How to Know if you’re Ready to Buy a Home

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 27, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Maybe it’s because you’re addicted to HGTV or because your best friend just bought a new home, but you’ve got house fever. Your rental isn’t cutting it anymore, and you’re ready to own your own home. But are you ready for the responsibility and added expense that can come with homeownership?

Here’s how to figure out if you’re ready to call a real estate agent and buy a home.


Mortgage lenders will look at your employment history as part of the application process. Not only do they want to see your income level, but they want proof that you’ve got steady employment. Working at the same job for at least two years looks good on your mortgage application. Constant job changes or in types of earning (say from salary to commission) can make lenders nervous and less likely to approve your application.


Needing a 20 percent down payment is a myth. Plenty of new home buyers can put down as low as 3.5 percent when they buy. But you’re going to need more than the down payment. You’ll also need enough for all the closing costs and your moving expenses. Mortgage lenders are much less likely to green light your application if your entire savings will be wiped out at the closing table. Plus, without enough savings, you won’t have any money to move, buy new furniture, or fix up your new home.


While you can get a mortgage with a good or fair credit score, in the 650 range, it’s better to have a higher credit score. Not only do you look like a better credit risk to lenders, you’ll also get a better interest rate. Your interest rate determines a big portion of your mortgage payment. The lower your credit score, the more money you’ll pay – if you even get approved for a mortgage. Paying your bills on time and not carrying too much debt will go a long way in increasing your score.


We don’t mean in a relationship. Plenty of single people buy homes, too. Buying a home is a long-term investment and commitment, especially if you want to make any money when you sell it in the future. If you’re still going wherever you find an interesting job or figuring yourself out, maybe it’s better to rent. But if you’re in a steady job and ready to stay in place for at least a few years, you might be ready to buy.


Your exact mortgage payment is different than what you’ll likely pay every month. A basic mortgage payment is the amount you owe the lender and the interest, but there are also taxes, home insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA or COA fees to consider. For most homeowners, these are paid through escrow as part of your monthly mortgage payment (COA and HOA fees are paid separately). So while it’s important to know if you can afford the mortgage every month, you also need to know if you can afford everything else.


As a renter, it can be a hassle waiting for the landlord to fix things. But you also don’t have to pay for repairs or worry about replacing the big stuff like the air conditioner or roof. When you buy a home, all of that becomes your responsibility. When you look at a potential budget for buying a home, those repairs need to be factored in. Things tend to break at the worst possible moment, but they still have to be fixed, repaired, or replaced.

Buying a home and owning one are two separate things. And just because you can buy a home doesn’t always mean you should. Not everyone wants to worry about fixing things and some people want to be able to pick up and move at a moment’s notice. But if you’re ready to settle down in one place and have a home to call your own, the next step is to figure out if you’re ready to be a homeowner.

Part of the buying process involves choosing a home insurance policy. When you need a quote, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. As an independent insurance agent, we work with a variety of companies so we’re able to get you the policy that’s right for you at a price you can afford.

Wedding Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 22, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Did you get engaged on Valentine’s Day? Congratulations! Now the fun begins with planning the big day. The fun can quickly turn into stress for many couples, but it doesn’t have to. While you’re working out the details and picking colors, attire, and music, don’t forget to consider wedding insurance, too.


Much like other insurance policies, wedding insurance protects you from the things you can’t control or foresee happening to ruin your big day. Wedding insurance policies can cover specific parts of the big day like photography, videos, attire, gifts, rings, deposits, and general liability. Typically, each part of the wedding that might be covered by a wedding insurance policy will have its own listed limits so it’s not just important to know what’s covered but also how much.

If something happens that prevents your wedding from taking place, a wedding insurance policy can help pay the expenses for rescheduling. The amount paid will be determined by your policy limits, minus any deductible you’re responsible for.


