Annual Insurance Review: On the Beach?

Get crazy at the beach this Summer.  I mean really, really crazy. 
How crazy am I suggesting? Hang on to your beach hat.

You won’t believe it.

Think about how you’ll be killing two birds with one stone if you consider reviewing your insurance policies with your Independent Insurance Agent while you sift your toes through the warm sand with a cold beverage in hand.

No, I’m not kidding!

Your Agent has all your policies available to review with you. They are waiting to review with you. The majority of people do not take advantage of a FREE annual review with their agent.

You are ahead of the game especially if you consider blocking out 30 minutes to an hour while you lounge in your beach chair.  You will hear the calming sound of lapping waves while your Agent discusses money-saving, better quality insurance coverages for you.

I warned you that you may think I’m crazy for suggesting this, but we think it’s a sensible idea.  The key point to understand is this is an all around relaxing moment: your afternoon on the beach and your conversation with your Independent Agent. 

Reviewing your insurance policies to:
1. Maximize the quality of your coverage
2. Lower your overall premiums, and
3. Ensure adequate coverage for unexpected and planned changing life events shouldn’t be stressful at all. 

It is a calming, relaxing moment.  Let your Agent do all the heavy lifting while you bask in the glory of your sun-filled beach day.

Be sure to schedule your appointment with your Agent in advance of your afternoon on the beach so they’re prepared with all the information you’ll need to save money and improve coverage. If you like, take a moment before you leave for your vacation to glance over your policies to prepare any questions you may have for your Agent about specific lines of coverage and/or premium costs.

Then setup your lounge chair, apply your sunscreen, crack open that cold beverage and make the call.  You won’t feel crazy when you’re done and you know you’ve just spent a few relaxing minutes improving your insurance protections and saving money on your annual premiums. 

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance? Now is the time! Even if you’re leaving for vacation. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Summer Preparedness Part 3: Driving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When was the last time you reviewed your auto insurance? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Summer Preparedness Part 2: Your Household

Bags are packed; the car is loaded. And away we go!
What fun we’ll have on our vacation.

Pump the brakes!

We don’t want to be a party-pooper, but we want to remind you that while your home is unattended, if something goes wrong while you’re away, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise upon your return.

Prepare your house while preparing for vacation.  Create a checklist and check off these important items before you leave the house.

Plumbing
It’s always useful when doing a plumbing inspection to run all the faucets in your home at the same time.  Flush all the toilets and work your way from the bottom (basement) of your house up to the top floor(s) checking pipes and surrounding areas. 

Close valves and turn off water supplies to the entire house or to your least-used pipes, such as to the washing machine and water heater.

Consider also turning your water heater to “low” or “vacation” mode. 
Why burn up fuel heating water you’re not using while you’re away from home? Check drains for clear drainage to prevent any backups from unexpected water surges, especially your storm drains.

A quick inspection of all pipes and plumbing systems alerts you to any potential problems.  Do a quick check for leaks, the kind of small leaks you might be missing during your normal day-to-day living, but the kind of small leak that could become a big leak while you’re away.

Electrical
Unplug extension cords.  Unplug appliances. 

Storms can cause electrical surges that can damage your connected appliances, or worse, cause a fire.  Also, look for loose wall plates, loose plugs or any other potential hazard that could create an electrical event and maybe a fire.

Air quality 
How’s the air in your home?  Is there any chance that dampness in the air could create a mold condition while you’re away? Are all the windows closed? 

If you have a dehumidifier, set it up in strategic locations around the house in the weeks before your vacation.

Thermostat
Set the thermostat to a temperature, hot or cold depending on time of year, that doesn’t use unnecessary energy while you’re away.

Technology 
There are smart home devices including security units you can quickly and easily install to help protect your home from interior and exterior threats while you’re away.

Smart locks, home monitoring systems, and apps for your smartphones that allow you to monitor your home from the beach hundreds of miles away are all worthy investments for your holiday peace of mind.

