Slow Vehicles, Keep Right

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 28, 2016. It has 0 comments.

For anyone who routinely uses the left lane and gets passed by angry drivers on the right, you might wonder what the big deal is; you may even think that as long as you’re driving the speed limit, you can stay right where you are.

For everyone else who finds themselves weaving in and out of traffic, slamming on brakes, and yelling at other drivers who can’t hear you, you know exactly what the problem is — slow drivers need to stay to the right. It’s not a suggestion, it’s safety.

IT’S THE LAW

Slow traffic keeping to the right isn’t just a courtesy to other drivers. In 29 states, it’s the law. When you travel on the interstate, you may see signs that say “Slower traffic keep to the right.” This isn’t a suggestion for anyone going under the speed limit. In fact, if you’re going slower than any of the traffic around you, you need to be in the right lane.

What happens when slow traffic travels both in the right and left lanes is that faster drivers are forced to weave in and out of traffic. This weaving, because of slower drivers, causes more accidents than speeding causes. Not convinced? To see this in action, you only have to look to the German Autobahn.

NO SPEED LIMITS, FEWER ACCIDENTS

Fifty percent of the German Autobahn has no restricted speed limit. Overall, fewer accidents occur on the Autobahn than in the United States, 2.7 for every billion kilometers versus 4.5 for every billion kilometers. What makes this roadway and these drivers different from the U.S.? It’s not just the lack of speed limit, but the very culture of driving in Germany.

  • It is illegal to pass on the right in Germany. This eliminates the weaving common to our roads.
  • Obtaining a license is more difficult and more expensive in Germany than the U.S.
  • The Autobahn is better maintained and has a higher rating than the U.S., a 40 year rating instead of 20 years.
  • Camera technology is installed throughout the Autobahn to catch lawbreakers.
  • Vehicles are safer because they’re required to be inspected every two years.
  • Unsafe driving practices and even breaking down on the Autobahn for preventable reasons bring heavy fines and even jail time if an accident is caused.

While American drivers can’t do much about the condition of the roads or the ease with which people get a license, preventing accidents is within our power simply by keeping to the right when other traffic is moving faster. Paying attention to the road and being courteous to other drivers will prevent plenty of unnecessary accidents.

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid every accident. Make sure you have the right auto insurance to protect you in any situation. If you need a quote for a new policy or you have questions about your current coverage, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We can’t do anything about slow drivers in the left lane, but we can make sure one accident on the road doesn’t wreck you financially.

6 Home Inspection Tips

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 21, 2016. It has 0 comments.

You’ve met with a real estate agent, looked at a dozen or more homes, and finally narrowed it down to the one you imagine raising your family in. Even better, the seller has accepted your offer. You’re nearly done with the home buying process, right? Think again.

One of the most important steps when you buy a home is the home inspection. Before you hire an inspector, make sure you review these tips.

EVEN NEW HOMES NEED AN INSPECTION

All homes, regardless of age, should have a home inspection. In older homes, your home inspector may find problems to due to age and neglect. In newer homes, they may find potential problems due to shoddy construction.

FIND THE RIGHT HOME INSPECTOR

This is a bit like looking for a real estate agent, a lender, or anyone else in the buying process. Ask questions about their background and training. Talk to more than one. Ask for references or sample reports to review. Ultimately, choose the one who can find problems as well as explain them to you.

MAKE SURE THE UTILITIES ARE ON

If the home you’re buying is owner-occupied, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re looking at a foreclosed property, it could be your responsibility to make sure the utilities are on for the inspection. Either way, communicate with your real estate agent to make sure the home inspector can test everything.

GO TO THE INSPECTION

You’re not required to be there, but you should go anyway. Be prepared for it to take an entire morning or afternoon. If a home inspector tells you not to bother attending or that you don’t need to be there, that’s a home inspector you don’t want to hire. Feel free to follow the inspector around and ask questions so you can understand what they’re checking and why.

READ THE REPORT

Even if you went to the inspection, you should still read the report. Your home inspector should lay out what they found and what should be done to fix any problems. Your report should have pictures, as well. Take what the report says seriously, and if necessary, negotiate with the seller to deal with bigger or more expensive problems.

FOLLOW UP ON THE REPORT

No matter how much you love a home, you may have to walk away if serious problems are found. Sometimes you can negotiate a lower price or repairs with the seller. Sometimes you can’t. After you receive the home inspection report, be prepared to go back to the sellers or to make hard decisions. You never know what a home inspector will find.

Buying the home of your dreams is a big part of the American Dream. However, if you find structural or other problems after you’ve closed on the deal and have little money to make repairs, you may find yourself in a nightmare. Always get the home inspection. It will be worth every penny you pay, even if all you get in return is peace of mind.

Another very important step in the home buying process is buying a homeowner’s insurance policy. Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can help you find the right policy for your new home.

Home Insurance Vs. Home Warranties – What’s the Difference?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 15, 2016. It has 0 comments.

Your home is the biggest financial investment you may ever make. When something goes wrong, the last thing you want to do is consider the cost of repair and replacement. What do you need – an insurance policy or a home warranty?

