Recap: Healthy and Happy Kids

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley

Back to School time is upon us, and it’s a great time to take advantage in this change of schedule to integrate something new into your child’s schedule. Keep your kids happy and healthy by taking advantage of some of the following tips:

  • Schedule some free time for your children to encourage unrestricted play and the use of imagination.
  • Set a bed time and explain to kids the importance of getting enough sleep.
  • Make sure that children practice good dental hygiene – these habits will be crucial for later in life!
  • Social interaction is critical in a child’s development, so make sure that your child gets plenty of playtime with other kids their own age to develop necessary social skills.
  • Water can be very dangerous for children, so kids should receive water safety training early. Make sure that a professional teaches your kids, and that they are always supervised when near water.

Will you be integrating any new activities into your kid’s routine as they go back to school for the year? If you want to integrate some new insurance plans into your insurance portfolio, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can get you a free quote for home insurance, auto insurance, and much more.

Tips to Keeping Kids Healthy and Happy

Many Vargas and Vargas Insurance customers are parents, and they will be the first to tell you that the start of school is right around the corner in Boston! This time of year, many parents like to reevaluate their kids’ happiness, and make sure that they are still on the path to success. Here are ideas of just a few of the things that you can do to make sure that your kids are happy and healthy:

Inspire an Active Lifestyle

What you teach your kids will act as the foundation for the rest of their life. Nowadays, it is easy to park kids in front of a TV or tablet to entertain them, but it is critical to limit their ‘technology time’ and have them be active. Did you know that (according to the US Department of Health and Human Services) that only one in three children is physically active every day?

Healthy Diets Start Young

Here is a statistic from the Department of Agriculture that may surprise you: “Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat.”

It’s no secret that American diets aren’t stellar, but you can set your kids up for success by teaching them how to put the right fuel into their bodies. The USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative is a great place to start for kids. There is even a resource for making small changes to improve a child’s diet slowly over time.

Plan Some Free Time

Planning out free time may seem a little backwards, but kids need unstructured time to let their imagination free. In today’s world, it’s easy to schedule your kids for an unending string of activities to keep them focused (and a few extracurriculars has shown time and time again to be a good idea when it comes to helping children become successful and well-rounded) but don’t pack your children’s schedules.

Sleep is Vital to a Growing Body

It is easy to let kids stay up late when they start to whine about bedtime but think twice about being overly flexible with your kid’s sleep schedule. Sleepfoundation.org recommends that school-age children get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. They also note that at this age “school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products” which could result in increased sleep resistance.

Build Healthy Habits

There are several habits that you should instill in your children while they are young:

Setting a foundation of proper oral hygiene is a critical in minimizing how much dental work a person will need as an adult. You should stress this to your child! Kids should brush their teeth twice a day – after breakfast and before bed. Brushing should last for two minutes, so get an hourglass timer or download an app to play a two minute song or short video to cut through the boredom.

Wearing a helmet while on a bike or scooter has been shown to significantly reduce head injuries in children. In the same vein, children should always wear a seat belt when riding in the car.

Help kids stay healthy and avoid getting sick by encouraging regular hand washing, especially before eating. Kids that are sick should stay home to avoid infecting other children and causing an epidemic at their school or club.

Children should also get in the habit of regularly visiting health care providers, like the doctor and dentist. Kids may put up a fight, but it’s a necessary evil in life (even for adults!)

Playdates and Sleepovers Abound

When kids are young, it is critical that they get plenty of social interaction with their peers. While it is important that they focus on their studies, make sure to also recognize that playdates and sleepovers are a critical part of children developing social skills to be a well-rounded adult. And remember – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

Teach Water Safety

When kids are young, they are at a constant risk of hurting themselves. You can do your kids a huge favor by making sure that they are taught water safety at a young age. Even a small amount of water can be dangerous for a child, so make sure that they are taught to swim, and to only go in the pool when an adult is supervising.

From everyone at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office, we wish you and your children a very happy Back to School season. And remember – if you ever have a question about your insurance policies, we’re here for you! Just call 617-298-0655 to talk to an agent about your insurance questions or get a free quote on insurance that will protect your family.

