What Is Personal Property Insurance?

Personal property insurance is part of a home insurance policy. It provides coverage for the items in your home that are damaged or lost due to events, called named perils, such as fire, lightning, smoke, theft, and vandalism. In this article, we’ll discuss what types of coverage you can have and what you need to know as you shop for a policy.

couple playing on an insured piano in their home

Personal Property Types of Coverages

There are two types of personal property coverage:

  1. Actual Cash Value (ACV)
  2. Replacement cost value

An actual cash value policy is where an agreed-upon amount is decided upon when drafting your policy, which is the replacement value of the item minus depreciation. This amount is what you will be paid if the property is damaged or stolen. The insurance company will reimburse the agreed upon actual cash value in qualifying circumstances. 

Replacement value is the second type of coverage. This coverage allows you to replace the item with another item of “replacement value.” In other words, it covers the cost of replacing the item with another similar item — a TV for another TV, for example. To get reimbursed by your insurance company with this method, you must generally buy a replacement item and submit your receipts to the insurance company for payment.

Personal Property When You Have a Home, Condo or Renter Insurance Policy

Personal property is covered differently depending upon whether you have traditional home insurance or condo or renter’s insurance. Home insurance will usually cover your personal property for an aggregate amount of up to 50% of the dwelling amount, or the amount your home is insured for. So if your home is insured for $240,000, your personal property will be insured for $120,000. If you’d like to have more insurance for your personal property, you may have the option to choose more than 50%, but with a higher premium. 

Renter’s or condo insurance provides coverage amounts a bit differently. You will be able to pick the amount of insurance you want based on your estimate of coverage needed. This amount will depend upon what you own and how much it is worth. The coverage amounts vary by the insurance provider and by the specific type of policy offered.

More Valuable or Expensive Personal Property

If you own items that are more valuable, such as antiques or collectibles, you might invest in additional insurance for this coverage. You may hear terms such as floater, endorsement, or scheduled personal property. These actually refer to additional coverage that you may purchase to cover valuable items that might not be covered specifically under your home owner’s insurance coverage limits.  

Contact us and let us help you with your personal property insurance needs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance provides friendly assistance with all of your coverage needs.

All About the Circuit Breaker Income Tax Credit for Massachusetts Homeowners and Renters Age 65+

older couple organizing their tax information to get the Circuit Breaker Income Tax Credit

It’s tax time! At Vargas & Vargas, we’re Massachusetts licensed insurance agents and tax professionals, and we’re ready to help. We want our customers to be aware of the Massachusetts “Circuit Breaker” tax credit for folks who are age 65 and up. We know that every cent counts at income tax time. This income tax credit can be valuable for seniors, whether they own a home or rent.

Seniors Might Get a Cash Refund From Massachusetts — Even If You Don’t Pay State Taxes 

According to this Massachusetts Association of Councils on the Aging (MCOA) fact sheet, the “‘Circuit Breaker” tax credit program is a program for individuals aged 65 and older, whose property taxes and half of the water and sewer bills are more than 10% of their annual gross income. Renters can qualify for the credit, too, if your rent is more than 25% of your income and you meet a few other criteria.

Seniors can get this refundable income tax credit even if they owe no income taxes! 

A Few Basic Criteria

This tax credit is based on property taxes you’ve paid (or that your landlord paid) in 2019, plus your sewer and water bills. Keep these requirements in mind:

  • You must be 65 or older this year to qualify.
  • Your primary residence, whether you own or rent, must be here in Massachusetts. 
  • Your earnings must be less than $60,000 for a single individual, $75,000 for a head of household, or $90,000 for married couples who file jointly.

For instance, let’s assume you’re single and earned $40,000 in 2019. You paid $3,000 in property taxes and $4,000 in water and sewer bills. Since your total eligible payments of $5,000 are greater than 10% of your earnings, you’ll qualify for the tax credit!

How Much Is the “Circuit Breaker” Tax Credit Worth?

According to the official Massachusetts state website, the maximum credit value is $1,130. Talk to a tax advisor about the exact credit amount for your unique situation.

Vargas & Vargas is a local, family-owned insurance agency. We provide competitive insurance products and tax services across Massachusetts. Reach out to us today if you’d like to learn more about our tax services or if you need a quote for homeowners or renters insurance.

How to Protect Your Personal Assets When You’re a Landlord

Let’s say that you inherit or purchase a house and end up with two properties. At this point, you have some very big decisions to make. You can sell the extra home or use it as a rental property. Either choice can have immediate benefits, but with rental properties, you have risks as well. These risks may include lawsuits and claims for personal injuries or damages to your tenants. Therefore, before you decide to start your new job as a landlord, we suggest you prepare for the ‘what-ifs.’ You need to know how to protect your personal assets when you’re a landlord. 

homeowner evaluating how to protect his rental property on his home computer

Understanding Your Risks as a Landlord

There are some things that you cannot be held liable for as a landlord. If your tenant suffers a personal injury while jumping on a trampoline that they brought on the property, you most likely will not be held accountable for it. This is especially true if you were unaware that they had a trampoline or you felt that they were grown up enough to play safely while on it. 