Homeowner’s insurance and a home warranty both protect you home from unfortunate circumstances, but they both cover very different things.

HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE

Your Charlotte home insurance policy protects you and your home in four ways:

  • The interior of your home
  • The exterior of your home
  • Your personal property
  • You from personal liability if someone is hurt in your home

Accidents such as theft, storms, fires, and some natural disasters will be covered by your insurance. Protection from flooding and hurricanes requires additional coverage but once purchased covers you in the same way.

Insurance policies are mandatory if you have a mortgage on your home and highly recommended even if you don’t. Even without a mortgage, you may still be required to have a policy if you’re part of a homeowner’s or condo association. You’ll pay a yearly premium, often in monthly installments through escrow. When you file a claim, you’ll be responsible for the deductible and the insurance company will cover the remaining amount up to your policy limits.

HOME WARRANTY

A home warranty is a service contract to repair or replace specific things in your home when they fail from age or standard wear and tear. Neglect or misuse is typically not covered. There are several parts of your home that can be covered by a home warranty:

  • HVAC
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Water heater
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Washer and dryer
  • Garage door opener

You’ll need to check with the home warranty company to determine exactly what is and isn’t covered by your contract. A home warranty is not mandatory and is renewed annually. When something breaks or stops working, you call the home warranty company who will send a service technician to your home. You’ll pay the service fee for the visit, up to an amount specified by your contract, and if the problem is covered by your warranty, the warranty company will pay the rest.

A home warranty can be nice to have, and if you sell your home, it’s a good incentive for buyers. However, it’s very limited in its scope, and won’t help you rebuild or pay for living expenses if your home is uninhabitable like a homeowner’s insurance policy does.

If you’ve got questions about your current policy or you’d like a quote for a new policy, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We can help you protect your home without breaking the bank.

What to do if your Car has been Recalled

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 13, 2016. It has 0 comments.

In 2014 alone, nearly 53 million vehicles were recalled by different manufacturers for safety reasons. While that was one of the worst years for recalls in recent times, it’s no better now. Every time you turn around there was another report of another vehicle with a brake problem, a child restraint problem, or a fuel pump issue. When it happens, it means that drivers are on the road operating vehicles that aren’t safe.

Recalls should never be ignored and must be acted upon quickly.

HOW RECALLS HAPPEN

When a car manufacturer realizes, whether through multiple accidents or their own testing, that some part of one of their vehicle is unsafe, they are required to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If they don’t, the NHTSA can sue the manufacturers. Once the notification has been made, automakers must then notify owners of the affected vehicles. Only the first owner of a vehicle is notified so if you bought your car or truck used, you won’t receive a recall notice.

The recall notice will detail the problem with the vehicle. You’ll receive a letter in the mail that has “Recall Notice” stamped on the envelope. Don’t ignore this when you get it. You won’t receive a second notice unless the replacement parts weren’t available; the second notice lets you know that parts are available and to make an appointment to have your vehicle repaired.

WHAT TO DO FOR A RECALL

When you get the notice, don’t panic. Most of the time you can still drive your vehicle with no problems, but don’t wait to have the part fixed or replaced.

  1. Call a local dealership that sells the brand of your vehicle. You don’t have to go to the dealership where you bought your car.
  2. Make an appointment with the service department for the repairs. If the parts aren’t available yet, there may be a wait.

As long as your vehicle is less than 10 years old, there will be no charge for the recall repair/replacement. Keep your appointment and get your car fixed as soon as possible.

If you found the problem before the recall was issued and had it repaired up to a year prior to the recall, you can be reimbursed. The cost of repairs made at a local dealership should be refunded with no problem. If you went to an independent mechanic, you may need to show your receipt in order to be reimbursed.

WHEN YOU DRIVE A USED VEHICLE

Owners of used vehicles won’t receive the notice that original owners of new vehicles will. Buying your used car from the dealership that sells your brand gives you some piece of mind. If you bought a used Toyota at a Toyota dealership, the service department will have checked for recalls and made the repairs.

However, the dealership won’t check brands they don’t sell, so if you buy a Dodge at the Toyota dealership, it will be your responsibility to check for recalls. The same is true if you go to a used car lot and buy any vehicle from an independent dealership.

You don’t have to stay in the dark about your used vehicle. You can check for recalls yourself before you buy or on your current car. The NHTSA runs a website called SaferCar.gov which offers a recall check using your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If you’ve never checked your current vehicle, do that as soon as possible.

When you receive a recall notice or find recall information online, have the repairs done as soon as possible. Recalls occur for safety issues, which means you could be driving a vehicle that is a hazard to you, your family, and everyone else on the road until you get it fixed.

Baby Safety Month: Car Seat Safety Tips

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 11, 2016. It has 0 comments.

From the moment you find out you’re expecting your first bundle of joy until the moment they leave home, you worry about your kids. You notice dangers that you never saw before. Everything is a potential hazard, and it’s your job to project your baby, no matter how old they are.

