What Happens In The Event of a Water Leak in Your Condo?

If you own a Condominium (Condo), you may have equipment both inside and outside your unit for which you are responsible. In a closet inside your unit would be your water tank. There is also an HVAC unit that may be just outside your unit, to heat and cool your home.  Most of the time, you ignore these two quiet workhorses that keep you in comfort all year round.

Shockingly, every once in a while, and sometimes suddenly, the equipment may fail and need repair.  Most often and most inconveniently, the HVAC will fail when the temperatures outside are the hottest or coldest, depending on the time of the year. Thus, only your comfort is compromised.

However, every once in a while, these machines break down and leak.  With water. Lots of water.

If your HVAC unit is outside your Condo, this may not be as terrible of an event, unless you own a Townhouse and the unit is in the basement and there’s a danger of the water seeping into your basement.

But it can be really bad if you’re on an upper floor and one or several of your Condo neighbors lives below you.  Water loves to follow the powerful attraction of gravity: downward. Downward towards your neighbors’ Condo unit!

Yes, your first step is to call the emergency number for your equipment repair tech. If you’re not sure, call the property manager so they can dispatch someone immediately to mitigate the damage. If the property manager is not available, call your local insurance agent who will have access to reputable Restoration Services companies. They all have emergency lines so you’re covered seven days a week.

In the event of a leak which could lead to a potential claim, mitigating the loss is critical and required under your insurance contract. You’ll want the restoration company onsite as quickly as possible to dry out all the water and repair the water damage.  Do not forget to take photos of the damage before the restoration company arrives. It’s key that you document the extent of the damage at the time of the event. This also mitigates any confusion or misunderstanding of the extent of the loss when the claim is settled. The key word here is “mitigate”.  

You don’t want to be caught by surprise when a leak happens all over your downstairs neighbors’ precious Star Wars toy collection.  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.

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.

Home Inspection for Your Condominium Purchase

Condominium Buyers often ask:

Should I have an inspection done by a Certified Home Inspection service? 

The answer is a definitive YES!

While a Condominium (Condo) typically features construction and/or maintenance features addressed by Condominium Management, the Buyer should conduct an inspection for two main reasons.

First, the interior of the Condo. This area is not the responsibility of Condo Management. A Buyer needs to be aware of concerns such as deferred maintenance for appliances, windows, bathroom fixtures and interior plumbing.  You want to avoid a costly repair in the first 3-5 years after your purchase.  Likewise, the Condo Buyer needs to be aware of potentially catastrophic issues that could cause reconsideration of the purchase.  Lastly, the inspection may reveal items that are of immediate concern, leading to a request for a repair or pricing credit from the Seller.

The second reason you want to complete an inspection is to determine the overall “physical health” of the Condo.  A roof in need of a future repair is as much of a concern to a Condominium Buyer as to a Home Buyer.  Any repairs to the common areas of a Condominium are paid for from the “Capital Expense Reserve” fund.  Should there be a major repair on the near horizon, such as a roof replacement, the Condo Buyer wants to determine there are sufficient funds in the Reserve Fund to cover the cost of repair.  Otherwise that Buyer, once they are an Owner, could be subject to an assessment or multiple assessments as well as an increase in the maintenance fee, resulting in an increase in their monthly payment.

The bottom line answer to the question posed by Condominium Buyers is a resounding yes when it comes to obtaining an inspection by a Certified Home Inspection service as part of the purchasing process.

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: End of the School Year

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Now that it’s nearly April, it’s time to help your kids focus on getting to the finish line that is the last day of the school year. In case you missed our full blog last week, here is a quick recap of the tips that we gave to help you stay sane for the last few months before summer vacation begins:

  • Once spring break ends, it can be hard to get back into your family’s normal school routine – but this routine is the key to many children’s success.
  • Having a goal (with an accompanying reward) can help children keep on pace to finish out the year strong.
  • Does your kid need any new school supplies? Replace anything that’s falling apart and clean out their backpack for good measure.
  • Keep an organized calendar so that you can help your kids stay on top of end of the year parties, award ceremonies, etc.

And remember, take advantage of the fact that your kids are still in school by using your time to talk to your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your insurance portfolio. Now is a great time for an insurance check-up for your house, car, business, and more – and you can get all this done by calling our office at 617-298-0655. Don’t wait until the insanity of summer vacation begins! Call now!

A Parent’s Guide to the End of the School Year

It’s that time of year – kids are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The school year is going to be wrapping up soon, so how will you as a parent help your child or children to buckle down and finish the year off strong, while simultaneously planning activities for summer vacation? Don’t worry – your local independent insurance agency is here to help!

