Kick Off Summer with a Great Memorial Day BBQ

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 29, 2019. It has 0 comments.

A NC Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who’ve served this country and died fighting for it. But it’s also a great way to kick off the summer, and nothing makes that more fun than a great barbecue.

Want this to be a BBQ that everyone raves about later? Here are some tips!

Invite Family and Friends

For your Memorial Day barbecue, spend time with people you want to hang out with. Invite family members, co-workers you genuinely like, and old and new friends alike. You can keep it casual and invite their kids too or keep it adults-only. That’s up to you. If you want the night to go on for a while and plan to serve alcohol, it may be best to keep your event 21 and up.

Plan a Fun Time

The fun you have will be determined by the ages of your guests. Everyone can enjoy games like football or baseball. You can even set up a backyard “theater” on the side of your house or on a white sheet using a projector. Once the sun goes down a bit, put on a favorite movie for everyone. Be very careful if you decide to have fireworks — and make sure you have enough home insurance for any potential fires or injuries.

Pick Your BBQ

What’s your definition of a barbecue? Is it hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill? Or do you picture smoked ribs, chicken, or pork? Either way, go with what makes your mouth water. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home and watch over any open flames carefully. You also want to cook the meat properly to avoid any potential illness later.

Go For Light Sides

You’ve decided on the main course, but what will you have on the side? The weather will be warm so go for cooler, refreshing sides like fresh fruit and a light salad. If you’re pressed for time, chips are an easy way to make a crowd happy. Avoid mayonnaise based foods unless you refrigerate them until everyone sits down to eat. Nothing kills the mood quicker than an upset stomach and spoiled food.

Choose Appropriate Drinks

Every party should have water and non-alcoholic drinks like soda, tea, coffee, or juice. If you have kids at your Memorial Day BBQ, you’ll definitely want plenty of drink options. If you decide to serve alcohol, have a plan to keep guests safe — take keys, limit how much you serve, and call an Uber for anyone who needs it when the fun is over.

You can have an amazing summer and a fun Memorial Day BBQ, but it’s important to consider safety, too. If it’s been a while since you thought about your home insurance policy, talk to your independent insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage before your party. Ask about your liability limits and what you need to think about if you serve alcohol to guests.

Have questions about your insurance? Contact Charlotte Insurance today! We can make sure you have the right amount of coverage for any gathering you plan this summer.

Preparing for Hurricane Season

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 27, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a NC hurricane

Hurricane season is right around the corner, but the time to prepare is now. If you wait until there’s a storm on the way, it might be too late. Here’s what you need to do now to get your home and your family ready for hurricane season.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

Even small storms can turn dangerous or, at the very least, kill the power to your home for a few days. You may be without power, water, or the ability to use your cell phone for a significant amount of time. Put together your hurricane emergency kit before you need it.

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Can openers
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-powered radio or TV
  • First aid kit
  • A place for important papers — you’ll grab these before a storm hits
  • Medications
  • Pet supplies

Get Supplies Early

When you know a hurricane is on the way, be ready to get the last minute supplies right away — especially gas for your vehicles and propane or charcoal for your grill. If you go without power, you’ll still be able to cook on a grill. Purchase extra gas containers so you can still drive your vehicle with gas shortages after a storm.

Know How to Keep Your Family Safe

The time to figure out where an evacuation route or local shelter is located is now, long before a storm heads for the Carolinas. Decide what your plan will be if you need to evacuate. For smaller storms, you may decide to go to a local shelter. For bigger storms, decide where you’ll go and find hotels along the route. If you have pets, make sure you know where pet-friendly shelters and hotels are located so you don’t have to face the choice of staying or leaving them behind.

Protect Your Home Before the Storm

Sandbags and plywood can help protect your home when a storm is eminent, but there are things you can do to protect your home long-term, too. Consider upgrading your windows to more wind-resistant options that can handle hurricane force winds. Install storm shutters so you don’t have to fool with plywood or worry that the lumber store will run out before a hurricane. You may also want to consider purchasing a generator. A small one can keep your refrigerator or air conditioner running after a power outage. A whole house generator can keep nearly everything running after a big storm, reducing the chance of additional damage from high humidity or spoilage.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Not all North Carolina home insurance policies include hurricane coverage. If a storm is headed our way — you may hear this as being “in the box” — a new policy can’t be written until the storm passes. Now is the time to check your insurance policy and understand what it does and doesn’t cover. If you don’t have hurricane coverage, talk to your independent insurance agent about how to include that in your homeowner’s policy.

