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Prepare Before Hurricane Season: Tips from Vargas & Vargas Insurance

Hurricane season, runs from June 1st to November 30th, can be pretty daunting with all the strong winds and heavy rains. Each year, there are about ten to sixteen named storms, including four to eight hurricanes, and some with winds over 155 mph! Preparing your house and family for these storms is super important, so here’s a guide to help you get ready and stay safe.

Stock Up Early and Keep Supplies Handy

Before the hurricane season kicks off, it’s a great idea to gather all the essentials. Stock up on non-perishable food, water, medications, and other supplies like flashlights and batteries. Keeping these items in an easily accessible emergency kit means you won’t be scrambling to find them when you really need them.

Prepare Your Home

Make sure your home is as strong as it can be before the storms hit. Start by trimming trees and shrubbery; loose branches can fly like missiles during a hurricane. Secure your windows and doors, and if you have storm shutters, make sure they’re properly installed. You might also want to reinforce your garage door and secure loose items around your property to minimize damage.

Unplug and Protect

Electrical surges are common during hurricanes, consider plugging your devices into surge protector outlets like this one or unplug your electronics to protect them from damage. This simple step can save you a lot of trouble later.

Plan for Power Outages

Hurricanes can knock out power for a long time. Having a backup generator can be a lifesaver, ensuring you have electricity even when the grid is down. Installing a battery backup for your sump pump is also smart to prevent flooding in your home. Fill up your bathtubs with water in case you lose access later

Know Your Evacuation Plan

Understanding where to go and how to get there can save precious time during an evacuation. Plan your routes to a safe location, perhaps a friend’s house outside of flood-prone areas. Remember to have a strategy for your pets and check local options for emergency transportation if you don’t have a vehicle.

Review and Update Your Insurance

Before the storm season gets too intense, take a moment to check your insurance coverage. It’s crucial to have the right amount to rebuild your home if the worst happens. You might want to check if you need specific flood coverage, as it’s not included in standard home and renters policies. Vargas & Vargas Insurance, one of the premier local independent insurance agencies, can help you customize your coverage to fit your needs. For an insurance check-up or more information about the National Flood Insurance Program, call us at 617-298-0655.

Digital Safeguards

Creating digital backups of important documents like insurance policies, identification, and property records can be lifesaving if physical copies are lost during a storm.

How We Can Help

Vargas & Vargas Insurance works for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re here to tailor your insurance coverage to your specific needs and help answer any questions you might have. Contact us today to ensure you’re fully protected this hurricane season.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that when the wind starts howling, your home and family will be safe and secure. Don’t wait until it’s too late—start preparing now to stay safe and protected during hurricane season. Call Vargas & Vargas Insurance at 617-298-0655 for all your coverage needs. Stay prepared and peace of mind will follow!

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3 Essential Steps to Prepare Your Car for Hurricane Season

Family getting into their car before a hurricane after learning about how to prepare your car for hurricane season

Hurricane season comes around every year, and with it, the fear of damage to life and property. However, with the right strategy, you can prepare your car for hurricane season.

While many people think of preparing their home and personal property for hurricanes, it’s vital not to neglect to prepare your automobile. When a severe hurricane is on the horizon, evacuation may be the best option, and your car needs to be ready. These tips can help:

1. Auto Insurance Review

It’s important to review your insurance with your insurance agent each renewal — or annually, at the very least.  If you have, then a quick review of your coverage and deductibles may be all you need as a reminder of your coverage details for potential damage. If you haven’t, make an appointment for a phone, virtual, or in-person insurance review with your agent before hurricane season. 

Hail, wind, and flood damage are all common concerns. But many people attempting to evacuate at once can also create collision and liability exposure. Understanding your coverage in advance of a claim is much better than being surprised later, and it’s an essential step as you prepare your car for hurricane season. 

2. Maintenance

Evacuating due to an impending hurricane is not the best time to realize your vehicle is not in good working order.  Making sure these critical items have been thoroughly checked will help you avoid being stranded later:

  • Tires: The treads should have sufficient wear remaining. Also, the tires should be properly inflated. 
  • Brakes: Brake pads should have adequate friction material. 
  • Battery: Replace a weak battery. 
  • Gas: A full gas tank is essential, as it may be a long distance before you can refuel. 
  • Air: Ensure air filters are clean because you and your family may be in the car for a while. This is especially important for those with respiratory issues. 
  • Fluids: All fluid levels should be checked and topped off if needed. 