Stick to Your Routine

Many parents complain that once Spring Break is over, kids start to realize that the school year is wrapping up and they want to act like it’s already over by begging for extra treats and later bedtimes. Remind your kids that they still have things to learn in the next few months, so it’s important to stick to your usual school-time routine.

For younger kids, it may help to create a paper countdown chain to show how many days are left until the last day of school – it’s an easy craft that can help children to visualize the length of time until summer vacation starts. Many parents also use this type of craft to count down to other celebrations and major days – for example, the start of a vacation, the first day of school, birthdays, Christmas, and more!

Now is also a great time to teach kids about the importance of goal-setting! Motivate kids by letting them set an ‘end-of-the-year’ goal and choose a reward for completing that goal – for example, finishing out the school year with good grades. This reward could be a new game or toy, a trip to their favorite restaurant (with dessert!) or going with a friend for a day of fun at a local attraction. Get creative and help your kid choose a reward that will motivate them to stay on-task at school and will encourage them to complete tests and projects to the best of their ability.

If you haven’t yet, this is also the perfect opportunity to teach older kids about SMART goals. Sit with them and help them create a goal for the end of the year that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Stay Organized

What is the current state of your child’s school supplies? Sometimes, a few new folders or colorful pencils are all it takes to get kids back on track and excited about finishing out the school year strong. After several months of classes, it may also be time to have kids give their backpacks a thorough cleaning and reorganizing their supplies. Loose papers and inch-long pencils will easily clutter up a backpack and make it nearly impossible to find anything.

The end of the school year is also a time that tends to be chock full of class parties, award ceremonies, banquets, recitals, and more. Stay on top of what events you need to attend and make sure that you put them on your calendar as early as possible so that you don’t overschedule yourself or your kids. Now is also the perfect time to plan ahead so that you know how you’re going to handle a scheduling conflict if one occurs.

Another great way to stay organized at the end of the school year is to ask your child to gather contact information for his or her classmates now, especially if your school doesn’t hand out a class directory. This will help during the summer if your child wants to invite one of their friends out to have fun during the break.

Plan for the Summer

Sometimes, these last few months of school is all about making it to the end. While you use the above tips to keep kids focused on getting to the end of the school year, it’s not a bad idea to let them help with making plans for their summer vacation (as long as it won’t distract them too much from their studies). Whether you’re planning a staycation, a road trip, a cruise, or flying to a new and exciting destination, let your children help with the planning. Younger kids can choose travel activities and get excited about some of the specific places and attractions you will be visiting, and older kids can also learn some money-handling skills by being involved with the budgeting of your trip and helping to prioritize expenses.

While your kids are still in school, take advantage of the temporary peace and quiet to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency and prepare yourself for potential summer shenanigans. Have one of our expert Boston insurance agents perform a free evaluation of your current insurance policies, including your home insurance, car insurance, etc. They will be able to tell you if you have enough coverage, and help you fill any existing gaps. They may even be able to find you a new policy at a great price! Don’t wait until school’s out for summer: call 617-298-0655 today.

Recap: Update Your Home Insurance

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You have a home insurance policy to make sure that your home and your possessions are protected, but an insurance policy isn’t a passive investment! There are times when you need to call your Massachusetts insurance agent to update your insurance policy. Make sure to read the full post to find out more about when to talk to your agent, for example:

  • If you make changes or updates to your property, like putting on an addition, adding a pool, or doing any other type of construction.
  • If the housing market adjusts and the value of your home changes.
  • If you purchase something of value and want to ensure that it is covered by your insurance policy.
  • If you decide to rent out a room, whether on a short-term or long-term basis.
  • If you adopt a pet.
  • If you add an alarm or monitoring system to your home.

Do you think it may be time to talk to your insurance agent about updating your Boston home insurance policy? Don’t hesitate to call your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent at 617-298-0655. They can review your current policy to see if you have the right amount of coverage and will also make sure that you are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.

Is It Time to Update Your Home Insurance?

Owning a home can be a lot of work. The home maintenance tasks alone will keep you busy, but thankfully keeping your home insurance up to date is simple! Your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent is always available to help you ensure that your home is covered against all types of perils.

