Happy “Interdependence” Day 2020

This Fourth of July holiday will be very different this year. I have started calling this year’s Independence Day “Interdependence Day” because we need each other now more than ever!

This is the time when we enjoy spending time with family and friends, and maybe watch the sparkling fireworks. However, social distancing limits seats at the picnic table, if any at all, especially with the report of a new wave of COVID-19 cases. 

We continue to believe our doctors and medical community will help us conquer this disease; however, with more than 10 million* confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the globe, this terrible fight is far from over. Meanwhile, the US economy appears to be turning a corner and better times may be ahead.

Voltaire said, “History never repeats itself. Man always does.” which means history may be a guide for what may happen next. 

While we’ve faced several health, social, and economic crises this year, Fourth of July is a good time to think about how lucky we are to live in this great country and to remember the resilience and perseverance we’ve demonstrated over the past 244 years. History has shown us that better times will come.

Thank you for allowing us to be your local independent insurance agent!

Best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July!!

Carlos

Happy Fathers Day 2020

Photo taken in 1992 when Jonathan and I met his brother, Matthew for the first time.

Happy Father’s Day.  I say that with no exclamation, no sense of a hearty salutation.  Not that I want Fathers today to feel unloved or un-appreciated. No, not at all.


On the contrary, my lack of happy exclamation is meant to express the sobering reality of a Father’s Day in the year 2020. We live in revolutionary times, like none our Nation has experienced since its founding or since the Civil War that divided our
us!

Families celebrating Father’s Day, 2020, face an entirely new set of challenges that can easily dampen their bright moods in honor or their Dads.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an entirely new dynamic for Fathers all across our great country.  Dads who literally became “stay-at-home” parents, living a different existence with their children than they may have lived previously, taking on more responsibilities for the nurturing, care, and even education of their children.

Hopefully, also, coming to realize the hard work that Mothers, Teachers, Coaches, and others perform to help these Dads’ children grow into adults.

The pandemic created a new reality for families of Dads who are Essential Workers. Instances where Fathers cannot come home for weeks or months due to their responsibilities to their respective communities out in the world, and, for the protection of their children and wives.

The political climate can be a daunting experience on this Father’s Day too.  Families may find themselves divided along stark lines of opinions and affiliations, bringing long-simmering tensions to the surface.

Finally, the Black Lives Matter dynamic presents Fathers everywhere, of every race, creed, ethnicity with distinct daily challenges to face compassion for fellow humans.

While this message may seem sobering to you, I believe the true takeaway is one of hope. Father’s Day is an institution in The United States, one created as a response to Mother’s Day in the early Twentieth Century, to create an equal opportunity to honor Fathers in the same way we honor Mothers. 

And there, that is the sense of hope I find for this Father’s Day, 2020.  The American Family is an institution, no matter how that family is constructed, and the American Family is something to honor, to hold true to our hearts, and to believe in as we search for something of certainty during these challenging times.  On this Father’s Day you can find strength, hope, and, yes, a sense of optimism, that our great American experience will respond to these challenges and we will all be the better for it, all of us, Families, Mothers, and, yes, Fathers.

Photo taken 2016

Working from home

If there’s anything these uncertain times have taught us, it’s when massive changes come our way, we can adapt.

Confronting the global COVID-19 health crisis has brought many changes to our daily routines– including how we do our jobs. For many of us, there’s no more leaving home to go to work. If you’re now managing your business from home, these three tips can help you balance your personal and professional life.

1. Keep your routine

When work and home life blend, it can be a challenge to keep track of time and easy to get distracted. Create a pattern to your day.

For example, when you wake up:

  • Take a shower as you usually would
  • Make time for breakfast or coffee.
  • Exercise, meditate, or spend some time in your bliss station.
  • Pick an activity that helps you start your day the way you want to – even if it’s just for a few minutes

If you’re not working a set schedule remotely, try creating your own scheduled work-from-home hours. Taking time each day to “show up” for work can give you a greater sense of control in unsettled times.

2. Be creative

For some, this might be a time to explore new ways to grow your business, grow your skill sets, or launch a new idea. If you’re in that creative headspace

  • List ideas on paper to research online. 
  • Reach out to experts or people in your network by phone or email. 
  • Keep up with your customer and prospect base on social media or via email
  • Write a blog, email or other communication telling your customers how you’re handling the crisis
  • Brainstorm ideas with other professionals on ways to keep your business essential in this new normal. 
  • Start or join a virtual coffee of cocktail hour to see how and what others are doing work from home.

