Does My Home Insurance Cover a Flooded Basement?

Happy homeowner with coverage in the event of a flooded basement

Your home is a haven for you and your family. When floods happen, the last thing you want to hear is that your flooded basement isn’t covered. At such a time, safety and getting help are your priorities. 

What many homeowners do not know is that having a home insurance policy is crucial. On the other hand, even those with home insurance aren’t always aware if it covers flooding and to what extent they will be compensated in case of such an event.

To understand how insurance works and know if your policy covers flooding, our professionals at Vargas & Vargas Insurance are on standby to simplify the process for you. We listen, advise, and guide you in making an informed choice.

What Is Flood Insurance, and Do Insurers Provide a Flood Policy Cover?

Flood insurance is any policy that covers your home, electronics, and other important belongings from losses occasioned by flooding. Generally, it comes as a separate cover due to the high risk involved. But it may vary from company to company. 

New developments in the mortgage industry within Massachusetts require lenders to ask for flood insurance, and several insurers have developed appropriate packages for homeowners. These new developments point to a higher risk of flooding, and the lenders want to protect their investments. On the other hand, taking the cover as a homeowner puts you at ease if flooding happens.

Why Flood Insurance Is Necessary

Generally, home insurance covers you from any damage that may occur. The different policies have several aspects that detail what is covered and to what extent. Flood insurance is a specific home insurance cover that will cover you when flooding happens, including if you have a flooded basement.

To choose the ideal policy, it is a good practice to seek help. Work with a trusted agent who will help you go through the policies, terms, and conditions, among other things. This will help you determine if the insurer and their package fit you or if your home is covered in case of flooding. 

Parting Shot

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is one of the premier local independent insurance agencies. We work for our clients and not the insurance company.  We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price. Our team is here to answer all of your insurance questions, so contact us today.

How to Insure a Vintage Motorcycle

If you own a motorcycle that is over 20 years old, your bike may be considered vintage. These motorcycles may be incredibly valuable, but they can also be more expensive to repair. You want to make sure that you have the right insurance coverage for your most valuable items.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance, which serves Dorchester, MA, understand that vintage motorcycle insurance can be tricky to navigate. Some additional information can help you make the right decision.

You Need a Standard Policy

The first thing you need to do is ensure that you are meeting Massachusetts’s requirements for vehicle liability insurance. Even antique or vintage bikes that you use are subject to these requirements. Even if you only ride your bike on the weekends, you will need to ensure you have enough liability coverage for any damage you are responsible for.

Consider Comprehensive Coverage

If you have a vintage motorcycle, you are wise to have comprehensive coverage to provide coverage for your bike when it is not in motion. Some insurance companies offer special coverage for vintage motorcycles at shows and other events, for instance.

Ask About Collision Coverage

Whether you regularly ride your vintage bike or drive it to shows, you should consider collision coverage. This coverage is intended to provide for the costs to replace or repair your bike if you are in an accident.

Get More Information About Vintage Motorcycle Insurance

Do you want to get the most out of your vintage motorcycle? Insurance can help you protect your bike, even when you are not riding or showing it. If you live in Dorchester, MA, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance to learn more about your options.

Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know, Part Two: Homeowners Coverage Terms

homeowner reviewing homeowners coverage terms as she renews her policy

The only thing worse than having a homeowners insurance claim is having a claim and realizing you didn’t understand the home coverage terms in your insurance policy. Now you don’t have the coverage you thought you had. Vargas & Vargas Insurance wants you to have the knowledge you need to make the right decisions about your insurance. Arming yourself with the knowledge of homeowners coverage terms is crucial in preventing unwelcome surprises when a claim occurs. 

Homeowners Coverage Terms

Dwelling Coverage

A dwelling is the building in which you live. In home insurance terms, your home is your dwelling. It is insured for the perils in your policy up to the policy dwelling coverage limit. But this is for the main structure only and does not include the contents. Contents have their own coverage area in a home insurance policy. 

Additional Structures Coverage

Any structures on the premises not attached to the main dwelling are other structures or additional structures. This includes a workshop or shed, for example. An amount equal to 10% of the dwelling coverage is usually also allotted toward additional structures as part of your basic coverage. However, you may want to purchase additional coverage, if needed. This coverage does not apply to the contents of the additional structure. Those are covered with your personal property coverage.

Personal Property Coverage

This is for all of your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, electronics, household tools, etc. It’s important to speak with your agent about items you think may fall into this coverage area but actually may not. Examples might be golf carts and four-wheelers. Keeping an inventory of your personal property is important, as you will need to itemize them in the event of a loss. 

Liability Coverage

Homeowners can be held liable for a wide variety of events occurring on their property. Liability coverage provides legal protection for the majority of these, up to your policy limit. Also, most policies come with a basic amount that you can increase for a minimal additional premium. 

