize potential damage. The truth is that nature has its fair share of adverse effects on properties. It would be best for every homeowner to be ready for such seasons and protect their homes.

Trimming trees in winter is one of the best ways to maintain safety and control the size of trees. It can also help to create appealing shapes to make your landscape look organized. Full-swing winter is likely to remove all leaves, and it makes the best time to rethink tree trimming. Here is why.

1. Reduce Tree Exposure to Pests and Diseases

Winter months are prone to various pests and diseases. You can reduce the infection of your trees by pruning as a measure to regulate diseases. There are other reasons why winter is the best time for pruning. For example, you will require pruning of oaks due to oak wilt and beetle infestations.

2. It Preserves the Appearance and Value of Your Property

You can shape your trees to make them look stunning and align with your home landscape. Therefore, pruning allows you to remove branches hanging in the walkways or help to promote growth.

The damage caused by overhanging branches to your house is also significantly reduced to save on your insurance coverage. Insurance agencies will consider all security risks when assessing damage to your home caused by trees during winter.

3. Reduce Stress for Your Trees

Most trees go dormant in winter. Therefore, it is the perfect timing to trim to ensure you preserve the tree’s energy for healing and growth once the season passes.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is a top-rated local independent insurance agency. We cater to client-specific needs and have customized insurance coverage at competitive prices. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

4 Winter Home Protection Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

father and son sitting in front of a fire during winter after following this winter home protection tips

With your pumpkins carved and visions of the holiday season on your mind, you know winter is right around the corner. This makes it a great time to get your home ready for the upcoming colder months. Here are a few winter home protection tips to get your home ready for the winter. 

1. Clean the Chimney

According to Bob Vila, a home improvement expert, there are more than 25,000 home fires each year that start in the chimney, costing around $125 million in property damage. Cleaning your chimney should top your list so that you’re ready to build a fire on the first cold night. 

2. HVAC Service

You want your home’s heating system to be in tip-top shape when the cold arrives. HVAC service saves you money by changing the air filter, calibrating the thermostat, and identifying small repairs before they become big problems. 

3. Replace Batteries in Fire Alarms and Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

With colder weather and shorter days, your family spends more time indoors. There is an average of 346,800 house fires each year. You want to keep your family safe, so it’s a great time to replace the batteries in fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You can also replace damaged ones or install them in areas that don’t have coverage. 

Pro Tip:

Check with your homeowner’s insurance provider. You might get a discount for installing additional smoke alarms. 

4. Trim Tree Limbs

Your trees grew during the spring and summer, and you might have tree limbs overhanging your roof. It’s time to trim those limbs before winter storms and ice cause them to fall on your roof or damage your home in some other way. 

Once you’ve finished with these winter home protection tips, it’s also a great time to review your homeowner’s insurance to ensure you have the best coverage and pricing. 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’re here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

How Inflation Affects the Cost of Replacing Your Home

couple standing outside of their home

The country’s economy depends on various variables, which include inflation. Inflation has a negative or positive impact on the local industries. Among the sectors affected by the fluctuation of prices is the construction industry. The following is an overview of how inflation affects the cost of replacing your home and how this impacts your home insurance premium.

How Does Inflation Affect the Construction of a House?

As a result of inflation, the building material rates, machinery rates, and labor wages increase annually. The prices of most house equipment also rise due to inflation. When replacing a home, the changes in rates cause a deviation between the initial project budget and the final budget.

The high cost incurred during house construction results in an increase in the insurance premium. The insurance companies raise their premiums to cover and keep up with the increasing repair cost caused by inflation or annual property tax increase. Homeowners should have their property valuated regularly. The new data can be used in the settlement process if the house is damaged.

Home Replacement and Its Effect on Insurance Premium

While determining the initial home insurance premiums, insurance companies consider factors such as the square footage, the year it was built, the number of stories, the number of kitchens or bathrooms, flooring, and roof covering.

During property replacement, the insurance company will replace the lost asset with a similar replacement of the same value and functionality as the original one. However, quality items and luxury add-ons such as swimming pools are expensive to fix or replace if damaged.

The increase in the new items’ prices and the risk of maintaining them force the insurers to increase their premiums.

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

Invite Your Neighbors to The Party

Do you know the old advice about throwing a party when you’re the new kid in town?  Yes, it’s housewarming time and you’re so happy and you invite all your friends over to celebrate.  But you don’t want to annoy your new neighbors, do you?  It’s no good getting on the bad side of your neighbors when you’re the newbie on the street/floor.

The old advice about just such a moment is to invite those very same neighbors! That’s right, don’t just invite your friends, invite the neighbors, the people who aren’t your friends.  (Hopefully some day they will be, but that’s another story altogether)

The idea behind this wisdom is that, if your party gets a little loud, your neighbors can’t possibly complain to you by banging on your door, or, worse, by calling the police.  How can they complain about your party when you invited them in the first place?  They could easily have accepted your invitation, and could just as easily be enjoying themselves with all the other revelers and getting to know you, their new neighbor too.

Take that advice a step further when you’re going to get some serious construction or landscaping work done on your home. Invite the neighbors, in a manner of speaking.  

Let’s say you hired a tree company to come in and remove several large trees.  You know the crew is going to arrive early in the morning.  And you know it’s going to get loud out there very quickly, between chainsaws, falling trees, workers yelling, and, oh, the wood chipper blasting!

Why leave it to chance that your neighbors are going to be annoyed by this early morning noise?  Let them know in advance about the work, either with a notecard you leave on their door, or a nice letter in the mail, or by knocking on the door, and introducing yourself.  You might even invite them to stop by for a cup of coffee to watch the trees come down!

There’s a lot to be said about tranquility in your neighborhood, and this is a great way to promote that, and make some new friends in the process.  So, when you’re getting major repair work or landscaping work done at your house, invite the neighbors!

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance portfolio. Please schedule a call with us to discuss your policies.

Keep Your Homeowner Policy Safe

Dangers are abound in even the simplest of repair situations, so steer clear of the contractor’s work zone. 

When you hire the right contractor to do repairs or renovations or maintenance at your home, you want to maintain a respectful distance from their work area.

The contractor has been trained and, through long experience, knows how to maintain a safe work zone for themselves.  When you intrude across the boundaries of that zone, you introduce an unexpected variable in the contractors work process.

And that is when it can get messy. Be prudent when you’re hiring a contractor. How?

Request evidence of insurance. 

Speaking of safety and experience, don’t forget to collect the necessary certificates of insurance from your contractors. If anything happens on your property, you don’t want to give anyone any reason to abnegate responsibility to seek remedy for their injuries under YOUR homeowners insurance policy. 

Yes, you read that right.

If your state doesn’t require Workers Compensation coverage, the Homeowners policy could apply to cover lawsuits filed by an injured worker or to pay for medical expenses incurred if they don’t file a lawsuit. 

While the work area may appear to you to be perfectly safe, it is after all, your house and you know your house better than anyone, you still cannot anticipate hazards known all too well to the contractor through their possible training and experience. 

Respect the contractors’ work zone and, if you have a coffee or other tasty treats to share, let the contractor know where you’ve placed it easily accessible in your kitchen.  Then the contractor can enter the work zone and you can be comfortable the premises are safe.

Please schedule a call with us to discuss the very complicated process of your homeowners policy being exposed compared to the contractors’ workers compensation policy.

You want to ensure that your homeowners policy is updated and accurate to protect you in the event hired workers do not provide proof of insurance.