Should you Allow Cameras in your Nursing Home?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 29, 2015. It has 0 comments.

Nearly every day a worried child, spouse, or guardian calls your office to discuss their mother, husband, or other relative. Someone fell or bumped into a wall or chair, but in the confused minds of some of your residents, they believe they were pushed. Sometimes, sadly, they were.

Angry and scared loved ones demand answers. Most of the time, it was an accident or a slip. Sometimes, all you have is one employee’s word against a resident. As someone who runs a nursing home, you know your staff is excellent, hard working, and caring. What do you do if a resident or their family wants to place a security camera in their room? Is it something you should add to your facilities?

The decision to allow cameras inside your nursing home or elder care facility can be a tough one. Here are some things you need to know and consider when making that decision.


In six states, nursing home residents can have camera surveillance of some kind, with restrictions. Currently, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Washington all have laws regarding cameras in nursing homes. North Carolina doesn’t have a law yet, but if you open a new facility in another state, you’ll need to be aware of state laws.


According to the Department of Public Health, over 19,000 calls are made a year for suspected abuse or neglect in nursing homes. You know that not every call means someone is abused, but children are often concerned about the parents they leave in your care. Patients and residents may feel they’re being abused legitimately or out of confusion. Cameras in their rooms could eliminate unnecessary claims and help you find the problem employees.


You may be concerned about visitors and employees who may be filmed without knowing it. Each state with laws governing cameras in nursing homes requires consent of some kind. In Texas, a notice must be posted outside of a residents’ room, while in Oklahoma, a roommate must give consent before a camera can be brought into a room. Some rules even allow nursing homes to require that cameras stay in plain sight.


Your residents may be part of the older generations, but their children aren’t. In today’s digital age of transparency, many people feel more comfortable knowing they can log-on and watch their loved ones through a camera feed. Many people are used to monitoring their children in daycare in a similar way. A camera in their parent’s room gives them peace of mind and gives them confidence in your nursing home staff.

Right now, allowing cameras is still an option for nursing homes in North Carolina, and most of the United States. The decision to allow a child, guardian, or patient to install one must be given plenty of thought. If you have any questions about how cameras can affect your nursing home liability insurance give us a call and let’s discuss. It’s a big decision, but you don’t have to make it alone.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Blondinrikard Fröberg.

Mold Damage – is it Covered?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 25, 2015. It has 0 comments.

One of the worst things that can happen to your home is mold. With the help of a few spores and enough moisture, mold can ravage a home quickly. It creates bad smells and unsightly stains. If left unchecked, it can reduce your home’s value and make you and your family sick.

Most homeowners know the importance of getting rid of unwanted moisture as soon as possible. It’s your home’s worst nightmare. The question that remains for many homeowners is a big one.

Is mold damage covered through your homeowners insurance?


The question of home insurance and mold comes down to the water. Flooding and water damage are two different things.

Flooding is defined as external rising water, often caused by nature – typhoons, hurricanes, excessive rain, etc. Standard home insurance policies don’t cover damage from floods. However, you can purchase an additional flood insurance policy, which should provide you with protection from flood damage, including mold.

Water damage occurs when water hits the home before it hits the ground. Roof leaks and busted pipes are common examples. Standard policies should cover mold removal if water damage was the cause.

Something to remember – most homeowners insurance policies will not cover mold damage if it was caused by long-term neglect.


Whether your policy will cover the damage or not, you need to deal with mold problems immediately. Take pictures of the damage and call your insurance agent as soon as possible. Regardless of whether it’s covered in your homeowners insurance, you need to stop the flow of water and clean up what you can.

Call a professional for mold growing in areas larger than 10 square feet – or for any mold damage that seems too big or complicated to handle. If the damage is relatively minor, and you want to clean it up yourself, follow these tips:

  • Wear protective clothing – long sleeves, rubber gloves, a respirator mask, and even goggles or safety glasses
  • Ventilate the room while you’re cleaning.
  • Use bleach.
  • Place anything that touches the mold – clothing, gloves, cleaning utensils – in an airtight plastic bag before disposing of the items.
  • Remove and replace any affected drywall.

The most important things to remember are to get rid of the moisture causing the mold and tostop the spread of the mold.

If you’re unsure whether your homeowners insurance covers mold damage, contact us today. At Charlotte Insurance, we’re here to help you protect your home now and in the years to come.