One of the places where you can make a big difference, and protect your kids for several years, is in the car. September is Baby Safety Month, and a great time to think about car seat safety. Take a look at these tips to make sure your kids are safe from the very beginning.

BIRTH TO 22 POUNDS

Until your child is both one year of age and 22 pounds, they should use a rear-facing car seat. Many brands can be converted to a forward-facing seat once your child is big enough. Make sure you read the owner’s manual to be sure. If your baby reaches 22 pounds before their first birthday, do not change them to a forward-facing car seat. Instead, move them to a rear-facing seat capable of handling bigger babies. If this is your first car seat installation or if it’s been a while, have the installation professionally checkedto make sure the seat is secure.

UP TO 40 POUNDS

Once your baby becomes a toddler and they reach that one year and 22 pound threshold, you can move them to a forward-facing seat until they’re about 40 pounds in weight. Age won’t matter at this point, only size. Their new car seat should be as snug and secure as their rear-facing seat. You can use both the seat belt and the tethers in your car to install the car seat, and if you’re unsure, have this installation checked, too. Once strapped in, the buckle should be centered on their chest, and you should only be able to put one finger between their body and the straps.

40 TO 80 POUNDS

When your child hits the 40 pound mark, you can consider transitioning to a booster seat. This car seat simply lifts up your child so that the seat belt sits correctly across their body. The lap belt should be snug against their upper thighs and the shoulder belt should come across their chest. If they reach 40 pounds but the seat belt doesn’t fit correctly with a booster seat, keep them in a forward-facing car seat until it does.

Once your child is 80 pounds and their feet sit flat on the floor, you can consider doing away with the booster seat. Again, the seat belt should fit correctly, and if it doesn’t, keep the booster. Kids 12 and under should sit in the backseat, regardless of their size or need for a car seat, as it’s the safest place for them.

Another way to keep you and your entire family protected in the car is with a good auto insurance policy. Get information about what your policy currently covers or a quote from a new plan by calling us at Charlotte Insurance. We’re here to help you protect your family no matter what life throws at you.

How to Prepare your Business for an Emergency

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 8, 2016. It has 0 comments.

When you decided you would become a small business owner, the biggest worry you had was probably finding the right building, how to pay your employees, or if customers would buy your product. Over time, those things are still concerns, but now you probably think more about whether sales will continue to grow or if you can expand to a new location or hire another person to help out.

What many business owners don’t think about, until it’s too late, is how they’ll handle emergencies and disasters that might hit their business. Recent flooding in Louisiana and hurricane worries on the coast should remind us all that big storms and other emergencies can happen at any point.

Is your business ready for an emergency?

PREPARE YOUR BUILDING

Emergencies come in many forms – fire, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even earthquakes. The first step in making sure your business can handle an emergency is to prepare your building.

  1. Make sure an automatic sprinkler system is installed.
  2. Install smoke detectors throughout the building and check the batteries regularly.
  3. Fire extinguishers should be easily accessible in several places. Have them inspected and recharged regularly.
  4. Fire lanes and exits should be kept clear at all times.
  5. Evacuation maps, well-lit exit signs, and random drills should be used to help employees and customers exit the building in an emergency.
  6. When a flood or big storm threatens, use sandbags to help keep water out of your building.
  7. Keep plywood or storm shutters handy to protect windows and the interior of your building in a big storm.
  8. Bolt shelving to the walls to keep them from tumbling over.
  9. Lock cabinets and drawers to stop them from swinging open.
  10. Large or heavy objects should be stored close to or on the floor.

At least once a year, inspect your building for potential hazards, safety violations, and ways to keep customers, employees, and product safe in the event of an emergency. Make changes as necessary and let your staff know that safety is a priority.

CREATE A DISASTER PLAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS

While you’re securing your building and inventory against potential disaster, you also need to create a disaster plan. No matter how many precautions you take, accidents and storms happen. With a disaster plan, you’ll know what to do.

  1. Compile communication information that includes a contact list of employees, vendors, and other people to call after an emergency. Make sure your insurance agent is in that list.
  2. Keep copies of your important paperwork with your disaster plan – licenses, contracts, bank information, business insurance paperwork, and more.
  3. Make sure your computer data is backed up regularly – at least once a week – and have a system to know where the backups are stored and who will have access to them.
  4. Define, in your plan, how your business will continue to function in the aftermath of an emergency: temporary closure, another location, who will do what work, etc.
  5. Have information that includes the location of emergency personnel such as fire, police, and hospitals in case you need it. Make sure your address is easy to find or that your location is easily identifiable when you call for emergency assistance.

TALK TO YOUR INSURANCE AGENT REGULARLY

Businesses grow and change over the years. The business insurance plan you selected when you opened up a few years ago probably won’t be enough now. After you’ve created your preparedness plan, turn your focus to your insurance policy. Do you have the right policy to rebuild after a major catastrophe? Do you even know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t?

Set up an appointment to go over your current policy with your insurance agent and to talk over new options you may need to consider. With the right insurance policy, you’ll have peace of mind and a way to keep your business moving forward. If you need to make sure your business insurance protects you in an emergency, contact us at Charlotte Insurance today.