Vargas & Vargas Insurance

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Dorchester, MA 02124

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The Two Most Effective Steps When You File A Claim

Your Insurance is in place to protect you from risks that may affect your wealth and your health.  When an incident occurs, you’ll want to file your claim in order to receive payment for your loss as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Luckily, there are two easy steps to ensure a smooth claim process.  Best news of all, you can manage these two easy suggestions in a short time, maybe even while you’re binge watching whatever is the latest and greatest on Netflix. 

#1: Paperwork

Gather your insurance policies to an easy-to-find (and easy to remember) location.  You might want to consider scanning your policies to PDFs and saving those on your Smartphone, home computer, or Cloud Storage. 

If you’re saving paper or scanning to PDF, be mindful with how you label each document.  Using the Insurance Carrier’s name along with the purpose of the policy is helpful.  For example, “ABC INSURANCE Homeowners Policy.” 

Use different color post-it notes strategically placed on each paper document to easily flip through multiple policies. If you’re storing PDFs on a computer or Cloud drive, create different folders for each policy and be sure to “rename” each PDF for easy search.  In a pinch you’ll want to quickly locate “XYZ MUTUAL INSURANCE 2017 PONTIAC.”

#2: Photos

Smartphones make it easy to snap photos of your belongings around your home or to grab a quick photo of damage to your vehicle after an incident. Be sure to have the date stamp feature enabled.

In your home, while running your vacuum around or changing the bed linens, snap photos in each room where you have valuable belongings.  Take a photo of the entire room, too, with different angles. Capture clear, up close photos of individual valuables. 

Upload your photos and save to your home computer or Cloud Storage. Or both.

We’d be honored to spend a few minutes with you to discuss how to organize your files, review to see if your valuables are insured properly or to prepare the step-by-step of the “what to do” and “what not to do” after a claim.

When you’re organized in advance, your claim can be processed efficiently. This gets you paid faster in order to begin the repairs.

You can call us now for a free educational moment or to review your existing insurance policies to be sure you’re covered for every eventuality. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Avoid Being the Target of a Phishing Scam

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we always want to make sure that our clients are safe. Insurance, for example, is a great way to ensure financial security in case of an unexpected loss. If you have the right insurance policies, you can rest easy knowing that you are financially protected.

Another way that we provide safety tips to our clients is through these informative blog posts. We recently read about an upsurge in phishing scams, so we want to make sure that you are well versed on what these cyber attacks are and how you can avoid falling prey to them.

What is Phishing?

No, don’t look for your bait and tackle just yet – we’re talking about phishing, with a ‘ph,’ which is a term for the scam where hackers attempt to attain your personal electronic information via electronic means, often email, phone call, or text message. The information they target can vary but is typically either usernames and passwords or credit card information.

Why is it called ‘phishing,’ you ask? Well, it’s done by lulling the target into a false sense of security and attempting to lure them into giving out sensitive information!

This type of scam has been around for more than a decade. The first lawsuit related to phishing was in 2004 against a California teenager who used an imitation of the AOL website to trick people into entering their credit card numbers.

Unfortunately, hackers are evolving the avenues used for phishing more quickly than cybersecurity experts can defend against them. This means that you must be constantly vigilant about making sure that your information is secure.

What can you do to avoid being targeted?

In today’s world, one of your top priorities is to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes. Thankfully, there are a few basic steps that you can take in order to help ensure that you are protected from those that would take what isn’t theirs.

The first thing you should brush up on is password security. You probably have a lot of online accounts, ranging from the unimportant to the critical. Consider this: how many of these accounts have the same (or very similar) passwords? If a hacker were to somehow obtain the credentials to one of your accounts, would they then have access to many more?

In order to keep your online accounts secure, each one should have a unique password. Preferably something that doesn’t involve names of loved ones or the numbers of your birthday (and please, never use “password123” – it’s the first thing that hackers will try). The best thing that you can do is use a completely random string of letters, numbers, and special characters. To simplify this process, consider using a well-vetted password manager (there are several available) for your password creation and management. Also consider using two-factor authentication on websites that allow it, namely for your banking accounts.

Once you have secure passwords, you need to do your part in making sure that you don’t accidentally give them to hackers. This is easier said than done, as phishing scams are getting more difficult to detect. When you’re in your email, make sure that you only click on links or open attachments from trusted senders. If you ever receive an email that makes you uneasy, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially when it comes to your personal data. Verify that a website’s URL is correct when clicking a link. Some scammers get crafty and make URLs look authentic by making things seem legitimate, but you may discover that they’re using a special character or adding or omitting letters from your intended destination. Also, before entering your login information on a website, check to make sure that the URL starts with ‘https’ – the ‘s’ means that the website is secure and encrypted, and can be one step in verifying that entering your information is safe.

In addition to being careful in giving out your information, make sure that you and your loved ones are using spam filters and ad blockers when on the web. These can help block out known scams from even being seen on your browser or in your email client.

