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.

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.

Understanding Homeowners Insurance: What Is Loss of Use Coverage?

happy couple planning home repairs

As Massachusetts insurance agents, the best part of our day is helping first-time homebuyers get a home insurance policy. It’s an exciting and stressful time for young families, and Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help.

If this is your first time shopping for home insurance (or if you’ve been a homeowner for years but haven’t read your policy), then it might seem a little overwhelming. We’re here to explain some important points about your policy, and why it’s crucial to have a strong insurance policy in place. In this article, we’ll discuss Coverage D, Loss of Use.

What Is Loss of Use Coverage/Living Expense Coverage/Coverage D?

A strong home insurance policy will protect your investment from a covered loss, like fire. 

Imagine your home was to burn down to the ground. If it’s a smoking pile of debris now, then you’ll need to rebuild your home from the ground up. Coverage D is there to pay for your living expenses elsewhere while you rebuild. It will cover things like:

  • Meals at restaurants
  • Hotel stays
  • Renting an apartment

All you need to do is let your claims adjuster know that you’re staying elsewhere and keep copies of all your receipts. 

Loss of use coverage will also protect you if you suffer a partial loss. Examples would include:

  • The city’s sewer system overflows while you’re gone on a business trip overnight. You come home to a basement full of raw sewage. So you can’t stay in the home — it’s a health risk. Coverage D will pay for your hotel stay and meals. 
  • Your neighbor’s house burns down completely, and one wall of your home is burnt and damaged. If you can’t stay in the home while a wall is replaced, then your coverage will pay for your living expenses somewhere else.

How Much Loss of Use Coverage Do I Have?

Loss of use coverage is based on a percentage of replacement cost (Coverage A). Most basic policies start at 10%. For example, a home valued at $200,000 replacement cost may have $20,000 coverage for loss of use. But every policy is unique, so talk with a licensed insurance agent to understand yours.

As a homeowner, you must understand which coverage you have and what each element does. Read your declarations page carefully, and give us a call at 617-409-0329 if you need a homeowners insurance quote today.

Home Insurance FAQ: Purchase Price vs. Replacement Cost

couple looking up home insurance information in their kitchen

Here at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, our goal as licensed insurance agents is to provide competitive homeowners insurance policies to Massachusetts families. Part of our job is educating first-time homebuyers and investors about how homeowners insurance works. 

This article is going to address a home’s purchase price versus replacement cost as it pertains to insurance. We’re also going to answer two specific questions we get all the time:

  1. Why am I insuring a home for replacement cost instead of the purchase price?
  2. What is “dwelling replacement cost,” and how does it work?

Why Am I Insuring a Home for the Replacement Cost, Not the Purchase Price?

Homeowners insurance is designed to help you replace a home and its contents from the ground up in the event of a loss.

Imagine your home burns down to the ground. Homeowners insurance is there to rebuild that home completely and replace your belongings. Replacement cost is our best estimate of what it will take to rebuild that home, in your neighborhood, per square foot.

However, it’s important to know that the purchase price of a home is not equal to replacement cost. Purchase price includes the land the dwelling is sitting on, for example, which doesn’t need to be replaced after a fire.

What Is Dwelling Replacement Cost, and How Does It Work?

We figure every dwelling’s replacement cost individually with a formula: square footage by replacement price (sqft x rp). Replacement price depends on factors like:

  • Your location
  • Current labor costs
  • The expense of materials like wood, brick, carpet, and roofing

As a result, dwelling replacement cost changes from time to time. We also consider:

  • Special enhancements like moldings, architectural finishes, columns and more
  • Fireplaces and stonework
  • Systems like central heat and air, central vacuuming, and sprinkler systems
  • Anything else special or unique about your home

In many cases (but not all), a home’s replacement cost is higher than the purchase price. This is good news for you as a buyer. If there is a total loss, you will come out financially ahead if you have a mortgage.

