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Snow Plowing And Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

Prepare your snowplow and hope for a snowy season, as snow plowing time is nearly upon us! Remember that unusual October snowstorm a few years back? If you’re a snow plow contractor in New England, chances are you’re eagerly anticipating another robust winter season.

In such anticipation, you’re likely pondering whether your insurance coverage is adequate to safeguard your snow plow operations.

Here at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we have provided insurance solutions for countless contractors over the years and have addressed these inquiries extensively. Let’s delve into the world of snow plow insurance, explore the factors influencing its cost, and equip you with the essential knowledge before you hit the snowy roads.

Thinking About Plowing Snow As a Side Gig?

Some drivers use their own cars to make extra money by ride-sharing or delivering packages for Amazon. In New England, adding a plow to your truck to clear snow can also be a lucrative option. However, it’s not as simple as just buying a plow. You need to consider equipment, repair costs, rates, and whether it’s worth the long hours. It’s important to have sufficient insurance before starting this business venture. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help with that.

Operating a vehicle with a plow in the snow is risky and can lead to accidents and property damage. If you plan to offer snow plow services, it’s essential to have insurance coverage. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can answer your insurance questions and provide professional advice to help you plow worry-free this winter.

The First Steo In obtaining Snowplow insurance in Massachusetts.

Congratulations on starting your own snow plowing business! Before you begin, it is important to contact your insurance broker and inform them of the type of services you will be providing. This is because there are different risks associated with residential and commercial properties. For example, residential properties may have mailboxes or garages that could be damaged, while commercial properties may have freestanding light posts or carport structures that are difficult to avoid. Plowing for commercial clients also increases your exposure to risk and liability, including possible legal claims related to personal injuries from slip and falls, even if you have properly plowed and salted the premises.

Personal Insurance Versus Commercial Insurance For Your Snowplow

Having insurance is important when plowing for money or for fun during winter. The amount of insurance required depends on the type of plowing you plan to do.

Snow Plowing For Your Personal Use

You can use your own car insurance to cover plowing your driveway or walkway. Your auto policy covers the plow, but not any damage it causes. To fully protect yourself and your property, add an endorsement to your policy. Vargas & Vargas Insurance suggests listing your truck as a commercial vehicle to ensure coverage in case of an accident. This way, you’ll be covered for any damage to your property, someone else’s property, your truck or plow.

Snow Plowing For Business Use

When you plow snow to make extra money, you are exposed to high risk. It is important to have the right insurance for you and your business. Personal auto insurance policies do not cover business vehicles. Therefore, getting commercial auto insurance is necessary. This type of insurance provides higher liability limits and is required for business vehicles.

Having the right insurance is crucial for getting snow plowing jobs. People and companies will only hire you if you have a certificate of insurance. This document shows that you have purchased the necessary insurance coverages and limits. You can only get this certificate from a commercial policy.

To plow on public roads, you need commercial auto insurance. If you want to apply for a plowing contract or permit in Massachusetts, you must have a certificate of insurance. This can only be obtained through a commercial auto policy. Different locations have different requirements, so check your local town website or city hall for more information.

If you’re plowing snow for money, Vargas & vargas Insurance suggests getting commercial auto insurance.

Liability Insurance: covers Bodily Injury and Property Damage. Bodily Injury pays for medical expenses and legal fees. Property Damage pays for repairs and replacements.

Collision: covers snowplow repairs after an accident.

Comprehensive: covers repairs after a non-collision incident.

Completed Operations Coverage: protects against personal injury claims, like slip and falls. This coverage isn’t included in a standard commercial auto policy, so Vargas & Vargas Insurance recommends adding it to avoid paying for legal defense and hospital expenses.

Quick Recap:

Snowplow insurance is important in Massachusetts.

It covers damages caused by snow removal vehicles.

It includes liability and collision coverage.

Liability covers damages to other people’s property.

Collision covers damages to your own vehicle.

Snowplow insurance is required by law in Massachusetts.

t is necessary for businesses and individuals who use snowplows.

The cost of snowplow insurance varies based on factors such as location and driving history.

It is important to shop around for the best coverage and rates.

Failure to have snowplow insurance can result in fines and legal consequences

Your Local Independent Insurance Broker

Call Vargas & Vargas Insurance at 617-298-0655 fand speak to one of our team members about protecting you, your loved ones, and your snow plow this winter. You can also text the team at 617-409-0329.

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Vacant or Unoccupied Property Insurance: Don’t Let Your Home Go Uninsured!

Just because a property is vacant or unoccupied doesn’t mean it should go uninsured. Whether you’ve recently inherited a property, purchased an investment property for renovation, or own a vacant commercial space, securing insurance coverage is crucial to shield it from potential risks.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we have assisted numerous clients in obtaining the necessary insurance for safeguarding their vacant properties, whether personal or commercial. The most common question we receive from these clients is, ‘What type of insurance do I require?’

Well, It depends.

There is more than one-size-fits-all insurance solution for vacant properties; the coverage you need varies based on your specific circumstances.

Insuring A Property That Is Under Renovations

If you have a vacant home undergoing renovation, you’ll require a specific type of policy: a builder’s risk policy.

Builder’s risk insurance is designed explicitly for properties UNDER construction or renovation.

Also referred to as “course of construction” insurance, this policy safeguards both the property and homeowner from potential financial losses due to damage or loss of the project’s structure and materials during the construction phase.

For more in-depth information on builders risk, you can refer to this article: “Do I Need Builders Risk Coverage for my Home Project?”

