What You Need to Know About Liability Insurance for Your Massachusetts Home

Liability coverage may be the least understood portion of a typical Massachusetts home insurance policy.  Other standard home insurance coverages — like dwellings coverage or personal property coverage — protect you from losses to your own property. In contrast, liability insurance protects you when you’re legally responsible for someone else’s losses.

How the Liability Portion of Your Home Insurance Policy Works

Liability coverage usually extends to you and family members who live in your household. You’re covered if someone sues you or a family member for causing certain injuries or property loss. Liability insurance pays expenses, such as the cost of your legal defense, court costs, and settlement fees (or damage awards). 

Examples of What Liability Insurance Can Cover

Your liability protection typically includes accidental injuries to someone visiting your home.  For instance, you’re covered if your guest gets hurt from falling on your icy porch steps.

You’re also covered for certain property damage and accidental injuries caused by you or a covered family member that happens away from your home. Here’s an example. Your child is playing baseball in a neighbor’s yard. He pitches the ball, and it accidentally hits the neighbor’s child in the head. The neighbor’s child is seriously injured. Your liability coverage takes care of your attorney’s costs and the settlement fee related to that event.

What Homeowners Liability Insurance Does Not Cover

Liability insurance does not cover intentional acts or injuries. Also, homeowners liability insurance does not cover losses related to the operation of a vehicle or business. You need auto insurance or business insurance for those costs.

Deciding How Much Liability Coverage You Need

For any type of insurance, the coverage limit is the maximum amount of money that the policy will pay out. The coverage limit for the liability portion of home insurance can be as little as $100,000. However, since the median home value in Massachusetts is $426,330, $100,000 is not enough coverage for most Massachusetts homeowners. 

You can and should increase your coverage limit to be equal to or more than your home’s value. Losing your home to pay a settlement fee or damage award is a possibility for homeowners who don’t have sufficient coverage. Contact us today so we can help you find a home insurance policy that has the liability coverage that meets your needs.

Do I Need Professional Liability or E&O Insurance in Massachusetts?

In a nutshell, Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is a professional liability insurance policy created to protect professionals, employers, and employees from claims of inadequate work or negligence. Here in Massachusetts, it’s a useful policy for professionals who work with contracts, finances, investments, and other risks. 

group of professionals conversing and looking at a file

In other words, if your organization could get sued for giving bad advice, or even making an honest mistake on paperwork, E&O insurance is for you. Choosing the right coverage can be complicated, so Vargas & Vargas is here to help.

Businesses That Should Have Professional Liability Insurance

Examples of organizations that should always have professional liability or errors and omissions insurance are:

  • Realtors and real estate agents
  • Insurance agents
  • Investment specialists and stockbrokers
  • Retirement planners
  • Funeral homes and funeral directors
  • CPAs and contracted bookkeepers
  • Homebuilders
  • Some businesses in the manufacturing sector
  • Medical professionals

How E&O Insurance Works

Let’s imagine you own a small retirement planning firm in Massachusetts. You have two fully licensed employees. During the flu season, you and one employee are both out sick for a whole week, leaving a single employee to run the office. She’s an excellent employee. You trust her, and so do your clients.

However, the workload is too much, and your good employee makes a few honest mistakes. She provides inaccurate projections to one family and accidentally gives them the wrong answers for what their whole life insurance policies will be worth in a year. Of course, she does this all via email, and your clients have proof of her statements.

All is well until next year when those customers come back to complain they were given the wrong information! They were expecting to have much better results from their investments. They get together and hire a lawyer to sue your business.

This is when your errors and omissions coverage comes into play. It will cover your court costs (up to the limits on the policy). If you need to hire a lawyer and end up paying the difference to these clients, E&O has you covered.

Does My Business Have Enough E&O Coverage?

You’ve worked hard, and your business is growing. Congratulations! It’s probably time to review all of your commercial policies, including your Business Owners Policy (BOP), commercial liability, and errors & omissions coverage. Get in touch with us today to speak with a Massachusetts licensed insurance agent. We’d love to review your policies and get you a free quote. 

Archive Revival: Why Is Renter’s Insurance Important?

