5 Home Improvements for Lower Insurance Costs

couple setting their home's security system

Home improvements breathe new life and style into your home. They can also bring a decrease in your homeowners insurance premiums. Both can be exciting. Which home improvements not only bring new form and function to your home but also can decrease your homeowners insurance?

1. New Roof

Roof insurance claims compose a large portion of total homeowners insurance claims. Newer roofs are typically better able to handle wind and hail storms. Perhaps when you first purchased your home, you didn’t qualify for a preferred policy due to your roof’s age. But because of the new roof, you may now qualify. Your new roof’s material can also impact your homeowners insurance rates. More importantly, by keeping your roof maintained, you may be able to avoid claims. This will have a positive impact on your insurance through claim-free discounts. 

2. Security System

An alarm system monitored by a central station is another way to avoid potential claims by discouraging burglaries and quickly notifying emergency services in the event of smoke or fire. This helps you retain your claim-free discount and prevent damage to your home and loss of property. Your insurance company rewards these efforts in the form of a discount. 

Most insurance companies require that the alarm system automatically notify emergency services. It cannot simply sound an alarm or record video. However, they may offer a partial discount for these options. A central station burglar alarm will save you between 5%-15% on your home insurance if your smoke alarms are connected to the monitored system. 

3. Wiring and Plumbing Updates

Fire from faulty wiring and water damage from plumbing concerns are also common homeowners insurance claims. The age of these systems may have prevented you from receiving a preferred rate initially. Updating these systems could change that. 

While discounts can be available for wiring and plumbing updates, these updates may require the wiring and plumbing to be completed updated by removing and replacing all existing writing and plumbing, rather than a partial update. But any updates to your wiring and plumbing can prevent damage. It can therefore reduce claims and benefit your homeowners insurance over time, even without a specific discount. 

4. Simple Updates: Deadbolt Locks and Fire Extinguishers

Deadbolt locks are a simple update to your home that can provide added protection and a potential discount for your insurance. Fire extinguishers may be another easy addition to your discount portfolio.

5. Pool Fencing

Insurance companies often require fencing around a pool due to the inherent risk of an accessible attractant to a drowning hazard. If you do not have a fence around your pool, adding one will reduce the risk of a tragedy. It could also prevent surcharges on your insurance for this risk.

Home improvements provide value to your home regardless of the potential benefits to your insurance. However, when determining which improvements are suitable for your home and the costs associated with each, possible decreases in your homeowners insurance should be considered. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, your premier local independent insurance agency, we work for our clients, not the insurance companies. Contact us for advice on how the home improvement projects on your list can reduce your homeowners insurance premiums. 

2 Ways Home Improvements Change Insurance Premiums (And How to Protect Your Investment)

mom and her daughters in a new pool at home

When deciding the monthly premiums for your home insurance policy, your insurer has to consider multiple factors. However, with time, you may feel the need to improve your home for a better living experience. What most homeowners do not know is that such improvements can expose them to uninsured risks. Here’s how home improvements change your premiums and what you should do after such enhancements to keep things in check

1. Effects of Home Improvements on Insurance Premiums

Once you improve your home, you either increase the property’s value, increase the likelihood of peril, or protect the property from risk. Based on the following three scenarios, your insurer may increase or reduce your monthly premium.  

Home Improvements That Increase Your Premiums

At some point, you may decide to expand the size of your house, upgrade your kitchen space, or even redesign your bathroom. Such improvements increase the value of your property to an amount exceeding the sum insured. Increasing the value of your property means increased your monthly premiums.

You also attract higher monthly premiums on home improvements that your insurer considers risky. For example, you may decide to spice things up with a private pool. While this increases your property’s value, your insurer may increase your monthly premiums to bolster your liability cover.

