Getting your Dorchester area home ready for winter with the right insurance

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is here for the residents of Boston, MA, and the surrounding area. If you are considering a new home purchase or want to make sure that you have the right insurance in place before winter arrives, give our office a call.

Get your home ready for winter with the right insurance

Winters can be disruptive in our area, and it only makes sense to carry the correct type of insurance at the correct policy levels. If it’s been a while since you have reviewed your policy, now is a great time to do so. Home insurance needs can change over time, so it is advisable to review your policy regularly.

In the lead-up to winter, be sure to have your home ready for the weather. Make sure your home policy contains all the coverage you need. Roofs, windows, and outbuildings are often frequent targets of loss and damage. Be sure that your policy covers such items and at the correct amount.

Liability coverage is another part of your policy that is important to review. If someone were to slip and fall on ice located on your property, you could be held financially responsible for any injuries that they sustain. Ensure that your liability is at the correct level and provides the protection you need.

Now is the perfect time to get your home ready for winter!

Give us a call today!

Boston, MA, area residents can turn to the Vargas & Vargas Insurance team for all their insurance needs. We handle all types of insurance, including homeowners. Let us help you ensure that you have the proper protection. Call or stop by today!

Why Have Smoke Detectors Tested Before the Holidays?

As we begin the last quarter of the year, it’s time to make sure those smoke detectors are working. Yes, even when the snow is coming down and the temperatures drop, fires can still happen in the home. In fact, fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires each year due to improper care of Christmas trees.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fires can happen thanks to malfunctioning HVAC units, cooking accidents, wood stoves, fireplaces being started, and more during the coldest months of the year. In many cases, people will overload a power outlet with lights and appliances to the point of causing a fire.

Let’s go over properly taking care of your fire detection devices.

Why Should You Check Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms?

Units such as smoke detectors and fire alarms are not immune to the ravages of time. Batteries die, electronic components may fail, and other elements can wear out as the years march on.

Regularly testing your devices helps keep your family safe while potentially limiting the damage to your property. A good rule of thumb is to replace the batteries in your devices at daylight savings time.

How Often Should You Check These Devices?

According to the US Fire Administration, you should check smoke detectors and fire alarms at least once every six months. For most devices, all you need to do is simply push the test button.

You should also keep an eye on the manufactured date of the device. If it is older than 10 years, then you’ll want to have it replaced as soon as possible. Luckily, smoke detectors and fire alarms are not overly expensive to replace.

Think of it this way; would you rather spend $40 now to replace the unit or the thousands of dollars you’ll pay should a fire break out while you have a faulty detector?

We recently had a smoke detector that would continuously chime even after replacing the batteries. When I opened it up, the installation date of the unit was 2004! We decided to replace it as soon as possible and picked a device that also doubles as a carbon monoxide detector. The best part is that it has a 10-year lithium battery, so, no more replacing the 9-volt square batteries two times per year. That may not sound like much of a savings until you consider that it adds up over the span of the smoke detector’s lifecycle.

What to Look for When Testing Smoke Detectors

Although every unit will have its own documentation to follow, there are several universal elements you’ll need to consider when testing a smoke detector or fire alarm.

For most battery-powered and hard-wired units, pay attention to:

  • Weak or non-existent sound during testing. An alarm is useless if it can’t wake you up. Try replacing the batteries.
  • Place detectors in areas where the sound is low or muffled. You want total coverage in order to clearly hear the alarm.
  • Clean any dust or debris from smoke detectors, especially if you have pets or live in rural areas where the dust level is higher.
  • Have someone stand the furthest they can in your home from the detector when testing. Can he or she hear the alarm clearly?

Overall, smoke detectors and fire alarms are some of the easiest to maintain in the home. And if the sound is weak, even with new batteries, then you’ll want to replace the device.

Always Pay Attention to Protective Devices

From fire alarms to carbon monoxide detectors, it’s vital that you make sure all of your devices are functioning properly. The best part is that it takes less than a few minutes to test or even replace these units.