Insuring a Vacant Commercial Property Under Renovation:

Insuring a vacant commercial property undergoing renovation follows a similar process to insuring a vacant home during renovations: you’ll also need a builders risk policy.

The principle is the same as for homes, though there may be some specific details to consider.

For instance, the type of policy may differ if you’re working on a single building versus multiple projects throughout the year.

For further insights into builders risk for commercial ventures, consult this article: “Do I Need Builder’s Risk Insurance?”

Remember, even if you have a commercial building with several units, and not all of them are vacant for renovations, a builders risk policy is still necessary.

Insuring A Property That Is NOT Under Renovations

When your property is vacant and will remain unoccupied for a certain period, it’s essential to secure insurance coverage specifically tailored for vacant or unoccupied homes.

Vacant properties are more susceptible to vandalism and other risks, necessitating specialized protection.

Since no one resides in the property, vacant home policies typically offer fewer coverages compared to standard homeowners insurance policies. These policies typically cover:

  1. Dwelling: Protecting the physical structure of your property against damage from various causes.
  2. Liability: Providing coverage for injuries that may occur on your property.

Due to the elevated risks associated with vacant properties, these policies are generally about 50% more expensive than standard home insurance policies.

Insuring a Vacant Commercial Property (Not Under Renovation):

Securing insurance for a vacant commercial property that isn’t undergoing renovation follows the same process as insuring a vacant home without renovation: you’ll need a vacant property policy.

A vacant property policy offers the same coverage as a vacant home policy. If you skipped ahead to this section, please refer to the information above for more details.

Insuring a Commercial Property with Vacant Units:

Now, what if you have a commercial property with a mix of occupied and vacant units?

The answer, unfortunately, is not straightforward and depends on the specific situation.

If only a small percentage of your units are vacant, you may still be eligible for a traditional commercial property insurance policy. However, if a significant portion of your units are vacant, a vacant property policy may be required. The threshold between “small” and “large” can vary among insurance carriers, so it’s best to consult with your provider for clarification.

Safeguard Your Property, Even When You’re Away:

Securing insurance for a vacant property is a significant undertaking. When you’re not residing on the premises, you have limited control and awareness of its status, making comprehensive coverage a priority.

If you need help with insuring a vacant property in Massachusetts, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance 617-298-0655.

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Umbrella Insurance: What It Is, And Do I Need It?

What Is Umbrella Insurance?

It offers additional liability coverage for injuries, property damages, and lawsuits that exceed your primary insurance limits. While some may decline the coverage to save money, the cost of a potential accident could be far greater. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help determine if umbrella insurance is right for you.

Who Nees To Consider An Umbrella Insurance Policy?

If you have active auto and home/renters/condo insurance policies, it’s worth considering an umbrella policy because it’s affordable and can protect you from unexpected expenses if a claim exceeds your existing insurance limits.

Those with additional exposures, such as:

Anyone with a pool

Boat owners

Anyone with a Dog

Owners of snowmibiles

Any household with youthful or inexperienced drivers,

Investment properties owners

Membership on boards or volunteer groups

If you have significant savings and assets

When Should You Consider Umbrella Coverage?

Umbrella coverage is designed to provide additional protection beyond the limits of your primary insurance policies, such as home, renters, condo, and auto insurance. While these policies provide essential coverage for most everyday risks, they may not be sufficient in more severe cases. For example, if you are involved in a car accident that results in severe injuries or fatalities, the cost of medical expenses, legal fees, and damages could quickly exceed your auto insurance limit. In cases like this, umbrella coverage can help cover the remaining costs

Similarly, if your dog bites someone, causing injury, your primary insurance may not cover the full amount of damages. Or, if someone gets injured or drowns in your pool, you may be held liable for the damages, even if you weren’t directly involved in the incident. In these cases, umbrella insurance can provide additional protection beyond your primary insurance policy limits.

Other situations that may warrant umbrella coverage include injuries sustained on your property, such as when a child is injured on your trampoline or playset, or if someone is injured while using your watercraft. Additionally, umbrella coverage can protect you from personal injury claims, such as when someone alleges that you spoke or published something false or negative about them.

Overall, umbrella coverage can provide peace of mind by providing additional protection beyond your primary insurance policy limits. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help assess your insurance needs and determine if umbrella coverage is right for you.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of personal liability umbrella policies varies depending on factors such as the number of properties, autos, watercraft/snowmobiles, and driver history. A $1 million policy typically costs between $160 and $300 per year. As policy limits increase beyond $1 million, premium costs increase in smaller increments. For example, a $2 million policy may only cost 1.8 times the cost of a $1 million policy, while a $10 million policy might cost 8.9 times the cost of a $1 million policy.

How Do You Know How Much Umbrella Insurance To Buy?

Umbrella insurance offers additional liability coverage for injuries, property damages, and lawsuits beyond primary insurance policies. It’s important to consider umbrella coverage because accidents can happen to anyone, and the cost of damages may exceed primary policy limits. Costs for a $1 million policy range from $160 to $300 per year, with premium costs increasing in smaller increments as policy limits increase. Most clients opt for a $1 million policy, but those with significant assets may want higher limits for added protection. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help assess your insurance needs and determine if umbrella coverage is right for you.

Who Can Qualify For Umbrella Insurance?

In order to be eligible for an umbrella policy you need both an auto policy and a home/renters/condo policy, and your existing limits on those policies need to meet certain minimum policy limits.

