Going Green: 3 Things to consider before switching to an electric vehicle

Written By Charlotte Insurance on January 30, 2018. It has 0 comments.

When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, many people think that switching to an electric vehicle is the answer. Nothing is perfect nor is anything all bad, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are a few things you need to know before you make the switch.


On one hand, refueling an electric vehicle is as easy as plugging it when you get home or to work. You never have to go to a gas station again. But it comes with a reality not everyone is prepared for. You might have gone green but you also lost a certain amount of convenience because you can’t fill up in a few minutes at a gas station.

The range of an electric vehicle is anywhere between 80 and 200 miles, depending on the make and model you select. This definitely isn’t a vehicle you can take on an extended road trip. Also, refueling takes much longer than going to the gas pump. Getting an extra 50 miles of range can take nearly 30 minutes. If you don’t remember to charge your vehicle at night, you may be late getting to work the next morning.


Because there’s no gas tank and no combustion engine, there’s no oil changes to pay for or many of the typical maintenance costs of gas-powered vehicles. At the same time, you’re also not paying for gas to refuel your vehicle every so often. Electricity is, in general, much cheaper so over the life of owning your electric vehicle, your costs will be lower than you’re used to.

It’s the purchase price that causes sticker shock. Depending on the make and model you want, you may pay $30,000 to $40,000 for your vehicle. The good news is that there are tax breaks and incentives to make purchasing an electric vehicle more enticing. The bad news is that you have fewer options to choose from.


The big appeal of buying an electric vehicle is that it’s much better for the environment. You’re not using fossil fuels to power your vehicle. You’re also not polluting the air with carbon dioxide emissions. Your carbon footprint shrinks when you drive an electric vehicle.

One feature of electric vehicles may also be a bug. Because there’s no combustion engine powering it, there’s also no noise. This is great for noise pollution, especially in big urban areas. What it’s not good for is safety. To be safe, an electric vehicle should be equipped with something that emits some kind of noise so that you, pedestrians, and other people out on the road know when a vehicle is approaching.

No matter what kind of vehicle you buy next – gas-powered or electric – make sure you have plenty of insurance. Anytime you get a new vehicle it’s important to update your auto insurance. You may need more coverage or you may qualify for discounts depending on the safety features.

Electric vehicle or not, contact us at Charlotte Insurance to make sure you have the best auto insurance coverage you can afford. We’re here to help!

Protecting those Valuable Gifts

Written By Charlotte Insurance on January 23, 2018. It has 0 comments.

The holidays are over but you’re probably still enjoying the wonderful and thoughtful gifts you received. If any of those gifts were valuable — like art, jewelry, or even high-end electronics — it’s not enough to use them and love them. You may need to talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’ve got enough insurance coverage to protect them if they’re ever stolen or lost.


When you purchased your homeowner’s insurance, you were given the option between replacement value or actual cash value. Replacement value means that your lost or stolen items are replaced at the amount they actually cost to buy again, up to your policy limits. No depreciation is factored into your payout. Actual cash value pays for the cost of your valuables minus any value it’s lost over time or depreciation. It may cost a little more per year or month but choosing a policy that pays the replacement value is better if you suffer a complete loss.

Once you receive a valuable item, it’s not just important to know if your policy is replacement or actual cash value. You also need to know what your policy limits are and what portion of the policy covers your valuables. Many policies only cover jewelry up to $1,500. Electronics, art, and even collectibles may have higher or lower limits. You can always increase your policy limits, but that might not be enough to truly cover your valuables.


To make sure your art, jewelry, electronics, and other gifts have enough coverage, it is often better to add a rider to your insurance policy specifically for your valuables. The amount of the rider depends on the value of your gifts and the type of coverage you choose.

Blanket coverage: Blanket coverage offers a set policy amount and any loss covered by your insurance policy will replace your valuables up to that total. This is a good option for electronics or if you only have one or two pieces of jewelry.

Scheduled coverage: To get more specific, you can choose scheduled coverage. In this policy, each valuable is included and listed with its value. This is good for jewelry, art, and some collectibles. You will need to have the items appraised to determine their value for the policy.

It’s important to check and update your homeowner’s insurance every year to adjust for changes you’ve made around your home and purchases you’ve been through the previous year. Right after the holidays is a perfect time so you can easily include any new valuable gifts into your policy. The last thing you want is double the pain from a theft – first the loss of the item and then insurance coverage that cannot fully cover your loss.

If you received valuable gifts over the holidays, or you’re ready to schedule an annual review of your insurance policy, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We’re here to help.

Misclassifying Employees: A Risk Not Worth Taking

Written By Charlotte Insurance on January 18, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Misclassifying your employees as independent contractors can seem pretty tempting. You’ll pay less in federal and state taxes and for your workers’ compensation insurance. In the short term it might seem like a great cost-saver and way to increase your bottom line. But in the end, it’s really a terrible idea. Here’s why you shouldn’t misclassify employees — no matter how tempted you might be.


The main misclassification of employees occurs between designating them as independent contractors instead of employees. Independent contractors are reported to the IRS on a Form 1099. They’re in charge of their own schedule and who they work for, besides your company. Unlike a regular employee, they’re only paid for the actual work they do, usually in a specified amount of time.

Employees are much different from independent contractors. You have much more control over your employees. You determine the kind of work they do and when and where they do it. They’re subject to your requirements about hours worked and instructions you provide for how to complete their job. Employees are often evaluated on job performance and other parameters and are trained for the job they’ve been hired to do. They also receive a guaranteed amount of wages for a set amount of time.


An honest mistake about how to classify an employee or two can happen to any business owner. Willfully misclassifying one or many employees will not lead anywhere good for you or your company.