While you’re maintaining these life-saving devices, also consider your homeowner’s policy. You may qualify for additional savings by having certain things installed. At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you identify any discounts available as well as find you the best policies for your needs.

Contact us today to help keep your family and property protected. It only takes the slightest spark to create a winter nightmare.

Is the FAIR Plan Home Insurance the Best Choice for Your Insurance Needs?

Not everyone lives in the most serene locations or moves into the most perfect of homes. And sometimes, issues can arise that make finding quality insurance quite difficult. That’s when a FAIR Plan insurance policy might be the best course of action.

Whether it’s from outdated wiring, roof damages, owning a high-risk dog breed, or filing too many claims, you could find yourself losing coverage of your home. However, there are options available when facing these high-risk elements.

What is the FAIR Plan?

Fair Access to Insurance Requirements, or FAIR, are plans that offer protection to homeowners, Condominiums, and nonowner-occupied properties, also known as Dwelling policies who usually cannot otherwise get coverage elsewhere. These types of policies focus on the home itself rather than the owner.

For instance, if your home is in a location prone to various severe weather conditions or crime, you may qualify for FAIR Plan coverage. This also includes residences that have old plumbing or electrical systems, as they are more likely to have been flooded or fire damaged.

Essentially, the Fair Plan offers insurance for people who are sometimes unable to qualify for a regular type of insurance plan due to the high-risk nature of the home or high insurance premium communities.

How Do You Qualify for FAIR Plan Insurance?

The qualifications for FAIR home insurance vary from state to state. Nonetheless, a lot of plans follow several eligibility requirements across the board.

Still, you may want to look into the specific requirements for your area or call us to help you.

In any case, having a “high-risk” home doesn’t automatically qualify you for FAIR Plan coverage. And in most cases, you may need to make improvements to your property before coverage is allowed.

For example, repairing prior damage or making sure that your home has no safety hazards.

What is Covered By FAIR Plan Insurance?

FAIR Plan home insurance policies provide the same coverage that traditional plans do. The FAIR Plan provides you coverage when you most need it.

The FAIR Plan will cover damages from fires, vandalism, windstorms, and other severe weather. This includes the contents of the home in some instances.

When it comes to liability, some FAIR Plan home insurance plans provide a cushion of up to $500,000 for personal protection. This includes up to $5,000 if your property injures a third party.

What are the Best Home Insurance Plans in Massachusetts?

FAIR Plan home insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you have a policy that can cover you. Regardless of your situation, there are coverage options available.

At Vargas & Vargas insurance, we specialize in all forms of insurance, including high-risk properties, homes that have outdated wiring, and various dog breeds I mentioned earlier. Contact us today and find out how we can help you get home insurance for your house or condo or investment property.

How to Protect Your Home from Rising Housing Costs

In many areas, the housing market is skyrocketing. In fact, many homes in the United States have doubled and even tripled in price. And while these rising housing costs may give you pause, it’s important to keep yourself protected.

While you may be tempted to find a way to reduce Coverage A your new home to save money, the alternative could put you in financial dire straights.

Today, let’s go over some of the ways you can keep your home protected even as the housing market continues to inflate.

Understanding Market Price vs Build Cost

There is a big difference between the market price of your home and its build cost. The materials that go into building or repairing your home could greatly vary.

For example, during the pandemic, the cost of wood skyrocketed. This meant the repair costs of certain types of damages would have been much greater. Not having enough Coverage A would have resulted in additional costs for you.

This is true regardless of where your home was located or its appraisal value.

Running a Replacement Costs Estimate

A replacement cost is when you calculate how much it would cost to rebuild a residence that is virtually similar to your previous home. Now, this estimate takes into consideration the quality of the materials used as well as various amenities and sizes.

However, it doesn’t include things like land value or other improvements made aside from the basic structure. This estimate could help you get an idea of how much Coverage A you will need in the event of a catastrophe.

