What isn’t Covered by your Home Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 27, 2017. It has 0 comments.

When you buy a North Carolina home insurance policy, you assume that nearly anything that might happen will be covered by your insurance provider. Unfortunately, a standard policy doesn’t cover absolutely every potential danger a home or homeowner may face.

Here are a few things that you think might be covered under your basic homeowner’s policy that aren’t.

MOLD

Mold grows when there’s water damage. A busted pipe, flooding, or a leaky roof can all lead to mold. While your policy might cover the reason for the water damage – a tree fell on your roof in a storm – it may not cover the mold damage that shows up later. Mold grows from neglect – the broken pipe wasn’t fixed in time, water wasn’t cleaned well enough, etc. Sometimes you can purchase additional insurance for mold so it’s worth asking about but it’s better to take care of problems before mold can grow.

SEWER BACKUP

One of the grossest types of damage your home may experience is a sewer backup. When it happens, you can expect damage to floors, walls, furniture, and the electrical wiring in your home. Your standard policy won’t cover this but you may be able to buy additional insurance specifically to cover your sewer system.

SINKHOLES AND EARTHQUAKES

Only in Florida is sinkhole coverage mandatory and automatic. Everywhere else, both sinkholes and earthquakes fall under the category of “earth movement” which generally isn’t covered by a standard policy. You may be able to purchase a rider or additional coverage for it, though.

FLOODING

Standard home insurance policies do not cover floods. You might be covered if what caused the flooding (from a broken pipe or raining pouring into your home) occurred as part of another covered event but that’s about it. Instead, you need to purchase a flood insurance policy.

TERMITES

The only way to prevent and handle termites is through a licensed pest control company. If you have a termite infestation, your homeowner’s insurance isn’t the one to call. Most pest control companies offer service packages you can buy to help you if you do get termites.

TRAMPOLINE ACCIDENTS

Having a trampoline may seem like a lot of fun for you and the kids – until someone gets hurt. Your home insurance may not cover the falls, trips, breaks, and other accidents that happen from playing on a trampoline. If you must have one in your yard, you should consider getting additional coverage.

NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS

Millions of people live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant here in the United States. But if there’s a major accident that causes damage or illness to nearby residents, it’s not your insurance that’s going to cover you. Instead, a 1957 federal law, the Price-Anderson Act, will compensate you for damage or injuries resulting from a commercial nuclear accident.

TERRORIST ATTACKS

The vast majority of terrorist attacks are considered an “act of war” which aren’t covered by a standard home insurance policy. If you live in a condo or co-op, you might be able to purchase insurance to cover your belongings. Generally, though, most insurance companies do not insure against terrorist attacks.

Your home insurance covers plenty of extremely common occurrences, especially things you can’t always prevent like lightning strikes, theft, and fire. It’s important to know what your policy does and doesn’t cover so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you need to file a claim.

Got questions about your homeowners policy? Need additional riders or coverage? Contact us at today.

Insurance for your Home Based Business

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 20, 2017. It has 0 comments.

Working for yourself, controlling your financial destiny, and having the freedom to spend time with your family are just some of the reasons that plenty of people, especially moms, own home based businesses. You also believe in the brand, love how it’s changed your life, and want to share that love and joy with the rest of the world.

It’s a worthy endeavor that you should be proud of.

There’s a problem, though. Most people with home based businesses don’t have nearly enough or the right kind of insurance to protect themselves, their business, and their inventory when something bad happens. It doesn’t matter if you sell leggings from LuLaRoe or weight loss miracles through Beachbody or Herbalife, if you’re selling products directly to consumers for a larger company, insurance is something you’ve got to think about.

YOUR HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE ISN’T ENOUGH

While you may be able to file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance if part of your inventory is ruined or stolen, there’s a good chance it won’t cover the entire amount. LuLaRoe consultants have at least $5,000 worth of merchandise at any given time, and that’s just the bare minimum. Your homeowner’s policy might cover that, but if you’ve got $10,000 or $20,000 stored in your home, you’ll be the one responsible for the cost to replace it.

Inventory is only part of the equation. If customers come to your home or you travel to deliver product, liability is also a potential problem. A customer who gets hurt while doing business with you may sue the company – or they may sue you. Your homeowner’s policy won’t cover that kind of liability. Lawsuits and legal fees could bankrupt you without the right insurance coverage.

HOME BASED BUSINESS INSURANCE COVERAGE

Now that we’ve probably made you a little nervous, what kind of insurance should you have? It all depends on the type of business you run, the amount of inventory you keep on hand, and how you work. Here are some common types of coverage you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.

Contents Insurance: Depending on your inventory, you may be able to add an endorsement to your current homeowner’s policy or you may need commercial contents coverage to help pay to replace damaged or stolen inventory.

