What Is Personal Property Insurance?

Personal property insurance is part of a home insurance policy. It provides coverage for the items in your home that are damaged or lost due to events, called named perils, such as fire, lightning, smoke, theft, and vandalism. In this article, we’ll discuss what types of coverage you can have and what you need to know as you shop for a policy.

couple playing on an insured piano in their home

Personal Property Types of Coverages

There are two types of personal property coverage:

  1. Actual Cash Value (ACV)
  2. Replacement cost value

An actual cash value policy is where an agreed-upon amount is decided upon when drafting your policy, which is the replacement value of the item minus depreciation. This amount is what you will be paid if the property is damaged or stolen. The insurance company will reimburse the agreed upon actual cash value in qualifying circumstances. 

Replacement value is the second type of coverage. This coverage allows you to replace the item with another item of “replacement value.” In other words, it covers the cost of replacing the item with another similar item — a TV for another TV, for example. To get reimbursed by your insurance company with this method, you must generally buy a replacement item and submit your receipts to the insurance company for payment.

Personal Property When You Have a Home, Condo or Renter Insurance Policy

Personal property is covered differently depending upon whether you have traditional home insurance or condo or renter’s insurance. Home insurance will usually cover your personal property for an aggregate amount of up to 50% of the dwelling amount, or the amount your home is insured for. So if your home is insured for $240,000, your personal property will be insured for $120,000. If you’d like to have more insurance for your personal property, you may have the option to choose more than 50%, but with a higher premium. 

Renter’s or condo insurance provides coverage amounts a bit differently. You will be able to pick the amount of insurance you want based on your estimate of coverage needed. This amount will depend upon what you own and how much it is worth. The coverage amounts vary by the insurance provider and by the specific type of policy offered.

More Valuable or Expensive Personal Property

If you own items that are more valuable, such as antiques or collectibles, you might invest in additional insurance for this coverage. You may hear terms such as floater, endorsement, or scheduled personal property. These actually refer to additional coverage that you may purchase to cover valuable items that might not be covered specifically under your home owner’s insurance coverage limits.  

Contact us and let us help you with your personal property insurance needs. Vargas & Vargas Insurance provides friendly assistance with all of your coverage needs.

Condo Owners Need More Coverage Than the Master Policy

Although most new condo owners are added to the property’s master policy upon purchase of the unit, the claim that this policy is all owners need is misleading. You may have been told that your unit’s coverage under the master policy prevents you from having to purchase separate coverage, but the policy is only meant to protect the property, not your personal possessions. If your condo is only covered under the master policy, now is a good time to purchase additional coverage that meets your needs. 

couple researching condo insurance as they move into a new condo

What Is a Master Policy? 

A master policy is the most basic type of insurance used by condo owners. It typically covers damage to the building itself, as well as common areas and liability for the condominium association. However, unlike other policies, your master policy does not cover your belongings or personal liability. The master policy provides the necessary protection for your condominium association. But only being covered under the master policy is not sufficient to protect yourself. 

How Should I Cover My Condo?

Every condo owner’s coverage should be comprised of both the master policy and individual condo insurance. Condo insurance is similar to regular homeowners insurance, but it is designed to meet the unique needs of shared property ownership. It covers owners’ belongings and personal liability, as well as additional coverage for the building itself. Upgraded features may also be covered only by condo insurance, as many master policies only cover standard features.    

What Happens If a Claim Is Made?

If a claim is made for something that happens within your unit, you will generally be defended by your private insurance company, not the master policy. Your insurance company will cover the necessary funds, minus the deductible. If you are only covered by the master policy, you will likely be responsible for the claim.  

Your master policy should work together with private condo insurance to provide the best possible protection, rather than being considered the only insurance you need. In order to adequately protect yourself and your belongings, select a condo insurance policy that effectively fills in the gaps of your master policy.  At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you find the right coverage.

Stay Current on Massachusetts RMV Extensions and Reduced Insurance Rates

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, and new changes continue to roll out. Drivers and car-related industries have experienced some unique challenges. What should you do if your vehicle registration is due? In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) renewal deadlines are extended. Also, many car insurance companies are giving back money to their customers.

women standing by her car at home

Registration and Renewal Extensions

The shutdown, phased reopening, and social distancing measures are necessary to ensure public safety and health during the COVID-19 crisis. But because of the changes and importance of staying home, the Massachusetts RMV has posted COVID-19 changes and updates regarding important registration and renewal dates. Driver’s license and permit renewals, which were due in March and April, were initially allotted a 60-day extension. However, the RMV has updated the timeline, with March-June renewal dates now extended until July 30, 2020. Plate registration and inspection sticker renewals that were initially due by May 31, 2020, are extended until July 31, 2020.

Customers are encouraged to use the RMV online services whenever possible. Residents who require in-person assistance at an RMV service center must reserve an appointment ahead of time. Reservations can be scheduled by phone or online.