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

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

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

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

Property Protection

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

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

Coverage for Belongings

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

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

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

Reimbursed Living Expenses

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

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

Liability Insurance

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

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

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

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

Cost?

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

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

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

Flashback: Fallen Leaves in Autumn Leave You Liable!

There is no doubt that the beauty of the autumnal leaves is a highlight of the season.  But such splendor can mask danger. 

Those same beautiful leaves can be dangerous once they hit the ground! Fallen leaves can cause slippery conditions because they contain a large amount of water. 

Fall is also a time when we experience the first frost,which can add to the slippery surfaces. As the temperature drops, the wet leaves can freeze with a thin layer of ice creating hazardous conditions.

In addition, during the fall, the sun rises later, sets earlier, and often brings foggy days.  This limited exposure to sunshine does not allow for wet/frozen leaves to dry out and pathways and walkways are now dim.   All can contribute to a greater potential for accidents.

School is in session and children are walking out and about, your postal worker delivering your mail, and of course come Halloween “trick or treaters” will be traversing your property. 

These are all potential liability claims should they slip and fall on your property. It only takes one false step to become the victim of a “slip-and-fall”accident.

Avoid any chance of injury to yourself or others by clearing walkways and driveways of all fallen leaves, and ensure that they are well lit.  If you currently use landscape lighting on a timer, be sure to reprogram your timers in anticipation of the end of daylight savings time.

Protect your family and yourself against these all too often occurring accidents by reviewing your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance coverage with your agent today. Call us at 877.550.0025.

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.

Summer Preparedness Part 3: Driving

Happy days driving around on a golden Summer afternoon, or touring quaint villages, maybe driving town to town on a meandering route.  School’s out and it’s vacation time! Chances are pretty good you’ll be using your car, or a rental car to enjoy your holidays. 

You’ll want to bring an extra degree of caution to your Summer vacation driving experience.  First, you’ll be in a holiday mood.  It’s natural that your usual driving vigilance might be relaxed.  So your first challenge when you’re driving on vacation is to keep your driving mindset sharp and focused.

Your extra focus is going to come in handy with the other vacation drivers on the road too.  Many of those drivers may be as fuzzy in their holiday driving modes as you…before you sharpened your focus.  

Other drivers are looking at the sights, distracted by backseat or front seat passengers, or maybe just trying to figure out how to turn left into that parking lot for the Gift Shop.  Your extra care and attention is going to come in handy to avoid mishaps that could be caused by other distracted vacation drivers.   And, be especially careful while driving through parking lots.  The distractions are probably at their highest point when a driver is quickly backing a car out of a parking spot and another driver is zipping through the parking lot.  Bang.

You’ll want to sharpen your vacation mind for the protection of your valuables in the car too.  How often do you pull your car into a beachside parking lot or a scenic overlook highway stop off, then jump out of your car and forget to lock it behind you?  Probably quite often.  After all, you’re on vacation.  

Your cares and worries were left at home.  But your valuables are still sitting on the front seat or in the trunk of your car.  And a thief only needs a quick moment or two to open an unlocked door, rummage around and grab and run away with your valuables.

Last but not least, be extra careful with your rental car while away on vacation.  When you pick up the car, temper your eagerness to zip away to enjoy the kick off of your holiday. While the Rental Car Attendant is inspecting the condition of the car before transferring possession, grab your smartphone and snap photos of the exterior of the car.

Make a note of your mileage to be sure it matches the rental paperwork, and check the gas gauge too.  Double check that doors and trunks lock properly and that any remote locking or alarm systems actually work.

This may sound like a lot of work to do while you’re on a vacation.  But a few minutes of careful attention and a sense of normal driving focus will actually help you to have an even better vacation experience. 

When was the last time you reviewed your auto insurance? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call now at 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.

Recap: What is Liability Coverage?

Did you see our blog last week about liability coverage? In case you missed it, here is a quick recap on what liability insurance is, and why it is such an important part of your insurance portfolio:

Liability insurance is protection to ensure that you are financially protected if you are held liable for damage or injury to someone else, most commonly due to a lawsuit. Liability insurance is almost always a part of insurance that you probably already hold, including home insurance, renter’s insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, and more.