Spoilage Insurance: If you work with food-based, products that can go bad in the wrong conditions, or cosmetics that can be ruined by extreme temperatures or lack of electricity, this will protect you when your inventory is spoiled.

Off-Premises Liability: Whether you sell at trade or craft shows or you deliver orders to customers, this will cover you if a customer is hurt or experiences property damage while doing business with you.

Product Liability: If the product you’re selling causes a customer to become ill, damages their property, or harms someone, product liability protects you.

Auto Liability: Your personal auto insurance won’t cover you if you get into a car accident while you’re traveling for business. You need a commercial auto insurance policyto do that.

Business Income: If a covered disaster forces you to stop working and disrupts your income, business income coverage will help replace some of your lost income until you’re back in business.

Flood Insurance: If you store a lot of inventory in your home, and you live in a flood zone, it may be worth buying flood insurance specifically to protect your inventory.

You don’t necessarily need all of this coverage for your home based business. Every business is different, as is every business owner. It’s important to talk to a qualified insurance agent about your specific business to help you find the right coverage.

Contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We want your business to grow and succeed. To do that, you need the right kind of business insurance, and we can help you find it.

Keep Cool without a Pool

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 15, 2017. It has 0 comments.

In the middle of a stifling summer nothing sounds better than a cool dip in the pool to make you forget the heat. Swimming in a pool may be a great way to cool off, but with all of the added risks, increased insurance costs, and required maintenance – sometimes having a pool just isn’t worth it. Here are some things that you can do beat the heat without a pool.

PLAY LIKE A KID

Do you remember being a kid in summer? The heat barely bothered us; there was too much to do! To stay cool during the summer months, it’s time to feel like a kid again. Water balloons, wet sponges, and water guns are great ways to cool down and play in the yard. Get the kids involved or make it a grown-up game with friends and neighbors.

Enjoy the simple pleasures like a kid, again. Dunk your feet into the cheap kiddie pool from a discount store, except now you can enjoy a drink while you do. Jump around in the sprinklers. Eat popsicles. It’ll cool you down, and you’ll have so much fun, you won’t notice the heat.

EAT AND DRINK TO STAY COOL

Water with ice in it is always a good idea in the summer. You can also freeze fruit and pull it out of the freezer when you need a snack. Take advantage of summer fruits like melons and some berries. They’re filled with water which will keep you hydrated and when they’re fresh from the refrigerator, they’re crisp and cool.

You’re not a kid anymore so instead of sugary juices, keep sparkling water on ice in a cooler. Make adult beverages like frozen margaritas. Eventually you won’t care about the heat or your lack of a pool. Note: don’t let anyone drive home if they’ve had too much to drink. Get them an Uber or let them stay at your place.

MAKE A COOL SPACE

You can build a fort or tent in the yard and add a fan. Buy a misting system that attaches to awnings or umbrellas. Pull a big fan out of your garage, plug it in with an extension cord, and let it move the stifling hot air around you. If you’ve got a porch with no roof, consider adding an awning for some extra shade.

Consider enclosing your porch to make it a Florida room. You can add a ceiling fan and shades to keep the heat out. Plus, you’ll add to the value and space of your home while also having a permanent way to stay cool during the summer every year.

Whether you do small, simple things to stay cool this summer or you think long-term to the next few years, you’ve got more options than you realize to beat the heat. When all else fails, take a cool shower and go inside.

12 Summer Car Care Tips

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 13, 2017. It has 0 comments.

Heat, sun, and extra time on the road can do real damage to your car during the summer months. The last thing you want is to break down on the side of the road on a hot day. Here are a few tips on how to take care of your car this summer to help it stay on the road and still look good.

  • Check your battery. Summer heat drains a battery more than any other time of the year. Replace your battery if it’s close to the end of its lifespan.
  • Have your engine checked. All the belts need to be checked for cracks and to make sure there’s enough tension. Without it, you could be stuck on the side of the road – in the heat.
  • Replace brake pads if they feel spongy when you’re stopping or slowing down.
  • Don’t ignore weird squeals or other noises. Have your car looked at by a mechanic to make sure everything is working properly. Again, you want to avoid sitting in a hot car on the side of the road.
  • Have your oil changed on a regular basis through the summer. You may be traveling a lot and putting more miles on your car. You’ll want to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
  • Check your tire pressure. Flat tires are only one potential problem. Driving on tires that don’t have enough pressure also kills your gas mileage.
  • Get your air conditioner checked and make sure the air filters are changed.Nothing is worse on a hot day than hot air blowing in your face.
  • Change your windshield wiper blades. worn blades leave streaks behind when it rains which makes it harder to see while you’re driving.
  • Keep your car clean. Dirty windshields are hard to see out of, and dried sap or dead bugs can eat away at your paint job.
  • Get a dashboard sunshade. You’ll keep the cabin of your car a little cooler and protect the color of your seats and dashboard which can fade in the sun.
  • Add a rear sunshade if you have kids that ride in the backseat. This will keep them from getting too hot, too.
  • Consider a cover for your steering wheel if it gets unbearably hot during the summer. It’s hard to drive when your hands are on fire.