3. Relax and recharge

Find ways to relax that separate work from the quality time at home. 

Play games with your kids, make a meal with a housemate, or just take time out to read quietly on the couch. You can also stream exercise routines online, right in your living room, and build strength with weights if you have them on hand – or even soup cans.

Finding time to relax or exercise across each work-from-home day can be essential to creating distance from your professional tasks and having the energy to get your work done. 

More than anything, find the pace and structure to the day that works best for you and your business to work from home like a pro. Set a time that your workday ends, if you don’t your work with take over your life.

4. Check-in with your clients

Make sure that your clients know you are thinking of them right now and you’re available to answer any of their questions about your business as it relates to the coronavirus. A lot of your clients might be experiencing anxiety about what comes next, and as a trusted expert in your field, you are well-positioned to guide them through challenges and changes. 
 
Take the time to call or text each of your clients to continue building long-term trust. Send a message to cvargas@vargasinsurance.com and I will share with you the message that has been working very well for us!

As always, Vargas & Vargas Insurance your local independent insurance agency is always ready and willing to help, you can reach our team at 617-298-0655.

Paying for your insurance during COVID-19 Crisis

Paying for your insurance during COVID-19 Crisis video

Some of our insurance companies are offering leniency guidelines for the payment of premiums due to the COVID-19 virus. The premium leniency varies from company to company and not all carriers are offering assistance.
 
If you are in need of payment assistance or have any questions, please contact our office with an email to customerservice@vargasinsurance.com or by calling our office at 617-298-0655 and asking for a customer service representative to obtain details on your specific insurance company.

Or, Click here to access our online customer service center available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to view your insurance policies, print insurance ID cards, update your contact information, download documents, and so much more.

We recommend you contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your policy with Vargas & Vargas Insurance. 

Please remember that should you suffer an AFTER HOURS emergency that cannot wait until we open up for business, call our 24 hours 7 day a week emergency number: 617-322-5289.

We look forward to the day that we can open our doors and you can visit our offices.  

Stay healthy, remember our elderly neighbors!

❤️

Carloscvargas@vargasinsurance.com
www.vargasinsurance.com
617-298-0655

Making an Informed Choice About Accessing the Cash Value of Your Life Insurance Policy

It’s important that you’re well-informed before you access all or part of the cash value of your life insurance policy. After all, you took out the policy to provide for your survivors. That’s why the agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance work hard to have the answers our clients are looking for. You need to know what impact accessing these funds could have on their future and your own. 

couple sitting in their house and discussing life insurance policy options

Life Insurance Policies that Accrue Cash Value

Cash value life insurance policies are sometimes referred to as permanent life insurance policies. This category includes whole life, universal life, and variable life. One of the biggest differences between these policies and term life insurance is that the latter policies do not accumulate cash value.

Common Ways to Access Cash Value

Policy Loan

Benefits: The life insurance company may offer you a lower interest rate than you can get with a conventional bank loan or by taking a cash advance on your credit card. A policy loan does not qualify as taxable income. You’re typically not required to repay the money since you’ve basically borrowed your own funds.

Drawbacks: However, policy loan repayment is to your beneficiary’s advantage. After death, the insurer usually deducts the amount you borrowed and the accumulated interest from the death benefit.

Withdrawal

Benefits: When the amount withdrawn is not greater than the total of paid premiums, the withdrawal is not taxed. The rules governing a withdrawal depend on your policy. Some policies allow dollar-for-dollar withdrawals.

Drawbacks: With other policies, a withdrawal reduces the death benefit by an amount greater than what the policyholder withdrew.  Withdrawals that exceed premiums paid are usually taxed.

Policy Surrender

Benefits: You’ll receive the policy’s cash value. 

Drawbacks: Your insurer may charge a surrender fee. If you owe any debt from policy loans, the insurer also subtracts your debt from your cash value. Generally, the income from a policy surrender is taxable. Most importantly, you’re effectively canceling the policy. Your survivors will not receive a benefit from the policy.

We’ve provided this information as a general introduction to accessing the cash value in your life insurance policy. If you have specific questions about life insurance policies, contact our team for assistance.

CARE Act and Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The CARES Act was signed into law today. The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program has been accepting applications for about three weeks. The EIDL application is complicated and requires extensive information to be submitted both at the application stage and during the process of the loan request.