If you’re buying a home for the first time, congratulations! It’s a tremendous accomplishment. The staff at Vargas & Vargas Insurance is ready to help you get the homeowner’s insurance you need. Reach out to us today at 617-409-0329 for a homeowner’s insurance quote, and check out our blog for more great Massachusetts insurance topics.

These Home Improvement Projects Can Raise and Lower Your Insurance Rates

If you’re updating your home, you may have to make updates to your home insurance policy, as well. When you increase the value of your home, such as by adding square footage or doing a major bathroom renovation, you need to make sure you don’t end up underinsured. Your current policy was designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, and it needs to reflect your home’s current value accurately.

Also, some home improvement projects can actually lower your premiums if they make you less likely to file a claim. By not upgrading your policy, you could miss out on these substantial savings.

Women setting the alarm on her home security system

Take a look at some home upgrades that will require modifying your insurance policy.

Home Improvement Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

If you purchased your policy when you had laminate countertops and decided to upgrade to marble and high-end appliances, you added tens of thousands of dollars to your home’s value. But, if you don’t inform your insurance company, you’re left in a very vulnerable position if the worst happens and you need to file a claim. Purchasing more coverage protects the value of your home and ensures you get an adequate payout to replace any covered damage. The same is true for adding livable square footage by renovating a basement or building an addition.

If you add a pool, updating your insurance becomes crucial: swimming pools are a potential hazard. To have peace of mind, consider adding liability insurance included in your policy.

Upgrades That Can Lower Your Premiums

Your home insurance policy isn’t just calculated based on your home’s value. It also considers how likely you are to file a claim. Getting a new roof can help you qualify for a lower rate, especially if you have an older home. Roof damage from rain and snow is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners file a claim, and your roof is now better able to withstand extreme weather.

Upgrades to your security, such as a burglar alarm, are another potential investment that can lower your rate. Modernizing older heating, plumbing, or electrical systems can result in a discount if there’s less risk of fire or water damage.  

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll be glad to give you detailed guidance about the right policy for your current home’s value.   

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.

DIY Has Its Limits

Our society has become enthralled with the concept of “do it yourself” or “DIY.”  So much so that entire industries have grown up around the idea that anyone, anywhere, with access to tools, materials and knowledge, can do just about anything they set their mind to.

This DIY mentality extends to our home.  Repairs, renovations and other home improvement projects abound in this mindset. 

The traditional craft of repair and renovation has been upended with this modern consumer concept.  Imagine you’re an electrician and you’ve entered a Big Box Home Hardware store.  As you walk down the aisle filled from floor to ceiling with electrical supplies of all types, you see a person standing in front of a display of electrical outlets.  This person clearly is not an electrician, and clearly is struggling with the selection of the appropriate outlet which you’re pretty sure they’re going to attempt to install themselves. 

Imagine the horror in your mind as that electrician thinking of the potential visit to the Emergency Room for that person when the wrong wire gets crossed.

And, yet, these traditional industries still thrive.  The reason?  No amount of online videos, tutorials or DIY books can replace the wisdom that comes from specializing in a task and learning the “tricks of the trade from experienced professionals.

If you have trees on your property, it’s your responsibility to think about the maintenance of those trees to protect your home in the event of a severe storm that could topple in close proximity to your house. 

If you’re thinking about trimming, or even taking down trees for that maintenance and protection. Should you do it yourself? 

The best way to answer the question is to watch a professional tree-trimming crew in action.  You’re likely to very quickly realize that such work…taking down or trimming a tree…is best left in the hands of the experienced professionals. 

Those “tricks of the trade” that come from the traditions and wisdom handed down in the craft become very quickly obvious as you watch the crew scale up a tree and easily slice away branches and limbs.  And then when they have to take down an entire tree, the process seems at once intricate and yet elegantly simple.

Yes, sometimes it’s really best to not do it yourself and to leave it to the professional.

One of the most FAQs we receive is when a tree falls on your property but doesn’t hit your house or any physical structure, there is no insurance coverage to pay for the removal of the tree.

Call us for any recommendations you may need to help with your home improvement projects.

Please read our other blogs related to home maintenance projects.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.