Managing Growth

Growth can sneak up on us.  Whether it’s your family or your business, one day you realize you’ve grown larger than when you started. 

  • Two cars when once there was one.
  • Five employees when previously you had two. 
  • A new spouse when you once lived alone. 

Growth is a good thing, it’s the keeping-up-with-growth that’s difficult.  Unless you’re organized and prepared, then growing becomes easy-peasy.

One area we often overlook, when growth occurs is whether it sneaks up on us or we prepare for it, is with our insurance.

Here’s where your Independent Insurance Agent comes in. We help your growth spurt feel smooth, organized, and best of all, prepared for any happenstance.

We often advocate that our clients undertake an annual review with us to see what coverages best suit their needs with natural changes over time. This helps to ensure quality coverage at an affordable cost whenever possible.

Our facility as your Independent Agent is there for you to advocate and manage when the “growth” word pops up.  Not only can we find the right insurance coverage for your new larger family or business, but we can help you control the costs of that insurance. 

Call us today so we can discuss all of your wonderful growth opportunities and reduce any growing pains so you experience the best possible insurance solutions.

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.

Back to School: Children and Insurance

Getting children prepped and off to school is often a hectic time. 

The last thing you want to think about is insurance. 
So, don’t.  That’s right, don’t think about insurance!

You’ve got too much on your plate, between clothing decisions, book-buying, book-bag purchases and packing. So, no, there’s no time for insurance.

What you can do, on the other hand, as your crazy, zany, busy early school days proceed is be mindful of things happening that could become an insurance event.  Putting your insurance into a “zen-like” part of your busy day can only help you avoid the dreaded-of-all-insurance-situations:
a claim!

Let’s start with young drivers.  They grow up so fast. When they pass their driver’s test, it’s a bittersweet. You have more freedom and they have more independence with getting from point A to point B.

You forgot to remember that she’d be asking to use the car to hang out with friends, attend school events, go shopping. Back to school time is a great time to be mindful, thinking of your young new-driver’s desires, and prepare yourself, and them, for that driving experience. 

It’s important to carefully remind them about safe driving techniques in order to avoid accidents and claims!

Rushing out the door on those first insane days of school can lead to other potentially dangerous situations, the kind that lead to insurance claims.

How about discussing safety measures before they even leave the house to get on the road? Such as, the coffee machine?  Does it have an Auto-Off feature? 

Too many household fires are caused by coffee machines burning through empty coffee carafes for hours on end.

There are other potentially dangerous events you can avoid when you add a small dose of “insurance mindfulness” into your crazy Back-To-School Days. 

Call your Independent Insurance Agent and ask her to help you become a Zen-Master of avoiding calamitous insurance claim events.  We promise that it’ll be better to enjoy watching your children run off to school in the mornings while you sip your coffee in peace.

Call us for a no-obligation, FREE insurance quote to help you determine that you, your family and your business are protected! 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.

Christmas In August?

I hope you’re enjoying an amazing Summer!  The weather has been mostly wonderful: perfect for picnics, beach days, barbecues on the back deck with family and friends. 

Let’s talk about Christmas.  Wait, Christmas?

but, But BUT, it’s August!

Yes, but who doesn’t love Jingle Bells, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, wrapping paper, lights, ornaments and trees!

Talking about Christmas reminds us that we often take time at the end of the year to reflect on the year coming to an end, and to prepare for the New Year.

Why wait until the end of the year?  Let’s feel the way we do during the holiday season now, in August! 

Why not take a few minutes in the next few weeks, maybe 20 minutes here, another 30 minutes there, 10 minutes and so on…and review and plan for our better financial health.  Let’s think about insurance and the effect that your monthly insurance premiums have on your monthly budget.

Budgeting is certainly something we think about before and during the holiday season, right?

Take 10 minutes to consider your monthly budget, the time to assess your monthly insurance costs, is all it takes to know your numbers. 

Take 20 minutes gathering your insurance policies, whether on paper or in electronic format is what you need to prepare for the phone call, the phone call you won’t have to make later in the year…you know, around Christmas time!

Set aside 30 minutes to call your Independent Insurance Agent, review those policies you gathered in front of you, and discuss your monthly premiums as they exist, and how you can both lower those premiums and improve the quality of your insurance coverage.

Give yourself a Christmas present in August! 
Make your budget healthier, improve your quality of insurance coverage and, best of all, eliminate one item from your end of the year “To-Do” list so you can better enjoy your holidays.

And who knows, you may save enough money to get that treasured gift you’ve been thinking about for your loved one.

Our gift to you is the no-obligation FREE insurance quote to help you determine that you, your family and your business are protected!

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.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Insurance Costs. #3 Will Blow You Away!

Saving money isn’t a responsibility you should hand off to someone else, especially if that someone else is the insurance company. 

Knowledge is power.  With these 5 tips, you’ll have the power you need to negotiate lower premiums with your insurance carrier.  Take back the responsibility and own your power!

