The Best Times to Review your Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 30, 2017. It has 0 comments.

Buying insurance probably feels like a one and done deal. You pick a policy and as long as you pay your premiums on time, you don’t have to think about it again – until you realize you’re paying too much or your policy doesn’t cover a claim. Too many people treat their insurance this way. They miss out on adding new coverage or removing old coverage as their life progresses. They either pay too much or don’t have the insurance they need, when they need it.

There’s a better way. When certain things happen in your life, you need to call your insurance agent to make sure you have the right type and/or amount of insurance coverage. Here are the big life changes that warrant a call.


Before the rush of the wedding, call your insurance agent. We can tell you what kind of additional insurance you’ll need once you say, “I do.” What kind will you need? Life insurance to take care of expenses if something happens to you. Your new spouse will need to be added to your auto insurance. Your home or renter’s insurance will need to be adjusted to factor in the value of your combined belongings.


You don’t need to call us on your way to the emergency room or when the first contraction hits. In a perfect world, call us well before labor begins. If not, give us a call after your bundle of joy arrives. You may want to update your life insurance to increase the amount or add them as a beneficiary.


We hope it never happens to you, but divorce is too common not to discuss. Once the divorce is final, you may want to change the beneficiary on your life insurance. Assuming one of you keeps your home, you’ll need to adjust your homeowner’s insurance. Don’t forget auto insurance. You’ll want to remove your former spouse from your policy and make sure they take you off their policy, too.


Whether your home needs a few upgrades or you’ve decided to gut it and start from scratch, contact your agent when you’re done. You may qualify for new discounts for structural improvements like a new roof. If you add a security system that could save you money too. Added a pool or a fence? We need to know that, too.


It’s scary to think the small bundle you held in your arms 16 years ago is now allowed to drive on the open roads. Check your auto insurance policy once they’ve got their license. You’ll need to adjust for the new driver, but if they went through a driver’s training course and get good grades, you may get a discount, too. Of course, if they get their own car, it has to be added to your policy as well. Yes, even if it’s a clunker.


When you buy a new home, a new homeowner’s insurance policy is the standard. Don’t get what you automatically had. Instead, review your previous coverage and work with your agent to assess what your new home needs or where it’s located. You may need flood insurance now that you’re in a flood zone. You might need to increase the policy limits. You’ll also want to update your auto insurance with your new location and other information.


You finally quit your 9 to 5, and you’re ready to open your own business. Great! Now, let’s talk insurance. You’ll definitely need general liability. You’ll want to get a health insurance policy if your old job offered it. If you have employees, you’re going to need a workers’ compensation insurance policy. Driving your own vehicle for business purposes? You need a commercial auto insurance policy, too.


That sweet baby who became a teen driver is now grown up and living on their own. Depending on where they are in life, you may want to help them get renter’s insurance. Maybe you can remove them from your auto insurance because they have their own policy.


When someone in the immediate family dies, it’s devastating and shocking. Your whole world can be turned upside down. When the dust settles, give us a call. You may need to change the beneficiary on your life insurance. Your auto insurance may need to be adjusted. Any policies in their name will need to be changed.

If something big is happening in your life, you probably need to review your insurance needs. When in doubt, give Charlotte Insurance a call. We can let you know if a change affects your current policy or not.

Your Auto Insurance Lapsed – Now What?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 18, 2017. It has 0 comments.

You know you need auto insurance, but the premiums were too high one month. You skipped a payment and now your policy has been cancelled. Your former provider won’t sell you a new policy. When you call around, you find out there are penalties for lapsed coverage.

What does that mean, and how do you fix it? Here’s what you need to know about lapsed auto insurance coverage.


A lapse in your insurance coverage happens when there’s a period of time between when your vehicle is insured and when it is not. What causes a lapse?

  • Failure to pay your insurance premiums
  • Late payments beyond any grace period the insurance company allows
  • Failure to renew your insurance policy
  • Excessive traffic violations
  • Excessive and severe accidents

How long your lapse lasts is determined by why your insurance was discontinued in the first place. Maybe you sold your car or moved to a new state and for a very brief moment in time, your vehicle didn’t have the coverage required by law. Your lapse continues until one of several things happens:

  • You get new coverage for your vehicle.
  • You surrender your vehicle plates.
  • Your vehicle registration expires.
  • You offer proof that your vehicle was repossessed or sold.
  • You move and buy new coverage in a new state.