Adding EDC to Your Home

Extended Dwelling Coverage, or EDC, is the additional amount of insurance from your provider to compensate in the event of a “total loss” going beyond your current coverage. In other words, it fills in the gaps when rising costs affect the amount covered when repairing or rebuilding housing.

Having an adequate EDC in your policy is always a good call. It can mean the difference between having full coverage or having to pay some of the expenses yourself.

Communicate with Your Agent

Perhaps one of the most effective ways of protecting your home when rising housing costs run rampant is by staying in communication with your agent. They are a wealth of information and will do everything they can to help within your budget.

Whether it’s finding discounts or making tweaks to your policy to provide enough coverage, your agent is on your side.

Rising Housing Costs Shouldn’t Detract from Coverage Decisions

Home insurance is one thing you do not want to skimp on. In the event of an emergency, having too little Coverage A could wind up costing you a lot of money out-of-pocket. Don’t let rising housing costs dissuade you from shielding your wallet from damages.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll go the extra mile to ensure that your home remains protected. This is regardless of how the housing market performs. It’s our job to make sure that you have coverage without breaking the bank.

Contact us today and let us help you get peace of mind when it comes to insuring your home.

Do Men Drivers Pay More for Insurance Premiums?

Most insurance companies have formulas for how much they will charge for premiums every month. One such calculation involves gender. That’s because men drivers are more likely to be involved in an automobile accident than women.

In 2020, 72% of men drivers were involved in fatal car accidents as drivers. For those who ride motorcycles, the death rate climbed sharply to 92% mortality.

Because men are nearly three times more likely to be in an accident, they are often classified as a “high risk.”

It’s this high-risk factor that gives a lot of insurers pause for concern. It’s similar to why someone who is frequently in car accidents pays more in premiums.

When a provider pays more from claims than is coming in, it’s not good business.

Ways Men Drivers Can Reduce Premiums

While men often pay more for auto insurance, there are plenty of ways drivers can keep the costs as low as possible. Some of them may seem more like second nature to you as a driver.

So, what can you do to reduce coverage costs?

  • Have a Good Driving Record: One of the easiest methods is to simply have a good record behind the wheel of your car. This discount can kick in between three and five years, depending on the insurer.
  • Take Defensive Driving Courses: Some providers will provide a discount if you complete intensive driving courses. Not only will it help you save money, but it can also keep you safer while on the road.
  • Choosing Safer Vehicles to Drive: I know, you’d probably love a sports car. However, they are usually far more expensive with full coverage than an economy car. In some instances, the difference could be in excess of $300 per year.
  • Increase the Deductible: By increasing deductibles, you’ll often decrease monthly premiums. This is because you’ll have to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident.
  • Work on Your Credit Rating: Credit isn’t just used for buying a house or a new car. Your credit score can help you decrease monthly auto insurance rates.

It’s Not All Grim, Though

Luckily, safety measures have greatly made a difference over the last 40 years. Back in 1978, men drivers made up 22.6 deaths for every 100,000 people in the United States. This has decreased to 9.9 in 2020.

Automobile safety legislation, improved protective devices such as airbags, defensive driving courses, and much more have made a massive impact in curbing auto fatalities.

In fact, when you compare the population of 1978 to that of 2020 and the decline in deaths, there is a stark improvement in safety behind the wheel.

However, this only reflects the death rate. Accidents will still happen, and this is why insurance coverage is so vital.

Always Make Sure You Have Coverage

You can’t argue with certain traffic statistics. And while some people might think it’s unfair, it’s not an anomaly. Men are simply more prone to accidents overall than women drivers.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we work to help you save as much as you can while making sure you have adequate coverage should something happen. Contact us today and find out what we can do to keep your insurance needs from breaking the bank.

7 Easy Tips to Lower Auto Insurance Premiums Each Month

With the kids returning to school, the holidays on the horizon, and the talk about and worry about recession and inflation, many of us look at lowering our bills each month. Today, let’s review a few ways to help lower your auto insurance premiums to keep more cash in your pocket.