Once you’re caught – and you’ll be caught eventually – you’ll owe both back taxes and fines. Fines can equal up to one hundred percent of your total tax bill. You’ll be liable for state and federal income tax not withheld, all Social Security taxes that didn’t get withheld, plus unemployment tax insurance of up to 6.2 percent. Depending on the fine you receive, it may be one lump sum or a specific fine for every single misclassification.

Your workers comp insurance is no different. Any savings you saw from lower premiums will be immediately wiped out from the fines. Your premiums will increase to the correct level, and you’ll likely have to pay the amount you should have been paying during the misclassification. And if an incorrectly classified employee is hurt during this time and decides to sue, you’ll be paying legal fees, fines, and settlements.

Does that sound like it’s worth it? Much better to classify and cover your employees correctly. One accident or audit could ruin you financially once all the fees are assessed. If you’re not sure whether you’ve classified your employees – even a single one – correctly or not, speak with your accountant or tax attorney. Get any problems fixed immediately. When you’d like to look for better ways to save on your workers’ comp insurance, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We can get you a quote for a new policy and help you find ways to reduce accidents and improve safety. There’s a better and legal way to save money than misclassification.

Organizing Your Home Office

Written By Charlotte Insurance on January 15, 2018. It has 0 comments.

A home office, much like the guest room it likely used to be, are often where people stack things and say, “I’ll deal with it later.” Now that it’s the start of a new year, consider this “later.” Make a fresh start with an organized home office. Not only will you feel better about it, but if you work from home, you’ll be more productive, too.


The only way to get organized is to make sure you have a place for everything. Take a look at what you’ve got available. This is the time to buy bins, file folders, binders, a storage cabinet, a new desk if you need it, and anything else you may need to help you put everything away.


Now take a look at the stacks of paperwork you’ve neglected. Much of it can be thrown away. Make sure to shred anything personal or with identifying information on it. File everything you need to keep. This is when those files or binders you purchased will come in handy. Wherever possible, go paperless – scan old documents and only print what you absolutely need.


You have multiple options for filing systems. Document storage on the cloud, file folders, or binders can all be used. Separate out your paperwork so you can put your hands on it again when you need. Sort files by information for your home, automobile, health insurance, and business information. Make sure to keep all insurance paperwork with the appropriate file or binder.


When you have a small home office, space comes at a premium. To find extra room, look to your walls. Tall bookcases make a great home for all of your books. Whiteboards and cork boards can hold your small papers, ideas, and notes. You’ll free up your desk space and make your office more efficient.


If you work part or full time from your home office, it’s not enough to organize your workspace. Now is also a great time to make sure your business is organized, too. If you have inventory, make sure it’s put away — and insured properly. If you run a digital business, you need to be insured, too.

Your North Carolina homeowner’s insurance policy may only cover a portion of any inventory you have, if that. Purchasing additional coverage protects both you and your business. For any other work you may do from home, your standard policy won’t cover you from most damage like professional liability or commercial use of your vehicle. A business insurance policy can be tailored to your specific business.

When you’re done organizing your home office and putting everything away, give some thought to your insurance needs. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance so we can help you find the best policy for the work you do in your home.

Can Your Hobbies Impact Your Insurance?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on January 12, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Do you have a hobby you love? Something that costs you time and money but is worth every minute and penny? January is National Hobby Month, which makes this the time to celebrate whatever it is you love to do. Depending on your hobby, though, it could have an impact on your insurance rates, so before you celebrate, it’s time to get serious.

Expensive hobbies that involve collectibles like art, cars, antiques, instruments, and even guns need more coverage than you realize. Extreme hobbies that get your heart racing and blood pumping might be a lot of fun, but they can make finding life insurance a nightmare.

It’s important to have the right amount insurance for every part of your life, including your hobbies.


How much is your hobby valued at? Do you collect valuable works of art, antique guns, or old cars? Not every collection rises in value, but for those that do, don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance to fully cover you. Depending on the total value, your standard policy may only be able to pay a fraction if your collection is completely destroyed.

If you have a small collection, a small rider may be all you need to cover against potential loss. For higher priced items, it’s time to consider blanket or scheduled coverage specifically for your collection. Blanket coverage pays a lump sum and does not require an itemized list. Scheduled coverage requires that you itemize and appraise each valuable you want to insure.

For homeowners with gun collections, you need to take extra precautions. Most gun owners are extremely responsible but accidents happen, and so does theft. Your standard North Carolina homeowners insurance policy will cover your guns up to a specific amount, but you can also purchase an additional rider if the value of your collection exceeds the limit. If you worry that your liability limits aren’t enough, you can purchase additional coverage.


When you think about hobbies like skydiving, mountain climbing, or scuba diving, what do you think about? The rush when you do something most people can’t or won’t? The thrill of pushing yourself to your absolute limits? You probably aren’t thinking about life insurance, but you should be.

While life insurance is a good idea for most people, it’s especially important when there’s a real chance your family might lose you. The problem, though, is that extreme hobbies can make life insurance more expensive and more difficult to get. Why? By virtue of your activity, there is a very real chance that you’ll die of unnatural causes.

Expect your premiums to be higher and based on your specific extreme hobby. There are no standard rates so each insurer may charge a different amount for the same hobby. But don’t keep this information from your agent, either. If you die within two years of the purchase of the policy and the insurance company discovers your hobby, they could deny your family the benefits they’re due.

Here at Charlotte Insurance, we want you to enjoy your hobbies to the fullest extent, but we also want you to be safe. If you don’t have life insurance and you’re jumping out of things, diving deep, or doing anything else extreme, give us a call. For the collectors and hobbyists with a lifelong passion, we can help you protect what you’ve worked so hard to collect and build over the years. Contact us today!