Quite a few things go into effect if you let your insurance coverage lapse for any reason or any length of time. It can be much more expensive than your monthly premium, and may even affect your ability to work and drive.

  • Your driver’s license may be suspended.
  • Your vehicle registration can be suspended.
  • You may have to work with an agent to file a SR-22 filing statement.
  • It will be difficult and expensive to get a new policy.

In North Carolina, you have to pay fees when your insurance coverage lapses. The first offense is $50, the second is $100, and then any time after that, you have to pay $150 for each lapse. That can add up fast, especially since a lapse will likely raise your insurance premiums, too.


Getting coverage after a lapse can be difficult for most people. If you forgot to renew your policy and remember within a day or two, you may be okay. Call your insurance agent, and they might be able to reinstate your coverage with no penalties. Any longer, though, and they may have to sell you a new policy at a higher rate.

What if your policy was cancelled, though? You want to renew it, but you can’t. Maybe you had a poor payment history. Maybe you’ve had too many violations. It’s highly unlikely your old insurance company will sell you a new policy. You’ll need to search for a new company. Your lapse will count against you, and your premiums will be higher at first.

When you have your policy cancelled, you don’t pay your bills, or any other lapse occurs, insurance companies tend to view you as a higher risk and a less-than responsible driver. Until you prove otherwise with consistent payments and a clean driving record, your premiums will reflect that view.

It’s always best to make sure your auto insurance doesn’t lapse at all. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to avoid a lapse or to find coverage now that it’s happened to you. We’re here to help.

Home Organization 101

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 16, 2017. It has 0 comments.

A clean and organized house is a happy house. Or, at the very least, a less stressed house because no one can find their shoes, you nearly tripped walking up the stairs, and you can’t find your keys.

A clutter-free, more organized home is also one where fewer accidents happen which reduces insurance claims and, ultimately, your home insurance premiums. You and the kids may know how to navigate the maze of shoes from the foyer to the living room, but there’s a real chance your guest will trip and fall.

Check out our tips for organizing your home to make it cleaner and safer for everyone.


Let’s be real, this is where everything gets dropped. Shoes, backpacks, your purse, and those keys you can’t find are all there by the door – somewhere. To organize this space, get a basket or a rack for the shoes. Install some hooks on the wall or get a coat rack for jackets, purses, and backpacks. Find a small basket and teach yourself to always put your keys in it when you get home.


A staircase is already a place where accidents can happen too often. Don’t make it easier by leaving shoes or toys on the steps. Make it a house rule that no one leaves anything on the stairs. With the rack or basket for shoes by the front door, the shoe problem should solve itself. Consider adding a basket for toys at the top or bottom of the stairs, too.


Some of us have never parked our car in the garage. Instead, we use it for storage. Too many of us just throw stuff in and never look back. When we go looking for something, either we can’t find it or we’re afraid something will fall on our head. Make it a family weekend project to organize the garage.

  • Get rid of old stuff you haven’t thought about in years.
  • Add shelves and pegboards to organize boxes and tools.
  • Get plastic storage bins for any loose items that don’t have their own container.
  • Stack boxes neatly by the wall.
  • Make sure you have good lighting to see.


The kitchen counter is a catch-all for mail, papers, coffee cups, and homework. While it may not present a safety hazard, a messy counter is a major annoyance. The whole family made the mess, so everyone can help clean it up. Once you can see your counter again, set rules that homework needs to go back into backpacks and dishes need to go into the sink. Get a basket or a mail organizer to keep the mail – and make sure to check it nearly every day so it doesn’t overflow later.


For many of us, our closets are just small versions of our garage. We throw stuff in and never look back. In our bedroom closets, we just add more until it may explode in a shower of cotton and denim. Get control of the closet and avoid the possibility of a box falling on your head when you open the door. Hang things up. Stack boxes neatly. Get rid of junk you don’t use anymore. Add shelves and hooks to neatly put things out of the way.

Once you get your home organized, you’ll feel much more relaxed. You won’t worry about what may fly out when you open the linen closet. You won’t feel guilty about the mess anymore, either. And if you keep things need and decluttered, clean up will be easier later.