Home Improvements That Reduce Your Premiums

Depending on the nature of your home improvements, your insurer can also reduce the amount you pay in premiums. You can decide to renovate your roof or install one that is resistant to disaster. You can even choose to have a locking fence around your pool or install a protective cover. Such improvements are likely to reduce your monthly premiums as they reduce the likelihood of peril.  

2. What You Should Do Before Home Improvement Projects to Be Safe

Before starting on any home improvements, you need to contact your insurer. Whether it is a simple addition or a major renovation, your insurer should let you in on its effects on the value of the property. Failing to notify your insurer of improvements may lead to underinsurance.

Almost all home improvements change insurance premiums. Let’s face it; there’s still a chance that you made some home improvements without notifying your insurer. It is not too late. Be sure to contact Vargas & Vargas for guidance on the best way forward. We are a premier local insurance agency that places your interests before those of your insurers. We work for you only and will help you find the best insurance coverage for your needs.

How Inflation Affects the Cost of Replacing Your Home

couple standing outside of their home

The country’s economy depends on various variables, which include inflation. Inflation has a negative or positive impact on the local industries. Among the sectors affected by the fluctuation of prices is the construction industry. The following is an overview of how inflation affects the cost of replacing your home and how this impacts your home insurance premium.

How Does Inflation Affect the Construction of a House?

As a result of inflation, the building material rates, machinery rates, and labor wages increase annually. The prices of most house equipment also rise due to inflation. When replacing a home, the changes in rates cause a deviation between the initial project budget and the final budget.

The high cost incurred during house construction results in an increase in the insurance premium. The insurance companies raise their premiums to cover and keep up with the increasing repair cost caused by inflation or annual property tax increase. Homeowners should have their property valuated regularly. The new data can be used in the settlement process if the house is damaged.

Home Replacement and Its Effect on Insurance Premium

While determining the initial home insurance premiums, insurance companies consider factors such as the square footage, the year it was built, the number of stories, the number of kitchens or bathrooms, flooring, and roof covering.

During property replacement, the insurance company will replace the lost asset with a similar replacement of the same value and functionality as the original one. However, quality items and luxury add-ons such as swimming pools are expensive to fix or replace if damaged.

The increase in the new items’ prices and the risk of maintaining them force the insurers to increase their premiums.

Vargas and 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. Also, we are here to answer all of your insurance questions. Contact us today.

5 Home Improvements That Could Increase Insurance Costs

Home improvements are exciting. Visions of increased functionality, luxury, and property values are almost equal to the initial purchase’s excitement. Home improvement projects are at an all-time high. Families are spending more time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions and fears. As a result, they are making their home as enjoyable as possible. There are many decisions to be made and multiple factors to take into consideration. One of those considerations should be the probability of an increase in your homeowners insurance premiums. Look at what can happen with these five popular home improvements that could increase insurance costs.

1. Increased Square Footage

A home that fits your family’s needs at the time of purchase may no longer do so after a few years. As your family grows, increased square footage is often needed. This could be in the form of an addition to the home, but it can also include finishing existing unfinished spaces, such as a basement or attic. Additions can also mean outdoor space. The addition of a deck, porch, covered patio, or attached garage also necessitates homeowners insurance changes. 

Each of these additions increases the rebuild (replacement) cost of your home. Increased replacement cost directly equates to a needed increase in your dwelling coverage. More space usually means more personal property purchases, as well. This could also mean a need for an increase in personal property coverage. 

2. Kitchen and Bath Upgrades

Kitchen and bath upgrades are some of the most popular home updates. These upgrades can have the greatest return on investment for property values. While your homeowners insurance is based on replacement cost, not appraised value, upgrades to kitchens and baths mean it will cost more to put your kitchen and bath back to their upgraded condition in the event of a loss. It’s essential to make sure you increase your homeowners insurance coverage relative to those increased replacement costs. 

3. Home Office Additions

As more and more individuals work from home, home office additions are becoming more common. A home office may be a modification to an existing space or an addition to the home. It could also mean you need more personal or business property coverage on your homeowners insurance. Your liability exposure is also enhanced, and coverage may need to be increased accordingly. 