Additional Living Expense/Loss of Use

When a claim occurs, your home may not be inhabitable for a time. This is why Additional Living Expense coverage, also known as Loss of Use coverage, is so important. This coverage will help with the cost of displacement up to the time period specified in the policy. 

Endorsement

An endorsement is an addition to your homeowners policy. You may need more coverage than allotted in your basic policy in a particular coverage area. Endorsements allow you to add that coverage. A common example is for jewelry. Most policies provide a limited amount of jewelry coverage but allow more coverage through endorsements. 

Exclusion

An exclusion is a coverage area that insurers specifically do not include in your policy. Your policy will have a list of exclusions. It’s imperative to review these exclusions, as there are often options to provide coverage for the excluded perils separately. One example is flood coverage. Floods are usually an excluded peril, but flood insurance is available as a stand-alone policy. 

Inflation Protection 

The cost to repair or replace your home and belongings does not stay static. Most homeowners policies include inflation protection, which raises your coverage in small increments each renewal, as needed, to keep pace with inflation. 

Risk/Peril

A risk is the possibility of something unexpected happening. A peril is the cause of something unexpected happening. The peril of a wind storm increases the risk of damage to your roof. Knowing what perils are covered under your policy is imperative for you to have proper protection from the risks you face as a homeowner.

For more homeowners coverage terms, see the first installment of Home Insurance Terms You Need to Know. Homeowners coverage terms can be intimidating while also being vitally important. That’s why Vargas & Vargas, a premier local independent insurance agency, is here to help. We will customize your insurance coverage to your specific needs at the right price and are here to answer all of your insurance questions. So contact us today.

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage Options

You enjoy the feeling of freedom you get from riding your motorcycle so it is imperative you’re your protect the investment you have made in your bike. The best way to accomplish that goal is to obtain a motorcycle insurance policy that is best for you and your situation.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, you must have at least a liability insurance. This policy will cover bodily injury to others if you are involved in an accident that is deemed to be your fault, along with damage to someone else’s property. You also need to have personal injury protection coverage or you can choose a deductible of $8,000 for yourself and household members. You must also have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage which will cover bodily injury or property damage that you and/or your passenger sustains if you’re involved in an accident with a motorist who does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your medical costs and property damages.

Comprehensive Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive motorcycle insurance coverage will cover your bike if it is damaged or destroyed by a fire, vandalism, or a natural disaster, such as a tornado or hurricane. This is an important policy to have to repair or replace your bike if it falls victim to one of these situations or if it is stolen.

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance will cover your bike if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle or an object. For example, if you hit an electric pole with your bike, it will cover the damage to your bike and the pole.

To obtain the best motorcycle insurance policy for you and your situation, contact the motorcycle insurance agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA today!

How to Shop for Condo Insurance If You’ve Only Owned a House

couple shopping for condo insurance in their new home

Condo owners independently own their individual units (though there is common ownership of the common areas), and that means you need to protect it. If you are looking for coverage for your condo, it is essential to understand the different aspects of insuring a condo compared to a home.

What Do You Need to Know Before You Start Condo Insurance Shopping?

When shopping for condo insurance, it is important to be aware that the primary dwelling is protected under the condominium association’s Master Policy. Your condo community may provide all-in coverage or less inclusive insurance like single entity coverage Additional structures do not apply to a condo and are not included in the coverage. When you pay for your condo association’s fees, personal property protection is not covered by the policy. Therefore, it is crucial to consider this when looking for condo insurance.

Aspects of loss of use, medical payments, and personality liability are the same for both condos and homes. Therefore, when shopping for insurance for your condo, it is vital to ensure that you obtain a policy with high-level protection for personal property. This is because your condominium association’s primary dwelling coverage only covers the structure and does not include your belongings inside the walls.

Typical condo insurance covers:

  • Vandalism
  • Fire and smoke
  • Burst pipe
  • Theft

Factors to Consider While You Look for Condo Insurance

When shopping for condo insurance, you need to consider the cost. The cost of standard condo insurance depends on different factors, including:

  • The amount of deductible
  • Your coverage options
  • Aspects covered by your condo association’s insurance
  • Materials used in the construction of the condo
  • Location of the condo

It is essential to review the master policy of your condo association before deciding the amount of your condo insurance. This is because, in some instances, some insurance policies do not cover anything inside the walls of your condo. In such a case, you need to include more items when calculating your insurance coverage.

It is not easy to make general recommendations about condo insurance due to variations in state laws and condominium association bylaws. Consider working with local independent insurance agencies because of their business relations with financially robust insurance entities. Also, local insurance agencies can tailor your policy to meet your specific needs. 

For more assistance choosing the right condominium insurance for you and your family, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today. We’re here to help.

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.