4 Things First-Time Homebuyers Won’t Ask about Home Insurance

As insurance agents, we get requests for quotes from first-time homebuyers all day long. It’s essential to remember that these folks aren’t insurance agents or realtors. They may not understand how home insurance works, what it covers, and why they need it. Many first time buyers will assume a home insurance policy is just like an auto policy.

Realtor explaining home insurance to first-time homebuyers

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to help! With this blog, we’re going to cover a few concepts every agent should be reviewing with first-time homebuyers.

1. What Is Replacement Cost Value vs. Actual Cash Value, vs. Purchase Price

Most home insurance policies are written at Replacement Cost (RCV). It’s crucial to explain to new buyers that we’re insuring the home and its contents for what we estimate it will cost to replace the home with a brand new home and brand new contents on the same piece of property. 

This is important because:

  • Many buyers assume we’re insuring a home for Actual Cash Value (ACV) — what the building is worth today, considering depreciation.
  • Buyers may not understand that the purchase price of the property does not equal the cost to replace the home completely.
  • The purchase price of a property and replacement cost of a home are not the same thing. 

2. Are Their Vehicles Covered When Stored in Other Structures?

First-time buyers might think that their stored vehicles, which aren’t insured with an auto policy, will be covered by Other Structures coverage. This is not the case!

3. Will a Swimming Pool Change Their Rates?

Possibly. Swimming pools present a significant risk, even when they’re empty. New homebuyers should consider purchasing an umbrella policy if the home has a swimming pool. 

4. Is Your Client’s $10,000 Diamond Engagement Ring Covered? 

Generally, no. Most home insurance policies will set a specific limit on valuables like:

  • Jewelry
  • Furs
  • Cash
  • Musical instruments
  • Artwork

Ask your prospective client if they own these sorts of expensive items, and explain what the limits of coverage are. If your customers do have these sorts of belongings, often in the form of precious wedding jewelry, they probably need a Personal Articles Floater (PAF).

Be sure to put notes in their file, describing your conversation. At Vargas & Vargas, our goal as insurance agents is to be sure that customers have the protection they need so that they won’t face any surprises. Check out our blog for more great insurance topics, or get in touch with us today.

What Costs Are Part of Your Monthly House Payment?

If you’ve been looking at houses, you’ve probably seen real estate websites where the estimated monthly payment is shown. This is a great feature for breaking down the cost of a home that you will pay off in 15 or 30 years, and it can help you stay within your budget.

Woman smiling as she reviews her house payment at home
Monthly house payments include your mortgage payment, a portion of your property taxes, and your homeowners insurance premium.

However, it doesn’t always show the whole picture. The estimated payment only factors in the cost of the loan for a traditional 30-year mortgage at the current interest rate. It does not include the other costs that are factored into a standard monthly house payment. Two additional costs include:

  1. Property taxes
  2. Homeowners insurance

Property Taxes

Just like everything else in life, having property is also taxed. When you take out a mortgage loan, the property taxes are calculated into your monthly loan payment and put into an escrow account. When your taxes become due, your mortgage company makes the payment for you.

The percentage of taxes you owe depends on where your property is located, and this can be checked prior to purchasing a home. 

Although it may seem like a negative, having your taxes included in your monthly payment is actually a great way to stay organized. It takes away the burden of paying property taxes in one lump sum. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether you made the payment or not. (And if you love your home, you definitely don’t want to forget paying your property taxes!)

Homeowners Insurance

The other cost that goes into your monthly mortgage payment is homeowners insurance. It is standard for the insurance cost to be part of your mortgage payments, and mortgage lenders will often not loan you money if you do not have it. If anything should happen to your property, the lenders want to make sure that they can recover their costs. However, having the right home insurance policy isn’t just for them — it’s for you. You’ll want to be protected in case your home is damaged, and the right homeowners insurance policy can give you peace of mind.

You get to pick out the home insurance policy that works for you, and you should have it ready at the time of your closing. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we can guide you through the process. Contact us today for more information.

What’s the Difference Between Condo Insurance and Home Insurance?

Insurance is vital, regardless of whether you own a home or a condo. It can help offset damages to your property, so you don’t have to worry about paying for those damages out of your pocket.

happy young couple buying a condo and talking to the property manager
Protect your new condo by learning how condo insurance is different from home insurance.

However, the type of insurance you choose will dictate how any damages to your property will be handled. While both home and condo insurance might cover your property, there are some subtle differences between the two. Here is how home and condo insurance differ:

Condo Insurance

Condo insurance covers any non-communal property that you use as a property owner. Ideally, it should cover certain ‘walls-in’ losses, replacements, and repairs, as well as your personal property. For any damages that happen outside your unit walls, the condo association’s master insurance policy should offset them. But you should always verify the details before you purchase a condo or change your insurance policy.

Condo insurance also comes with loss assessment coverage. In situations where the condo association levies condo damage fees on all unit owners, this will cover the ad hoc fees. Condo associations will typically do this if the cost of offsetting damages to the communal assets is more than what their master insurance policy covers.

Home Insurance

Traditional home insurance tends to be for single-family dwellings, and it can be as simple or complex as mortgage lenders allow it to be. It should cover your entire home structure, including construction materials and other permanent elements. Most insurance policies also cover any personal property that is valued at 50% or greater of the insured home itself. The insurance can also cover other structures within the vicinity, such as detached garages and sheds.