3. Load Up

You may find yourself in your vehicle for a long period of time — even days in the worst-case scenario.  Having the following items ready to load up at a moment’s notice means you won’t forget them when you’re in a rush:

  • Important documents 
  • Medications
  • Pets
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Cell phone and other chargers
  • Blankets
  • Food and water
  • First aid kit
  • Cash
  • Clothing/Shoes/Personal hygiene Items

With the right preparation, you can approach the hurricane season without fear. Here are some tips for preparing your home, as well. As a premier local independent agency, Vargas & Vargas Insurance understands your concern for your family and your property. We work for you, not the insurance company. Contact us today to make sure your coverage is ready as you prepare your car for hurricane season.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Season

Business owner standing in her office

How do you prepare your business for hurricane season? A hurricane can happen at any time. But they mostly occur in June and November. If you operate a business along coastal regions, you may experience severe damage due to a hurricane.

Being prepared will help you get back on track faster after the hurricane. Here are steps to minimize interruptions and keep your employees safe.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Season

1. Employee Evacuation Plan

The safety of your employees is important. So make sure you have an employee evacuation plan. Give team members emergency roles to perform during the hurricane. It is also a good idea to train your employees and even perform flood drills to ensure your employees are prepared.

2. Create a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is necessary to minimize interruptions during a hurricane. You should have an emergency communication protocol and confirm all employee contact information. 

3. Get Insurance Coverage

As a business owner, you should obtain the best insurance coverage available before a hurricane. If you don’t have insurance coverage, it’s never too late to get some. Make sure your coverage meets your business needs, including flood insurance and business interruptions. Work with the insurance agent to ensure the policy meets those business needs. 

4. Back Up Your Data

Your business has documents, records, and files that you have to secure and protect. You should regularly back up your data and store it in a safe facility. It should be possible to access your data remotely in case of an emergency. 

5. Back Up Your Power Supply

A backup generator will ensure you keep your essential systems during the storm. A backup supply will also help you run your business sooner after a storm. 

Vargas and Vargas is a premier independent insurance agency, and we put our customers first. That includes helping you prepare your business for hurricane season. We offer customized insurance coverage to meet your specific needs. We are here to answer all the questions you may have about insurance, so contact us today.

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What to Do During and After a Hurricane

woman looking through the window at home as a hurricane approaches

Hurricanes can pose a serious hazard for people and properties in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. Floods, heavy winds, and other severe weather factors can cause damage quickly. Read this short guide about how to stay safe and protect your property both during and after the next hurricane.

What to Do During a Hurricane

During a hurricane, it is important to avoid going outdoors or driving because the winds and flooding can be dangerous. If you must be out in the storm, then it is important to:

  • NOT drive around road barriers
  • NOT walk through flowing water
  • NOT drive through flooded roads

Also, continue monitoring the media for any emergency information. Look for credible emergency information shared by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and other government agencies. Also, you need to follow instructions given by the public safety officials.  

If directed to evacuate, you need to do so immediately, and take only your essential items and any pets, if possible. Given that conditions change fast, you need to be ready for evacuation to different places as directed and if necessary.

What to Do After a Hurricane Has Passed

After a hurricane has passed and you had evacuated, return home if authorities say it is safe to do so. Continue to listen to news reports to know if the water supply is safe. Before local authorities declare your water supply safe, you need to boil the water before drinking or using it for food preparation.

As soon as it’s safely possible, check your home for any signs of damage. While checking your home, you need to:

  • Repair leaching systems and damaged septic tanks to minimize potential health risks.
  • Hire a qualified electrician to assess any damages to electrical systems.
  • Have a professional check your wells for contamination.
  • If you suspect there is a gas leak, go outdoors immediately and contact a licensed professional to check it out.
  • In case your home or property is damaged, document the damage by taking videos and photos and contact your insurance company.

Also, report any power outages to your utility company. If you’re waiting for the power to return, be careful to only use grills and generators outside because their fumes contain dangerous gases.

Try to avoid entering floodwaters in and around your property. Seek the services of a professional cleaning and repair company to clean and disinfect your home. Check on neighbors and friends, especially the elderly and those who live alone.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you protect your home, property, and family. Call us today to learn more about hurricane-related coverage, flood insurance, and safety tips to help you get through the storm.