Mail
With a quick visit to your local post office to fill out of a simple form, your mail is held by the Postal Carrier until after your return from vacation.  If you get newspaper delivery, notify your carrier of your pending holiday to hold deliveries while you’re away. Piles of mail and newspaper deliveries attracts vagrants and burglars.

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Summer Preparedness: Part 1: Vacation

You’d think preparing to go on vacation would be as tranquil as the vacation.  Too often it’s not.  The hectic days leading up to vacation time include preparing for the departure from home and office and preparing for the vacation. 

Here’s some tips that might help you prepare more efficiently…and more calmly…for your vacation.

PACKING
The dreaded packing of the suitcase ritual can make anyone crazy!   Prepare for your packing process well in advance.  After all, many of the clothes you’ll take on vacation are not the clothes you wear everyday, are they?   Spend 20 minutes a week for the three weeks in advance of your vacation and pack small amounts at a time.  Setup your suitcase in one spot, where you won’t move it.  Then add to the suitcase in small increments. 

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Passports, credit cards, plane/train tickets, printed itineraries need to be collected well in advance and stored together.   Any office supply store has perfect sized, closeable plastic envelopes and containers that  are ideal for collecting your important travel documents into a single convenient location.  Try to use a bright color for the container so it’s easy to find in a hurry, or in the dark.   If all else fails, a resealable plastic storage bag, the kind you use in your kitchen, is a great solution too.

PHONE NUMBERS
In your address book on your Smartphone, create a new address category where you can save important phone numbers for easy access.  This way, in the event of an urgent phone call  you can pop open a single address category and access all the numbers you’ll need to call, text or email.  Remember, you’re on vacation!  If you have to make urgent contact with folks back home, you’ll want to do it quickly so you can get back to the real work of relaxing!

HOME SECURITY
Checklists are the best way to efficiently prepare your home for your absence.  Windows locked? CHECK.  Alarm company notified of vacation dates? CHECK.  Lamp timers installed and correctly set to match sunrise, sunset? CHECK.   Think like an airline pilot: create a checklist and review the checklist at least two weeks before you leave for your vacation, and then once more the night before or morning of your departure.

INSURANCE
Preparing your insurance for your vacation may be the easiest part of your holiday preparations.  One call to your Independent Insurance Agent to review your insurance policies can help you determine what you have, what you will need, what you’re covered for while you’re away on vacation.

Call us today to be prepared to vacation without a worry.

Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329.

Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

A Parent’s Guide to the End of the School Year

It’s that time of year – kids are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The school year is going to be wrapping up soon, so how will you as a parent help your child or children to buckle down and finish the year off strong, while simultaneously planning activities for summer vacation? Don’t worry – your local independent insurance agency is here to help!

Stick to Your Routine

Many parents complain that once Spring Break is over, kids start to realize that the school year is wrapping up and they want to act like it’s already over by begging for extra treats and later bedtimes. Remind your kids that they still have things to learn in the next few months, so it’s important to stick to your usual school-time routine.

For younger kids, it may help to create a paper countdown chain to show how many days are left until the last day of school – it’s an easy craft that can help children to visualize the length of time until summer vacation starts. Many parents also use this type of craft to count down to other celebrations and major days – for example, the start of a vacation, the first day of school, birthdays, Christmas, and more!

Now is also a great time to teach kids about the importance of goal-setting! Motivate kids by letting them set an ‘end-of-the-year’ goal and choose a reward for completing that goal – for example, finishing out the school year with good grades. This reward could be a new game or toy, a trip to their favorite restaurant (with dessert!) or going with a friend for a day of fun at a local attraction. Get creative and help your kid choose a reward that will motivate them to stay on-task at school and will encourage them to complete tests and projects to the best of their ability.

If you haven’t yet, this is also the perfect opportunity to teach older kids about SMART goals. Sit with them and help them create a goal for the end of the year that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Stay Organized

What is the current state of your child’s school supplies? Sometimes, a few new folders or colorful pencils are all it takes to get kids back on track and excited about finishing out the school year strong. After several months of classes, it may also be time to have kids give their backpacks a thorough cleaning and reorganizing their supplies. Loose papers and inch-long pencils will easily clutter up a backpack and make it nearly impossible to find anything.