Filing Claims

Filing claims is typically easy for home insurance, as it can be made directly with the insurers. On the flip side, there are some complexities in filing claims through condo insurance, and the specifics will depend on the situation.

For instance, the condo association insurance should take care of water damages as long as they are as a result of burst pipes outside your condo walls. Your condo insurance will, however, take care of damages arising from burst kitchen sink pipes, as they are within the unit’s walls.

Insurance policies tend to have rules that property owners have to adhere to for an easy claiming process. Regardless of the insurance policy you have, it pays to follow these rules. Be sure to read through the fine print of your insurance policy documents to choose the right coverage. If you have any questions about condo insurance or you’re looking for a new policy, we’re here to help. Contact us online or at 617-298-0655 to talk to our team.

Does Your Renters Insurance Cover Stolen Packages?

Most renters insurance policies cover replacement items everywhere, not just at your home. This includes items stolen off your porch or in front of your door. It also covers your laptop if your friend douses it in a latte at the coffee bar. It will even cover luggage that you may have lost on vacation.

woman receiving a package at her front door
Protect your packages with renters insurance and knowledge about your carrier’s claim processes.

However, one thing to consider is the deductible. Some deductibles are either $500.00 or $1,000.00. Since a renter has to pay the deductible, is it even worth filing a claim? If it was a $1,200.00 laptop or television, then it’s worth your time and the cost of the deductible. But if it was a $30.00 child’s toy, it may not be worth your time.

What Steps Should You Take If Something Is Stolen from Your Porch?

Research shows that over 25 million people have packages stolen every year. The majority of carriers have a package tracking system, so you can determine if it was stolen or just delayed. Along with renters insurance, you can use company claims policies to protect both your large and small deliveries. Each carrier has different rules:

United States Postal Service

USPS makes you wait seven days to file a claim. They need to know the sender and recipient addresses, tracking number, package dimensions, and a description of the package’s contents.

Always remember to insure the package. Without this step, the only thing you get back is the cost of the shipping.

FedEx

FedEx lets you or the seller file a claim. They typically cover up to the lesser of $100.00 of the total shipment value or the total amount that you insured it for. FedEx processes claims quickly, so you should receive a payment within a week of filing.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

UPS also has a claim process for lost packages. UPS has online procedures for both lost and damaged packages. You can begin the filing process if you don’t have your package within 24 hours of the anticipated delivery time.

Amazon

Amazon’s A to Z Guarantee for Buyers covers up to $2,500.00 of the purchase price. First, you must contact the seller for a refund. If they are unwilling to work with you, then you can file a claim. However, you must file the claim between 15 and 90 days from the purchase date. If the claim is accepted, you can get a full refund up to the 2,500.00 limit.

If you frequently have packages delivered to your apartment or rented home, or you’re worried about your belongings, renters insurance can help. Contact our team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to learn more about the benefits of a renters insurance policy from a local service provider.

Archive Revival: Why Is Renter’s Insurance Important?

Most people fall into one of two categories: They either own their home or they rent it.

If you rent your home, you don’t need a homeowner’s insurance policy.

You need what’s called renters insurance. This type of insurance policy will ensure that you have the right coverage when you need it the most.

We’ve outlined below how homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance are similar and and how they differ. Here is our quick summary:

Property Protection

When you rent your home, you don’t own the physical property. As a result, you are not responsible for insuring the property. Instead, the insurance policy is the responsibility of the property owner.

This means that if there is damage to any part of the exterior and interior of the property including walls, ceilings, floors, doors, or windows, you are not responsible for filing or paying for an insurance claim.

Coverage for Belongings

Similar to a homeowner’s insurance policy, a renter’s insurance policy provides coverage for your personal belongings. You need to take inventory of your belongings to give an estimate on what it would cost to replace your belongings.

When you make your home inventory, make sure that you include everything that you own, including items like electronics, furniture, clothing, and jewelry. Also include any of your own personal appliances that are not owned by your landlord or apartment complex. That way, all of your stuff will be protected against perils like fire, smoke, theft, water damage, and more.

We recommend keeping the receipts of high valued items. We also recommend storing photos of each of your rooms so you have documentation of your belongings. This will help to ensure that you are covered in case of a total loss, but aren’t overpaying for coverage that you don’t need.

Reimbursed Living Expenses

If something happens to the place where you live, your renter’s insurance typically covers your living expenses for a comparable place until the damage is repaired and your home is once more inhabitable.

If your rental home or apartment is destroyed or deemed uninhabitable, call your insurance agent right away to find out what you should do so that reimbursement is allowed.

Liability Insurance

Another type of coverage that is typically included in both renters and home insurance is liability insurance. With this coverage, you are financially protected from the costs that rise if someone is injured at your home.

Depending on your insurance provider and the policy that you choose, this can include both medical costs and legal costs, which can get very expensive, depending on the injury sustained.

As always, all of the information above depends on your insurance provider and your specific policy.

We search several insurance providers to find the one that will give you the best coverage at a price that works for you and your budget.

Cost?

On average, the cost of a renters insurance policy is $120.00 per year for $10,000 of contents, including loss of use and liability coverage, Click here for more details) in Massachusetts.

If you package your automobile insurance policy with your renter’s insurance, most times, the savings by doing so more than covers the cost of the renter’s policy.

If you have any questions about the coverage included in your current policy, or if you need a new top of the line renters insurance policy quote, please call 617-298-0655 to speak with a representative here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency.