Things home insurance doesn’t cover

Buying a home in Dorchester, MA is something that many people aspire to. Once you have purchased your home, making sure that it is safe and protected becomes a top priority. When you have a mortgage, you are required to carry home insurance.  This may give you a false sense of security. You may think that you are protected against everything that could happen to your home. but you would be incorrect. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance we would like to talk to you about additional coverage that you may want to consider for the things that home insurance doesn’t cover. 

Flood

Floods are not covered under a typical home insurance policy. Since floods cause millions of dollars of damage every year you would think that it would be included in home coverage but you would be wrong. You need to purchase an additional policy specifically for floods in order to be protected and with the rising water around the world, more and more areas are in danger from floods. 

Earthquake/sinkholes

Earthquakes and almost any sort of earth movement ( including sinkholes and mudslides) are not typically covered on a home insurance policy. If it is something that you need coverage for, you should choose a company that offers it as additional coverage. 

Sewer backup

You may not have considered this possibility but the potential for a sewer backup doing a lot of damage to your home is always there. It doesn’t matter what type of sewer system you have, you will need to have additional coverage to be protected. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance we believe that having a home insurance policy offers you a lot of valuable protection but we do understand that a basic home policy does not cover everything that can happen. We would like to discuss your Dorchester, MA home insurance needs with you. Stop by our office or give us a call to set up an appointment so that we can find a policy to offer you the peace of mind you deserve.

Is Twice Yearly Too Often?

It’s often said that “insurance is boring.”  This notion probably leads many consumers to avoid communicating with their Independent Insurance Agent unless absolutely necessary.

Three “absolutely necessary” moments come immediately to mind:

  1. Increased Premium notification
  2. Notice to cancel
  3. A Claim

While you can only minimize your chances of ever having to make a claim on your insurance policy with smart, proactive and risk-aversion thinking, you can eliminate the first two instances of speaking with with your Agent.

The simple way to cancel out these two dreaded tasks is to speak with your Independent Insurance Agent twice a year. You might think you can cut that down to only once a year, around the time of your renewal period coming up.  But twice annually is truly the ideal scenario to deal with this otherwise “boring” task.

Checking in with your Agent in advance of renewal time allows you both to update each other on developments. 

For your part, you get to share news of:
* the new job
* the new child
* the vacation you’re planning
* the new jewelry or artwork
* the new addition to your home you’re planning. 

Your Agent may find this information fascinating and entertaining, but, more importantly your Agent can react to your news with important information on how these wonderful developments can affect your overall insurance plan.   And that call becomes worth its weight in gold.  Because your Agent can then review your current policies for how those policies cover your new life developments. 

If there are any challenges encountered therein, the kind that could affect a premium at renewal time, or worse, offer the carrier an opportunity to cancel the policy, your Agent has the chance to get out in front of the problem.

While you’re busy sharing wonderful developments, your Agent can also update you on any developments in the insurance realm that can either affect your current policies in a negative fashion (again, anticipating problems before they arise at renewal time), or potentially save you money by changing the coverages, policies, or even insurance carriers.

It’s not boring when you’re saving money and improving your insurance coverage.  Make that call to your Independent Insurance Agent. 
Twice. Every year.

Please schedule a call with us to discuss your policy portfolio to ensure you have adequate coverage at an affordable price.

Invite Your Neighbors to The Party

Do you know the old advice about throwing a party when you’re the new kid in town?  Yes, it’s housewarming time and you’re so happy and you invite all your friends over to celebrate.  But you don’t want to annoy your new neighbors, do you?  It’s no good getting on the bad side of your neighbors when you’re the newbie on the street/floor.

The old advice about just such a moment is to invite those very same neighbors! That’s right, don’t just invite your friends, invite the neighbors, the people who aren’t your friends.  (Hopefully some day they will be, but that’s another story altogether)

The idea behind this wisdom is that, if your party gets a little loud, your neighbors can’t possibly complain to you by banging on your door, or, worse, by calling the police.  How can they complain about your party when you invited them in the first place?  They could easily have accepted your invitation, and could just as easily be enjoying themselves with all the other revelers and getting to know you, their new neighbor too.

Take that advice a step further when you’re going to get some serious construction or landscaping work done on your home. Invite the neighbors, in a manner of speaking.  

Let’s say you hired a tree company to come in and remove several large trees.  You know the crew is going to arrive early in the morning.  And you know it’s going to get loud out there very quickly, between chainsaws, falling trees, workers yelling, and, oh, the wood chipper blasting!

Why leave it to chance that your neighbors are going to be annoyed by this early morning noise?  Let them know in advance about the work, either with a notecard you leave on their door, or a nice letter in the mail, or by knocking on the door, and introducing yourself.  You might even invite them to stop by for a cup of coffee to watch the trees come down!

There’s a lot to be said about tranquility in your neighborhood, and this is a great way to promote that, and make some new friends in the process.  So, when you’re getting major repair work or landscaping work done at your house, invite the neighbors!

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance portfolio. Please schedule a call with us to discuss your policies.

Keep Your Homeowner Policy Safe

Dangers are abound in even the simplest of repair situations, so steer clear of the contractor’s work zone. 

When you hire the right contractor to do repairs or renovations or maintenance at your home, you want to maintain a respectful distance from their work area.

The contractor has been trained and, through long experience, knows how to maintain a safe work zone for themselves.  When you intrude across the boundaries of that zone, you introduce an unexpected variable in the contractors work process.

And that is when it can get messy. Be prudent when you’re hiring a contractor. How?

Request evidence of insurance. 

Speaking of safety and experience, don’t forget to collect the necessary certificates of insurance from your contractors. If anything happens on your property, you don’t want to give anyone any reason to abnegate responsibility to seek remedy for their injuries under YOUR homeowners insurance policy. 

Yes, you read that right.

If your state doesn’t require Workers Compensation coverage, the Homeowners policy could apply to cover lawsuits filed by an injured worker or to pay for medical expenses incurred if they don’t file a lawsuit. 

While the work area may appear to you to be perfectly safe, it is after all, your house and you know your house better than anyone, you still cannot anticipate hazards known all too well to the contractor through their possible training and experience. 

Respect the contractors’ work zone and, if you have a coffee or other tasty treats to share, let the contractor know where you’ve placed it easily accessible in your kitchen.  Then the contractor can enter the work zone and you can be comfortable the premises are safe.

Please schedule a call with us to discuss the very complicated process of your homeowners policy being exposed compared to the contractors’ workers compensation policy.

You want to ensure that your homeowners policy is updated and accurate to protect you in the event hired workers do not provide proof of insurance.

To Escrow or Not To Escrow?

Many Homeowners have an escrow account for their mortgage payment. The purpose of the escrow account is to maintain a balance of funds the mortgage lender uses to pay bills on behalf of the Homeowner such as property taxes and insurance.

Many other Homeowners do not have an escrow account, even if they have a mortgage; they pay their own taxes and insurance directly.

Not every mortgage program requires that a Homeowner maintain an escrow account.  The general rules are the following for an escrow requirement:

  • Down payment less than 25% at time of purchase
  • Government Insured mortgage (FHA, VA), regardless of down payment at time of purchase

If your mortgage is not a Government-insured mortgage, and your down payment is less than 25% you still have the option to request a “waiver” of the escrow account requirement. Sometimes a lender will charge a premium—usually in the points paid—to waive the escrow requirement.

There is one primary benefit to having your property taxes and insurance included in an escrow account.  This is the monthly budgeting benefit.  Since the taxes and insurance escrow is included in your mortgage payment, then the mortgage payment is the only budget item you need to plan for.  

But there’s an important negative aspect to an escrow account.  The “set it and forget it” mentality that can easily set in.  That is, since your Homeowner’s insurance is included in your mortgage, many Homeowners not only forget to review their insurance on an annual basis to determine savings on premiums, but these same Homeowners often have no idea of the amount of their annual insurance premium, including when the premium increases.

If you have the opportunity to remove at least your Homeowners Insurance from your escrow account, you should do so.  This control allows you to discuss your insurance twice every year with your Independent Insurance Agent to lower your premiums and to take advantage of any developments that can improve the quality of your insurance coverage. 

The process to remove your Homeowners Insurance from your escrow account can be difficult but is worth the effort.  Contact your mortgage servicing lender today to find out if this option is available to you.

Lower Mills Holiday

Three unique factors regarding classic auto insurance

Standard auto insurance isn’t typically enough for those who own a classic automobile. Such an automobile tends to be more valuable while also holding a lot of emotional value for the vehicle owner.

There are numerous factors that make classic auto insurance unique from standard auto insurance. The following are three unique factors: 

Classic auto insurance usually reimburses for the full or “guaranteed” value of the vehicle in the event of a total loss. 

A standard auto insurance policy won’t necessarily cover a vehicle for its total value in the event that it is completely destroyed in an accident. On the other hand, a typical classic auto insurance policy will usually cover the vehicle for its full, guaranteed value. This value is usually mutually agreed upon by the vehicle owner and the insurance company at the time that the policy is purchased 

A classic car insurance policy typically covers a vehicle that is between 19 and 24 years old.

With most insurance providers, a vehicle that falls in between 19 and 24 years old should be covered under a classic auto insurance policy. On the other hand, an older vehicle would be covered under a policy specifically designated as an “antique” auto insurance policy. 

Another common type of auto insurance policy for collectors is the modified car insurance policy. This is used for vehicles that have been heavily altered by the owner in terms of their engine, chassis, interior, or another factor.

Additional features included in classic auto insurance include Auto Show Medical Reimbursement and No Attendance Required features.

There are numerous unique options available for classic auto insurance. Two examples are auto show medical reimbursement and no attendance required features.