The end of the school year is also a time that tends to be chock full of class parties, award ceremonies, banquets, recitals, and more. Stay on top of what events you need to attend and make sure that you put them on your calendar as early as possible so that you don’t overschedule yourself or your kids. Now is also the perfect time to plan ahead so that you know how you’re going to handle a scheduling conflict if one occurs.

Another great way to stay organized at the end of the school year is to ask your child to gather contact information for his or her classmates now, especially if your school doesn’t hand out a class directory. This will help during the summer if your child wants to invite one of their friends out to have fun during the break.

Plan for the Summer

Sometimes, these last few months of school is all about making it to the end. While you use the above tips to keep kids focused on getting to the end of the school year, it’s not a bad idea to let them help with making plans for their summer vacation (as long as it won’t distract them too much from their studies). Whether you’re planning a staycation, a road trip, a cruise, or flying to a new and exciting destination, let your children help with the planning. Younger kids can choose travel activities and get excited about some of the specific places and attractions you will be visiting, and older kids can also learn some money-handling skills by being involved with the budgeting of your trip and helping to prioritize expenses.

While your kids are still in school, take advantage of the temporary peace and quiet to call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency and prepare yourself for potential summer shenanigans. Have one of our expert Boston insurance agents perform a free evaluation of your current insurance policies, including your home insurance, car insurance, etc. They will be able to tell you if you have enough coverage, and help you fill any existing gaps. They may even be able to find you a new policy at a great price! Don’t wait until school’s out for summer: call 617-298-0655 today.

Recap: Plan for Summer Vacation

“Summer means happy times and good sunshine. It means going to the beach, going to Disneyland, having fun.”

– Brian Wilson

Spring is almost here, and summer is around the corner. Have you started thinking about planning a vacation for the summer? If so, you’re in the right place! Some of the expert insurance agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are also planning getaways, and we want to share the tips that we have learned. Here are just a few – make sure to read our extended blog post for more!

  • Start planning early so that you don’t feel rushed and can take your time to make your upcoming vacation the best one yet.
  • Choose your destination carefully! Consider the timing of your trip and see if there are any special events happening in the place you are going when you’ll be there.
  • Pull up a spreadsheet while you’re planning and outline a rough budget for your travels.
  • Once you know about how much you’re planning to spend, start saving right away. No one wants to go into debt for a vacation!
  • When you are on your trip, let loose and enjoy your vacation. Be spontaneous and let yourself be happy in the moment.

Before you leave on your newly planned summer vacation, talk to your Boston insurance agent about getting a free insurance check-up. You can also ask and learn more about the benefits of having a travel insurance policy in place for your trip!

Start Planning for Your Summer Vacation

Are you dreaming of summer yet? It’s been a long winter here in the Boston area (despite Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring this year) and at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we’re in vacation planning mode! Here are just a few of the tips that we are using as our agents plan their summer getaways:

Plan Early

If you’re reading this post, then you’re already ahead of the game! One of the best things that you can do to enjoy your summer vacation is to start the planning process as early as possible. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to take advantage of the following tips that we’re going to share!

Determine Your Destination

Where will you go when the world is your drawing board? There is something to be said for almost any destination that you choose:

  • Boston is a lovely city, especially in the summer. Have you seen all of the sights and ‘played tourist’ right here in your own backyard? The history in this city alone makes it one of the most visited destinations in the US, not to mention the savings associated with not paying for travel or accommodations on your vacation!
  • A road trip is a great way to see the sights. Depending on how long you’re willing to spend on the road before arriving at your destination, there are many places within reach of Boston, including anywhere in New England, some very beautiful parts of Canada, and New York City. For some great road trip tips, read our Road Trip blog!
  • If flying is the ‘how’ of your vacation, then you have a lot of options. Will you choose a family friendly destination or somewhere more relaxing or cultured? If you feel overwhelmed with choices, some online sleuthing will probably be a good place to start.

