How Does a Divorce Impact Your Insurance?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 28, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a pink paper heart ripped in half representing the difficulties of dealing with a divorce and the associated insurance changes

If you’re in the process of getting a divorce or separated from your spouse, you already know that your life has become a bit chaotic. There’s a lot of change, and you’re adjusting to a new “normal.” That happens even when the split is amicable.

In the middle of it all, you might not have thought about your insurance yet. Even though some changes can’t happen until the divorce is final, now is the time to get ready for it.

Home Insurance

During your separation, before your divorce is final, no changes can be made to your home insurance policy without the consent of both policyholders. You can’t delete your spouse from the plan or be deleted from it — not as long as you’re both still the “named insureds” on the joint policy. Once the divorce is final, whoever becomes the legal owner of the house can get a new homeowner’s policy in their name.

If you move out during the separation, you’ll need to think about insurance for your new home. If you’re renting, remember that  renter’s insurance is very inexpensive compared to homeowner’s insurance. If you own your new home, you can get a policy in your own name.

Auto Insurance

Before the divorce is final, update your auto insurance with the new address for each vehicle — assuming one of you moved out. Like home insurance, when you have a joint auto insurance policy that names you both, you can’t just delete your ex from it. Once the divorce is final, you can each get separate auto insurance policies. You may lose some discounts if you change carriers or if you’re no longer on a bundled or multi-driver policy.

If you have young drivers, they still need to be insured. When possible, it’s a good idea to add them to the insurance of both parents. But, at minimum, they need to be listed on the policy of the parent they live with the most. You may come to another agreement in your divorce settlement, but your teenage driver can’t be forgotten in the changes.

Life Insurance

Life insurance can be complicated when you get a divorce, especially if you have children or you pay or receive alimony. Here are some things to consider:

  • If your children are under 18 or you pay alimony, you may want to leave your ex-spouse as the beneficiary so neither party loses your income when you die.
  • If you name your children as beneficiary, they won’t be paid if you die while they’re under 18. Their benefits would either be managed by a court-appointed trustee or the benefits wouldn’t be paid until the beneficiary turns 18. You may want to talk to a family attorney about setting up a trust for your children.
  • If you receive alimony from your ex-spouse, you may want to include something in your divorce settlement that says life insurance cannot be canceled or changed without your prior knowledge.
  • In some divorce settlements life insurance is required for the ex-spouse paying alimony or child support.

Health Insurance

While you’re still legally married, both you and your spouse will continue to share a health insurance policy. Once the divorce is final, the spouse who wasn’t the policy holder needs to find new health insurance. If their employer offers health insurance, this should be an easy switch. If not, they have two options:

  1. Purchase health insurance directly from a health insurance provider.
  2. Sign up for COBRA and pay the full cost of their previous health insurance — the plan they had through their former spouse.

We know how difficult going through a divorce can be. It’s never easy, even when they’re for the best. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance and let us help you navigate the upcoming changes to your insurance.

When to Skip the Additional Rental Car Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 26, 2019. It has 0 comments.

person driving a rental car wondering if they need rental car insurance

We’ve all been there. You’re standing at the car rental counter, ready to get on your way, and you’re inundated with all the risk and reasons why you should buy rental car insurance. The sweet deal you got for the rental disappears as you’re looking at $50 more per day to rent a car if you add on the insurance coverage.

Do you really need the additional rental car insurance? There are times when you can skip it, as long as you do your homework first. 

Your Personal Insurance Might Be Enough

If you have enough liability and comprehensive coverage through your own auto insurance policy, you may be fine. This depends on the type of vehicle you’re renting, as well. If it’s similar in value to what you own, it’s likely the best option. But if you’re renting a larger vehicle or a luxury vehicle, your auto insurance limits may not be enough. Check with your insurance agent before you rent to find out if you can use your existing coverage and opt-out of the rental insurance.

If you have personal health insurance, you may be able to opt out of the personal accident insurance option from the rental company. Your health insurance will likely cover the medical expenses for you and your passengers if you’re in a car accident. Be careful if you have an extremely high deductible and haven’t met it, or you’ll have to pay that amount before insurance will cover the rest. 

Your Credit Card May Cover You

This isn’t true of every credit card, but many offer an additional benefit when you rent a car in your name and pay with it using that credit card. You’ll be covered by a loss damage waiver (sometimes called a collision damage waiver or excess damage waiver) of up to $50,000. It only covers damage to the vehicle and doesn’t cover injuries to you or other parties. 