  1. Take a defensive driving class. Providing proof of your renewed defensive driving class will save money. In some states for 3 years.
  2. Shop for other carriers.  You should speak with your Independent Agent at least annually to see if your current carrier and other insurance carriers can offer lower premiums on the same (or higher) coverages when available.
  3. Reduce your coverage as your car gets older. Because you’re reviewing your policies annually, you can discuss updating your policy based on the advancing age of your vehicle. Collision can be expensive and may not be required.
  4. Increase your deductible.  Look for the perfect equilibrium between the affordability of a larger deductible and lower premiums.
  5. Bundle your auto coverage with your Homeowners and Umbrella Liability policy.  Can you say “Multi-Line Discount?” 

These five simple steps can help you save hundreds of dollars in a given period of time.  All it takes is a few minutes to own your power and make the call!

Speaking of calling…call us today to learn about saving money on your insurance portfolio. Your piggy bank will thank you and so will we!

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.

Agency vs. Online

“You get what you pay for.”  

Everyone loves to shop for a bargain, a discount, a reduced price, more features for less money.  One might also say, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

When you’re buying insurance, the “don’t get” part and the “don’t pay for” part can lead to you paying a lot more money than you bargained for later on when you need the insurance the most. 

Your insurance is supposed to be there to anticipate risks to your life, your livelihood, your wealth and your health.  If you pay for less coverage because you need to get that bargain price, you’re putting all of the above at serious risk.

Time is money.  Spend your time with an independent insurance agent.  The independent agent is working for your best interest, both in today’s premium pricing and in tomorrows unforeseen costs. 

For me, it’s difficult to be objective on this topic. I’m an independent agent in business for several decades. I can’t be objective when it comes to protecting my clients and providing them with the best insurance their money can buy.  

If your sole objective is the lowest premium price, we can certainly help you with that goal. If your objective is the best premium price with comprehensive coverage that prepares you for worst case scenarios, we can help you with that as well.

If your objective is all of the above with the added value of a trusted, local, experienced insurance professional, the one who thinks of you as a real person and not an unknown internet shopper, then the Independent Insurance Agent is the only way to go.

So, what is your objective: solely price, or price combined with quality service, local experience and good old-fashioned “looking out for my reputation by looking out for the customer” business sense?

That’s not to say you can’t get lucky and find a direct connection online with an Insurance Carrier who can provide such experience, accessibility, superior service and price.  It’s easy enough to spend your time searching. 

In our experience as Independent Agents, we’ve heard the stories, lots and lots and lots of stories about consumer experiences when working with online quotes and purchasing from an unknown representative on the internet.  Pretty much every time, these horror stories result because the consumer focused solely on lowest price.

Too often the lowest price online quote comes with no explanation of what exactly it is the consumer is buying.  The coverage can be horribly mismatched with the customer’s needs. Many times, the online quote fails to consider local conditions that must definitely be taken into account to provide an accurate insurance policy for real risks unique to a locality.

Your local Independent Agent knows about those risks that may be unique to where you live.  And your Independent Agent wants to work for your best interest, not the interests of the quick “low-price” sale.

Compare next time you need to purchase or renew insurance.  Consider the time spent by your Independent Agent just on the initial interview questions.  Those questions, and your answers to them, affect the advice you’ll receive on the best coverage for your unique situation.  

Now match that to the experience of filling in some boxes on a webpage and receiving the instant gratification of the lowest premium price in seconds!  Price: great!  Coverage: unknown because it relies on the consumer knowing, in advance, the eventualities that come into play when assessing your needs of future risks.

We’d love to be on one side of your comparison shopping! 

Call us today to experience the true value of your money when you work with an Independent Insurance Agent! Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

4 Things Your Homeowner Policy Should Include

Shopping for Homeowners Insurance is often rushed and daunting.  And exhausting.  In the flurry of activity leading up to a Home purchase closing, the harried home buyer may speed through the insurance process with the goal of quick and cheap. Let’s slow down ever so slightly! 

Take your time and ask your insurance agent if the quoted policy includes the following 4 vital coverage parts. Your standard Homeowners Insurance Policy covers you in the event of damage from fire, lightning, hail, and explosions.   However, these 4 items are not automatically included.

#1: Higher Liability Coverage.  The dollar value of an insurance payout in the event of a claim is often the number one most overlooked and undervalued part of a quickly-quoted insurance policy.  We like to explain liability coverage to our customers like this: imagine if someone fell on the pathway leading up to your front door.  Imagine that person suffered a serious injury, such as broken bones.  Now imagine that person, whether friend, family, or otherwise, hires an aggressive Personal Injury Attorney to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and medical bills.   Do you think that $300,000 liability coverage is sufficient payout in such a dire event to protect your other cash assets (your bank accounts, your retirement accounts, your children’s college fund)?   Whether it is or is not sufficient, do you want to gamble your wealth away with insufficient liability coverage?   Consider increasing your Liability Coverage to at least $1,000,000.