Like other insurance policies, specific incidents are covered by a wedding policy:

  • Problems with the wedding venue, like last minute cancellations due to weather or damage
  • Illness or injury to the bride, groom, or other essential members of the wedding party
  • Vendors who don’t show up
  • Weather or accidents that make it impossible for essential wedding party members or a majority of guests to get to the wedding.
  • Military deployment that occurs before your wedding
  • Unexpected job relocations
  • Damage caused by your wedding guests

Depending on the policy you select, your wedding insurance won’t just cover accidents, natural disasters, and illness that require a postponement. Some policies will pay for photography or videography re-staging and alternatives if the negatives or equipment are damaged after the wedding takes place. Stolen or damaged non-monetary gifts may also be covered by a wedding insurance policy – although there will be strict limits on this and a police report will likely need to be filed.


Wedding insurance doesn’t cover everything. As with any policy, there are exclusions and limitations. Your policy won’t pay if one of you has a change of heart and decides not to go through with the wedding. And while the wedding bands may be covered by your policy, an engagement ring may not be included in your coverage.

The sooner you purchase your wedding insurance policy, the better. Before you put down deposits, make sure you know what kind of insurance or guarantees the venue and vendors provide. If you choose wedding insurance, know what’s covered and how you’re protected. Some policies limit how far in advance you can purchase coverage, but if you just got engaged, now is the time to find out.

Are you newly engaged? From all of us at Charlotte Insurance, congratulations! If you’re interested in wedding insurance for your big day, contact us! We’d love to help you make it a day to remember — and only for good reasons!

Carpooling and your Auto Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 21, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Carpooling is good for the environment and your wallet. But have you ever given much thought to what might happen if you get into an accident when it’s your turn to drive – especially if the accident is your fault?

No one ever wants to imagine they might cause an accident and thinking about it with a car filled with your children or your coworkers is even worse. But accidents happen, and if you don’t have enough auto insurance, it’ll go from bad to worse in almost no time at all.

Do You Have the Right Amount of Coverage?

Of course you have an auto insurance policy, but do you have enough coverage? The liability coverage on your policy will cover everyone in the car if an accident occurs but only up to your policy limits. How much coverage do you have, and are you sure it’s enough? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average cost of medical expenses per person is nearly $16,000. Multiply that by everyone in your vehicle and the other vehicle, plus the cost of damages.

Most drivers barely have enough to cover themselves and maybe the other driver in an accident involving bodily injury. Now, add the number of people in your carpool on any given day. If you don’t have enough insurance to pay for the medical expenses, you’ll be paying out of pocket for the damages. Increasing your auto insurance liability coverage is one way to protect yourself while you’re driving the carpool.


Higher liability limits will only get you so far, and increasing it too much could make your auto insurance policy too expensive. After you increase your liability coverage make sure you have the right kind of coverage. There are two kinds of policies you can add to your current coverage.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP): While PIP is not mandatory in North Carolina, it is definitely a good idea to include in your auto insurance coverage. It mays for medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost wages of your passengers if you cause an accident. It will only pay up to your policy limits, so work with your insurance agent to make sure you purchase enough.

Medical Payments Coverage: Your liability coverage will pay for bodily injury expenses, but medical payments coverage adds an extra layer of protection. It goes into effect after an accident and pays for things like surgery, the ride in an ambulance, x-rays, and other medical procedures. Anyone in the car with you at the time of the accident is covered.

Accidents can happen at any time, no matter how careful you are as a driver. Add an extra layer of protection by choosing an auto insurance policy that covers you whether you’re running errands alone or headed down the highway with a full vehicle. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance to make sure your policy limits are at a high enough level to adequately cover you and your family. We’re happy to discuss PIP and medical payments coverage and provide a quote.

Vacation Planning Tips

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 20, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Even though it’s still technically winter, it’s a great time to start planning your summer vacation. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable and relaxing it will be.

Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your summer getaway. Here are some vacation planning tips to get you started.