Taking care of your car in the summer is important for the life of your car and for the health of you and passengers. Getting too hot can make everyone sick, and even if it doesn’t, you’ll still be miserable. A little time at the mechanic now and a few supplies will help you keep your car in good shape all summer long.

One more thing to do to get yourself ready for any summer driving, especially road trips – make sure you have enough auto insurance in case the worst happens. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance, and we’ll take a look at your policy, suggest changes, or get you a quote for a new policy.

Lightning Safety Tips

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 8, 2017. It has 0 comments.

It’s summer, and here in Charlotte we’re not strangers to summer storms and lightning. But lately, the storms have been wilder than usual. Houses have been blown apart from lightning strikes. Trees fell on homes and across the road. Cows needed rescuing from barns.

The weather is getting more severe, and lighting strikes are a very real threat. What you were told as a kid about staying safe in bad weather is still true today. Since it’s easy to get complacent and think we’re always safe in our homes or cars, you may need a reminder about what to do when a summer storm arrives. Here are some tips to stay safe from lightning.

BEFORE THE STORM ARRIVES

There are different phases to staying safe around lightning. The first one is when you realize a storm is on the way. You may see dark clouds rolling in or hear thunder in the distance. Don’t ignore it. Now is the time to act.

  1. If you hear thunder, lightning can strike. Get to shelter immediately.
  2. Stay away from high places like the top of a hill or a mountain. Lightning looks for the closest thing to strike. The higher you are in the sky, the closer you are to lightning.
  3. Don’t hide under a tree. Trees are constantly struck by lightning.

WHEN THE STORM BREAKS

Now it’s raining with plenty of thunder and lightning all around you. Hopefully you’re safe and dry inside a sturdy building. Whether you are or aren’t, here’s what you need to know.

  1. Stay off the phone. Turn off the television. Power down your computer. If lightning strikes, you don’t want to be on anything electrical.
  2. Don’t take a bath or shower, wash dishes, or do the laundry during a thunderstorm. Avoid water until the storm passes.
  3. Do not lean on concrete walls or stand on concrete floors. Electricity is easily conducted through them.
  4. If you’re outside, do not lie flat on the ground. You’ll be more easily struck by the ground current even if lightning doesn’t hit you directly.
  5. Stay away from barbed wire fences, electrical lines, and anything that could conduct electricity.
  6. If you’re stuck outside when the storm breaks, keep moving towards shelter, even if it’s your car.

AFTER THE STORM

The threat isn’t over because the rain has stopped. The last thing to do, assuming you found shelter, is to stay put. Don’t leave until 30 minutes have passed since the last time you heard thunder. This will let you know that the storm and the danger from a lightning strike has truly passed. Just like at the beginning of the storm, if you can hear thunder, lightning is likely close behind.

Lightning can destroy homes and cars, close down roads, and injure or kill people. It’s much better to be safe and a little inconvenienced than to find yourself on the wrong side of a lightning strike. Take care of yourself during these wild Charlotte storms, especially in the summer when the added heat adds a certain spark (pun intended) to our usual storms.

If you want to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance coverage to cover you if your home is damaged in a storm, give us a call at Charlotte Insurance today. We hope you and your home never get struck by lightning, but if you do, we also want you to have enough insurance to help you pick up the pieces once the storm passes.

Insurance Primer For Grads

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 6, 2017. It has 0 comments.

Congratulations on making it through school and graduating college! Whether you’re going on for another degree or you’re entering the working world, some parts of your life are about to get real – and fast. If you haven’t already done it before, you’ve got to figure out this “adult” thing. Part of that is about insurance. It’s something your parents have worried about for years, and now it’s your turn.

Insurance doesn’t have to be stressful, not if you know a few things. We’re here to help. Okay, college grad, here’s your insurance primer for this new phase in your life.

UPDATE YOUR AUTO INSURANCE

Once you’ve graduated and packed up your dorm room – or your apartment – and you’ve got a new address, it’s time to think about your auto insurance. If your parents have been paying it for you until now, you’ll need to get some quotes for a new policy. But if you’ve been paying for your own auto insurance all along, you need to update your policy with your new address.