Auto show medical reimbursement provides coverage for damages when an accident is caused by a vehicle in the events of an auto show. No attendance required means that the policy will cover damages even when the vehicle owned isn’t present when the accident occurs. 

If you are looking for a classic auto insurance policy for your vehicle, contact us at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to learn more about the policies we offer for vehicle owners in Dorchester, MA.

Holiday Travel Turmoil

This week marks the busiest travel holiday of the year. Historically, the statistics prove that millions are driving and flying this week to celebrate with loved ones for this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

With this busy travel season comes delays and frustration. If it’s not the weather, then it’s crowded airlines, bus terminals and congested highways. If that doesn’t promote stress, I’m not sure what does. In fact,

Depending on where you are located and to where you are traveling, you could be facing inclement weather such as snow, freezing rain, and sleet creating slippery roads. And even if the dangerous, delaying weather isn’t where you’re located, it could be brewing at your destination location. Or, if you’re flying, then bad weather elsewhere in the country can affect your flight departures/arrivals, even in sunny climes. 

Many are used to traveling and many are used to purchasing insurance. When was the last time you considered purchasing travel insurance. Yes, it’s a thing and it has saved clients hundreds and thousands of dollars from canceled and upended travel plans.

Depending on the type of policy, travel Insurance may cover accident and sickness medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation/repatriation, trip delays, cancellation, interruption, missed connections due to severe weather and a host of other reasons beyond the traveler’s control.

During this busy travel season, reduce your stress. Take control of something within your control: minimizing lost costs of what would have otherwise been a joyful trip. 

It should be noted that one of the drawbacks is you must plan your travel insurance protection ahead. Many travel insurance carriers, depending on the type of coverage they offer, must booked at the time the trip is booked.

Call us today to review how your travel plans can be saved.

Does Your Renters Insurance Cover Stolen Packages?

Most renters insurance policies cover replacement items everywhere, not just at your home. This includes items stolen off your porch or in front of your door. It also covers your laptop if your friend douses it in a latte at the coffee bar. It will even cover luggage that you may have lost on vacation.

woman receiving a package at her front door
Protect your packages with renters insurance and knowledge about your carrier’s claim processes.

However, one thing to consider is the deductible. Some deductibles are either $500.00 or $1,000.00. Since a renter has to pay the deductible, is it even worth filing a claim? If it was a $1,200.00 laptop or television, then it’s worth your time and the cost of the deductible. But if it was a $30.00 child’s toy, it may not be worth your time.

What Steps Should You Take If Something Is Stolen from Your Porch?

Research shows that over 25 million people have packages stolen every year. The majority of carriers have a package tracking system, so you can determine if it was stolen or just delayed. Along with renters insurance, you can use company claims policies to protect both your large and small deliveries. Each carrier has different rules:

United States Postal Service

USPS makes you wait seven days to file a claim. They need to know the sender and recipient addresses, tracking number, package dimensions, and a description of the package’s contents.

Always remember to insure the package. Without this step, the only thing you get back is the cost of the shipping.

FedEx

FedEx lets you or the seller file a claim. They typically cover up to the lesser of $100.00 of the total shipment value or the total amount that you insured it for. FedEx processes claims quickly, so you should receive a payment within a week of filing.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

UPS also has a claim process for lost packages. UPS has online procedures for both lost and damaged packages. You can begin the filing process if you don’t have your package within 24 hours of the anticipated delivery time.

Amazon

Amazon’s A to Z Guarantee for Buyers covers up to $2,500.00 of the purchase price. First, you must contact the seller for a refund. If they are unwilling to work with you, then you can file a claim. However, you must file the claim between 15 and 90 days from the purchase date. If the claim is accepted, you can get a full refund up to the 2,500.00 limit.

If you frequently have packages delivered to your apartment or rented home, or you’re worried about your belongings, renters insurance can help. Contact our team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to learn more about the benefits of a renters insurance policy from a local service provider.

Flashback Blog: Boston is No Stranger to Fire

The city of Boston has been destroyed by large blazes multiple times. The first devastation of fire occurred in 1631; just one year after Boston was officially established.

Here are a few tips to keep you from having to file a fire damage claim on your home insurance.

The first thing you should cement in your mind is to never leave a flame burning where it cannot be seen. Enjoying an aromatherapy session with some scented candles? Even if you need to leave the room for just a moment, blow them out. You never know if something will delay or distract you from returning immediately.

Keep pets, especially agile cats, away from lit candles, scented oil burners, and other open flames. They could bump or knock over the materials, causing a fire that could have been avoided. On the same train of thought, teach your children proper fire safety. Flames and the resulting smoke can be very dangerous.

In case a fire does occur, despite your best efforts to handle flames safely, make sure you have up to date insurance in Boston, MA. Boston boasts median home values above $100,000. 

Without coverage, how would you repair or rebuild your home after a fire ravaged your property? Avoid this potential financial burden by requesting a free insurance estimate today and putting your coverage in place. 

With Vargas & Vargas Insurance, you can get the coverage you need for your home. Click here to contact us today for more information!