The problem arises when you, as a landlord, know that there is a risk of danger to the property or the people who are renting from you. For instance, you may be held liable if:

  • You know that dangerous animals or pets are nearby.
  • You are aware of improper maintenance, water damages, or faulty wiring issues and fail to repair them.
  • You know that criminal activity in the area creates a risk for the personal safety of your tenants.
  • You are aware that the home is in violation of local laws or building codes.

As a property owner for a rental property, you have to fix the issues that you know are there. The shortlist above is only a few of the things that you could be held accountable for. 

How to Protect Your Assets as a Landlord

To protect yourself, you must put effort into securing your personal property. This can be done in several ways. Some of the most common include:

1. Create an LLC for Your Business

The term LLC means that you are a limited liability company. Many homeowners don’t think about the fact that they are a business when they become a landlord, but it’s something to consider. LLCs give you protection from potential problems. The term LLC basically gives you a buffer so that a tenant cannot go after your personal assets — just the business’s assets. 

2. Hiring a Skilled Property Management Company

When you have rental properties, you may not know all that you are responsible or accountable for. A property manager can help you sort through applicants, avoid fair housing violations, and more. They have a full understanding of what is involved and can help you ensure your property is operating legally in every way. 

3. Limit Potential Areas of Liability

If you know that there is a particular risk involved with the property, do everything you can to lessen it. For instance, if you know there is a family of feral cats roaming near your property, contact animal control to help you catch them. Remember that storm last year? If there is any chance that it caused roof damage, have the roof inspected before you rent it out. The more prepared the property is, the safer you will be.

4. Protect Your Assets with Insurance Coverage

When you have a rental property, you need to protect yourself with proper insurance. The minimum protection for you should come from adding a rider or extension to your home insurance. It can help you cover the cost of something going wrong with your rental property. An umbrella policy may also be wise since it can protect you from possible lawsuits.

Along with this, it is important that you inform your tenants that your policy does not cover them. They should purchase their own insurance to protect their personal property. 

If you would like more information on your options as a landlord and protecting what is yours, we are here for you. You can contact us anytime for a quote. Vargas & Vargas is also available via phone calls or text. If you need help during business hours, call us at 617-298-0655.

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.

Rental Property Insurance: Being a Landlord

As experts in rental property insurance, we deal with a lot of landlords here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. This has lead us to one universal conclusion: not everyone is cut out to be a landlord. Owning a property that you rent out can be a great way to acquire income, but there are some aspects of the title that not every person is suited for.

Rental Property Insurance: Being a Landlord

If you’re thinking of purchasing a property in order to become a landlord, we encourage you to ensure that you’ve done your research before spending your money. Here are some of our tidbits of advice on how to be a successful landlord.

Prepare for the worst.

Being a landlord is not a purely financial transaction. If it were, anyone could do it! Instead, you will need to also invest lots of time and energy into your rental property. Don’t get into the business if you’re not prepared to deal with tenants that constantly have maintenance requests, or don’t pay their rent on time, or generally drive you up a wall with their issues. If you’re up for that, then you may just have what it takes to be a landlord.

Get your finances in order.

If you are ready to buy a property for renting, you need to check and double check your finances. Before you even think about choosing tenants you need to have the following things in order:

  • Accounting and recordkeeping processes
  • Tax information, including interest, mortgage, and expenses
  • Rental property insurance policy (With the help of Vargas and Vargas, of course!)

It is a good idea to recruit the help of a financial professional to ensure that you have all of your financial bases covered, and that you’re not missing anything important.

Formulate your paperwork and policies.

Make sure that you check all of your paperwork over with a lawyer to determine if you are following the proper local, state, and national guidelines. A lawyer can also help you set up an LLC so that you aren’t personally responsible for problems with the property.

You will also need a set of ground rules before you start interviewing potential tenants. Will you charge a late fee for rent? What is your ruling on pets? What hours will you accept phone calls? How often will you be dropping by to check on the property? You can always amend these rules later, but knowing what you will allow and what won’t be tolerated will save you headaches later down the road.

Check on your property.

Later down the road, when you have your property set up and occupied, you need to make sure that you check on it every now and again. This is the only way to know for sure that the tenants aren’t destroying your place or ignoring important maintenance issues. Some landlords prefer to drop by unannounced so that they can see how their tenants live without being able to clean and prepare for a landlord’s visit.

If you’re sold on the idea of becoming a landlord, you need to call 617-298-0655 to speak with a Vargas and Vargas Insurance representative about your rental property insurance policy. We can get you a policy that will protect your new investment without causing you to budget for exorbitant insurance expenditures.