Many Visa and American Express cards provide this benefit. Gold, platinum, world, and elite Mastercards often do, too. 

Contact your credit card company to verify the benefit before you rent. Some will have limits on where you can rent a car (domestic or international) and how long the trip can be (15 to 30 days). Because of the $50,000 limit, you may only want to use this benefit for sedans and other reasonably-priced vehicles. For SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles, you likely won’t have enough coverage.

If you have the bare minimum amount of auto insurance and your credit card doesn’t offer loss damage waiver, you may want to pay for the car rental insurance to be safe. When you’re ready to protect yourself with a better insurance policy, or if you’re wondering whether or not you need that additional rental car insurance coverage, contact Charlotte Insurance. We’ll help you find a policy that works for your life and your budget.

Moving? Don’t Forget to Update Your Insurance Agent

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 21, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a moving box with a dog in it that belongs to someone who needs to contact their insurance agent

When you’re in the middle of a move, there are a lot of things to remember. It’s easy for important things to slip through the cracks, like contacting your insurance agent. Your insurance coverage needs to be updated when you move, especially your auto insurance.

Notify Your Agent as Soon as Possible 

Ideally, as soon as you have a move-in date and new address, you can contact your insurance agent. This allows us to get things ready for you, whether you’ll need a brand new policy or just a simple address change. If you move suddenly, contact us as soon as you can. If your auto insurance lists an incorrect address, and you need to file a claim, it could be denied.

Your Rate May Change

A lot of factors determine your auto insurance rate, including where you live and where your vehicle is parked (on the street, in a driveway, etc.). In some cases, your rate may go down depending on the type of move you’re making. If the move increases your rates dramatically, your insurance agent can work to find you new coverage that fits your budget.

Living and Working in Different States

It’s not unusual for someone to work in the Charlotte area and commute from another location like Rock Hill, South Carolina. If you’re in a situation like this, you might wonder if you need to two policies — one for each state. Not at all. Your policy needs to be written in the state where your car is parked overnight — where you live. 

Address Verification 

If a new policy needs to be written because of your move, usually due to a move out of state, we’ll need something to verify your new address. We ask for this because the new address for the policy doesn’t match your credit report. This can be a pay stub, your driver’s license, a W2, or a utility bill.

Moving and Life Insurance

Any major life change can impact your life insurance. When you move, you may need to update your policy limit to reflect a bigger house or a larger mortgage payment or the life change that precipitated the move (marriage, divorce, retirement, etc).

Remember, the purpose of life insurance is to help your family financially in the event of your death. If your housing costs have changed dramatically with this move, you want your coverage to allow the mortgage to be paid off or for your family to be able to pay the monthly payment.

When you get ready to move, make sure contacting your insurance agent is on your checklist. The sooner you can share your new address with us, the sooner we can make sure you have the insurance coverage you need. And once it’s done, it’ll be one less thing you have to worry about. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to update your coverage or for a free quote.

Understanding Your Charlotte Homeowners Insurance Policy

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 19, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a neighborhood filled with people who need a better understanding of their homeowners insurance

Every home in North Carolina needs a homeowners insurance policy. When you’re buying a home with a lender, it might seem like just another box to check to get to the closing table. But if you don’t know what’s in your policy or what it covers, you can get a nasty surprise the first time you need to file a claim.

Make sure you understand what’s in your homeowners insurance policy and how it works. Here’s what you need to know.

What Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Covers

Your homeowners insurance policy covers multiple things. Each part of your insurance coverage is broken down into different sections.

  • Dwelling: Your insurance coverage for your home in the event of damage or destruction.
  • Other Structures: Insurance protection for buildings not attached to your main dwelling, which can include detached garages, workshops, and sheds.
  • Personal Property: Your personal possessions not permanently attached to your dwelling or other structures which include furniture, clothing, computers, and more.
  • Additional Living Expenses: This is the insurance coverage that takes care of costs you may have during a covered event like staying in a hotel until your home is repaired. To continue to be eligible for this, you must continue to make your mortgage payment on time during this time.
  • Personal Liability: You’re covered against third party claims of injury or damaged property. This includes medical costs and legal action brought against you. You have this coverage at home and wherever you go.