EIDL provides up to $2Million and rates are: 3.75% 30yrs PROFIT Businesses; 2.75% 30yrs NON-PROFIT Organizations

ALL business owners negatively impacted should immediately apply for EIDL assistance. You can find the application on SBA.gov and click on the amber-colored COVID-19 banner at the top of the page. Download the
application forms, complete and sign, and upload with accompanying documentation. Be thorough for the best chance of speed and success. ALSO: check off ONLY EIDL financing otherwise your application will be held up.

From our CPA James Henderson, “there are many solutions for business owners.  Some are external.  Like loans, SBA or otherwise, loan modifications, tax credits, grants and vendor/landlord accommodations.  Some are internal, like expense management, cash flow projections/management, client revenue deferral, new service offerings, and staff lay-offs.  This crisis times scream for a holistic coordinated/planned approach, rather than a knee-jerk “get a quick loan for cheap” approach”

“I have viewed many of the seminars regarding the SBA EIDL and CARES act financing, and have several clients engaged in the process.  One thing that has come up over and over again is the necessary involvement of the business owner’s CPA valued advisor to get the right program in place depending on a client’s particular circumstance.  There are payroll tax credits available for retaining your workforce.  And with some deeper dive, probably a lot more.”

If you do not work with a CPA, our friends at Aurora Consulting are offering free advice and an affordable consulting fee if a business needs their direct assistance to collate the information and complete and submit the application to SBA. SBA allows a consulting fee up to $2500 maximum. Linda and Trevor have agreed that they will charge only $750.00 as their consulting fee to complete and submit an EIDL application. They will accept a $250.00 upfront payment with the balance due later at a date to be agreed upon by both parties. They don’t want to negatively impact your already-strangled cashflow and are willing to work with anyone who needs their assistance. Basic advice and guidance is free of charge.

They attended a webinar provided by the Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, to discuss the basics of the CARES Act to provide assistance to business owners.  

Here are highlights from the webinar with more to follow in another newsletter soon:

CARES Act website is not active yet

SBA.gov website does not yet have CARES Act information 

Programs will not be available for a week or two

It is recommended to apply for BOTH EIDL and CARES Act financing. Get the applications in process. Once a determination is made for approval, you should then choose which of the two loans works best for your needs.

CARES Act Loans are basically an SBA 7a Loans up to $5MM, short term loans that will be converted to grants if you retain employees.

Employee Retention: this has been most actively discussed in the media and seems to be a priority of the CARES Act financing options. That leads to other questions about how to qualify and that aspect remains to be seen based on the soon-to-be-released CARES Act guidelines from SBA

RECORD KEEPING: Step up the quality of your record-keeping in terms of Employees and Operating Expenses. A mention was made that “forgiveness” of the loan will be decided after an interview and query for proof or Employee retention and that funds were used for Operating Expenses.

SBA does not yet have a timeline when the Lender guidelines will be available to follow for lending but there is an urgent priority within SBA to coalesce the information from the CARES Act and to get information to SBA Lenders

501C3 organizations are eligible under EIDL and CARES Act 

500 employees or less

They are looking to access the Small Business Owners Guide for CARES Act which should be available tonight and we will share pertinent information with you in other email newsletter updates

Linda and Trevor have been fielding calls and queries from anxious business owners all week. They are doing their best to parse the information and get ACCURATE information to you. We strongly recommend you slow-down your decision-making. We’ve already seen some business owners making bad decisions to obtain capital out of desperation. We use the phrase “EVER-EVOLVING” to describe the lending atmosphere in general, and the emergency programs specifically.

Please contact Aurora Consulting and mention that you received this message from us, please SHARE this email with anyone you feel may find the information useful.

Please reply to this message should you have any additional questions!

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update

The safety of our clients and team has always been our first priority. The #coronavirus (COVID-19) has likely had an impact on our personal and business lives, and we continue to monitor this evolving situation closely.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is prepared to have our staff work from home and will follow all instructions set forth by federal and state authorities. 

We will be able to provide the same service and customer care as we have in the past. However, the situation is very fluid and we trust you will understand if it takes a little longer than usual to respond to you. There are various ways to reach our team:

Via a call 617-298-0655
Via a text 617-409-0329
Via our service center, click here
Via our website, www.vargasinsurance.com
Via an email to customerservice@vargasinsurance.com
Or, Click here to access our online customer service center to view your insurance policies, print insurance ID cards, update your contact information, download documents, and so much more.