1. Compare Rates Among Insurers

One of the quickest ways to find the best rates is to shop around. And we can help with shopping around, as Vargas & Vargas Insurance represents many of the region’s top insurance companies, and we do this regularly for our insureds. Some insurers may have lower prices depending on your needs. However, low rates don’t always guarantee quality service.

While the cost may be an attractive feature, you also want an insurance provider you can trust.

2. Higher Deductibles for Lower Monthly Rates

In many cases, you can opt to increase deductibles to reduce your monthly rates. This means you pay less every month but will have to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident.

Many people choose this type of plan simply because it’s cheaper to maintain. And if you don’t need to file a claim, the higher deductible is rarely a consideration.

3. Bundle Home and Auto Insurance Together

Bundling home and auto insurance together can greatly impact how much you pay for each one. This is an exceptionally common practice and helps you keep all of your insurance needs under one roof, so to speak.

In other words, it’s convenient to have all of your insurance needs through one company while providing monthly discounts.

4. Lower Auto Insurance with Good Credit

Some insurers will provide a discount if you have good credit. This is because good credit often signifies financial responsibility, which puts just about any company at ease.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still get affordable premiums without an 800 credit rating. However, improving your score can help lower the auto insurance premiums from certain providers.

5. Ask About Low-Mileage Discounts

When talking with an agent, ask them if there is a possible “low-mileage” discount. In some instances, the amount of driving you actually do throughout a month can impact how much you pay for insurance.

An example of this is how someone who drives less than 20 miles per month will pay less than someone who drives 2,000. Fewer miles means there is less of a chance of an accident.

6. Group Policies Can Lower Auto Insurance Premiums

Home and auto isn’t the only thing you can bundle with some insurers. You may also qualify for group policies. These are exceptionally useful for families as everyone has coverage while reducing the per-person rate.

However, buyer beware here; many group plans may become more expensive over time than if you were not part of a group. So, review your group policies regularly with a local independent insurance agent to make sure that you are still receiving the best rates for your insurance.

This is why a lot of parents will add children to insurance plans as it affects the rate a child would have to pay by him or herself.

7. Ask About Good Driver Discounts

Having a spotless driving record can have a lot of benefits, especially when it comes to a lower auto insurance premium. If you can demonstrate near perfection behind the wheel, it could reduce your rates.

In fact, some insurers will offer a discount if you take defensive driving courses. That’s because these courses can result in dramatically reducing the chances you’ll be in an accident.

Reduce Your Monthly Spending in These Trying Times

You shouldn’t have to put yourself or your family at risk to simply cut costs. Today, every penny counts, and what you can save by lowering your auto insurance might help you afford other necessities.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we work to help you afford coverage for your automobile without breaking the bank. Contact us today and find out how we can help you keep your vehicles covered in this uncertain world.

Protect Your Family Assets With Umbrella Insurance in Massachusetts

When you live in Dorchester, MA, it’s essential to have umbrella insurance. This type of insurance can help protect your family assets in case of an accident or lawsuit. Here are some things to consider when choosing umbrella insurance.

What is Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella insurance is liability insurance that can help protect you and your family financially if you are sued or held liable for an accident. It can provide coverage above and beyond your regular homeowner’s or auto insurance policy limits.

Your Vargas & Vargas Insurance Agency can help you understand what you need to know about choosing the right umbrella insurance for you and your family.

Why Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?

Dorchester is a bustling city with a lot of traffic. This can increase your chances of being in an accident. If you are at fault in an accident, your regular insurance policy may not cover all the damage. This is where umbrella insurance can help. It can provide coverage for things like medical expenses, property damage, and legal fees.

As a homeowner, you are also at risk of being sued. If someone has an injury on your property, they may sue you to cover their medical expenses. Umbrella insurance can help protect your assets in this situation. If you have a pool, playground equipment, or other hazards on your property, umbrella insurance is also a good idea for peace of mind.