Scout Out Several Activities and Events

No matter where you go, make sure that there is something fun and enjoyable for each member of your travel party. These activities can vary greatly depending on your destination and travel dates, so make sure to consider those carefully when planning. It’s always fun to see if there is a special local event or festival going on during your trip, so don’t forget to search the area’s events calendar before you leave!

Want to do something different and fun next time you’re on vacation, while also soaking up some local color? Look for volunteer opportunities in places that you’re interested in going! This so called “Voluntourism” is a growing industry where people find joy in simultaneously travelling and doing good.

Outline a Rough Budget

Thinking ahead is important when you’re planning a vacation (whether it’s just for you or for your entire family). In addition to considering your activity schedule, sit down and make a rough outline of the costs that you will encounter during your trip. This will vary depending on many factors, but you should generally include four categories: travel, accommodations, food, and activities. Make sure to also set a little extra aside if you plan on purchasing souvenirs or gifts while you’re away. And always plan for a little bit of wiggle room – after all, what is a vacation without some unforeseen expenses?

Start Saving Now

Once you’ve figured out about how much you’re going to spend on your vacation, start setting aside some money. No one should go into debt to go on vacation and paying for whatever you can in full before you leave will help you to relax while you’re away.

There are lots of little tricks that you can use to start putting aside money for your vacation fund. Many places will advocate for skipping your morning drive-thru coffee in favor of making your ‘cuppa’ at home. Going out to eat less and cooking at home will also help you save.

Let Loose and Enjoy Your Trip!

Once all of your planning is done and it’s time to leave, there is one important thing to remember: enjoy your vacation! It’s easy to get stressed about travelling and seeing all that there is to see at your destination, but it’s important to let go and relax so that you can have a good time. Be open to adjusting plans as you go – some of the most fun you have on your getaway will be during the spontaneous activities that you do.

Before you leave on the trip you’ve planned, talk to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency about making sure that you’re protected while you’re away. We can help you make sure that your home is ready for any potential issues, your car insurance should be checked before a road trip, and we can even help you with travel insurance if you want some added protection! One call to 617-298-0655 and we will get you all set and ready for your vacation!

Recap: Family Vacation Tips

“Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?” – Zig Ziglar

Are you and your family going to cap off the summer with a vacation? If you are, then make sure to stay safe by following these tips from the best insurance agency in Boston! We are always focused on helping you stay safe and make the most out of whatever you enjoy in life.

  • Choose a destination that will be a balance of all the things you want in a vacation. Look for a place that’s fun and relaxing. Not to mention something that has plenty of entertainment and history.
  • Pack as light as possible, but make sure that everyone in your party has plenty of entertainment for the journey. Otherwise, you will be hearing a lot of “Are we there yet?”
  • Once you’re at your vacation spot, make lots of memories! Now is the time for that extra scoop of ice cream and doing the silly dance even though there are people watching. Take pictures and have fun!

Before you head out on your vacation, take a moment to call our agency at 617-298-0655 to make sure that your insurance policies will protect you every step of the way. If you are going on a road trip, check your Boston car insurance policy, and make sure that your home insurance is going to protect you in case something happens to your property while you are away. A few minutes of your time now can help tremendously if there is an issue later!

Tips for Your Family Vacation

Summertime is the perfect time to plan a family vacation. Kids are out of school, and the weather is perfect for some fun in the sun. If you’re planning on taking a vacation, make sure that you first read these tips from your favorite local independent insurance agency:

Choosing a Destination

You’ve decided to go on vacation! Now, the question is… where do you go? The trick is to choose a destination that will delight the entire family (which, as you probably know, can be pretty tricky). Your best course of action may be to find the right balance of all of your ‘wants’ – somewhere that is fun, relaxing, entertaining, and maybe even educational.