And since you can truly never have too much protection, consider an umbrella insurance policy. One umbrella policy goes above and beyond all of your current liability coverage – meaning that if your costs and damages in a lawsuit exceed the liability limits on your home, renter’s, or auto policy, your umbrella insurance will kick in to extend your coverage. There is even commercial umbrella insurance available for businesses. These types of policies are very inexpensive, especially considering how much protection they offer.

So, have you talked to your Massachusetts insurance agency about how to mitigate liability risks? Call 617-298-0655 to talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your current liability coverage, and whether you should consider purchasing an umbrella insurance policy.

What Is Liability Coverage, and Why Do You Need It?

When talking about insurance, there are many ‘buzzwords’ used that many people don’t know the meaning of. One example of this type of term is ‘liability’ – many policies have liability protection built in, but do you know precisely what it is that this type of coverage protects you from?

This is a quick guide on Massachusetts liability insurance, including the definition of the coverage, explanations of the liability coverage you probably already have as a part of your current insurance products, and an easy way to get added liability protection.

What is Liability Insurance?

Liability insurance is the critical coverage that offers financial protection if you are sued or held legally liable for damages to another person, such as property damage, injury or negligence.

Let’s face it; we live in a litigious society where getting sued is more a right of passage than something that will never happen to you. What’s more is that being involved in a lawsuit is expensive. No one wants to have an unexpected outlay of that much cash, thankfully that’s what insurance is for! Liability protection will ensure that being involved in a lawsuit doesn’t ruin your financial future.

Depending on the details of your policy, liability insurance will often cover legal costs, and will also cover restitution including damages and/or the injured party’s medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, or death benefits.

Home Insurance and Renter’s Insurance Liability Coverage

When thinking of the coverage offered by a renter’s or home insurance policy, most people will immediately jump to coverage offered to fix things that are broken or damaged – but that’s not all that these policies include!

Home and Renter’s insurance often also includes liability coverage to protect against injury and damage to others in your home for which you are held liable. For example, this usually includes situations where someone falls or otherwise injures themselves on your property.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Liability Coverage

Most states (including Massachusetts) require that a driver have a certain minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. This is to ensure that you will be covered if you are involved in an accident.

In Massachusetts, there are four required types of coverage when purchasing auto insurance:

  • Bodily Injury to others: $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto: $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to Someone Else’s Property: $5,000 per accident

Some of this coverage is to ensure that you are able to cover medical bills and property damage to another party if they are involved in an accident that is legally deemed to be ‘your fault.’ While we certainly never plan to be involved in an accident, it’s impossible to know when one will occur. More so, we don’t know whether our next accident will be a small fender bender or something more serious – that’s why the agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency often recommend that you carry more auto insurance protection than what is required by the state of Massachusetts.

Commercial Liability Insurance in Massachusetts

Businesses have a lot of moving parts. Whether you own a big or small business in Massachusetts, there is a potential that you will be held liable for damages by an employee, or even a customer. Thankfully, your business insurance will have built-in liability coverage for these situations as a part of your business insurance policy.

When speaking to your commercial insurance agent, make sure to ask about additional types of liability protection that your business may need, including EPLI, Product Liability Insurance, Indemnity Insurance, Directors and Officers (D&O) Liability Insurance, Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance, Cyber Liability and Data Breach, and more.

Get Umbrella Coverage for “Above and Beyond” Protection

So, how much liability protection do you need? There is no right answer, but the expert insurance agents here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency agree: there’s no such thing as too much liability coverage. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to get this protection without increasing the coverage on each of your policies: get an umbrella insurance policy.

As discussed above, most policies have a liability component. The truth is that these are limited by the dollar amount set in the policy. Thankfully, umbrella insurance offers extra coverage that is very affordable. It offers a liability ‘umbrella’ on top of all of your existing policies. This means that if your costs or damages go above the original insurance policy’s limit, your umbrella coverage will kick in and ensure that you have added protection. This type of policy is available for both individuals and businesses, and the added protection is well worth the cost.

To talk to an experienced Massachusetts insurance agent about your liability protection, and to find out about our great deals on umbrella insurance policies, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can get you a free umbrella insurance quote, or let you know where your liability coverage could use a little padding to ensure that your family or business is financially secure.