Below are the minimum requirements you need on your underlying insurance to obtain an umbrella policy with many insurance carriers in Massachusetts:

To qualify for an umbrella policy with many insurance carriers in Massachusetts, you need to meet certain minimum limits of liability on your underlying insurance policies.

These minimum limits include $300,000 for personal liability,

$500,000 for business pursuits and rental property,

$50,000 for condominium loss assessment,

$250,000/$500,000 for automotive liability,

$300,000 for watercraft under 32 feet and 50 horsepower,

$500,000 for powerboats under 32 feet with outboard motor from 51 to 150 horsepower,

$500,000 for powerboats and Sailboats.

Your Local Independent Insurance Agency

Vargas & Vargas Insurance has been helping families and businesses with their insurance needs for over 40 years. Reach out for more details on why you may need umbrella insurance coverage. Preparing for worst-case scenarios is essential. If you need help, our team is available at 617-298-0655.

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Liberty Mutual Rates Are Going Up! Here’s What You Need To Know

No one wants their insurance premiums to consistently go up, especially when many other expenses are already increasing. Many Liberty Mutual policyholders have recently experienced a rise in their insurance rates that they have no control over. The leading cause for these overall increases in Liberty Mutual’s rates can be traced back to the company’s Q2 earnings, which were very disappointing.

Enormous Damages Caused by Major Calamities

During the third quarter of this year, Liberty Mutual experienced a significant financial setback, with a net loss of $353 million, as opposed to $155 million for the corresponding period in 2022.
The primary cause of this loss can be attributed to extreme weather occurrences, resulting in catastrophic losses amounting to $2.27 billion for Q2 2023 (Quarter 3 losses data unavailable).

Certainly, substantial losses are not desirable for the company, its leadership, or its investors. In response to these setbacks, the company has implemented an average premium rate increase of 12.8% for customers renewing their personal lines over the past year.
While the disasters may not have directly impacted Vermont, the vast majority of Liberty Mutual’s policyholders are experiencing the repercussions, regardless of their location.

And recently, Liberty Mutual announced that they are reducing their workforce by 850 employees in the second wave of job reductions in 2021, Click here to read more.

Rates Are Increasing Faster Than Inflation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index, auto insurance rates increased by an average of 17.8%

17.8% is a significant increase, especially for those who already spend thousands on insurance each year. For example, someone paying $1,000 annually for car insurance could now pay $1,178. Those paying $3,000 annually for a combination of car and home insurance will now pay $3,534 due to the average premium increases over the past year. Some policyholders may have seen even higher rate increases. This increase is higher than the nationwide inflation rate and comes at a time when many are facing rising costs in various areas.

Don’t Fall for the Bait-and-Switch Pricing

Liberty Mutual Homeowners Insurance is one of the nations leading providers of home insurance. With its famous motto, “Only Pay For What You Need,” the company grants its clients ample chances to personalize their coverage by utilizing various add-ons and cost reductions.

Business Insider states that on occasion, Liberty Mutual employs a tactic of luring customers in with one price, only to be surprise with significantly higher renewal premiums. Read the article by clicking here.

What Are Your Options

If you are a Liberty Mutual policyholder, it is advisable to explore alternative options. Seek the assistance of an independent insurance broker who can assist you in comparing rates from multiple companies. Bring your policy documentation to the broker, enabling them to assess your current coverage and request quotes from other insurers. This will enable you to evaluate whether more favorable rates and coverage are available elsewhere.

More Options

An independent insurance broker helps you find insurance that fits your needs. Independent insurance brokers work with may financially local and nationally strong insurance companies, offering a wide range of choices that can save you both time and money. Additionally, they provide personalized assistance, helping you comprehend your coverage, addressing your inquiries, and aiding you in making well-informed decisions. And there are many more benefits of working with an independent insurance broker, like,

Five benefits of working with a local independent insurance broker include:

  1. Personalized Service: Independent brokers take the time to understand your unique insurance needs and provide tailored recommendations to best meet your requirements.
  2. Choice and Comparison: They can offer a wide range of insurance options from various carriers, allowing you to compare policies and select the one that best suits your budget and coverage needs.
  3. Local Expertise: Local brokers have in-depth knowledge of the insurance landscape in your area, which can help you navigate specific regional requirements and nuances.
  4. Advocacy and Claims Assistance: Independent brokers can assist you in the event of a claim, acting as your advocate to ensure a smoother and fair claims process.
  5. Ongoing Support: They provide ongoing support, helping you make adjustments to your policies as your needs change, and keeping you informed about any updates or new insurance options that may be beneficial for you.

So, How Much Can you Save On Your Insurance

Insurefy compared a Liberty Mutual and Hartford automobile insurance policies. Liberty Mutual costs $247 per month, and Hartford costs $92 per month. Read the article by clicking here.

A one family residence in Hyde Park MA was insured by Liberty Mutual. The yearly premium was $2169. The coverage on the dwelling was $510,000 and the personal liability was $500,000. By reviewing the coverage, we were able to save the client $300 annual on their home insurance and $1,000 on their automobile insurance policy, this change resulted in an annual savings of $1300.

A two family residence in Dorchester was insured by Liberty Mutual. The yearly premium was $8879. The coverage on the dwelling was $519,000 and the personal liability was $100,000. By reviewing the coverage for the client, and increasing the personal liability to $500,000 and the building coverage stayed the same. This change resulted in an annual savings of $4179.