Reduced Car Insurance Rates

The various social distancing measures have caused many people to spend more time at home. As people are commuting less, many auto insurance companies have stepped forward to offer reduced rates for customers. Many national and local insurance providers — including Allstate, Progressive, Geico, Plymouth Rock, Arbella Insurance, Vermont Mutual, MAPFRE, and many others — are participating in relief options for premiums during the current pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the auto and insurance industries continue to provide customers with valuable updates and changes to accommodate customer needs during this challenging time. Contact us today to stay on top of your coverage needs and adapt to ongoing changes. Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you stay informed on how COVID-19 is impacting vehicle registrations and auto insurance policies.

What You Need to Know About Phase Two of Massachusetts Reopening

The state of Massachusetts is reopening in phases. On Monday, June 8, Phase Two of the plan was initiated. With the peak of COVID-19 on the decline in the state, Phase Two for many parts of the economy and communities has had many businesses reopening their doors for the first time in months. Below are what residents can expect in the next couple of weeks. 

woman opening her store during Phase 2 of Massachusetts reopening

Retail Stores and Restaurants

At the beginning of Phase Two, restaurants with outdoor dining options were able to reopen to patrons. All dining tables are mandated to be six feet apart, allowing for the required social distancing requirements. 

Retail stores also can begin to open their doors, but capacity limits will be in place. In addition to staff members, only eight customers will be permitted in the building per 1,000 square feet. This allowance keeps the store at 40 percent or lower occupancy at all times. 

Healthcare Facilities

With non-essential services postponed during the pandemic, many healthcare facilities were closed indefinitely. During Phase Two, many of these facilities can start to reopen and resume standard services. Patients in the hospital will be permitted one visitor, which is up from the no visitor policy in Phase One. Non-essential and cosmetic surgeries will continue to be delayed during Phase Two with plans to resume in Phase Three. 

Child Care Services

If certain distancing requirements are met for child care and summer camps, they may be allowed to reopen during Phase Two. 

Lodging and Personal Services

All services that do not require close contact between employees and customers are able to reopen under the same social distancing requirements of six feet between individuals. In terms of lodging, hotels can reopen to guests. However, community areas such as meeting rooms and pools will not be allowed to open. 

Outdoor Recreation

As long as sporting events can be practiced and played with social distancing regulations in place, they will be permitted. All adult sports games will be moved to outdoor facilities during this phase in order for them to continue. Local and state parks will continue reopening for public use over the next couple of weeks. 

These changes are expected to continue throughout Phase Two, leading into the next phases as cases of the virus continue to decline. The importance of Phase Two is to allow Massachusetts residents the ability to acclimate back into society safely and cautiously. 

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you feel safe at home and as you work. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today to maintain your insurance needs. 

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

Protecting Your Most Prized Possessions: How to Insure Your Engagement Ring

The question has been popped, and now you’re sporting a shiny new rock on your left hand. Congratulations! Before you start hearing church bells and say, “I do,” it’s important that you take the time to protect your valuable new asset with the proper insurance policy. While ring insurance may not be the most romantic thing you’ve ever thought of, protecting your beloved piece can give you peace of mind. You’ll know you’re covered in the event of an unfortunate situation. Here’s what you need to know about getting your engagement ring insured.

man proposing to a woman while holding an engagement ring

1. Don’t Wait to Insure Your Ring

As soon as the ring is purchased, you or your fiancé can have it insured. The sooner you choose to do so, the sooner you’ll be protected. 

2. Understand How the Insurance Works

When it comes to finding an insurance company to insure a piece of jewelry, you have two options: adding it to your homeowners or renters policy, or finding an independent company that specializes in jewelry. The cost of the insurance will depend on if your insurance company requires a deductible and where you live. For policies with no deductible, you will likely pay more in monthly premiums. On average, you can expect to pay $1 to $2 for every $100 your ring is worth.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Before you commit to a policy, be sure to ask your provider these questions:

  • Are you covered for damages, loss, and theft?
  • How do you prove that the ring disappeared?
  • What circumstances aren’t covered?
  • Can you choose who does repairs on the ring?
  • If a replacement is covered, where are you allowed to buy a new ring?

4. Get It Appraised 

Choose an appraiser who has the proper credentials to give you an accurate value of the ring. Be sure to keep a copy of the documentation that proves your ring’s condition and worth, so that you can not only have it replaced if something happens, but also so that you pay the appropriate premium on your investment.

While some appraisal services may try to exaggerate the value of your ring, getting the actual value of the ring is critical to keep you from paying higher monthly premiums unnecessarily. It’s also worth noting that most insurance companies will choose to replace a missing ring rather than write a check to the consumer to replace it. Many already have relationships with jewelry wholesalers and will never pay the retail price or pay for an inflated appraisal value.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you enjoy your engagement ring for years to come without worrying about it getting lost or damaged. Contact us today to learn more about our competitive insurance services and how we can protect your most prized possession.