Thankfully, there are plenty of places like this in our very own backyard. Of course, Boston is a city full of history, culture, and entertainment galore. If you want to travel out a bit further, though, there are plenty of other cities within driving distance worth considering – including Providence, Newport, Manchester, Portsmouth, and many more.

If you are willing to fly, then your options are practically limitless, as children and adults alike will delight in destinations both within the US and abroad. And if you want a vacation that is something slightly off the beaten path, consider a cruise! There are plenty sailing out of the Boston harbor year-round.

Packing

Just like when you’re trying to choose the perfect vacation destination, packing for your trip is also a balancing act. You want to make sure that you have enough clothing and toiletries for everyone while simultaneously not going too overboard. This is especially true when you’re flying since most airlines will charge you for extra bags and bags over a certain weight limit. Even when driving, though, be conscious about how much you pack. After all, the weight of your car is one of the factors that will determine your gas mileage on the trip.

As you pack, also make sure that you prepare your home for the trip. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery, arrange for a neighbor to water your plants, and think about putting some of your lights on timers to deter thieves.

Travelling

Is there anything worse than being bored while travelling? To avoid this feeling of ennui, make sure that every person you are travelling with has a few things that will keep them occupied during the trip. Think about books, movies, and even some games. Bring more than you think you will need – the excitement of an impending vacation will make the fun of other activities wear off more quickly.

During Your Trip

It may be tempting while you’re in a new place to try and pack in as much sightseeing and as many activities as you can. While you should definitely see and do a lot while you’re away, make sure that you and your family don’t get stressed out because you’re trying to do too much. Leave in a little time for unstructured activities, and don’t be afraid to take a nap or relax by a pool if that’s what everyone feels like doing! And sometimes it’s fun to break into teams and do things separately once in a while.

Heading Back Home

When it’s time to head ‘back to reality’ don’t let anyone fall into a post-vacation rut. Remember the quote “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Children especially may make comments about how they wish they didn’t have to go back to school and wish they could stay on vacation forever. Remind them that vacation is only special because you only get to do it once in a while. Cheer them up by starting to talk about where you will go next! After all, the anticipation of a trip is half the fun!

After the Trip

Reflection is one of the most rewarding experiences of a family vacation. Have your kids tell you their favorite parts of your trip, and have fun revisiting some of your memories by looking through pictures. And remember, many kids will have writing assignments about their summer vacation activities when they return to school, so save some of those for your vacation scrapbook!

So, where are you and your family going on vacation this summer? No matter where you go, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency before you leave. We can check your home insurance to make sure that your property and possessions will be safe while you are away and will check your car insurance if you’re taking a road trip.

Remember – vacation is supposed to be all about fun and relaxation, and it will be easier to both have fun and relax after an insurance check-up! So, don’t wait – before you get out your suitcases, call one of the best Boston insurance agents at 617-298-0655. And make sure that you stay tuned to our blog for more summertime tips and tricks from your favorite Boston insurance agents!

Recap: Guide to Road Trips

“I climb behind the steering wheel… I drive off immediately without once looking back; it’s a long journey but it leads to freedom.” – Corinne Hofmann

Is the open road calling to you? Once the summertime hits, the weather is lovely, and the kids are out of school, many families choose to go on adventures by loading up the car and taking a road trip. In case you missed our full post last week, here are a few of the major tips for your family’s journey:

  • Before you go on a road trip, take a test drive – choose a place that is a few hours away to get your feet wet and decide if your family could survive long days in the car.
  • Take care in choosing a destination. You want to choose something that is a manageable distance away, and a place that the whole family can look forward to visiting.
  • Before you leave, make sure that your car is ready for the trip. If you want to be sure that your car is up for the task, visit one of the many mechanics in the area for a check-up.
  • Set rules to follow in the car and prepare plenty of healthy snacks and entertainment for the trip.

Before your family begins their road trip, make sure that you check in with your Massachusetts auto insurance agent for a free auto insurance review by calling 617-298-0655. Your agent can make sure that your car insurance is ready for a grand adventure!