Remember, the best thing that you can do to keep your information safe is to be very careful about giving it out. If you’re ever in doubt about an email or communication that you get from our agency, just call our office at 617-298-0655 and ask if it is valid. We can help you determine whether we need information from you and get it safely and in a way that doesn’t compromise your online security.

We’re also always available if you need a quote for Boston insurance policies! Call 617-298-0655 for a free consultation on Massachusetts home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, or any of your current or needed policies.

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Recap: 2018 Blogs in Review

“The process for finding, creating, and consuming information has fundamentally changed with the advent of the web and the rise of blogging.” – Ryan Holiday

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we have put a lot of effort into providing our clients with interesting and informative content all year round. In 2018 alone, we have posted dozens of blogs with varied content – you’re sure to find something of interest to you or your loved ones. Here are just a few examples of posts from the last year:

What was your favorite blog post from 2018? There are so many great ones from which to choose!

We also want to ask that you subscribe or stay tuned to our agency in 2019. We have a lot of exciting plans and we don’t want you to miss a thing! There will be plenty of blogs with tips about insurance, home ownership, automobiles, running a business, and much more.

And, as always, make sure that you call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency in 2019 if you have any insurance needs. We will always work hard to make sure that you get the coverage you need, so don’t fret – just call 617-298-0655.

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Recap: Insurance Awareness Day

“Insurance is the only product that both the seller and buyer hope is never actually used.” – Unknown

Did you catch our blog last week about how to celebrate Insurance Awareness Day on June 28? The day may have passed, but it is never too late to reaffirm the importance of insurance in your life. If you haven’t yet, here are some of our suggestions for making sure that your insurance portfolio is in tip-top shape, and that you are ready for anything that will come your way:

  • Check out our blog archives for more information about the importance of having the right insurance coverage.
  • Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a free insurance review – you should do this at least once a year to ensure that your policies are up to date.
  • Refer a friend or family member to our agency for a free insurance quote – they may be able to get better coverage or a lower price on their policies.

Insurance may not be glamorous, but it is a crucial part of making sure that you and your loved ones would be financially covered if something were to happen to your home, car, health, etc., and that makes it worth celebrating on this Insurance Awareness Day!

If you need a free Boston insurance policy review for your home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, or any other product, simply call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

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Key Facts About Your Home Insurance Policy

Your home is likely one of your most valuable assets. Your home insurance policy is what ensures that you won’t have a financial crisis if your home is damaged or destroyed – that makes it very important. But here’s a question that we like to ask all of our clients: How well do you know your insurance policy? Most people know that they have a policy, and may know their premium, but for most people it stops there.

Here is some ‘food for thought’ – you shouldn’t wait until you need to make a claim to know the ins and outs of your Massachusetts home insurance policy! Make sure that you are prepared by knowing several things about your policy before you have an issue. Here are four major things that you should know:

Know Your Deductible

If you have to make a claim, you will be responsible to pay for a certain amount of the reparations before your insurance policy starts to pay out. Do you know this number? Some people choose to set aside some money to cover their home insurance and auto insurance deductibles so that they won’t have to scramble to make the payment if they need to make an insurance claim.

It is also important to realize that many home insurance policies also have a few different deductibles. There is one main number used in the event of a claim, but your policy may also have a larger deductible for losses due to earthquakes or floods. This may be a specific dollar amount, but it could also potentially be a percentage of the claim amount – which could add up fast in the event of a major disaster.

Know Your Limits

This may sound like sage life advice, but we’re talking about your insurance limits! Home insurance policies always have a maximum dollar amount for the coverage they provide for different types of claims, just like the deductibles above. Depending on your policy, you may have different limits for property damage, personal possessions, loss of use, liability, etc. Your Boston insurance agent will be able to help you determine the amount of coverage you are required and recommended to have for each of these.

Examine these limits on your current policy and ask your Boston insurance agent if they are high enough. You may want to consider additional home insurance coverage, or you can buy an umbrella insurance policy for added liability coverage. It is also important to remember that you shouldn’t necessarily insure your home based on what you paid for the property. Instead, you want to be able to rebuild your home if it is completely destroyed, so look to insure your home for the ‘rebuilding cost’ rather than the purchase price, which could be more or less. For older homes, you will also want to add in additional insurance if your home would need to be fixed in a way that adhered to newer local building codes.

Know Your Covered Perils

It should come as no surprise that your home insurance will almost definitely cover you if there’s a fire – but what about some of the other curveballs that life could throw your way? Would your home insurance cover your losses if…

  • Your house flooded?
  • You were affected by an earthquake?
  • Your neighbor’s tree fell on your home?
  • A visitor slipped and fell on your property and sued you for damages?
  • Your dog bites a visitor or guest?

There are a million possible things that could go wrong in and around your home, but your home insurance may require a little added protection to make sure that you are fully covered. Talk to your insurance agent to find out if you are prepared.

Know Your Potential Savings

When purchasing a home insurance policy from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, there are many potential discounts for which you may qualify. Which ones are you receiving? You can get discounts for having several insurance policies through the same carrier, as well as discounts for having a security system and/or fire alarm. You may even qualify for a new discount if you have insurance through the same carrier for more than a set number of years!