In Mattapan Massachusetts, a three-family residence that was insured with Liberty Mutual. The yearly premium was $13,135. The dwelling coverage was $727,600 and personal liability was $300,000. By reviewing the coverage for the client and increasing personal liability to $500,000, this change resulted in an annual savings of $8,035,

Get Help With Reviewing Your Insurance Policies

If you’re in Massachusetts and in need of an independent insurance broker, reach out to the dedicated team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance. Our experienced customer service agents are available to assist you in evaluating the coverage and premiums of various personal policies. Rest assured, we prioritize finding you an affordable solution that offers comprehensive protection.

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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover My Flooded Basement?

As heavy rains subside, or snow melts many homeowners and renters are left wondering: Will my insurance cover the water damage in my basement? Unfortunately, for most, the answer is ‘probably not.’ Standard homeowners’ insurance typically excludes flood damage, so unless you have a dedicated flood insurance policy, you’ll likely have to cover the cost of recent rain-related water damage on your own.

The Insurance Information Institute provides a general guideline: damage from water coming from the top down, like ice dams, is often covered, but when water rises from the bottom up, as in flooding, it’s usually not covered. If you have any questions or need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.

Many homeowners in low-risk flood areas may think they don’t need flood insurance. However, it’s important to know that about one-third of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) come from these areas. Over a 30-year mortgage, there’s a 26% chance your home could be damaged by a flood, compared to a 9% chance of fire damage. Repairing flood damage can be costly, and you can estimate these costs with a flooding cost calculator.

To learn more about floods, your risk, and the NFIP, visit Don’t risk being unprepared—talk to your agent about affordable flood insurance options, even if you live in a low or moderate-risk zone.

What Happens When Your House Has Water Damage?

You don’t need a big disaster like a hurricane or flood to damage your home with water. Even small issues like poor soil grading, minor pipe leaks, clogged gutters, or a broken sump pump can lead to problems.

Most water damage can be prevented if you catch these issues early.

Water damage can be really bad for your home. It can ruin walls, create mold, and weaken the structure. So, it’s best to stop the problems before they start. Here are some steps to help you prevent water damage in your home.

Maintain Your Gutters And Downspouts

Downspouts are designed to direct water from your gutters down the side of your house, which is usually effective. However, if the downspouts discharge water directly next to your house, it can run along your foundation.

This can lead to quick erosion of the soil around your house and water seeping into your home through the foundation, causing significant damage.

To ensure your downspouts are working properly, test them by running water through your gutters. If the water doesn’t flow away correctly, you can fix this by adding a 90-degree downspout elbow and an extension to divert the water at least two feet away from your house.

Clean Gutters

Gutters are crucial for directing rainwater away from your house, especially the foundation. To ensure they function properly alongside your downspouts, keeping them clean is a must.

To prevent water from accumulating near your foundation, it’s a good idea to clean your gutters at least twice a year. You can either do it yourself using an extension ladder or hire a professional for the job.

During the winter, be vigilant for ice dams and consider adding protective measures along your roof’s edges to prevent water from seeping into your attic.

Inspect your drains and pipes

Check your sink drains regularly to prevent leaks and ensure wastewater goes to the sewer system through waste pipes. Leaks can lead to water damage in cabinets or even more serious issues between floors and inside walls.

Under your sinks, inspect for any signs of leaks, and repair or replace P-traps as necessary.

To maintain your drains:

  1. Stick to a regular cleaning routine.
  2. Avoid pouring grease down the drains.
  3. Use strainers in all sink and shower drains.
  4. Clean out the strainers frequently, disposing of debris in the trash, not down the drain.
  5. Verify that your bathtub’s overflow drain is functioning properly.
  6. As part of your cleaning routine, check all drain traps for any issues.

Ensure your sump pump is operational

Make sure your sump pump is in good working order. It’s usually found in your basement or crawl space and serves as the last defense against indoor flooding or rising groundwater.

When water rises in the sump pit, a float triggers the pump to start removing excess water from your home. Essentially, it gets rid of unwanted water.

Regularly confirm that your sump pump activates as it should and successfully removes water. Ensure it’s plugged into a functional electrical outlet.

Check that the circuit breaker linked to the sump pump’s GFCI is switched on, as newer arc-fault protection circuit breakers can sometimes malfunction. Replace any faulty breakers as necessary.

Occasionally, a sump pump might accidentally tip over, so verify that it’s standing upright and that the float mechanism is functioning. You can pour water into the sump pit to confirm that it pumps water correctly.

Check your roof

Each season, check your roof for loose, missing, damaged, or cracked shingles.

A roof that isn’t in good shape can lead to water damage in your home.

Even if there’s no significant water damage, roofs can still develop leaks in various ways. Before bad weather hits, use a ladder to access your roof. Walk across it to look for any shingles that might let water seep into your house.

Additionally, be aware of overgrown moss, which can sneak under the shingles. After storms, inspect your roof for any harm caused by fallen tree limbs.

How Much Does A Flood Insurance Policy Cost

Flood insurance prices can be quite different because many factors come into play. Without specific information, it’s hard to give you an exact cost.

But we can provide a general estimate based on what we often see:

For homes: Flood insurance for a home usually falls somewhere between $500 and $12,000 per year. It’s a big range, but it depends on a bunch of things, like what flood zone that youare in, deductible chosen, prior flood claims, and what type of foundation your home sits on, where your personal items are located and many more factors.