Types of Insurance for Small Businesses

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know the value of small businesses – that’s why we take such pains to protect the ones we insure with top-notch Massachusetts small business insurance policies. Whether your business is established or just starting out, it has many moving parts, and no two are exactly alike, so the insurance that each one needs is unique. Based on your industry and the risks to which you are exposed, your commercial insurance policy may include:

Property Insurance

If your business has a storefront or an office, property coverage is critical. You need to make sure that your location and its contents are protected in case of any type of covered loss, including most types of severe weather, as well as fire, vandalism, and more. For added protection, talk to your insurance agent about adding a flood insurance policy to your property insurance.

General Liability Insurance

You never expect your business to do harm to others, but you should be protected just in case you are ever the target of litigation. Depending on the policy, your liability insurance may also cover damages or medical fees for which you are held liable, up to the policy limits.

Professional Liability Insurance

If your business makes recommendation or gives professional advice, you may need special liability insurance in case your guidance results in harm to your customers. Ask our agents about how much coverage you should carry based on your line of business, and we will help steer you in the right direction.

Excess Liability Insurance

When it rains, it pours. That’s where umbrella insurance comes in! If you have umbrella insurance, you will be protected above and beyond your other liability insurance policies. This helps to ensure that you won’t have to close your doors if you are ever targeted by a large lawsuit.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If your business is responsible for any vehicles, you will need insurance to cover those vehicles and the employees that operate them. Whether your vehicle is for transport of employees or customers, or if it is used for deliveries, you need to make sure that you’re fully protected in case of an accident. For more information, read this post on the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog!

Business Interruption

Your basic business insurance policy will cover repairs to your property if it is damaged, but what will cover you if you have to temporarily close your doors? If the loss of income for a short period of time would result in difficulties, you may want to consider business interruption coverage, also called business income insurance.

Data Breach Insurance

Does your business rely on digital data? If your computers are physically damaged, they will be covered… but what about if they are hacked? If your information is stolen and your data is leaked, data breach insurance will protect you. This may also cover businesses that are sued due to leaked information that was kept in paper files, though hacking is much more common nowadays.

Worker’s Compensation

If your business employs a certain number of workers, you may be required to carry a worker’s compensation insurance policy. This coverage will ensure that your employees are protected if they are injured on the job, and can include coverage for medical bills, lost wages, and more. Call our agency to find out if you are legally required to carry this coverage.

Home-Based Business Coverage

If you run your Massachusetts business out of your house, don’t assume that your home insurance policy will cover your business. Often, these businesses will need additional specialized coverage in order to be fully protected, whether it comes as a rider on your home insurance or a separate business policy. Talk to an insurance agent about your business and the type of coverage that you need. For smaller businesses like these, the insurance premiums are often very affordable.

Personal Insurance Policies

While it isn’t a part of our Massachusetts business insurance policies, we want to take this opportunity to remind you not to neglect your personal insurance policies. Trust our agency with your home and car insurance policies in addition to your business’s insurance so that you can rest assured knowing that you are fully protected both personally and professionally.

Want to see what a personalized business insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency looks like? Just call our agency at 617-298-0655 to speak with a commercial insurance expert about your needs. We will craft a unique policy for you in no time, and at no cost to you! In addition, we can make sure that your business gets all potential discounts and credits that you qualify for – after all, you have better things to spend your money on!

So, what are you waiting for? Call or click now for your free quote and see if your business can be better covered with a policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance.

Bridging the Gap Between Captive and Independent Insurance Agents

In the insurance world, there are two types of agents: captive agents and independent agents. Years ago, you could ask either type, and they would have told you that it’s their way or the highway, and that the other type of agent isn’t as customer friendly for various reasons.

Thankfully, here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know better. Having worked as both a captive and an independent agent, I can say with confidence that both have their ups and downs, but we can fulfill our ultimate goal of helping our customers by working together.

That’s right – formerly sworn enemies working together. It may sound like the plot of a B-movie at first, but it’s true. Like I mentioned earlier, captive and independent agents both have their strengths and weaknesses:

  • Captive Agents wrote the book on branding consistency. While they may not all wear ‘khakis’ like Jake from State Farm, they know how to unvaryingly sell a product and have an image of uniformity that independent agents could learn from.
  • Independent Agents, because they aren’t beholden to one insurance provider, are all about flexibility. They can cover anyone in almost any situation with something from their proverbial ‘bag of tricks,’ something that captive agents sometimes need.
  • All insurance agents know one thing for certain: it’s important that we continue to evangelize for ourselves as an insurance community. In today’s digital age, an ever-increasing amount of people don’t have a dedicated insurance agent because they’re buying online. It’s our job to show them the downfall of shopping online for insurance, and the benefits of having a dedicated agent to get quotes, file claims, and more.