If you think there’s a chance that you could qualify for an additional discount since your last Massachusetts home insurance quote, call to speak to your insurance agent. They will be able to check and see whether you are getting the right coverage at the best possible price.

Don’t know any (or all) of the above? Find out the details of your policy by calling your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent at 617-298-0655. We can explain to you your deductible, policy limits, covered perils, and search for any new discounts that you could receive. The call will only take a few minutes, so don’t put it off any longer!

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Boating Tips for Your Summer on the Water

There’s a buzz in the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency office at this time every year. As the temperatures rise here in the greater Boston area, our employees get excited about participating in their favorite outdoor summer activities. Some like to hit the pool, others break out their grill, and many look forward to spending time out on the water.

If you have a boat that you’re preparing to enjoy this summer, here are a few tips that you can use to maintain your watercraft, and to keep your passengers safe so that they can enjoy the waves.

Take Care of Your Watercraft

Here on the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog, we have a few posts detailing the best ways to keep your car running smoothly. In honor of this post all about boating, we would like to share some similar tips about how to keep your watercraft in tip-top shape:

  • Wash the boat. This tip may seem overly simple, but it is a key to proper boat maintenance. Especially if you take your boat out into salt water, you need to rinse it thoroughly after every trip out. Otherwise, salt or other compounds may harm your boat’s finish.
  • Change your boat’s oil. Just like cars, boats need regular oil changes. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to how often to change your oil, and always use a marine grade oil.
  • Before taking your boat out for the first time each year, you may wish to have it inspected by a licensed professional. Make sure that they check the fuel and electric systems, fluid levels, the hull and propellers, belts, cables, hoses, and more. Once this is done you should feel confident about taking your boat out for a spin.

If you do your best to keep your boat maintained, you should have no problem taking her out on the water this summer.

Tips for Days on the Water

Before you take your boat out for a day of fun in the sun, make sure that everyone that will be on the boat knows and agrees to follow your rules. Here are a few suggestions for rules that you and your passengers should follow.

  • Know the basic navigational rules. There are lots of rules to follow when you’re driving a car – lanes to follow, and guidelines for who has the right of way. In a boat, these types of things can be a little more complicated on the water, so be sure that you know how to navigate a boat before you cast off.
  • Check the weather. Here in New England, summertime weather can change without warning. Get in the habit of checking the forecast immediately before you cast off to make sure that you won’t get caught in a storm.
  • Have an emergency kit. You should already have an emergency kit in your home and in your vehicle. Also add one to your boat so that you are prepared for ‘rough seas’ – both literal and figurative.
  • Wear a life jacket. Think of life jackets on a boat like a seat belt in a car. You wouldn’t drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, so make sure that you have a floatation device on when you’re on a boat.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Make sure that no one that operates the boat has consumed alcohol. You always assign a Designated Driver when hitting the town so that you can drive home safety, and you should do the same for days on the water. Remember, just like driving under the influence, boating under the influence is illegal in the state of Massachusetts.

It is also important to make sure that you have the proper paperwork before you set sail. Persons age 12-17 must complete a basic boating course prior to operating a motorboat or personal watercraft. If you are planning on using your boat to go fishing, check out the Massachusetts fishing license requirements here.

Once everyone agrees to follow these simple rules, you will be able to have a fun and safe day out on your boat.

Massachusetts Boat Insurance Can Help

Similar in many ways to an auto insurance policy, a boat insurance policy can help keep you and your loved ones protected against potential calamities. With the right watercraft insurance, you can rest assured that you will be financially guarded if something happens to you or your boat.

Make sure that you do your due diligence and check many boat insurance providers before choosing a policy. But remember – you don’t have to do all the legwork yourself! One quick call to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 will put you in touch with a Massachusetts independent insurance agent who will search several providers and help you choose the watercraft insurance policy with the right coverage based on your needs.

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Recap: Gifts for Grads

As graduation season approaches, we know that you may be searching for the perfect gift for the graduate in your life. If you’re struggling, we have some ideas to help you!

Nowadays, graduation is celebrated at all levels, so consider getting your little graduate a fun gift to celebrate their favorite activity or take a family trip to one of Boston’s many kid-friendly attractions.

High School and College grads have achieved huge milestones in their lives and deserve to be celebrated. Gift them with a traditional gift like a watch or piece of jewelry or go for a leather good like a high-quality wallet or purse. If you want to be more practical, give something that they can use in their home (a coffee maker, for example) or simply give cash for the grad to spend as they please.

Graduates are also often the recipients of sage wisdom and advice, so make sure to tell the graduates in your life about how important it is to have the right insurance coverage. Sure, most people think it’s a boring topic, but if they ever need to file a claim, they will thank you for making sure that their insurance is up to snuff. Give your graduate the Vargas and Vargas Insurance phone number (617-298-0655) and have them give us a call – we will make sure that they are protected as they take the next steps in their life.

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