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Recap: Prepare for Hurricane Season

“Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.” – Diane Ackerman

It’s official: hurricane season has begun. Now that there’s the potential for a hurricane any time, have you started to prepare your home? In last week’s full blog post, we detailed several ways that you could help to get ready for the potential of a hurricane hitting the northeast this summer or fall. Here is a quick recap of the tips:

  • Prepare your home by having your roof inspected regularly. If there is a storm coming, bring in anything that could act as a projectile in high winds, like patio furniture, bicycles, and potted plants.
  • Update your emergency kit with everything you would need for a few days without power, including water and nonperishable foods. Also include entertainment for everyone in the household!
  • Have an evacuation plan. It is invaluable to have a few potential destinations picked out just in case you are ordered to evacuate. Make sure to account for any family pets, if you have them. If there’s a hurricane coming, fill your car’s gas tank before the inevitable rush on the gas station.

And remember, it only takes a few minutes to have a Massachusetts insurance professional review your home insurance. One call to 617-298-0655 and you will know whether you have enough coverage to weather a potential storm. But don’t wait for the rain to start falling – before we end up on the wrong end of a spaghetti plot you need to call!

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Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

It’s the beginning of June, and that can only mean one thing: the beginning of Atlantic Hurricane Season! While we don’t tend to get hit as hard as more southern states, Massachusetts still typically gets hit by a few storms every year, so it’s worth making sure that your home and your loved ones are prepared for any storm that may head our way.

2018 Hurricane Season Predictions

As always, this year’s hurricane season will last from June 1 until November 30. In those six months, there are expected to be 12-18 named storms, 6-11 hurricanes, and 2-5 major hurricanes. This would represent an above average year in terms of hurricane activity.

The hurricane names that will be used this year are as follows: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, William.

These are the same names that were used in the 2012 season (the names cycle every six years) with the exception of Sara, which replaced Sandy (retired in 2012). If any of these storms are significant enough, their names will be retired and replaced in Spring 2019. Otherwise, these same names will be used in 2024.

Hurricane Emergency Kit

You should always have an emergency kit in your home. Occasionally, though, you need to check to make sure that it is still stocked. The start of hurricane season is a great time to do this. Gather your emergency kit, and make sure that it follows the Red Cross’s guidelines, including:

  • A two-week supply of food and water for every member of your household.
  • A flashlight and a radio (both with extra batteries).
  • A first aid kit.
  • A multi-purpose tool.
  • Items for sanitation and hygiene.
  • Copies of personal documents, emergency contact information, and extra cash.
  • And more…

When you have an emergency kit with these items, you can rest assured that your household will be ready if you need to hunker down for a few days to wait for a hurricane to pass. Remember to avoid going out until local officials say it is safe to do so.

Evacuation Plan

In rare cases, a hurricane will be threatening enough that officials will suggest or order an evacuation. In case of this situation, it is important to make sure that your car has enough gas well before an evacuation is ordered.

Depending on which direction the hurricane is coming from, you may need to have evacuation plans in several different directions. Talk with the other members of your household about potential destinations, including shelters, hotels, and friends and family members that live in another town.

While evacuating, use routed recommended by local authorities. Remember never to drive through flood waters, and keep an eye out for downed power lines, especially as you return home.

When a Storm Threatens

If and when a hurricane watch or warning is issued, there are a few things you can do right away to make sure that your home suffers as little damage as possible. First, secure anything that could act as a projectile in high winds. This could include lawn furniture, outdoor potted plants, bicycles, etc. Also ensure that damaged trees and limbs are removed so that they won’t snap off during a storm. If you can, secure your windows and other vulnerable areas with plywood so that they are less likely to be hurt during the storm.

Ensure that your cell phone has a full battery well before the power might go out and stay in contact with friends and relatives so that someone knows your plans. It may also be nice to check on elderly neighbors to make sure that they are equipped for the storm.

In Case of an Insurance Claim

If a hurricane hits the Boston area, your home may suffer from damage. If this is the case, you will need to call our agency to begin the claim filing process. Phone lines here can get busy after a big storm, but you can rest assured that we will help you with your claim. In the meantime, please do what you can to prevent further damage to your property.

Speak to one of our Massachusetts home insurance experts to find out what you will need to get the claim process started. Depending on the problem, this could include pictures of the damage or a copy of your home inventory if you have one. Also make sure that you have any accessible policy information ready when you speak to an agent – the more information you have available, the easier the claim process will be.

Home insurance and flood insurance are the only true ways to make sure that you are financially prepared for potential hurricane damage. Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to speak to an insurance agent. They can tell you if you have enough coverage to get you through the coming hurricane season and beyond. Our agency offers free insurance reviews, so it’s worth your time to talk to your insurance agent and to have them assess your coverage.