To give you a clearer picture, here are some real examples of flood insurance policies we’ve provided:

  1. A primary home in Easton, MA, located in flood zone X, with coverage of $250,000 and a deductible of $5,000, costs $676.16.
  2. Another primary home in Northborough MA, also in flood zone X, with $250,000 in coverage and a $1,250 deductible, costs $572.
  3. A second home in Revere, MA, situated in flood zone AE, with coverage of $250,000 and a deductible of $10,000, costs $6,748.
  4. Lastly, a second home in Mashpee, MA, located in flood zone VE, with coverage at $210,000 and a deductible of $10,000, costs $24,110

Your Local Independent Insurance Broker

For over four decades, Vargas & Vargas Insurance has been committed to assisting families and individuals. Our team is ready to answer any inquiries you may have, whether it’s about flood insurance, home insurance, condo or renters insurance, auto insurance or business insurance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at 617-298-0655.

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Pros And Cons of Hiring A Public Adjuster

Paying your homeowners insurance is a necessity for financial protection when unexpected home disasters occur. Roughly 1 in 20 insured homeowners file an annual claim, equating to an average of about 5%. In 2021, 5.3% of insured homes reported having a claim per these statistics from

But how do you navigate the claim process and determine the right compensation? This is where adjusters come in. Insurance companies have their own adjusters, but have you heard of public adjusters? Let’s explore the pros and cons of using a public adjuster compared to an insurance adjuster. Read on to learn more about handling insurance claims.

The Claims Process

Let’s use the example of water damage to explain the claims process. Imagine a scenario where a pipe bursts in your bathroom while you’re away, causing the bathroom to flood. Unfortunately, the bathroom is on the upper floor, so the water starts seeping through the ceiling into your kitchen, damaging your new hardwood flooring. The burst pipe results in significant property damage, prompting you to file an insurance claim to cover the repair costs.

To file the claim, you contact your insurance company and report the incident. They send their adjuster to assess the damages and determine the cost estimates. Once you both agree on the proposed amount from the adjuster, the insurance company provides you with the money for repairs.

But what if you can’t reach an agreement on the amount? This is when many homeowners decide to hire a public adjuster.

Distinguishing Between Public Insurance Adjusters (aka PA) and Insurance Adjusters

What sets apart an insurance company adjuster from a public adjuster?

The insurance adjuster represents the insurance company and handles claims by gathering information and estimating repair costs on their behalf. On the other hand, the homeowner hires and compensates the public adjuster.

Both assess and evaluate damage, providing repair proposals and cost estimates. The crucial distinction lies in who employs them.

Now, let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of both adjuster types.

Understanding the Role of an Insurance Adjuster

Here are some advantages of using the insurance company’s adjuster:

  1. Extensive Expertise: Insurance company adjusters often have broad experience, covering areas like plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical work, and finishing touches like drywall and paint.
  2. No Extra Cost: Hiring the insurance adjuster typically doesn’t incur additional charges for homeowners.
  3. Long-Term Relationship: Homeowners often stick with the same insurance company for years, so the adjuster is likely motivated to resolve issues properly rather than cut corners to save the insurance company money.
  4. Professional Reputation: Many insurance adjusters prioritize quality repairs over cost-cutting to maintain their professional reputation.

However, it’s important to remember that insurance adjusters ultimately work for the insurance company’s benefit, not the homeowner’s. So, in cases of substantial losses, some insurance companies might seek cost-saving measures.

How Public Insurance Adjusters Handle Claims

Many homeowners are unaware of public insurance adjusters, assuming that insurance adjusters work solely in their best interest.

A public insurance adjuster is hired and paid by the homeowner, usually receiving a percentage of the claim amount. Homeowners may choose to hire one, especially for larger claims, to ensure comprehensive coverage.

To make the most of a public adjuster’s services, it’s best to involve them early in the claims process, allowing them to communicate and work with the insurance adjuster from the start.

Finding a reputable public adjuster is essential. Start by examining their credentials, assessing their skills in damage assessment, experience in negotiating settlements with insurance companies, and their communication abilities. Check if they are members of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), which upholds professional standards.

Benefits of Hiring a Public Adjuster:

  1. Knowledge and Professional Standards: Public adjusters undergo rigorous training and must meet state licensing requirements. They often belong to professional organizations that enforce skill standards. They are also typically bonded, fingerprinted, and subjected to background checks.
  2. Expertise in Insurance Claims: Public adjusters possess in-depth knowledge of home and business insurance claims and negotiation skills, ensuring they work closely with insurance company adjusters to achieve mutually agreeable settlements.
  3. Advocacy and Stress Relief: Dealing with a catastrophic loss can be overwhelming. Public adjusters act as advocates, relieving homeowners of the burden of negotiations and helping guide them through the process.
  4. Thorough Claim Assessment: Public adjusters have the experience to uncover hidden or less apparent damages, ensuring that no aspect of the claim is overlooked. For example, they can identify issues like mold formation or drywall damage resulting from concealed water damage.
  5. Maximized Settlements: Public adjusters often secure larger settlements for their clients. Homeowners may not be comfortable or confident in negotiating with insurance adjusters, and they might not even recognize overlooked claim possibilities. Public adjusters, with their expertise, know how to negotiate and request additional compensation where necessary.

In summary, hiring a public adjuster can be highly advantageous, especially when dealing with substantial insurance claims, as they bring expertise, advocacy, and the potential for a more comprehensive settlement.

Disadvantages of Hiring a Public Adjuster:

  1. Specializing in Major Claims: Public adjusters often focus on substantial claims, like total loss scenarios such as house fires. They prefer cases with significant payouts because their earnings are based on the final settlement amount. It can be challenging to engage a public adjuster for smaller claims, as they might not find them financially worthwhile. Before hiring one, research their preferred case types and request references.
  2. Payment Arrangements: Public adjusters typically work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay them upfront; they receive a portion of the settlement amount. This fee varies by location and claim size, with an average of around 10%. Some adjusters may reduce their percentage for larger claims and increase it for smaller ones, which may influence their preference for taking on certain cases.
  3. Claim Settlement Time: While public adjusters can expedite some claims, involving more parties can potentially slow down the process. Increased negotiations between the public adjuster and the insurance adjuster may lead to delays. In cases where settlements can’t be reached, legal proceedings may be necessary, further extending the time it takes to resolve the claim.

It’s essential to weigh these drawbacks against the benefits when deciding whether to hire a public adjuster for your insurance claim.

Selecting the Ideal Public Adjuster for Your Needs

Choosing the right public adjuster is crucial for your insurance claim’s success. Here’s a simple guide to help you make the best choice:

  1. Check Licensing and Credentials: Ensure the adjuster is licensed in your state and holds relevant certifications to guarantee their expertise.
  2. Read Reviews and Ask for References: Look for online reviews and request references to assess the adjuster’s reputation and past client experiences.
  3. Understand Fees: Clearly understand the fees and compare them among different adjusters to find a fair rate.
  4. Evaluate Communication: Ensure the adjuster is accessible and communicates effectively to keep you informed.
  5. Review the Contract: Carefully review the contract, ensuring it’s clear and transparent about services and fees.
  6. Consider Relevant Experience: Choose an adjuster with experience handling claims similar to yours, as they’ll better understand the specific challenges of your situation.
  7. Consult your insurance broker for public adjuster recommendations, as they have encountered numerous adjusters and can advise you on who to avoid hiring.

Here’s a Pto-Tip

Avoid signing any documents or engaging the services of any business when you find yourself in the midst of an insurance claim, especially during times of heightened stress and uncertainty.

To safeguard your interests, consider the following steps:

  1. Contact Your Insurance Broker: Reach out to your insurance broker or agent as soon as possible after an incident. They can provide guidance on the initial steps to take and advise you on what information to gather.
  2. Document the Incident: Collect evidence related to the incident, such as photographs, videos, or written descriptions. This documentation can be invaluable when assessing damages or injuries.
  3. Review Documents Carefully: If presented with any documents, contracts, or agreements related to your claim, scrutinize them thoroughly. Ensure that you fully comprehend the terms and implications before signing.
  4. Consult Legal Counsel: In complex cases or if you believe your claim may involve legal matters, consider seeking legal advice. An attorney can help protect your rights and interests throughout the claims process.
  5. Take Your Time: It’s crucial to make informed decisions, so don’t rush. Consult with trusted professionals, gather information, and weigh your options carefully.

Your Local Independent Insurance Broker

Vargas & Vargas Insurance has assisted families and businesses with their insurance needs for over four decades. Whenever you need help, our team can contact you at 617-298-0655.

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Winter Safety Advice for Home and Renters, +Advice On Filing An Insurance Claim.

Winter brings cold weather and snow, creating a beautiful scene. While kids enjoy playing in the snow, homeowners face challenges. Snow and ice can damage your home inside and out, and there’s also a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. The good news is you can protect your home from winter’s harshness. We’ve created this simple post to help you prepare. If you have questions, contact our office at 617-298-0655.

Get Your Pipes Ready for Winter

One of the most common winter-related home damages results from frozen pipes that burst, causing extensive water damage. When pipes burst, a large volume of water can flood your home’s foundation. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent this type of damage.

First and foremost, maintain your home’s temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to prevent pipes from freezing.

If you notice low or no water flow from a faucet, it’s likely due to a frozen pipe. You can address this issue by identifying the frozen section and using tools like a hairdryer, heater, or electrical tape to thaw it if it’s accessible.

Additionally, insulate your pipes with foam covers to keep them protected. During extremely cold periods, remember to open your taps slightly to allow water to flow through the pipes, reducing the risk of freezing.

If you need a plumber, we can recommend a great local one.

Examine Your Roof

To safeguard your home from potential damage, it’s crucial to inspect your roof before the first snowfall. Look out for any signs of damage, such as loose or broken shingles that can be vulnerable to storms and melting snow. Check the condition and sealing of chimneys. If you notice minor repairs needed and have the skills, address them yourself. Otherwise, enlist the help of a professional roofer or handyman for necessary maintenance. Keep your roof and guttering clear of debris to prevent rot and ensure proper water drainage.

Contact us, and we can connect you with top-quality roofing companies in your area to ensure you receive excellent service.

Get Ready for Power Outages

During heavy winds and snowstorms, power outages can leave your home dark and cold. It’s smart to prepare for this by having a generator, flashlights, and extra batteries on hand. A battery-powered radio will keep you updated on the weather, and a solar-powered cell phone charger can help you stay connected with loved ones and access weather updates.

Check Outdoor Lighting

Before winter arrives, check your outdoor lights. In the dark and icy conditions, accidents can occur. Replace bulbs that might not last through winter. You can save money with sensor lights or bulbs you can control with your smartphone.

Watch for Icicles and Ice Dams, and Get Rid of Them

Watching icicles form on your home can be fun, but they can also be dangerous and cause damage. To remove icicles safely, wear safety goggles and a hard hat. If they’re too high or large, call a professional. Always caution children to avoid icicles.