4. Pools

In-ground pools are arguably the most fun addition. They are also a costly addition with enhanced liability risk. Your homeowners insurance company may require fencing or other risk reduction measures. Reviewing your increased risk and making any needed changes can make the poolside all the more relaxing. A personal liability umbrella policy can add additional liability protection and peace of mind.

5. Home Business

Brick-and-mortar businesses are rapidly decreasing as companies move to a virtual or home business environment. Business in the home brings about an entirely different set of coverages and risks than a personal home office. Disclosing a business in the home and exploring how this affects your homeowners insurance is crucial to your business’s protection.

There are many home improvements that could increase insurance costs, but home upgrades are an excellent way to extend the functionality and enjoyability of your home. Potential increases to your homeowners insurance would be due to the increased cost to rebuild your home and protect your assets. The value of these upgrades and the knowledge that your home improvements are properly covered far surpasses the cost of potential changes in your homeowners insurance premiums.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is a local, premier independent insurance agency. We understand your home is important to you. So we will customize your insurance to your specific needs at the right price. We will also carefully evaluate home improvements that could increase insurance costs. Contact us to discuss your home insurance needs. 

Here’s What Happens When You Make a House Insurance Claim

Homeowners going through the house insurance claim process

Having your house insured can save you a lot of trouble. House insurance usually covers your house and its contents. However, policies vary, and some may cover the structure alone. In case a risk materializes, you should put in a house insurance claim for compensation from your insurer. Settlement can take days, months, or even a year, depending on the damage.  

Making a house insurance claim can be very complicated. Most insurance companies expect you to fill a claim form, giving a detailed description of the incident. You may also have to attach proof of purchase to have damaged items replaced or repaired (depending on your policy). Here’s what happens when you put in a claim on your house insurance. 

1. Determination of the House Insurance Claim

Once you put in a claim on your house insurance, your insurer is expected to respond within two weeks. The insurer may contact you for more information within this period. In extreme situations, the company can hire a loss adjuster to investigate the incident. The adjuster will examine the property and ask you questions about its state, before and after damage. The adjuster’s report will then guide the insurer’s decision to accept or deny the claim. 

If your claim is denied, your insurance company should send you a detailed report clearly explaining the reasons for the denial.

2.  Compensation for Property Damage

Based on the information provided, your insurer makes compensation arrangements. This decision is based on the loss adjuster’s report and your past adherence to the insurer’s policies. The insurer determines the amount of compensation based on the degree of damage and the pre-established policy amount. 

The insurer can decide to pay through a bank deposit or by cheque, depending on the claim. However, if you acquired your house through a mortgage, your insurer will wire a payment check directly to the mortgage company. Therefore, you should inform the company of the insurance claim early in the process.   

3. Urgent Financial Need and Preventive Repairs

In the event of peril, you may have financial hardship due to the damage to your property. Your insurer should make advanced payments to help you overcome such difficulties. Additionally, any costs you have from making emergency repairs to prevent further damage should be reimbursed by your insurer. 

Getting compensated for damage to your home can be quite a headache. Working with a local independent insurance agency can help you avoid this headache. An independent insurance agent represents you and does not work for any insurance company.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is a premier local independent insurance agency that solely serves your interests and not those of your insurers.  At Vargas & Vargas, you will get custom and affordable insurance coverage for your specific needs and have all of your insurance questions answered. Contact us today to get started.

What You Need to Know About Commercial Insurance

As a business owner in Dorchester, MA, you need to have commercial insurance for your business to cover specific liabilities. However, sometimes it is very challenging to understand the entire concept of commercial insurance, especially if this is not your area of specialization. Vargas & Vargas Insurance has realized that many business owners make grave mistakes when it comes to business insurance and offer some basics on this policy. 

Why Commercial Insurance?