What Can I Do About Forced Place Insurance?

man researching a home insurance policy to replace his forced place insurance

Forced place insurance is only applied after a homeowner has failed to meet insurance requirements as detailed in their mortgage. So the first step in avoiding the additional cost of this type of insurance is staying on top of your insurance obligations. Know exactly what type of insurance coverage your lender requires before purchasing a home, and do your research to find a cost-effective policy that meets your needs. Justly as importantly, keep up with your payments to prevent your coverage from expiring. 

If you do find yourself unexpectedly billed for forced place insurance, there are steps that you can take to have the policy removed. First, you will need to pay the premium as soon as possible in order to prevent your lender from taking further action, such as seeking foreclosure. This buys you a limited amount of time to correct the issue in order to prevent it from becoming a larger problem. 

Once you have taken care of this crucial step, search for a new insurance policy to replace the forced place insurance. You will either need to restart your expired policy or purchase a new one that meets your lender’s requirements. 

Then, once you have purchased a replacement insurance policy, provide your lender with a written request to remove the forced place insuranceand proof that your new policy fulfills the requirements. Be sure to stay informed about any changes to your lender’s requirements in order to avoid future insurance problems.  

Removing Forced Place Insurance Is Simple with the Right Insurance Service

Although forced place insurance is expensive and inconvenient for homeowners, it is an issue that is relatively easy to resolve. By providing your lender with proof that you have corrected your error, most homeowners can quickly return to their chosen homeowners insurance policy instead of paying far more for forced place insurance.

 At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we are experts at getting you the right coverage at the right price. Call us at 617-298-0655 today to learn more about our services!

How Much Condo Insurance Do You Need?

In order to determine how much condo insurance you need in Dorchester MA, you should plan to look at your condo’s association master policy.

How Much Dwelling Coverage Do You Need?

There are two types of master policies that affect how much dwelling coverage you need. All-inclusive means that the policy insures the exterior and interior surfaces of the unit and you would just need to worry about the stuff you own. Fixtures attached to the wall, such as the shower, cupboards, and toilets, also fall under this master policy. However, improvements are considered a gray area. A bare wall in policy means that everything inside the condo’s four walls needs insurance. This means fixtures and appliances have to be covered by your individual policy. If your condo association has bare walls in the policy then you will need more dwelling coverage. 

Once you have figured out what type of dwelling coverage you need you to evaluate your options with an agent at Vargas & Vargas Insurance and discuss what it would cost to recreate your condo in the event a major accident happens. You can use an estimate from your mortgage lender or an estimate from a contractor or architect. Sometimes a mortgage lender will have a requirement for the specific amount of dwelling coverage you should have. It’s important to keep your dwelling coverage updated as you make improvements to your condos, such as a bathroom or kitchen renovation since it would be a higher cost to replace these new items.  

How Much Property Coverage Do You Need?

The easiest way to determine how coverage you need for your personal property in Dorchester, MA is by doing an inventory. Be sure that all your valuable items, such as jewelry, are covered. 

Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance to get a quote on condo insurance. 

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

What You Need to Know About Forced Place Insurance

young couple in their living room

Unexpectedly finding yourself paying for forced place insurance can create a significant dent in your monthly budget. This type of insurance is a lender’s response to expired or insufficient insurance, and it costs significantly more than your own policy. It sometimes as much as four times the cost of your own policy. Fortunately, there are steps homeowners can take to resolve their current insurance deficiencies and request that their lenders remove the forced place insurance policy. 

What Is Forced Place Insurance? 

Forced place insurance is an insurance policy that your mortgage company purchases to cover their interest in your home if:

  • You let your home insurance policy expire, or
  • Your policy does not meet their coverage requirements.

Forced place insurance generally only covers the cost of your mortgage. While other insurance policies cover your possessions and the full cost of replacing your home, as well as protect you in the event of a lawsuit, forced place insurance does not protect the homeowner and only replaces the cost that protects your bank or mortgage company. 

Why Is Forced Place Insurance So Expensive?

Forced place insurance is generally more expensive than regular homeowners insurance. That’s because it is an extra step that your lender needs to take if they determine that you have not met the insurance requirements specified in your mortgage. Because your property must be insured in order to protect your lender, allowing your homeowners insurance to expire — or purchasing a policy that does not meet the needs of your area — gives your lender the right to purchase any policy they choose for your property.

In many circumstances, the cost of forced place insurance can cost multiple times the amount of a typical homeowners insurance policy. Because the cost of this policy becomes the homeowner’s responsibility, most lenders will not shop around for an affordable option.

If you want to know more about forced place insurance and how to get a more favorable policy, we can help. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today.