Worried about someone tripping over your mess before you can get it organized? Contact Charlotte Insurance today, and we’ll let you know what your policy limits are and what to do if someone has an accident in your home.

Avoid Distractions Out on the Road

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 11, 2017. It has 0 comments.

At this point, you’ve probably heard a million times about the dangers of cellphone use and texting while you’re driving. It’s a deadly distraction when you’re behind the wheel and a product of the time we live in. But those aren’t the only causes for danger when you’re on the road. From loud music to getting lost in thought, there are plenty of distractions for you that can be dangerous and lead to accidents.


Ever drive a mile or two and find yourself wondering how you got there? You were driving while daydreaming. Maybe you’re rehearsing the conversation you’re about to have with your boss. Maybe you imagined what it would be like to win $1 million. It happens to all of us. We all have plenty to worry about. But while you were lost in thought, you weren’t paying attention to the road.

Ever had an accident where you thought, “They came out of nowhere!” Most of the time, you were in your head, thinking about bills to pay or the parent-teacher conference and didn’t see them until too late. It really can happen that fast.


Rubbernecking is an old term for an even older habit. While we’re driving down the road, our curiosity gets the best of us, and we can’t help but look. Not only are you distracted while you’re driving, you could be the reason someone hits you from behind.

We all want to know what happened in that accident or who’s being arrested on the side of the road, but taking your focus off driving is bad for you and everyone else. All it takes is a daydreaming driver behind you to realize too late that you’ve slowed down to look, and you’re both in a costly and potentially harmful accident.


We’ve all seen someone do it before. Maybe you’ve done it yourself. You bring your morning routine to the car all in the name of saving time. Whether you’re applying mascara or shaving (yes, people do that, too), it’s all a bad idea.

One hand and both eyes aren’t on the wheel. You won’t see someone dart out in front of you. You won’t see someone slam on brakes in front of you. It’s much better to be five minutes late to finish getting ready for work than to do it while you’re behind the wheel.


Sometimes it feels like we live our lives on the go. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all come from the drive-thru as we rush to our next appointment. People eat behind the wheel all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

When you grab for a fry, pick up your drink, or dig around the bag for a napkin, you’re not focusing on the task. You don’t have both hands on the wheel, and if something drops, you’re likely to look down. At that point, you’ve taken your eyes off the road in front of you. Accidents can happen in a few seconds. One dropped french fry is all it takes.


Getting behind the wheel feels like the ultimate freedom. The open road ahead of you. The loud music blaring. And so much singing and yes, we know, dancing going on. It’s fun. It’s a stress relief. It feels good. It’s also dangerous.

Singing your favorite song at the top of your lungs while dancing in your seat may make your commute more bearable but it could also lead to an accident. Like every other distraction, your focus is off the job at hand – driving – and on the fun you’re having. We’re not saying that you can’t listen to music, but turn it down. And leave the rock opera stuff for the shower.


If you can talk to your passengers while keeping your eyes glued to the road, you’re playing it safe. Unfortunately, most people can’t. Instead, they turn their heads, use their hands, and laugh and joke. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also distracting.

When you focus on the person beside you or the child in the backseat, you’re not watching the road. A cat could dart in front of you. A bus might stop ahead of you. You won’t see the light change from yellow to red until it’s too late. All of these things can cause serious accidents.

It sounds like we don’t want you to have any fun or live your life while you’re driving. We know. But what we really want is for you to avoid expensive and life-threatening car accidents. In 2015 alone, 3477 people died from distracted driving. Thousands more were injured. Don’t be one of them. Stay focused on the road.

If you’ve got questions about your auto insurance policy, Charlotte Insurance can help. Contact us today!

Children & Boat Safety

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 11, 2017. It has 0 comments.

You can’t wait to get the kids out on the boat this summer. They can’t wait either. It’s fun. It’s freeing. And you worked hard to have this opportunity.

Have you taken precautions to keep your children safe, though?

As they get older, you may have less to worry about, but as a parent, wanting to keep our kids safe never goes away. Out on the boat, no matter how old they are, is no different. Take a look at our tips for keeping your kids safe when you take them out on the boat this summer.


If you’ve got young children, you’ll want to treat your boat like you do your house. Babyproof it. Stow breakables and dangerous items out of their reach. Gear like winches, windlasses, ropes, and boxes need to be out of the way. EPIRBS, flares, and flare guns cannot be locked away, but your children shouldn’t be able to get to them, either. Make the areas with ropes and halyards off-limits areas.