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Everyone lives in a Flood Zone!

Hurricane season is upon us, and based on the devastation that Houston is going through (and with another hurricane on the way) this season may not turn out to be a walk in the park for homeowners and renters.

I am not sure if you are aware, but flood damage (and earthquake damage) are excluded under all homeowners, condominium, and renter’s insurance policies. If you are in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you are required to purchase flood insurance to satisfy your Mortgage Company or bank.  But there is a misconception that if you are not in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you are not able to purchase flood insurance – that is incorrect.

Everyone who owns a home or condominium or rents an apartment is able to purchase flood insurance, and if you are NOT in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area, you could receive a “preferred rate.”

As an example, the flood insurance policy that Kathy and I carry on our home costs us $1389 per year for $50K on contents and $50K on the building because we are in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area. If we were NOT in a Federally Mandated Flood Hazard area our rate would be around $499.00 per year for up to $250K on the building and $100K on contents, a big difference.

Here is the second misconception to flood insurance: many people think that they will purchase a flood policy when they need it or a hurricane is heading in their direction. It does not work this way, as there is a 30-day waiting period on all new flood insurance policies (unless you are purchasing the coverage for a closing or refinance).

Here are some statistics for homeowners:

1. In the past several years, 60% of all declared disasters involved flooding
2. 25% of all insurance claims paid by FEMA involved losses outside Federally Mandated Flood Hazard areas.
3. 51% of all homeowner insurance claims are related to weather or flooding

And it gets worse for business owners. Here are 3 statistics that every business owner should know:

1. Almost 40% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a flood disaster.
2. Floods happen everywhere. 25% of all flood damage occurs in low to moderate flood risk areas. Business owners should not rely on a line of credit at their bank for protection.
3. Business insurance policies exclude flood damage. Only flood insurance pays qualified claims quickly so a business owner can get back to business

I strongly urge you to call Vargas & Vargas Insurance (your Lolocal independent insurance agent) and request a FREE flood insurance quote. Or click here.

If you are inclined to make a donation to help the wonderful people of Houston Texas, my mortgage friend, Richard Smith, recommends making a donation on this site, click here.

Thank you!


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Create a Family Emergency Plan

Hurricane season is in full swing here in New England – are you prepared? One of the best ways to make sure that you and your family are ready in case of an emergency is with a family emergency plan. If you don’t have one, here are some things that you should think about and decide:

  • Designate one out-of-town family member or friend that each person in your family can contact if there is an emergency. This person will be in charge of making sure that everyone is safe and act as a liaison between family members if needed.
  • Every person in the family should know the out-of-town contact’s phone number, as well as one phone number for each member of the family. “It’s in my phone” doesn’t count – these numbers should be memorized so that they can be accessed from anywhere.
  • Designate two meeting places in case of an emergency. One should be local – somewhere within a few miles of your home. The other should be further away in case of a more widespread disaster. Also make sure family members know the location of the closest shelter in the area.
  • All family members should know the locations of family emergency kits – including those in the home and in vehicles. Make sure everyone knows what is in the kits and how each item should be used.

Make sure that you are doubly prepared by keeping the Vargas and Vargas Insurance numbers among your emergency contacts. By having our office number (617-298-0655) and our after-hours line (617-322-5289) with your other numbers, you will be sure that you are able to get a claim going right away on your home, auto, or flood insurance policy if you need to do so.

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Hurricane Season 2017 is Here!

The 2017 hurricane season in the Atlantic will run from June 1 until November 30. Estimates for the upcoming season are already beginning to surface, and they aren’t mild – is currently predicting a total of 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of which will be major. This is right in line with the 2016 season, which had 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes (4 major).

Do you know what your home insurance policy will cover if a hurricane causes damage? While every policy is different, most offer protection for damage caused by heavy rain, wind, and hail. In addition, your home insurance may offer coverage if your home is severely damaged resulting in your need to seek shelter elsewhere – this is often called ‘loss of use.’

One important thing to note is that your home insurance probably doesn’t include coverage for damage due to floods – that is covered by a separate flood insurance policy. Since hurricanes and flooding often go hand in hand, flood insurance is something you might want to consider adding to your insurance portfolio in order to ensure complete protection.

Let’s talk numbers: in total, the 2016 storms caused over $16 Billion in damage. It’s not unheard of for a hurricane to affect us here in Massachusetts, so make sure that your belongings are protected. This includes your home, car, and more. To get a complete car and home insurance evaluation before the first threat forms, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

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