Common Types of Homeowners Insurance

There are eight different types of homeowners insurance policies, but three are the most common. What type of insurance you have determines exactly what perils are covered and what kind of claim you can file.

HO-2: This is a basic named-peril insurance policy. Only specific perils are covered, and they will be named in your policy. If something happens to your home that isn’t listed, your insurance won’t cover it. Personal property is included in this coverage. It’s considered one of the most basic types of homeowners insurance. 

HO-3: This is the most common type of homeowners insurance and it provides more coverage than an HO-2. HO-3 is an exclusion policy which means everything is covered except what’s listed in your policy. Personal property is still protected in this policy, but only against perils that would be listed in an HO-2 policy.

HO-4: This is what’s known as a renters insurance policy. A renter can purchase HO-4 coverage and have their personal property protected and receive liability protection in case someone gets hurts in their home or apartment.

Reading Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

A lot of information is included in an insurance policy, but the page you want to check each time you buy a new policy or its renewed is the Declaration Page. This summarizes your coverage and gives you quick information you need to know. Here’s what’s included:

  • Policy number and policy period for current coverage
  • Name and address of the policy owner
  • Address of the property being insured
  • Name of mortgagee, typically your mortgage lender
  • Coverage total and limits of what is covered
  • Deductible amounts and percentages
  • Home-rating information
  • Discounts you’ve received
  • Premiums you owe for coverage

When you have questions about your policy that the declarations page can’t answer, contact an independent insurance agency like ours. We can walk you through the details.

Ready to get a homeowners insurance policy that provides better coverage at an affordable price? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote.

Dealing with Hail Damage

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 15, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a car with hail damage

Hailstorms can pop up out of seemingly nowhere. You don’t know how bad it will be or how long it will last. The damage can be as minimal as pebbles bouncing off your car or as severe as golf balls or bigger raining down on your vehicle. Hail damage, big or small, shouldn’t be ignored. 

Here’s what you need to know about hail damage and your Charlotte auto insurance.

Hail Damage 

Because hailstorms can create small and large hail, the type of damage you’ll experience from a storm can range from minor dents and dings to more severe problems. Large hail hitting a vehicle has been known to put holes in the roof, cause engine damage, and break windows and windshields. 

There’s no perfect way to prevent hail damage. Try to keep your vehicle parked in a garage or in covered parking of some sort if that’s available. If you’re driving during a hailstorm, look for a place you can park that is covered. If that’s not available, pull off the road as soon as it’s safe to do. Sitting still through a hailstorm will still cause damage, but not moving reduces the severity of the damage you’d otherwise experience.

Hail Damage and Your Auto Insurance

If you have a basic liability policy, your auto insurance won’t cover the cost to repair hail damage. You’ll have to pay out of pocket for any repairs. To avoid that expense, you’re going to need comprehensive coverage. You’ll be protected from a lot more than hail.  

If your vehicle is damaged, you can file a claim, pay your deductible, and get the damage repaired. Some policies waive the deductible if your glass can be repaired, instead of being replaced. You may also be able to buy full glass coverage for your vehicle and avoid paying the deductible for glass replacement. This is good coverage to have even without hail damage. Rocks fly through the air from trucks and the road all the time. 

Repairing Hail Damage

You may just have a few small dings and dents from a hailstorm and might wonder if it’s worth filing the claim. The repair is usually quick and easy with an auto body shop “popping” out the dents in no time. If you plan to re-sell your vehicle in the future or trade it in for a newer model, getting even minor hail damage repaired is a good idea. Those dents will impact the value of your vehicle.

For major damage, you’ll work with your insurance company and the shop that repairs your vehicle. You’ll likely require major bodywork but will only be responsible for the deductible. If the damage to your vehicle is considered a total loss — meaning the cost to repair it is higher than your vehicle’s value — you’ll receive the actual cash value for your vehicle. This will help you purchase a new vehicle. 

In order to repair the damage from hail, the first step is to have the right auto insurance policy. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, now is the time to get it. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free estimate.

The Importance of Identity Theft Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 12, 2019. It has 0 comments.

an identity theft victim looking frustrated because she doesn't have identity theft insurance

Every year approximately 9,000,000 identities are stolen in the United States. It takes very little to steal your identity and to wreak havoc on your financial life. You’re the victim of a serious crime, but you also have to spend time and money to clear your name and correct your financial history.