So, some business owners do not know why they need commercial insurance, and some of them ignore it entirely, only for them to regret it later after disaster strikes. It is essential to understand that commercial insurance protects your business and the investments you have made against disastrous events. 

Having commercial insurance is necessary because it protects all the assets that your business owns. However, commercial insurance may also help you cover the different types of liabilities your business may cause to suppliers, customers, and other parties. 

How Does It Work?

Generally, commercial insurance is an agreement that lasts for one year and can be renewed by either party. It involves paying an agreed amount of money to an insurance agency that will assume the liabilities and the damages that your business may experience during the year. 

The amount of money paid to the insurance company typically depends on the properties at hand, possible risk exposure, and other possible requirements such as the number of customers and vendors associated with the organization. 

Do You Need Commercial Insurance?

Before you start running your commercial organization in Dorchester, MA, you need to have your commercial insurance in place so that you can be ready from the first day of your operations. Vargas & Vargas Insurance will guide you in the process of getting the best commercial insurance to meet the needs of your business. 

4 Tips on Preparing Your Car for Spring

driver looking at the spring weather in a parked car

Preparing your car for spring helps to ensure it functions properly in the warmer weather. Spring cleaning not only allows you to remove all the dirt and snow debris, but the simple maintenance and checks that you do in the process can save your car from potential damage and save you money through your auto coverage. You can choose to clean your vehicle yourself or take it a professional. Here are tips for preparing your car for spring:

1. Wash Inside and Outside Your Car

Wash your car thoroughly and remove all the salt buildup and snow debris accumulated in the undercarriage. Removing the salt and buildup prevents rust and keeps your vehicle in good condition. Also clean the interior of the car, including the floor and mat.

2. Check Your Wipers

During winter, windshield wipers do a lot of work. Check and see if they are in good condition, then replace the blades if they are worn out. New wiper blades will give you better functionality and improved visibility as spring begins. Good visibility when driving is essential to reduce accidents.

3. Inspect Your Tires

Align and rotate each of your tires. Check the alignment and make sure the car is driving straight. Check the treads, as well. If you changed your tires to winter tires, you should switch back to all-season tires for better functionality in the spring.

4. Confirm Your Insurance 

Check your insurance policy and make sure it sufficiently covers claims that are common in the season. For example, you can look at the comprehensive coverage and familiarize yourself with what it entails.  You can also check with your insurance agent in case of any auto insurance benefits or discounts now available.

Transitioning from winter to spring requires proper preparation to ensure the safety and proper functionality of your vehicle. Whether preparing your car for spring is a DIY project or you choose to seek professional services, these tips will help your vehicle serve you better in spring. Vargas and Vargas is a premier local independent insurance company. We are here to answer all your insurance questions, so contact us today

Top 5 Reasons to Use an Independent Agent for Your Personal Insurance

happy family with two children in the middle of their living room

Accidents happen, and when they do, we need a companion to hold our hand through the devastating effects. Personal insurance provides compensation for any damages sustained in the aftermath of an accident. There are several ways you can get personal insurance. Whether you opt for secure coverage from insurance organizations or buy policies online, navigating the coverage and claim is easier with a trusted companion by your side. Independent insurance agents rise to the task. Here are some benefits of using an independent agent for your personal insurance.

1. Wider Choice of Insurers

Independent insurance agents represent multiple insurance companies, so they can obtain quotes from different insurers. Different insurers might have varying products and scope of coverage. When you have the help of an independent personal insurance agent, you can compare other insurers’ policies and choose one that suits your needs.

2. Licensed Professionals

Independent agents are legally obligated to be ethical. That’s why an independent agent needs to obtain a license before presenting any services to you. A licensed independent insurance agent is morally tied to act in your best interests. You can always verify the validity of an independent insurance agent by checking with the insurance department.