How Much Umbrella Insurance Do I Need?

The amount of umbrella insurance you need depends on your assets and income. It would help if you considered how much coverage you would need to protect your home, savings, and future earnings. A financial advisor can help you determine the right coverage for your needs.

Talk to your Vargas & Vargas Insurance Agency about umbrella insurance in Dorchester, MA.

Ways Student Drivers Can Save on Insurance Costs

As the school year begins, many student drivers will take to the roads. And for some, this might be the first time they are actively driving an automobile to and from school. Are you getting the best insurance deals for your teens?

There are a few ways you can reduce the overall cost of insurance premiums for student drivers. Many of them require a bit more time behind the wheel than, say, a sophomore in high school.

However, there are a few ways you can still save on new drivers heading to class.

Good Grades for Student Drivers

A lot of insurers will offer discounts for students if they can maintain a B average or better. This is one way to inspire student drivers to perform as well as they possibly can in school.

In some cases, the insurer may provide a discount if the student is within the top 20% of his or her class. Some agents may also apply discounts for performing well (top 20%) on various achievement tests, such as the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and more.

Good Student discounts may be available for high school, college, or even home-schooled students between the ages of 16 and 25. If you’re unsure your insurer provides these types of discounts, it’s worth the time to contact them today. It could save a great deal on premiums every month.

In most cases, you’ll need a current grade report card for your student or a signed form from a school administrator proving your student does, indeed, have good grades.

Good Driver Discounts for Students

Doing well in school is a great way to reduce insurance costs. However, some students may also qualify as Good Drivers. Of course, this is usually for college students because of the requirements.

For instance, most Good Driver discounts are triggered by accident and violation-free driving for the past three to five years. This means anyone under the age of 19 has a lower chance to qualify because of a lack of sufficient time behind the wheel.

Nonetheless, paying the auto insurance for your college student may be cheaper should he or she have a spotless driving record.

Usage-Based Auto Insurance

Something else you could keep in mind for your student drivers is usage-based insurance. This is often referred to as telematics insurance.

In this type of insurance, the premiums are based on the amount of actual driving that is done. In most cases, mobile apps or devices collect data regarding the use of the vehicle.

Data collected could be everything from mileage tracking to capturing the speed of the driver.

Telematics uses a similar platform to pay-as-you-go. Depending on the distance traveled during any given time period and the overall driving performance of your student, insurance premiums could be significantly reduced.

Unfortunately, because of the sheer amount of setup and data collected, telematics isn’t available to every insurance provider.

Reduce the Cost of Your Student Drivers Today!

Having a child in school often costs parents a great deal of money every month. Don’t let insurance be one of those things that stress you out.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll help you find the best deals for your student without breaking the bank. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you and your student.

13 Easy Weatherproofing Ideas for Your Home and Auto

As each summer gets hotter than the last, we have to do what we can to reduce the damage brought on by excessive heat. Not only does weatherproofing prolong the lifespan of certain things for the home and auto, but many of them can also save you quite a bit of money.

Today, let’s take a look at several ways you can prevent high temperatures from wreaking havoc on your property.

Weatherproofing Your Home

From a financial standpoint, weatherproofing your home is always a good idea. Not only does it reduce the onset of certain kinds of damage, but it can have an immediate impact on your monthly bills.

A few ideas that can reduce the cooling of your home include:

  • Using aluminum foil on the windows to reflect heat.
  • Using blackout curtains to block heat and light if you don’t like the appearance of aluminum.
  • Replacing insulation and sealing holes and cracks in your walls, windows, and doors.
  • Adding window awnings to provide shade from direct sunlight.
  • Cleaning ducts to allow better airflow.
  • Replacing air filters of your HVAC system every 90 days.

The best part is that most of these ideas cost very little to implement. Nonetheless, they can save you a great deal of money in the long term.