In the end, both captive and independent insurance agents share one common goal: help their customer get the insurance policies that they need. As a captive agent, it is sometimes hard to find the perfect product for your client within the parameters of the products that you’re allowed to sell.

You can show your customer that you’re willing to be flexible in order to get them the insurance products that they require with a referral to an independent insurance agent just for that product. You will look like an insurance expert, and this gesture will show them that, without question, you have the client’s best interest at heart. And don’t worry – we won’t try to steal your client. We’ll just get them the one policy that they need and send them back to you happy and fully covered.

So, for example, you can send a client to our agency if they need a specialized home insurance policy, but keep their auto insurance and other policies with your company.

If you’re a captive insurance agent and you want to find out more about how you can team up with Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for the benefit of your clients, all you have to do is reach out! Call our agency at 617-298-0655 and we can have coffee and figure out how to start a mutually beneficial relationship right away.

I will finish this blog with this quote:

“Price is what you pay value is what you get.”

-Warren Buffet

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How to Get the Best Black Friday Deals

When the feasting is over, and Thanksgiving is done, it will be time to gear up for deals – that is, if you’re a Black Friday shopper. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a few dozen years, you know what Black Friday is: a day of savings and often a great opportunity for bargain shopping.

Here’s the secret to getting the most out of Black Friday – it’s all about planning ahead.

Gather the advertisements for stores that you are interested in, and see when their sales start, and whether they are available online or in-store only. In recent years, some stores have been starting sales on Thanksgiving night, while others wait until bright and early on Friday morning. If you want to snag more than one big deal, you may need to recruit a friend or loved one so that you can divide and conquer once the shopping madness begins.

Make sure that you don’t get lured in by a fantastic sounding deal. Just remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Retailers want to sell as much as they can, so they sometimes make inferior products sound like a good buy, so check the specs of electronics before you make a purchase.

Don’t forget to increase your savings with coupons, memberships, and savings apps. Every little bit of money that you save now will mean more that you can spend during the holiday season!

And remember – you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to save on your Massachusetts insurance policies. Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency always has great deals on home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, and all of our other products. Just call 617-298-0655 for a free quote.

Tips for Filing a Condo Insurance Claim

Condominiums are a great alternative for homeowners. With a Massachusetts condominium, you get perks of homeownership and perks of apartment living in one place.

When there is an issue, however, you need to know which policy covers the damage. This will tell you who must file the claim – you, the unit owner, or the condo association. Here is a quick breakdown of what each policy typically covers.

Master Insurance Policy – Often considered “walls-out” coverage, a condo association’s master policy often covers the walls of their buildings, as well as common areas. They may have liability insurance in case an accident occurs in a common area. There is often additional Directors and Officers Liability coverage built in to the policy.

Unit Owner’s Coverage – Insurance for condo unit owners often covers everything inside the walls. This includes personal property, fixtures, appliances, and more. Sometimes unit owners will also need to insure carpeting and cabinets as well. In addition, it is always advisable to have liability insurance – just in case an accident occurs inside the unit.

While this is typically how the coverage falls, each condominium association will have their own unique policy, and the verbiage in that policy will affect your Unit Owner’s policy. To know for sure who is responsible for damages, call your insurance provider.

And if you need a Massachusetts condo insurance policy, just call our agency at 617-298-0655. We are experienced at writing both master insurance policies and unit owner’s coverage, so we are ready to take care of your needs, no matter how big or small they may be. Call today!

Tips for Buying Your First Condo

Condominiums are one of the best-kept secrets of the real estate world. When looking for a new home, some people still only consider buying a house or renting an apartment, without realizing that purchasing a condo may be the perfect balance between the two – allowing you to have the ‘best of both worlds.’ If you’re in the market for a condo in Boston, check out these buying tips:

  • Hire a professional Real Estate Agent to help you with your search. If you need a referral, please let us know so that we can connect you to a top-notch agent in the area.
  • When you’re looking for a unit, make sure that you consider resale value. More bedrooms and bathrooms, scenic views, and better school districts are just a few of the features that will make your condo more appealing the next time you look to move.
  • Consider the amenities offered at each condominium you tour. Does the complex have a gym? Laundry facilities? Rentable event space? These are all important things to think about when making your decision.
  • Before you make a final decision, make sure that you are clear on the extra fees associated with the unit you choose. Condos often have monthly maintenance fees, and some will charge property taxes separately.