  1. Choose your destination. Will you stay close to home or travel to another state? Is this the year you travel overseas or go on a cruise?
  2. Don’t expect perfection. Life happens, even when you’re on vacation. Keeping your expectations realistic can make it easier to deal with the hassles that happen while planning your trip and once you get there.
  3. Take more vacations throughout the year whenever you can. Even long weekends can do a lot of good. Not only will you be more rested, you won’t place all your hopes for the perfect family getaway on a single summer trip.
  4. Consider letting a travel agent plan your trip. They save you time and stress by handling the details, and they often pay for themselves by getting you better deals than you can find on your own.
  5. Avoid tourist traps and go somewhere under the radar. You’ll avoid big crowds, long lines, and overpriced souvenirs and attractions.
  6. If you want to go to a popular destination, like Disney World, plan your trip for slower times of the year to have a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
  7. When booking your flight and hotel, don’t just rely on third party sites like Kayak or Priceline. Sometimes an airline or hotel will offer a better rate on their own website. Always check there, too.
  8. Figure out your travel budget, write it down, and then stick with it. This helps when you save money for your vacation and when you arrive.
  9. If you’re traveling to an international destination, make sure your passport is current. Now is the time to get it renewed as it can take six weeks for the renewal or first-time application to be processed.
  10. Make sure you contact your cell phone company and banks before traveling internationally so everything works as it should while you’re abroad without incurring large fees.
  11. Buy a travel insurance policy. Like other forms of insurance, policy limits and coverage are determined by the type of policy you select. Travel insurance can help you unforeseen events like natural disasters at your location, acts of terrorism at your destination, lost or stolen luggage, lost passports, and if you get sick or injured while on vacation.

While you’re following our vacation planning tips and dreaming of warm beaches or exotic new sights, make sure you’re prepared for whatever might happen. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance for a quote on travel insurance so that you have one less thing to worry about while you plan your summer getaway.

What Cyber Liability Insurance can do for your Business

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 14, 2018. It has 0 comments.

All businesses are at risk for a cyber attack or a data breach. The type of company doesn’t matter, nor does the size of your business. Even small businesses aren’t safe. The digital world might have created amazing breakthroughs and innovations in technology and business, but it also allowed thieves more ways to wreak havoc.

A cyber liability insurance policy helps protect your company from the inevitable.


According to a 2015 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, of the companies who are attacked, 41 percent are large companies; 25 percent are medium companies; and 34 percent are small businesses.

Your business faces the same potential threat as every other business. Lost thumb drives, stolen laptops, and hacks of your website contribute to your liability. Not every threat you face comes from an unknown source or outside attack; sometimes bad acts (unintentional or not) by yourself or employees open you up to potential liability. Here are the common cyber liabilities you need to be aware of:

  • Unauthorized access to data and information
  • Not notifying people of a data breach when it’s required by law
  • Transmission of computer virus from your own equipment or websites
  • Not providing authorized users with access to your website
  • Electronic content problems including copyright infringement, plagiarism, defamation, libel, and slander



Not all cyber liability insurance policies are created equal. The most basic policy you choose should cover figuring out what happened and how bad it is, as well as helping you notify everyone in your database about the breach. Talk with your independent insurance agent to find a cyber liability insurance policy that can help you fix the problem and get back up and running as soon as possible. Other options for your policy include:

  • Public relations costs to deal with the negative publicity from the breach or attack
  • Reimbursement for fraudulent expenses
  • Help paying for a call center to handle inquiries and questions from victims of the breach/attack
  • Restoring lost data caused by system damage from a computer virus or unauthorized access
  • Lost/stolen money, securities, and other property caused by unauthorized access
  • Loss of money or securities from fraudulent transfer instructions sent to a financial institution like a bank or credit union
  • E-commerce extortion which can include money paid because of specific threats:
    • Destroy data and information
    • Introduce a virus
    • Attack a system
    • Disclose customer information electronically
    • Fraudulently transfer funds
  • Loss of income after a computer system disruption due to a virus or attack
  • Expenses to restore your business operations after a computer system disruption due to a virus or attack


Whether you only have a single computer that stores company data or your entire business is in the cloud, you’re vulnerable to a data breach or cyber attack. It’s not just about the way you run your business. Your online activity to promote your business can result in liability claims, as well. From the pictures you post on Facebook to the emails you send out to customers, your electronic content is also subject to liability claims.

Protect your business from all sides with a cyber liability insurance policy from Charlotte Insurance. As an independent insurance agent, we have access to multiple insurance products and can find the best policy for your business and budget. Don’t go it alone. Team up with us and the right coverage to protect you, no matter what happens.

Life Insurance is more Romantic than you Thought

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 9, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and you may be thinking about how to tell your partner exactly how much you love them. Dinner, flowers, and gifts are nice, but there’s another way to show the special people in your life that you care.