Insurance Credit Scores – What are they and why do they matter?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 22, 2015. It has 0 comments.

Your credit score affects everything – from the interest rate you pay for a new car to the ability to get a credit account at your favorite department store. Typically, the better your credit score, the less money you’ll pay in interest. If your credit score tanks, you may find yourself denied or paying double-digit interest rates on everything.

Your credit score can also affect what you pay for insurance. The credit score that you’re used to – the one that can deny a mortgage or credit cards – isn’t the same one used by insurance companies, but it is a factor. Your insurance company uses insurance credit scores instead. Understanding what they are and why they matter could save you a lot of money on your homeowners or auto insurance policies.


Insurance credit scores are different from the standard credit score. Instead of predicting whether you’ll pay your debts or can afford to make a big purchase, insurance scores do something different. They predict the likelihood that you will make a claim or get into an accident.

Like your standard credit score, insurance scores come in a range from bad to great.

Homeowners insurance scores range between 200 and 997. A good score is 770 or higher. A poor score is 500 or lower. Your score is determined by your financial credit report and your history of filing insurance claims.

Auto insurance score ranges fall between 300 and 997, depending on which company is creating the score. Fair Isaac Corporation stops at 900, and ChoicePoint goes up to 997. Anything over 700 is good, but a score of 800 or more is great. Again, your score is determined by your financial credit report and your past auto insurance history, including claims and accidents.


An insurance company will base your premium costs, in part, on your insurance credit score. The lower your score, the more you’ll pay. People with a fair score pay, on average, 32 percent more than those with an excellent score. If you have a bad insurance score, be prepared to pay twice as much.

You can help lower your insurance premiums in two ways: raise your credit score and reduce the number of claims you file. Fixing your credit score can be done in a few ways:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Use less credit and create less debt for yourself.
  • Don’t close old accounts.
  • Don’t open new credit accounts unless you have to. Each new line of credit brings your score down temporarily.

Every insurance company uses their own model and their own system to determine poor, fair, or excellent credit. It pays to get multiple quotes, even as you’re improving your score.

Charlotte Insurance is an independent insurance agency. This means that we work with multiple top-rated insurance companies and can find you the best price for your homeowners or auto insurance needs. Contact us if you have questions about your individual insurance credit score or if you want to find a better premium. We’re here to help.

Image courtesy of

Does your Homeowners Insurance Cover your College Student?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 18, 2015. It has 0 comments.

It’s that time of year again – your college student is headed back to campus.

These days you aren’t protecting them from bullies on the playground or accidental slips and falls. You’re sending them out into a bigger world where anything can, and often does, happen. You can’t protect them from everything, but maybe you can protect them from more than you realize.

The average college student brings $10,000 worth of possessions with them to college. Theft is a realistic factor. The question on your mind, as you mentally add up the value of their iPad, laptop, smartphone, and other belongings: are your kids possessions covered while they’re away at school?

It depends.


If your child lives in on campus housing – a dorm room, sorority house, fraternity house, or other school-approved housing on campus – many of your child’s possessions should be covered by your homeowners insurance policy in the event of fire, theft, or damage. There are a few considerations:

  • Computers may not be covered. You may want to purchase additional insurance.
  • Jewelry and other high dollar items may have a specific dollar limit. If your child’s possessions are worth more than that limit, you may need additional coverage.
  • Some policies only cover a percentage of your overall coverage. You’ll want to make sure the value covered is the same or more than the value of their personal items.
  • Smartphone insurance may be more affordable, with lower premiums and deductibles, than making claims for damaged or stolen phones against your homeowners insurance.

Before your college student moves into the dorm, take a look at your policy or give your insurance agent a call to make sure you have enough coverage.


For those who choose to live off campus with roommates or even another relative, the rules are completely different. Your homeowners insurance will not cover your child’s possessions while they live off campus. They will need to purchase renter’s insurance.

Renter’s insurance is often very affordable. Premiums are much lower than homeowners insurance and even basic plans should cover most possessions. We can help you and your student select the best coverage for your needs.

It’s never easy to let your kids go, even when they’re old enough to go to college. For those who live on campus, you can breathe a little easier knowing you’re still protecting them, even from a distance. The students who live off campus have choices too, which might help you sleep a little better at night.

At Charlotte Insurance, we have been serving North Carolina since 1992 and we pride ourselves on service and building relationships. We’re here to help you protect those most precious to you – at home or at college. Contact us today and let’s make sure your policy does exactly that.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Velkr0.