Once you’ve found your perfect Boston condominium, make sure that you call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to get a quote on Condo Insurance. This policy is tailored specifically for the needs of a condo owner, and will cover your personal belongings, your unit, and anything else not covered in your association’s master policy. For more information, or if you have any questions, simply call our office and speak to an agent!

Building Permits for Residential Renovations

They say that the only constant in life is change, and I tend to agree. If you’re in the mood for a change in your life, why not make an improvement to your home? A home renovation can be a great way to improve the value of your house, as well as give you a fresh new take on your living space.

If you want to make a modification to your home, you will probably need a permit. The types of projects that almost always require a permit include, but are not limited to:

  • Electrical Updates
  • Changes to sewer or plumbing
  • Mechanical Improvements
  • Alterations to the roofline
  • Adding a fireplace

Things that sometimes require a permit include building a deck, replacing siding, and building a fence. Just remember – it is always worth checking with the proper parties before taking on a project that may require a permit, even for small projects that probably don’t need one. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Remember – while getting a permit for your renovation may seem like an unnecessary obstacle, it is a requirement to keep everyone safe. Ensuring that building improvements are up to code means that new structures and changes to existing structures follow the current laws and regulations.

It’s also important to let your Massachusetts insurance agent know about any changes you plan to make to your home, so that your home insurance policy may be updated accordingly. Your home insurance policy covers your home for the replacement cost of your home and not the market value.  So as you do improvements or increase the living space of your home, your insurance agent should be kept current of the changes. And remember – keeping things up to code, and installing safety features, will keep your insurance premiums low!

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is always here to help answer any questions you may have.

Three Reasons Why You Need Renters Insurance

You would never drive a car without auto insurance, and you should never rent an apartment or a home without the proper renters insurance policy. Here are three reasons why you and your loved ones that rent their living space should make sure that they are always covered by a Massachusetts renters insurance policy:

1. You shouldn’t rely on your landlord for coverage.

Some people believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover them. While it is true that landlords do have insurance, it is a special type of policy that only covers their belongings – typically the structure of the building and any appliances that they own and lend out with the unit (like ovens and refrigerators).

2. Your belongings are probably more valuable than you think.

It’s easy to think at first that your belongings aren’t all that valuable, but think again! If there was a fire, for example, and you lost everything, you would probably spend hundreds of dollars replacing just your clothing – let alone your furniture and electronics.

3. It’s about more than just your possessions.

Renters insurance provides many types of protection. It will cover the replacement cost of your stuff, as discussed above, but it will also cover you for accidents that could occur. For example, most policies will provide coverage if you break a neighbor’s furniture, or if someone sustains an injury tripping on an unsecured rug in your apartment.

If you want to speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts insurance agent about getting a renters insurance quote, just call 617-298-0655. And at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we also offer special insurance for people in condos and townhomes. Don’t go unprotected any longer – call our agency for a free insurance quote today.

Valentine’s Day – Time to Rekindle with Your… Insurance Agent?

When was the last time you had a real ‘heart-to-heart’ with your insurance agent? Even though it may have been a while, now is the perfect time to rekindle your relationship – it is Valentine’s Day, after all!

Did you know that you should talk to your insurance agent at least once a year to ensure that all your policies are up to date, and that you have the right amount of coverage?

As you chat with your agent, you can expect to review all the major changes in your life, including:

  • Changes in relationship status (marriage or divorce)
  • Children being born, starting to drive, or leaving the household
  • Windfalls or (hopefully not) major monetary losses
  • New ‘toys,’ including cars, boats, RVs, and motorcycles
  • Other purchases – like Valentine’s Day jewelry, perhaps?

In addition to updating your insurance policies to reflect the recent changes in your life, your insurance agent will use your annual meeting as a chance to search for any new discounts for which you may qualify. This means that you may come out of your meeting with a decreased insurance premium! Wouldn’t that be nice?

If you’re ready to rekindle your relationship with your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent, just call 617-298-0655. We can set you up with an appointment and let you know what to bring to get the most out of your meeting. Also bring a list of all your insurance questions – we love to make sure our clients are well-informed about their insurance!