3. Personalized Services

You are likely to be one of the many individuals looking for personal insurance coverage. The niche is known to be crowded. When you choose an independent agent for your personal insurance, you can develop a close relationship. They will help you understand the different personal insurance covers and acquire a more personalized insurance cover.

4. Risk Assessment

Independent insurance agents are trained to assess risk. An independent insurance agent can help assess the situation and suggest an individualized cover. An agent will help you prioritize the risks and also help you determine which risks are insurable. With a background knowledge of your geographical area, an agent will help evaluate the potential risks and how to mitigate them.

5. Claims Assistance

Navigating the world of claims can be time-consuming. An independent insurance agent will help you file claims for any accidents that occur. In case of any event, you can contact an agent, and they will take it from there. Independent insurance agents act as your advocates when a risk occurs. The familiarity in handling personal insurance claim procedures makes the process smoother. Independent insurance agents will help you get reasonable compensation. With the help of an independent agent for your personal insurance, you can receive compensation in a shorter duration.

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 and also be here to answer all of your insurance questions. So contact us today.

How an Insurance Agent Can Help With Your Home Purchase

couple in front of their newly bought home

Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting events in a family’s life.  It is also a great time of confusion. So many pieces have to come together to turn a house into your new home. Having the right team throughout the home buying process is an important part of the puzzle. It’s common to think of realtors and mortgage brokers as part of your team, but did you know your local independent insurance agent can be a vital player, as well?

Resources

Independent insurance agents are not only in the community. They are an active part of the community. Because of this, they know the answers to most of those all-important questions when you’re purchasing a home.  With knowledge of community services, neighborhoods, school systems, and referral partners, your insurance agent can be a great resource to help in your home purchase journey. 

Guarding Against Surprises

You wouldn’t purchase your home without knowing how much the mortgage will be. You’ll also want to review your homeowners insurance in advance of your home purchase. This way, you can detect any obstacles like pre-existing or current home damage, which may affect your insurance, before purchase.  Your insurance agent will review all the features of your future home to make sure you are properly covered. The replacement cost of your home versus its market value can be very confusing. Your insurance agent will walk you through the difference and explain your coverage in detail. This is also a great time to re-evaluate all of your insurance in consideration of your changing needs. 

Ease of Home Purchase

Your insurance premium is often escrowed, meaning it is included as a part of your mortgage payment. Your insurance agent can work directly with your lender to deliver all insurance documents before your closing. This takes one more thing off of your hands and ensures your coverage begins immediately. 

A home is an important purchase. Vargas & Vargas Insurance, a premier local independent insurance agency, will customize your homeowners insurance, answer all of your questions, and be there for you on the journey to your dream home. Contact us today to learn more.

When should your review your home insurance

About a month before your home insurance is due for renewal you will receive a copy of your policy details in the mail or maybe in an email. The front page of that is your Homeowners Policy Declaration. It includes your policy number, the dates your policy is in effect, your agent’s name, and the address of the property being insured. It also includes your liability limits, deductibles, and any additional coverages you have. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA, our staff is focused on making sure our customers have a positive insurance experience. We put our customer’s needs first. 

When your policy renews

When you get this notice from your insurer, it is the perfect time to review all the figures. Look at the amount of coverage you have for the replacement of your home, contents, outbuildings, living expenses, and liability coverage. Do they make sense? Has the cost of your policy gone up substantially? Is there a legitimate reason for the increase? What is your deductible? After you have looked it over you may want to have a discussion with your insurance agent. 

When you add a significant amount of additional content

If you receive or purchase expensive jewelry, your policy may not cover it. Most traditional home policies have a low threshold for jewelry and other expensive items. You can add a rider to your policy to cover these items. 

You make upgrades

If you make changes to your home: finish the basement or attic, add an extension or upgrade a kitchen the value of your home may have increased. If you replace your roof or add a home security system, you may be eligible for a discount. Make sure your agent knows all the latest information about your home. 

Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA with your home insurance needs.