For example, simply keeping the ductwork clean allows for better airflow, which results in the HVAC system having to work less to keep the home cool or heated. This means less wear and tear on the unit itself.

In other words, that $10 filter could save you hundreds of dollars in energy bills and repair costs.

Weatherproofing Your Car

Not everyone thinks about weatherproofing the car or truck. However, they can benefit in much the same way as your home. Well, actually it is you who benefits as it will save you quite a bit in repair costs when the temperature spikes.

Keep in mind that electronics are more susceptible to failure when the ambient temperatures are higher. As there are a lot of electronic devices in vehicles today, it’s imperative to do what you can to reduce the impact of those high temperatures.

A few things you can do to protect your auto include:

  • Keeping the tires properly inflated, as heat can weaken the rubber and reduce elasticity. This can lead to cracking.
  • Making sure all fluids are at proper levels as lubricants are more vital during times of excessive heat.
  • Replacing the battery before it fails, especially those that are exceptionally older.
  • Using window coverings to keep the heat out. It’s more comfortable and prevents damage to things inside the vehicle.

Just like the home, weatherproofing your vehicle now can save you on future repair costs. Not to mention reducing the likelihood of breaking down on the side of the road with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.

Leave Nothing to Chance

Although there are plenty of ways for weatherproofing your car and home to save money, Vargas & Vargas insurance can help you take the savings to that extra level. Contact us today to find out how we can customize your policy to accommodate your lifestyle.

From protecting your property from the ravages of heat waves to giving peace of mind throughout the winter months, we can help you.

Does Inflation Cause Insurance Rates to Go Up?

Inflation will affect a wide scope of products and services. Unfortunately, this also includes home and auto insurance. The reason for this is that insurers examine several factors when determining rates. One of these factors is the cost to repair or replace.

How Inflation Can Affect Insurance Rates

If the cost of raw materials goes up, this will have an impact on how much an insurer will need to cover predetermined expenses.

For example, a lot of automobiles require microchips in order to function properly. Thanks to the global chip shortage, the costs to replace them are much higher than they were five years ago.

This means insurers must pass on the more expensive auto repairs to clients.

Some expenses for home repair recently increased in 2020 and 2021. However, lumber prices have come down as inventories continue to pile up due to things like mortgage rates increasing, which decreases demand for new home sales.

However, shortages can come in a variety of forms for housing. For example, a current lack of labor and certain electrical equipment can ultimately affect new construction and repairs.

This all culminates in how an insurer adjusts your premiums. In other words, it’s common for inflation to directly affect how much you’ll pay for home and auto insurance.

It all comes down to the cost of repairs should something happen.

Ways to Lower Your Monthly Premiums

Although inflation will directly impact insurance rates, there are several things you can do to reduce the costs on your end.

A few ways you can lower monthly insurance premiums include:

  • Bundling auto and home insurance packages – many insurers will offer discounts by combining policies.
  • Pay for a year in advance – depending on your insurer, you may be offered a discount if you pay for a year or more ahead of time.
  • Increase your deductibles – Although this means you’ll need to have more money out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in, a higher deductible often results in lower monthly premiums.
  • Check your insurer for any home and auto insurance discount programs – for instance, many auto insurers will have “good driver” discounts for those who have never filed a claim.
  • Demonstrate being a safe homeowner – it’s possible that you may qualify for discounts if you show a history of not filing insurance claims or have equipment installed to prevent damage to the home.
  • Make home improvements – it doesn’t take a massive investment to improve the home. Something as simple as improved lighting, CO2 sensors, or installing a doorbell camera may help reduce insurance premiums.

Of course, this also depends greatly on your insurance agent. But for the most part, insurers have a variety of discounts available if you ask for them.

Let Us Help You Weather Inflation Issues

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’ll help you customize your plan to help you adjust during times of inflation. We are here to offer you solutions that will fit your budget. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

From auto insurance to home protection, don’t let rising costs scare you away from protecting your property.