#2: Storm Damage.  Severe weather over the past dozen years or so has cost Homeowners considerable sums of money.  These Homeowners lived in contentment with their homeowners insurance policies thinking they were covered for all kinds of occurrences.  When the severe weather hit—storm surges from oceans, rivers, and creeks; high-wind conditions; flooding inside basements from ground water saturation due to heavier than normal rains—too many Homeowners discovered to their dismay the lack of coverage for damage sustained due to severe weather.   Discuss flood insurance with your insurance agent.

#3: Power Outages.  Should your home lose power for a sustained period of time you could experience loss of foodstuffs due to your refrigerator not functioning.  Adding this extra coverage to your policy protects your money…and your food.

#4: Additional Coverage for “earth-movement”.  Have an in-ground pool in your backyard? If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, landslides, or sinkholes, you’ll want to add additional coverage to your standard policy to protect your assets and your home against these risks.

We’re happy to spend the time necessary to educate you on the best comprehensive insurance for your Home.  Call us today!

Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

3 Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover. Number 3 is a DOOZY!

We encourage people to conduct an annual review of their insurance policies.  Too often, when consumers purchase insurance, they approach the transaction with an eye towards prompt resolution and a focus on price.  This formula of speed+money is a formula for failure in the event of a future claim.

The reason is simple.  A carelessly prepared insurance policy, one prepared in the heat of the customer’s desire for a quick resolution and demand for lowest price could result in a “skeleton” policy that may not properly cover the consumer for a catastrophic eventuality. 

The quality insurance agent, interested in protecting the consumer with the best possible risk coverages, and in protecting their own professional reputation, will take the time to educate the consumer and provide a comprehensive insurance policy.

You may be surprised to discover that there are 3 items, indicated below, that may not be covered by your current Homeowners Insurance Policy.  Spoiler alert, #3 may surprise you!  We’re happy to assist you with a comprehensive, careful, review of all of your insurance needs.  And, education is a key element to how we’ll proceed with assisting you to fully understand risks you can protect for with the right insurance.

#1: Sewer Backup.  Whether your home is connected to a public sewer or you have a septic system, a backup due to a blockage, storm-surge, or other calamity, can damage electrical systems, furniture, floors, and precious possessions. Standard homeowners insurance policies may not cover you at all for such damage or may only provide very limited coverage.  You can upgrade to more comprehensive insurance to include special coverage for sewer backup.

#2: Precious Collectibles.  Basic insurance policies may not cover your stellar baseball card or antique cookie jar collections.  If the policy does cover your collection, the limit of coverage may be far below the actual value of your collection.  When you review your insurance, be sure to mention your collection and an assessment of its value.  To be sure, consider obtaining an independent appraisal of your collection to include that with your upgraded, comprehensive Homeowners Insurance policy. 

#3: Termite infestation and damage.  Not covered by a standard, basic policy. Period.  Depending on where you live, especially in the Northeast of the United States, termites and the damage they cause are a real and impending menace.  Homeowners often realize there’s an infestation long after the termite colony has ensconced itself within the wooden borders and interior of your home.  The cost of treating and removing the infestation, along with the costs of repairing the damage, can easily escalate.  Be sure to address these concerns in your annual review.  Consider also contracting with a local exterminating company to inspect your home annually for these nasty pests.

Insurance involves assessing a future, unknown risk.  That risk could affect your health and/or your wealth.  A carefully prepared insurance policy protects you for a comprehensive array of possible risks.  But in the rush to purchase the insurance, the consumer shops without the appropriate due diligence.  And, in the interest of making the sale, an insurance agent may simply provide the basics of a policy to appease the consumer’s request for speed and low price. 

Call us today for your free annual insurance review.  We’re thrilled to spend the time with you to find you the best policy that comprehensively protects your health and your wealth at an affordable price!

Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Review Condominium Financials Before You Purchase

Condominium (Condo) Buyers should obtain and review the financial statement of the Condo as part of your purchase process.  Have the statement reviewed by a professional such as an Attorney or CPA.  The financial health of the Condo can affect you in the future as you settle into ownership of your Condo unit.  The financial statements can also give you a good indication of the competence of the Condo Board and Managing Agent.

Condo Complexes on the smaller size may be exempt from having their financials audited. The ByLaws will identify if an audit is required.  Audited financials means the CPA firm has verified the numbers presented in the statement rather than compiling from information provided by the Condominium Board Members and/or Managing Agent.

The financial statement should cover the previous two years (three is preferable) and often a Year-to-Date statement.  A Financial Statement includes:

  • Income and Expenses for the entire Condominium.  This is also known as “Operating Statement.”
  • Balance Sheet demonstrating Assets and Liabilities.
  • Cash Flow Statement.

Some key areas you want to focus on include:

  • Reserve Fund (for major capital repairs and improvements),
  • Cash Flow to determine if the building is taking in as much money as it is paying out monthly, Maintenance Fees owed (an indicator of the financial responsibility of your soon-to-be-neighbors),
  • Footnotes.

The financial well-being of your future home is as important to the transaction as every other aspect of your purchase.  Request the Financial Statement as early as possible in the negotiating process, even before you’ve presented your Offer, if possible.

Review your current insurance policy now to be 100% sure you have all the appropriate coverages before it’s too late. The review is free of charge. Call us now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

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.