Sometimes, though, you will need to let your insurance agent know that there has been a change in your home or in your life that requires a change to your Massachusetts home insurance policy. Here are just a few examples of times that you should pick up the phone and call your agent:

When you make changes to the property

This should come as no surprise, but you will need to update your home insurance if you make any structural changes to your property. This could mean putting on an addition or any sort of remodeling work. Talk to your insurance agent to tell them about the changing value of your home, and make sure that your insurance is adjusted accordingly.

Putting in a swimming pool also requires a call to your Dorchester insurance agent, both to account for the increasing value of your property and also to add some liability coverage in case of a pool-related accident.

When you purchase something valuable

Home insurance typically provides coverage for all of your possessions, but sometimes it is worth calling your insurance agent to make sure that a new purchase will be properly covered. This is especially true for big ticket items, like artwork, jewelry, and expensive electronics. Talking to your insurance agent will help you guarantee that these items are covered for their replacement value, so that you will be made whole again if they are ever part of a Massachusetts home insurance claim.

When you rent out a room

You have a spare room, so why not put it to work for you? If you have a long-term renter or even if you just rent out your room to vacationers for a few nights at a time through a site like Airbnb, you need to inform your insurance agent. They will be able to help you figure out if you need a landlord’s insurance policy, or just a little extra liability coverage due to your increased exposure to risk.

When you adopt a pet

Adding a furry member to your family is a reason to celebrate! It’s also a reason to call your insurance agent for a home insurance update. Often, especially with dogs, it’s a good idea to have a little extra liability coverage in case of an incident. Remember – you never expect to have an issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry with these sorts of things!

When you add a security system

Have you considered boosting your home security? Adding a security system can be a great idea for your home, and in addition to keeping you and your loved ones safe, letting your home insurance agent know that you have installed a security system can help you earn a discount on your premium! This is also the case with adding fire and smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors.

When your lifestyle changes

Did you know that you should talk to your insurance agent when you make certain changes to your lifestyle? For example, when you retire you will likely spend a lot more time at home, making you more likely to catch a potential issue. This may mean that your insurance rates are decreased! The same is true for those of you that may quit smoking since the disappearance of cigarettes will make your home safer (and make you healthier).

When you want to protect against disasters

Your home insurance will protect your property and your possessions against many types of perils, but some disasters are not inherently covered. If you want to make sure that you are totally covered, talk to your insurance agent about adding Boston flood insurance and earthquake insurance to your home insurance policy. You can also protect against financial disasters – namely lawsuits – with the proper umbrella insurance policy. These types of coverage are very affordable, especially considering how much protection you will be getting from them!

When you want to change your deductible amount

As the owner of an insurance policy, you know that the deductible and the premium are related. This means that a quick call to your insurance agent to raise your deductible will lower your premium payments, and vice versa. Updating your deductible amount is a great way to either save some out-of-pocket money each month, or to ensure that you pay less if you ever make a home insurance claim.

Updating your home insurance policy couldn’t be easier! All you need to do is talk to an agent at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. One quick call to our office at 617-298-0655 can get you on the road to making sure that your home has all of the protection that it needs to weather any storm (whether literal or figurative). Don’t wait until it’s too late – check your policy for free today!

Recap: Key Home Insurance Facts

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” – Anton Chekhov

You have a Massachusetts home insurance policy, but how much do you know about it? Most people know their premium amount but get stumped if asked about the details of their policy! Don’t wait until it’s too late – learn the following four key details about your home insurance today:

  • Deductible: Does your policy have a fixed dollar deductible or a percentage-based deductible? Is there only one, or do different claims have different deductible guidelines? Can you raise your deductible amount to save money on your premium?
  • Policy Limits: Most home insurance policies have a few different limits, including the dwelling itself, other structures on the property, personal property, loss of use, liability, and more. Do you know how much coverage you have for each of these types of claims?
  • Covered Perils: Most home insurance policies cover fire, but what about if a neighbor’s tree falls on your home? What about water damage due to a flood? Earthquakes? Sinkholes? The list of possible incidents is endless!
  • Available Discounts: There are many discounts available for Massachusetts home insurance policies. Are you getting all of the ones that you qualify for?

Do you know all of these details about your home insurance policy? If not, call your Boston home insurance experts at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency today. Make one quick call to 617-298-0655 and one of our agents can review your policy with you and fill you in on all of the important details. They can even check to see if you qualify for any additional discounts – so don’t wait… call now!