Ice dams can occur due to poor attic insulation or leaks. It’s best to hire a professional to identify these issues. And, once again, remind children to steer clear of icicles.

Keep Driveways and Sidewalks Cleared

Snow-covered sidewalks and driveways can be dangerous when they turn icy and slippery. Keep your family and visitors safe from slips and falls by having snow shovels ready. Clear a safe path to your home. You can also use a snowblower if you have one. After clearing, sprinkle rock salt to prevent ice formation. If you’re not able or not well or it’s a big job, reach out for help. And, remember to wear protective clothing like boots, hats, and gloves to avoid frostbite.

Your Living Environment

In the winter, when your family spends more time indoors, there’s a higher risk of illnesses spreading. Bacteria can thrive in warmer indoor environments. To prevent this, consider keeping your home slightly cooler by lowering the thermostat by about five degrees. This not only reduces the risk of infections but also saves on heating costs.

Filing An Insurance Claim

Most insurance claims happen in winter and spring due to property damage. To ensure you’re covered, if you susoect a possible claim, reach out to your local independent insurance broker and review your insurance policy, especially the sections about burst pipes and basement floods. If you’re not covered, consider updating your policy or switching insurers.

Keep your policy details handy, store them in a safe place, and save your insurer’s contact info on your smartphone. When buying new items, keep receipts to speed up the claim process if needed.

Your Local Independent Insurance Broker

Talk to one of our customer service agents to update and make sure you have the insurance that suits your needs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance is an independent agent, which means we can offer coverage from various insurance companies to match your budget and requirements. Contact us at 617-298-0655.

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Proven Steps for Launching Your Business Successfully, Plus A Pro-Tip

Starting a business can be challenging, but by breaking down the process into distinct steps, it can become more manageable. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin, follow this 10-step guide to turn your business idea into a reality. If you have any inquiries, Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here to assist you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office at 617-298-0655 or fill out our online quote form today!

Perfect Your Business Idea

“When considering starting of a business, it’s probable that you’ve already conceptualized what you intend to offer online or the market you aim to penetrate. Conduct a brief search to identify existing companies in your selected industry. Study the strategies employed by current industry leaders and determine how you can enhance them. If you believe your business can provide something unique that others don’t, you’ve laid the foundation for a strong idea and are prepared to formulate a comprehensive business plan.”

Create A Business Plan

Once you have your idea, ask yourself these key questions: What’s your business purpose? Who’s your target audience? What are your goals? How will you fund your startup? A clear business plan can answer all these questions.

Review Your Finances

Launching a business comes with expenses. How will you pay for them? Do you have the money, or will you need to borrow? If you’re leaving your job, do you have savings to support yourself until your business turns a profit?

Choose Your Business’s Legal Structure.

When planning to register your business, it is important to determine which type of entity it falls under, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. The legal structure of your business can have a significant impact on various aspects, including tax filings and your personal liability in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Consult with your CPA or attorney to determine the most suitable option for your business plan.

Register With Your State And The IRS

Before you can legally operate your business, it is necessary to obtain business licenses. This involves registering your business with the federal, state, and local governments.

Shop Around For Business Insurance Policy

Shopping around for insurance for your business is crucial before you start it. Incidents such as theft, property damage, or customer lawsuits can be expensive. You need to be sure that you have enough protection. And remember to get an insurance policy in place before you start your business..

Choose Your Vendors And Business Partners

Operating a business can be quite daunting, and you can unlikely handle everything single-handedly. This is where third-party vendors come into play. Companies in various industries, such as HR or business phone systems, are dedicated to collaborating with you and enhancing the efficiency of your business operations.”

Is Establishing A Brand Identity And Engaging in Advertising Essential?

Prior to launching your product or service, it’s important to establish your brand and cultivate a loyal following of potential customers. One effective approach is to leverage your network of trustworthy acquaintances willing to support your venture. Contact us for guidance on a proven strategy that has assisted countless entrepreneurs in launching their businesses.


Learn from others who have already started their own business. If you don’t know anyone personally, we suggest reading “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. This book explains why many small businesses fail and offers solutions to overcome those challenges.

Your Local Independent In surance Broker

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we provide insurance coverage for businesses of any size, regardless of the industry. Contact us today to discuss your business insurance requirements and tailor a policy that best suits you and your business.

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Most Frequent Fall Home And Auto Insurance Claims

During different seasons, claims adjusters encounter different types of claims. Leaves falling from trees can cause drivers to skid. Wildlife often crosses roads without paying attention to traffic. Rushing drivers may have partially obstructed views due to frosty windows.

Claims adjusters and insurance agents can educate policyholders about seasonal risks during the claims process. Here are nine types of claims that increase during the fall and early winter.

As leaves begin falling, some types of insurance claims are rising.

Animal Collisions – Fall is a busy time for animals preparing for winter. Be alert on the roads, especially during the morning and evening hours.

Water Damage – Heavy rains and freezing pipes can lead to water damage. Have your pipes checked out by a professional to avoid any leaks.

Fire Damage – Colder weather increases the use of candles, stoves, and fireplaces. Be sure to get your chimney evaluated each season, never leave a burning candle, and pay attention while cooking.

Rear-end Collisions – These increase due to low visibility driving conditions. Always keep a safe traveling distance behind the car in front of you, and pay attention to speed limits.

Parking lot claims – With the holidays just a few months away, people are going to malls and shopping centers more often. This means more drivers and more claims for accidents in parking lots. Some hazards include damage from shopping carts, car thefts, and tight parking spots.