Identity theft insurance can help you put the pieces back together.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is as simple — and as horrifying — as taking a small piece of your personal information and using it to impersonate you to spend money, commit a crime, or even get a job. Typically the information stolen is your social security number or a bank account number.

Identity theft takes a variety of forms:

  • Fraudulent purchases are made with your credit card number.
  • Money is withdrawn from your bank account without your approval.
  • Credit cards may be opened in your name without your knowledge.
  • Bank loans in your name may be approved — and then go unpaid.

Identity thieves may file your taxes and pocket the refund, get a job using your identity, and even buy a home (with a mortgage!) in your name. You won’t have any idea until a bill goes unpaid or you have someone knock on your door with serious questions about your “recent activity.”

How Does Identity Theft Occur?

There are multiple ways you may become the victim of identity theft. Some are obvious and some aren’t.

Important documents may be stolen. These include your wallet, checkbook, credit card, bank statement, or even an application you completed that asks for a social security number or bank account number.

Hardware may go missing or be stolen. If you keep important documents on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or a flash drive, these devices could go missing whether by being lost or stolen. Once a thief has the device, they’ve got all they need to steal your identity.

Scammers still work over the phone and online. Clicking suspicious links or sharing your bank information over the phone are still common ways scammers get the information they need directly from you.

How Identity Theft Insurance Can Help

With an identity theft insurance policy, you’re not alone when a scammer gets your information. You’ll have help from the very beginning until your financial record is fixed. Policy details vary, but your policy may include the following options:

  • An assigned case manager to help review your accounts and make corrections to your credit history
  • Ongoing credit monitoring
  • Notification to the credit bureaus
  • Legal fees, application fees, and lost wages
  • Replacement of your legal identification
  • Help with court proceedings that occur because of the person pretending to be you

If you think you’re the victim of identity theft, there are things you need to do immediately:

  • Report that your information has been compromised to credit card companies, your bank, and the police.
  • Register a fraud alert
  • Report the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

With an identity theft insurance policy, you’ll get help with all of this and more. It’s a devastating time, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a quote on a new policy and get the help you need when your identity is stolen.

Life Insurance — The Gift That No One Likes to Talk About

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 7, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a couple discussing the gift of life insurance on valentine's day while holding hands outdoors

Life insurance sounds like a depressing topic, doesn’t it? It’s only needed when someone dies, and no one wants to think of death — ever. Especially not around Valentine’s Day. This is the holiday of love and hearts and of being together forever.

In reality, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to think about life insurance. There is no single better way to let your family know exactly how much you love them than with a life insurance policy. Even when you’re gone, and they’re grieving, they’ll still feel your love and support.

Why Life Insurance?

We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy the sentimental card and the sweet chocolate, or go out to dinner. Definitely make those plans for Valentine’s Day. But while you’re planning your big romantic gesture, add life insurance to your shopping list. It will do more for your family than you realize.

  • Your family will be left financially stable after you die. They won’t wonder how they’ll pay for your funeral.
  • They can cover immediate expenses and future bills like the mortgage or education costs.
  • You’ll give your family time to grieve your loss without adding extra stress on their shoulders.
  • This will be the last time you can be there for them. Your life insurance policy is the last time you get to say, “I love you.”

Without the right life insurance policy, your family will not only struggle with your loss, they’ll also struggle financially. They may have to give up the lifestyle that you helped build for them. While they’re grieving your death, they’ll also have that loss compounded with the loss of the life they once knew.

Start Now

Most people vastly overestimate the cost of a life insurance policy. The younger you are when you purchase it, the less expensive it is. But even for older people, a $100,000 or $250,000 policy isn’t as costly as you think that it is. A life insurance policy is often an affordable way to continue to help your family long after you’re gone. How inexpensive can life insurance be? For a healthy 30 year old, a 20-year $250,000 term policy costs about $150 per year.

It’s also much easier to buy life insurance than you may imagine. With a call to an independent insurance agency like ours, you can answer a few questions, and have a new policy in almost no time. We may even be able to bundle your life insurance with your other policies and offer a discount so you pay even less.

This Valentine’s Day, buy the card, the chocolate, and the wine. Take your spouse to dinner, and enjoy the night. Before you do, contact Charlotte Insurance and ask for a quote for a new life insurance policy. It’s less expensive than you think, and the ultimate act of love for your family.