Recap: Backyard Improvements

“I feel a responsibility to my backyard. I want it to be taken care of and protected.” – Annie Leibovitz

In our blog post from last week, we shared several ways that you can make your backyard summer-ready. Have you started on any of the projects that we suggested? If you need to refresh your memory, here is a quick recap of a few of the backyard improvement suggestions we made:

  • Make the grill the centerpiece of your backyard.
  • Prepare your pool for Summer use or think about adding one to your yard.
  • Turn a corner of your yard into a relaxation place where you can enjoy peace and quiet and a cold drink.
  • Throwing a cookout? Take inspiration from a cookout and add some fun yard games to entertain your guests.
  • Build a fire pit to fend off the evening chills of Spring, Summer, and Fall.
  • A deck or porch is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing the effect of the elements.

If you make any improvements to your home that change its value or your liability risk, make sure that you speak with your Massachusetts home insurance agent about whether you need a home insurance update. One quick call to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 and we will answer all of your insurance questions!

It’s Time to Improve Your Backyard for the Summer!

Summer will be in full swing before you know it – is your backyard ready? As we prepare to enjoy the warm weather here in the Greater Boston area, we have some great ideas for ways that you can improve your home’s backyard so that you can make the summer of 2018 the best one yet!

The Grill is Paramount

Grilling is one of the most anticipated events of any summer. We can’t wait to get outside and make our first hamburger. Remember this when you’re making improvements to your backyard – find a place for your grill (away from low hanging tree branches and a safe distance from your home) and make it a great place to hang out. Also make sure that your grill rests on a solid foundation so that it won’t tip over. And when the hot dogs and hamburgers are tucked away, grill up some fruit or s’mores for dessert!

Prepare the Pool

Do you have a pool? If so, it’s time to get it ready for summertime with the necessary treatments. It’s also important to review the ‘pool rules’ with children. If you don’t have a pool, don’t stress – there are plenty of other options for cooling off without spending a fortune. An above-ground pool has many of the benefits without the expense of an in-ground pool. If you just want to relax to the sound of running water, consider adding a water feature to your landscaping.

Relaxation Zones

Many people will choose to take a good book out into their backyard to enjoy the weather. Is there a space in your backyard that calls to you? If not, maybe it’s time to make one! A hammock is always a welcome addition, but any comfortable chair will do! A side table is also essential – after all, you will need a place to set your cold drink!

Cookout Inspiration

Throwing a cookout? To make it stand out, take inspiration from a tailgate. There doesn’t have to be a game afterwards – what’s important is that a tailgate is a great place for food and fun, which is exactly what you want at a backyard party. They cornerstone to a good tailgate (and cookout) is, of course, the food. Have a variety of main fare and snacks available, along with plenty of beverages. If you are serving alcohol, do so conscientiously, and make sure there are plenty of nonalcoholic options as well.

Another important thing you should consider for your cookout is the entertainment that you find at a tailgate. Sure, some simple setups include a radio, but your cookout guests will love to have some yard games set up. Cornhole, Horseshoes, and Bocce are classic, but there are many other options available nowadays, including games like Lawn Jenga – doesn’t that sound like fun?

Tackle a Big Project

If you have some time and money to invest in your yard, consider taking on a bigger improvement project. There are plenty of ways to upgrade… here are just a few examples:

  • As we mentioned earlier, an above-ground pool is a great way to incorporate swimming in your backyard without as much construction (or cost) as an in-ground pool. You might also want to consider a hot tub if you want to extend your backyard time to include the Spring and Fall.
  • Adding a fire pit is a fun project to add some flair to your yard. Perfect for chilly Summer and Fall nights, a fire pit is a great place to gather as a family without electronics and spend quality time – especially if there is food involved! Check out these great fire pit recipes for inspiration.
  • For those that spend a lot of time tending their garden, a tool shed might be a welcome addition to your backyard. If you haven’t tried gardening yet, consider it as a new hobby – creating something beautiful or even edible from a seed can be gratifying.
  • If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, consider adding a deck or porch to your home. They’re the perfect place to enjoy the weather without being exposed to the outside completely. Something covered and screened in will even keep the sun off your back and will keep the majority of the bugs away, which is always a plus.

As always, make sure that you consult a professional and have the proper paperwork completed before you start a big project on your property. If you need a referral for a professional to help with a project you’re considering, ask us! At Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we work with many Massachusetts professionals, and we would be happy to give you a referral!

Update Your Home Insurance

Last, but certainly not least, take this opportunity to have a Massachusetts home insurance professional review and update your home insurance policy. Some of these improvements (like the patio and pool) will add value to your home, so your insurance will need to be updated to reflect that. A review doesn’t take long – just call 617-298-0655 to speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance representative.