Snow and ice – In some parts of the country, snow claims happen from October to December. Check tire tread and inflation before cold weather. Slow down on wet, icy, or leaf-covered roads. Keep your gas tank half full to avoid burning fuel if stuck in snow traffic. Check battery, wipers, anti-freeze, and wiper fluid levels. Keep shovels, blankets, and snacks in the car in case of a breakdown.

Auto thefts – Auto theft claims peak in the fourth quarter, with about 25% of claims occurring during this time. The Insurance Information Institute reports that over $4 billion worth of auto thefts were reported in 2013. To prevent theft, avoid leaving gifts and other valuable items in your car. Remove visible packages, briefcases, and electronics, and wipe away the suction cup ring left by GPS devices. Take photos of high-value items and keep receipts as proof of ownership. Consider asking mall security to escort you to your car, and always lock doors and close windows before leaving your vehicle.

Home thefts – More claims happen in the fall, burglaries increase 25%. To be safe, homeowners can use timers for lights and motion detectors for outdoor lights. They can also use apps to check who comes and goes from their home. Valuables should be kept in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.

Here is a Pro Tip – Keep your trees pruned. This will not only eliminate dead and dying branches but it also encourage new growth by improving sunlight exposure and air circulation. Removing weak areas also stops current damage from worsening, preventing potential lasting harm or premature tree loss.

You Local Independent Insurance Broker.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance has been assisting families and businesses with their insurance needs for more than four decades. Whenever you need help, our team can contact you at 617-298-0655.

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What Is Builders Risk Insurance?

Builder’s risk insurance is a crucial aspect of your project, providing personalized protection for the structure and materials until the project is finished.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ve assisted countless property owners in safeguarding their homes during construction or renovation with builder’s risk insurance.

Builder’s Risk Insurance Simplified

Builder’s risk insurance is a tailored property insurance designed for buildings in construction, also called ‘course of construction’ insurance. It shields both the property and homeowner from financial losses due to damage or loss of the project’s structure and materials during construction.

These policies are highly specialized, which can make understanding them confusing. We’ll focus on ‘location-specific policies’ in this article, covering individual residential or commercial construction, remodel, or installation projects, like the one you might have for your home.”

Builder’s risk insurance is a tailored property insurance designed for buildings in construction, also called ‘course of construction’ insurance. It shields both the property and homeowner from financial losses due to damage or loss of the project’s structure and materials during construction.

These policies are highly specialized, which can make understanding them confusing. We’ll focus on ‘location-specific policies’ in this article, covering individual residential or commercial construction, remodel, or installation projects, like the one you might have for your home.

What It Covers and Excludes

A builder’s risk policy typically covers the structure under construction, including all materials destined to be a permanent part of it, whether on-site or in transit. The specifics vary between projects due to their unique nature.

In general, these policies commonly cover damages or losses caused by theft, vandalism, fire, lightning, hail, hurricanes, wind, explosions, and vehicles.

Exclusions and Extensions:

Standard exclusions typically include damages due to wear and tear, mechanical breakdown, design flaws, employee theft, earthquakes, water damage, weather-related harm to property left outside, acts of terrorism and war, government actions, contract penalties, and voluntary parting.

Additional exclusions may apply depending on location and project details. For instance, coastal projects might exclude earthquakes, floods, and wind damage, but extensions are often available for purchase to cover these situations.

Beyond the main structure and its materials, policyholders can buy extensions for temporary structures, construction forms, scaffolding, and debris removal.

Builder’s risk insurance also offers optional extensions to mitigate financial impacts from project delays resulting from a loss, such as lost sales or rental income, loan interest, and real estate taxes. Some of these may be included in a standard policy without extra cost.

What Builder’s Risk Insurance Doesn’t Cover:

Builder’s risk insurance does not cover accident and injury liability during construction, requiring separate liability insurance.

It also excludes subcontractors (who need their insurance) and property belonging to others.

Builder’s Risk Insurance Coverage and Terms:

Builder’s risk insurance provides coverage up to the pre-established coverage limit. This limit, determined when purchasing the insurance, usually matches the construction budget, encompassing all materials and labor costs (excluding land value).

Policy terms typically span three, six, or 12 months, depending on the construction timeline. If the construction surpasses the policy term, it can often be extended, usually limited to a single extension.

How Much Does Builders Risk Insurance Cost

A Standard builder’s risk insurance policy typically ranges from 1-4% of the total construction cost.

So for instance, a $400,000 project could cost between $4,000 to $16,000, with the exact amount influenced by policy type and extensions.

To get a quote, your insurance agent will need details like:

  • Project address
  • Project type
  • Budget
  • Number of stories
  • Square footage
  • Public protection class
  • Security measures
  • Actual cash value of existing structure (for renovations)
  • Year built (for renovations)
  • Projected structural alterations (for renovations list)

Need More Information Or An Insurance Policy?

Builder’s risk policies are customized for each project, so they can vary significantly. Collaborate closely with your agent to ensure your coverage matches your project’s requirements.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ve assisted numerous property owners in obtaining tailored coverage for a wide range of projects, from first homes to summer beach houses and more.

After your project and the builder’s risk policy end, and your project is complete, we can also help you obtain the necessary homeowners policy to protect your new home.

Your Local Independent Insurance Broker

“For over 40 years, Vargas & Vargas Insurance has been dedicated to helping families and individuals. Our team is here to address all your insurance questions, whether about Builders Risk, flood, home, condo, renters, business or auto insurance. Feel free to contact us today at 617-298-0655.”

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