While you’re dealing with those changes, make sure you have enough auto insurance. In a perfect world, you won’t get into an auto accident, but that’s not the world we live in. The next best thing is to make sure you have enough insurance to cover whatever happens. Here are a few things that need to be in your insurance policy:

  • Additional liability coverage, above and beyond the state minimums
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage to protect you if you get hit or hit something or someone else
  • Roadside assistance and rental coverage to help if you can’t drive your car
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in case you get hit by someone without insurance

Your premiums may go up a little, but you’ll avoid having to pay thousands of dollars after an accident. The extra cost is worth knowing you won’t go bankrupt after one bad accident.

GET RENTER’S INSURANCE

If your next plan after graduation is to move into your own place, don’t forget renter’s insurance. For a few hundred dollars a year, all of your possessions can be covered and replaced if your apartment floods, gets broken into, or damaged in some other way. It can also cover your personal belongings in your car if anything is stolen there, too.

Renter’s insurance is the only way to replace damaged or stolen belongings without paying the full cost for all new stuff. Your landlord has insurance on the property and building but that won’t cover you at all. To decide how much renter’s insurance you need, make a list of all of your stuff – clothes, TV, computer, smartphone, your gaming system and games, furniture, appliances that you bought, etc. Now add up what it would cost to replace each thing. It’s a lot more than you thought, right? Can you afford to lay out that much cash to replace everything if your apartment was involved in a floor or fire?

Once you buy your renter’s insurance, there are a few things you need to do:

  • Make a list of your stuff. You can also take pictures or record video.
  • Keep your list, pictures, or video in the cloud so that even if your computer or phone are destroyed, you can access it.
  • When you buy something new, keep the receipt. Take a picture of it or use a scanning app on your phone. Store that in the cloud, too.
  • Make sure your coverage is “full replacement cost” which means that if you make a claim, you’ll get what you need to replace your damaged stuff. If you pick “actual value” you’ll get a lot less based on the value of your old and used stuff.

A lot of people think insurance is more complicated than it really is or that it’s always going to be crazy expensive. That’s just not true. The trick to making sure that you’ve got great coverage at a great price is to work with a local insurance agent.

Charlotte Insurance is here to help you do just that. Let us help you protect yourself now that you’re out on your own, without spending too much. Contact us today for a quote!

A Blast from the Past

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 1, 2017. It has 0 comments.

Back in 2007, Charlotte Business Journal did a piece about our growing agency. You can view the original, or read the article below.

We’ve come a long way!


LEARNING TO DOWNSHIFT: INSURANCE AGENCY REFOCUSED ITS GROWTH IN CHARLOTTE

Originally authored by Fred Tannenbaum of Charlotte Business Journal

When longtime friends Marty Karriker and Sean Hertel bought the American United insurance agency in 1992, they were immediately racing for the finish line.

Right away, they renamed the company Insur-A-Car. In 1995, the partners opened their first branch office on Charlotte’s east side and then added one in Kannapolis. Facilities in Monroe and Gastonia followed in 1996. So did the purchase of a small High Point agency, which gave Insur-A-Car a presence in Greensboro as well.

By mid-1998, Karriker and Hertel began feeling the strain of running a far-flung enterprise.

The stress was brought home one day that July when two Greensboro employees called in sick. Karriker jumped in his car to drive there to fill in. He ended up sitting in traffic after an accident blocked the road.

“I thought, ‘Why am I going to Greensboro on a Friday when I’ve got hundreds of thousands of people right here in my own backyard that I haven’t even tapped into?'”

Karriker and Hertel were also feeling the strain in their wallets. Their advertising costs had doubled since the company started.

So the pair decided to shift strategy. By the end of 1999, they sold all the Insur-A-Car offices except two in Charlotte.

By concentrating solely on the Charlotte region, they were able to save money on marketing. “We can spend one set of advertising dollars and have it affect the entire region,” Karriker says.

They also were able to focus their attention on local customers. In 2002, Insur-A-Car began serving Cornerstone Financial Partners, a Cornelius wealth-management firm, with business insurance. It also helped Cornerstone’s employees with auto and home coverage.

Jeff Carbone, a Cornerstone partner, says Karriker and Hertel helped him save money on premiums while improving his coverage. “They are very genuine and professional. Their staff does a great job answering questions and concerns.”

In 2006, Karriker and Hertel changed the company’s name to Charlotte Insurance, reflecting the broader range of services it offers. In addition to marketing auto insurance, the company sells coverage for homes, businesses and personal items, including boats.

Having restructured and transformed their business, Karriker and Hertel are expanding again — but this time within metro Charlotte. Their newest offices are in Huntersville and the Denver community in Lincoln County.

The pair plans eight more agencies in the region. Locations and a timetable haven’t been determined.

There are benefits to opening all eight offices at once, rather than adding one or two per year, Karriker says. “But it costs more money up front to make a splash.”