Buy a life insurance policy as a way to say, “I love you.”


You do all kinds of things to show your family or spouse you love them. You tell them you love them, buy gifts you know they’ll enjoy, and even remind them to buckle up or call you when they get to their destination. All of those things are wonderful acts of love, but you get to see the impact — hugs, kisses, happy smiles.

When you buy your family a life insurance policy, you’re taking care of them without ever hearing the “thank you” or seeing them benefit from it. They’re provided for and have a few less worries, but you’re not able to be there with them. It’s a selfless act of love.


We all hope that we’ll live to ripe old ages and be able to watch our loved ones achieve all their dreams and goals. But illness, accidents, and other tragedies can cut a life too short. Your loved ones will suffer and grieve when you die – whether it’s in five or 50 years. But with a life insurance policy, they don’t have to give up everything.

Part of loving someone is wanting the best for them and appreciating their gifts and skills. Under the weight of an unexpected financial burden, many spouses and parents have given up on their dreams. When you purchase a life insurance policy for your family after you’re gone, you’re telling them they can still do all the things they wanted to, that they don’t have to give up their dreams. You’re taking care of them even in death.


A kiss on the nose. Holding hands. The shared smile across the dinner table. There are so many ways to tell someone you love them. When the worst happens, a life insurance policy becomes another way to say, “I love you.”

A good life insurance policy can do so much. The funeral is paid for. “I love you.” The mortgage is covered. “Love you.” Childcare, college tuition, and student loans won’t send your family into debt. “I love you so much.” Make sure your loved ones feel how deeply you care even when you’re gone.

Life insurance can feel like a morbid topic. It only pays out once you’ve died, and no one wants to think they’re ever going to die. Instead of letting it depress you, think of life insurance as the ultimate loving act – the last one you’ll ever get to do for someone.

Are you ready to show your love with a life insurance policy? Contact Charlotte Insurance today and let us help you find a policy that will say, “I love you” in hundreds of thousands of ways.

Types of Fire Extinguishers & How to Use them

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 7, 2018. It has 0 comments.

Every home and business should have at least one fire extinguisher. But having one and knowing what to do with it are two different things. Make sure you’ve got the right kind of fire extinguisher for your home or business and that you know how to use it if a fire occurs.


Not all fire extinguishers are the same. There are five different types available to choose from. Most homes and businesses use what’s known as a multipurpose extinguisher fire which are good for three different classes of fire: A, B, and C.

When you purchase a fire extinguisher, make sure that you look for the class symbols on the label so you know what types of fires you’re prepared for.

  • A: Use this for fires involving ordinary combustibles like paper, wood, trash, plastics, and rubber.
  • B: This extinguisher is good for fires involving flammable liquids like oil, grease, gasoline, or paint.
  • C: Use this for a fire involving electrical equipment such as wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, and appliances.
  • D: This class may be less commonly known for most people as it’s used for combustible metals like magnesium, titanium, lithium, and potassium.
  • K: You’ll find this type of fire extinguisher in restaurants because it’s specifically for combustible cooking fires involving large amounts of hot grease.


Hopefully you’ll never need to use your fire extinguisher, but accidents happen. The worst time to learn is when there’s a fire in front of you. Make sure you know what to do beforeyou need it.

  • Call for help. That way help is on the way in case things get out of control.
  • Find your evacuation path and do your best to keep the fire from reaching that area. Keep your back to your way out so you can run if needed.
  • Stand at least eight feet from the fire if possible.
  • Once you use your fire extinguisher, if it doesn’t work, get out of there.

To use your fire extinguisher, follow the PASS method:

  • Pull the pin to unlock the lever or button
  • Aim the nozzle low at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the lever to discharge the extinguisher
  • Sweep back and forth, covering the fire, until it goes out.

Once you discharge your fire extinguisher, it must be recharged or replaced. You can’t use it again.

Another important step in preparing for a possible fire is to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to help repair or replace your home. If it’s been a while since you thought about your policy limits, now is a good time to make sure that your policy adequately covers your home. If you’re unsure, contact us at Charlotte Insurance and let us review your current policy, today.