Driversharing and Auto Insurance – What you need to know

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 14, 2015. It has 0 comments.

The idea of driving around in your car in your free time and picking up extra cash sounds pretty good. Thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft, you may even be able to turn it into a full-time job. You choose your hours, your location, and the rides. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

Driving for a company like Uber or Lyft may sound like a great (and easy) way to earn money, but what happens if you get into an accident?


Companies like Uber and Lyft are officially known as transportation network companies (TNCs). The customer connects to the company and you as a driver through their mobile app. You give them a ride. Both you and the TNC get paid. You’re acting as livery – a driver with a passenger for a fee.

Customers and drivers are responding to the service. Riders like the ease of use – find the closest ride, pay from your phone, and get to where you’re going – plus the ability to choose and rate drivers. With an average of 20,000 new sign-ups a month, drivers love flexibility and the promise of relatively easy money.

Although it sounds great, no system or service is perfect.


If you think your personal auto insurance will protect you while you’re working for a TNC like Uber, think again. Your auto insurance policy probably doesn’t even apply to the type of driving you’re doing. Worse, if caught driving for pay, you could even lose your coverage.

Most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for business activities – like driving people around town for money – in your personal vehicle. Your insurer may recommend you purchase commercial auto insurance, or in some states, provide you with the option of ridesharing insurance. This is still relatively new, and 90 percent of drivers don’t have the right coverage.


TNCs may offer a form of auto liability coverage while you work as one of their drivers, but coverage can change without notice and won’t cover everything. Typically, the policy only covers physical damage to your vehicle. Thanks to recent litigation against Uber, they have updated some of their coverage practices:

  • There are three periods in which Uber’s coverage applies.
    • Period 1 – The app is on, but you haven’t received any requests.
    • Period 2 – You’ve accepted a ride and you’re heading to your passenger.
    • Period 3 – The passenger is in your vehicle for the trip.
  • Once the passenger leaves, the coverage goes back to period one, assuming that you leave the app on.
  • There is no collision coverage during period one.
  • You may owe a deductible if you’re involved in an accident.


Assuming you’re in the 90 percent of drivers without ridesharing insurance, several things happen once you get into an accident – and none of them are good.

  1. Your auto insurance will probably deny the claim. They could cancel your policy for one of two reasons:
    • Failure to disclose – most major insurers actually ask if you work for a TNC these days. Failure to tell the company never ends well.
    • Usage – working for Uber or Lyft drastically changes the average usage of your vehicle and exposes you to increased risk. If you didn’t update that information, you’re not using your vehicle for it’s “typical” use.
  2. You could be held financially responsible for any expenses above and beyond the limits of the company’s insurance policy. This could happen even if the company’s insurance liability picks up some of the costs. This happens most often when serious injury or even death occur.
  3. As an independent contractor, you’re not covered under workers compensation coverage for the company. Any injuries you sustain will be at your own expense or using your own insurance.

Before you decide to work for any TNC, even Uber or Lyft, talk to your insurance agent. Find out if ridesharing insurance is an option for you. Decide if you have the resources and coverage to handle potential accidents. It sounds pretty easy to jump in the car, open an app, and start driving, but you need to consider if the potential costs are worth the money you earn and your time.

Want to know more? Contact us at Charlotte Insurance and we’ll be happy to go over your auto insurance options with you.

10 Tips to Hiring the Right Contractor

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 11, 2015. It has 0 comments.

Whether you’re building a new home from the ground up or you’re planning a minor renovation, you’re going to need a contractor. We’ve all heard the horror stories of jobs half done, lack of proper permits, or worse, projects that fall down in the first strong wind. No one wants to find themselves in that position.

Finding a contractor that you can trust is a challenge. These tips will help you make the right decision and hire the right contractor for your job.