Take your children shopping for an age-appropriate life vest. By bringing them with you, you can make sure it fits. A good life vest will have a collar that turns your children face up in the water. It was also have strong waist and crotch straps and a handle on the collar. Get one with a plastic whistle and spend time teaching your children, even if they’re toddlers, how to use it. Practice with them until they’re comfortable blowing into it.


CPR is a good skill to have as a parent no matter where you are. On the water, when there’s no help for miles, it can save a life. You’ll be able to respond to emergencies much quicker and save someone until you can get help. Make sure your kids take swim lessons or work closely with them to improve their swimming abilities. This isn’t a guarantee you won’t need to use your CPR skills but it does reduce the chances.


All children need rules and boundaries but they’re even more important on a boat in the middle of the water. Here are a few to make and stick with – for everyone’s safety.

  • Children under 13 need to wear a life vest.
  • No running on the boat.
  • Stay seated while the boat is moving
  • Hands and feet on the boat at all times


Nothing makes a trip more miserable or increases the likelihood of an accident then a cranky, hungry child who won’t listen. You know how they are in the grocery store at a certain hour of the day. It won’t be any different on the boat, and it could be more dangerous. Make sure to have plenty of snacks and water to drink.

Taking your kids out on the water is an experience they’ll never forget and will be some of the most special memories they have when they grow up. Make sure all they remember are good times by keeping them safe when you’re out on the water.

Another way to protect your family is make sure you have good boat insurance for your watercraft. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance today for a quote and to answer any questions you may have.

Hurricane Preparedness Week (5/7 – 5/13)

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 9, 2017. It has 0 comments.

The time to get ready for a hurricane isn’t when you’re in the cone of uncertainty and you’re not sure where the storm will land. You need to get ready long before hurricane season begins. That’s June 1, if you didn’t know.

That’s why Hurricane Preparedness Week is so important. The more you can do now, the better off you’ll be if and when a storm makes landfall.

Here’s what you need to do.


Get a plastic or metal box – anything that will be fairly water tight. This isn’t the time for a cardboard box. Add flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, copies (not originals) of your important documents, and a battery or solar-powered radio. If the power goes out, your house gets flooded, or you need to evacuate quick, you’ll be glad you have your disaster kit.


What’s a hurricane kit and why is it different than the disaster kit? This is what you’ll use after the storm if you’re stuck with no power and/or water. You need enough water for everyone in your family to drink for three days. One person needs about a gallon a day. Make sure you have batteries in this kit, too, as well as flashlights. Nonperishable foods, canned foods and a manual can opener should be added. You can get bread a few days before the storm but don’t wait too long or the shelves will be empty.


You’ll want to do this periodically until hurricane season ends, but check your yard for dead or damaged trees and limbs that need to come down. You don’t want those to become a danger to your roof or your windows in a big storm. Consider getting storm shutters or even a generator for your home in case of major damage. At the very least, get plywood measured and cut to your windows to board them up. Like with the bread, waiting until the last minute can be a real pain.


If Charlotte gets caught in a hurricane and Jim Cantore shows up in town, you know it’s about to be serious. You need a plan now to stay safe. Figure out where you can go if you need to evacuate. Find out where the local shelters will be (usually the local schools). Make a plan for what to do with your family pets. You may want to go to a pet-friendly hotel and some shelters do allow pets. Know your evacuation route to eliminate confusion later. As a storm is barreling down on you don’t want to be worried about figuring all of this out.


Standard homeowner’s insurance typically does not include hurricane coverage. You need to know that now. If you don’t have any hurricane insurance, talk to your agent about adding it to your policy. Don’t forget flood insurance. After big storms, the argument is usually whether the damage is from wind or water. With a flood insurance policy, you won’t have to worry because you’ll be covered. Get coverage now because there’s a 30 day waiting period before it will take effect.

Hurricanes can devastate towns, homes, and families. With a bit of precaution and plenty of planning, you can keep your family safe and protect your home as much as possible. Spend the time now to avoid stress and confusion later.

If you need to check your homeowner’s coverage or sign up for flood insurance, Charlotte Insurance is here to help. Contact us today!