If you have traveled to ​China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong​ or have been in contact with someone who is ill because the incubation period for this virus is two weeks. Please refer to the CDC website or mass.gov as resources for any updates and refrain from any interactions with the public.

The best way to help yourself and others from spreading the virus is to practice good prevention methods.

1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
2. Use hand sanitizer when unable to wash your hands.
3. Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hands!
4. Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) with unwashed hands.
5. Stay home if you are feeling sick and avoid close contact with others who may be sick.
6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects (including cell phones).

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, please seek medical attention right away and call the healthcare facility ahead to let them know you are coming!

It is more important than ever to strengthen our social bonds. Seniors face particular health risk from this virus, yet taking precautions only reinforces social isolation. Please take the time to call, text, or send a message to your neighbors. Ask if any elderly friends or neighbors need help with grocery shopping. Remind them to stock up on prescriptions and to make provisions for child care in case they may need to seek treatment. Consider setting up a phone tree or email list for your block so that people can be in touch about what they need.

Stay healthy, wash those hands and let’s remember our neighbors!

Lower Mills Holiday

Do I need motorcycle insurance in Dorchester?

Nothing is better on a nice sunny day than being on your very own motorcycle and driving the roads in Dorchester, MA. When you are looking to get a motorcycle, you also need to consider your other needs and responsibilities. One factor to consider is your need for motorcycle insurance. There are several reasons why you need to have motorcycle insurance.

Compliant with State Laws

One important reason why you need to have motorcycle insurance is Dorchester is because it will keep you in compliance with state laws. Similar to any other state, those that operate a motorcycle in the state of Massachusetts need to have liability insurance in place at all times. When you have this type of coverage in place it will provide protection to all other drivers and pedestrians on the road if you are ever found to be at fault in an accident.

Lender Requirements

Many motorcycle owners today end up taking out a loan when they buy their motorcycle. If you do have a motorcycle loan, the lender will undoubtedly require that you carry a full collision and comprehensive insurance policy at all times. This will then give you coverage for a wide variety of situations that could cause a loss, including theft or accident damage. It will also protect the lender’s loan collateral. 

Before you get on a motorcycle in the Dorchester, MA area, you should reach out to Vargas & Vargas Insurance. The professionals at Vargas & Vargas Insurance know how important it is to be covered by insurance when you get on the bike. When you work with them, the insurance professionals will work hard to ensure that they fully understand your situation. They will then work to get you into the right policy for your situation. 

Morning Motivation – Week of May 27

I find that starting my week with words of wisdom helps me to stay productive and in a positive mood. What do you think?

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

If you remember, last week I shared with you the first three “free traffic” sources for your business website : search engines, free ads and articles. Here are my recommendations for the final two sources of free traffic for your business website:

Giveaway Marketing

Offer something of value that you can give away for free. Think of an informational booklet, or even an entire book; these are good examples of giveaways. Consumers love to get free stuff, especially if there’s information they can use without committing to a purchase. With a giveaway of this nature, you’ve become a resource for someone interested in what you are providing. You’ll want to include links back to your website so that they know how to connect with you.

Participate in Forums and Online Groups

This is a free way to earn that ever-important marketing asset: trust and respect. When you participate in online forums with valuable advice and insight, you become a resource; you become a trusted professional by virtue of your online reputation. Focus on groups specific to your industry and comment on questions posted in the group. Be sure your comments are not simply stale “business card” posts with your contact information and a “call me” statement. Engage with the question by answering it. Better yet, start the conversation by posting your own questions. If you are willing to give something away, you’ll receive positive results.

When forum members get to know and trust you, they will seek you out by virtue of curiosity. They’ll visit your website at their leisure. You’ll see the organic hits to your site increase as a result. Better still, when they need your professional guidance, they’ll reach out to you directly of their own accord.

An important note about participating in online forums: timing and consistency is everything.  If you visit the forums specific to your topic of interest and get involved, the likelihood of targeted free traffic to your site increases exponentially.

These are my suggestions for effective methods to drive free traffic to your site. These methods take time. But if you have more time than money at this point, I promise you, these techniques work.

Which of these five sources of “free traffic” will you try first? Hit “Reply” and let me know which works best for you. Tell me, how I can help you try something new in your business?