  1. Get recommendations. They can come from friends, family, co-workers, local building inspectors, and even the local association of homebuilders or remodelers. If you don’t already have a few people in mind, start asking around.
  2. Check local resources. The Better Business Bureau and the state consumer protection agency (North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) can let you know if complaints have been filed against anyone you’re considering.
  3. Talk to them on the phone and in person. You’ll get a sense of who they are and how you can expect them to treat you. Communication is key; so make sure that you are comfortable with their communication style.
  4. Make a list of questions to ask. Ask for references – financial and previous clients. Ask if they handle jobs your size (big or small). Find out how many other projects will be going on simultaneously. Don’t be surprised if they can’t start on yours right away. Good contractors are busy ones.
  5. Check their references. Reading online reviews is helpful but shouldn’t be the only way you gauge business satisfaction. Make sure that you speak to at least a couple of their previous customers.
  6. Make sure that they can provide proof of licensing, bonding, and insurance before the project ever begins. Get this information before any work begins. They should have a license or certification in their trade or specialty as well as any necessary licensing from the city or county. Bonding guarantees the contractor will complete the job according to the terms you agree on. They should also have the proper insurance policies in place; including general liabilityworkers compensation, and builders risk policies. Ask about subcontractors and make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured, as well.
  7. Ask for bids from at least three contractors. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bid – they may use the cheapest materials. The breakdown of costs is typically 40 percent for materials, 15 to 20 percent for their own profit margin, and the rest should include labor and overhead. Get detailed bids that break down these costs so you can see and decide for yourself if you’re being overcharged.
  8. Expect and discuss a payment schedule. Typically you’ll pay 10 percent up front, make three or four payments during the job, and a final payment will be due when the job is 100 percent complete. If a contractor asks for half or more as a deposit, this could be a sign of financial instability.
  9. Get everything in writing. Every detail – including start date, cost of materials, labor costs, job expectations, payment schedule, and any other details should be made in writing. Both you and the contractor should have a copy. Don’t work with anyone who isn’t willing to put the details in writing.

A home renovation or build is stressful enough. Finding the right contractor makes the process much easier and gives you peace of mind. Use these tips when you’re ready to hire your next. It’s also a good idea to keep your insurance agent up to date on your home’s progress – that way you’ll be sure to have the right North Carolina homeowner’s insurance policy in place when your project is complete.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Scott Lewis.

Lower your Risk by Tightening up your Hiring Processing

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 3, 2015. It has 0 comments.

If you’ve owned a business for more than a few minutes, you’ve had employees that cause problems, upset customers, and make trouble no matter where they go or what they do. They’re a real liability until you can let them go.

Your business is only as good as your worst employee. Customers might not remember when they received good service, but they’ll remember the time something went wrong. When you’ve got an employee who causes the problems through neglect, deceit, or other wrong-doing, you’ve got a risk on your hands.

Hiring doesn’t have to be a gamble. Tighten up your process to find the best people. You’ll lower your risk and increase your business at the same time.


Open up application process. Look around for the best talent. Only hiring people based on family and friend recommendations can cause more problems than it’s worth. Place notices in multiple areas: the newspaper, online job boards, social media, and your own website to get the largest number of applicants possible.

Be specific about the job requirements. Some people will apply for a job they know they aren’t qualified for, no matter how much information you give them. But you can make sure the majority of applicants have potential by letting them know details about the job itself.

Pre-screen applicants. Think of the basic requirements you want in an employee. Education, job experience, accreditation are all things you can use in the hiring process.

Consider adding aptitude tests. If you need someone who can type at a certain speed or understands certain concepts, you might want to consider adding a testing portion to your hiring process. This will help you weed out the people who exaggerated their skills.


Once you whittle your list of potential new employees down to a manageable list, you’ll need to interview them and get a feel for who they are and their personality. Once you decide on someone you want to hire, now it’s time to put them under the microscope.

Do a background check. Check for a history of violence, fraud, or other criminal activity. It’s up to you to decide what prior bad acts disqualify a candidate, based on your business.

Require a pre-employment drug test. This isn’t foolproof, but you should be able to eliminate the people who use regularly.

Check their references. It’s one thing to ask for references, it’s another thing to actually call and check them.

Check their employment history. Former employers aren’t allowed to give you much information, but you can sometimes tell if an employee was remembered in a good way or a bad way just from the tone of a supervisor’s voice.

The tighter and more thorough your hiring process is, the more likely you’ll be to find an honest, hardworking, and friendly employee who isn’t a liability to your company. It may take more time to find the right people, but in the end, it will have been worth the effort.

Hiring the right employees is just one of the things that you can do to protect your business. You also need to make sure that you have the right commercial insurance policies in place. One of our insurance professionals will gladly review your current policies with you and make you aware of any potential risks or coverage gaps. Contact us, today.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kathryn Decker.