Getting ready for hurricane season? Not sure what your home insurance covers? Need a quote for a new policy? Contact Charlotte Insurance for a free quote today.

Don’t Be Fooled by Low Prices

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 23, 2019. It has 0 comments.

This April Fool’s Day you might get taken in by a prank or two, but don’t let the super low prices promised by some insurance providers fool you. When you choose the lowest price insurance coverage, the joke could be on you at the worst possible time.

Here’s what you don’t get when you chose the lowest priced insurance coverage.

Less Service 

Some discount insurance providers cut their premiums by reducing the services they provide to customers. Trying to get someone on the phone can be nearly impossible, and you might only be offered limited help based on the insurance plan you have. Instead of getting help when you need it most — when you need to file a claim — you’re left trying to figure it out or waiting on hold for hours at a time..

You get what you pay for applies to your insurance policy. You shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant prices, but paying a little more for a real person to help you is worth the added expense, especially when you’re dealing with an accident or property damage. 

Less Coverage

A bare-bones insurance policy is just that, the absolute minimum you can buy. In auto insurance, we see this with liability-only policies. For your home insurance, you might not have enough coverage to equal the true value of your home. These are both disasters waiting to happen. When you need to file a claim, but don’t have enough coverage, you’re left paying out of pocket. If you cause an auto accident and only have the state required minimum liability coverage, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars for medical costs and property damage, not to mention lawsuits.

Bottom line, work with an independent insurance agency like ours to figure out exactly how much insurance coverage you really need. There are other ways to lower premiums besides reducing much-needed coverage.

Unaffordable Deductibles

One way many people reduce their insurance premiums is by increasing their deductible. This is a smart way to maintain insurance coverage and save money. But if you choose a deductible that’s higher than you can possibly afford, you may not be able to pay it when you do need to file a claim. Talk to your insurance agent about your deductible options. Increasing your deductible even a small amount will save you cash without breaking the bank later.

If you need to save some cash, go ahead and raise your deductible. But make sure it’s an amount you can afford to pay in an emergency.

When you want to save money, it’s tempting to cut things you haven’t used in a long time — like your insurance coverage. But insurance is there for the moments you can’t predict. There’s nothing wrong with trying to cut your expenses, but be careful with cheap insurance rates. Cheap rates often mean coverage that does you know good at the worst possible time. You don’t want to find out later that the joke was on you! 

Ready to find smart ways to save on your insurance coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance today!

Reduce Your Bar’s Liquor Liability

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

a bartender serving an appropriately sized drink to reduce their liquor liability risk

A bar is supposed to be a fun place for people to hang out, celebrate, and have a good time. But alcohol doesn’t always bring out the best in people. You opened your bar to give people a good time and a place to have fun, but you know all-too-well that it can also lead to tragic problems. This means establishments that serve alcohol face a lot of liability for what happens after you serve someone a drink. 

You can’t prevent everything bad that happens from one too many drinks, but you can reduce your liability. Here’s what you need to know to keep your patrons safer and reduce the risk for your bar. 

Food and Water 

Even if your bar doesn’t regularly serve food, make sure snacks or specials are offered so patrons can eat while they drink. Make water readily available, too. One option is to automatically serve a snack like pretzels or nuts and water to any patron, before they even order. You can’t force someone to eat or stay hydrated but you can make it easier for them to do.

Card Everyone

Make sure you have a zero-tolerance policy for underaged drinking and card everyone. If you serve alcohol to a minor, you’ll be responsible for whatever happens next. You may want to invest in an ID scanner to make it easier to spot the fakes.

Serve the Right Amount of Liquor

Some bartenders get a little heavy-handed with the liquor to increase the size of their tip. Put a policy in place against this. This helps your bottomline and keeps customers from getting inebriated too quickly. If it’s found that your staff over-served alcohol, this won’t help a liability claim. 

Be Prepared to Refuse Service

Everyone on staff needs to know the proper procedure and what to do when it’s time to refuse someone service. You want a stated policy that you train your staff on to ensure that it’s applied consistently. This way you can prevent tragic accidents later and reduce your own liability.

Get a Ride

Numbers should be posted around the bar that people can use to call themselves or a friend a ride. But your staff should also be prepared to get someone an Uber, Lyft, or cab if it’s apparent they can’t drive themselves. The expense of the ride is minimal compared to the claim you may be forced to pay after a DUI accident.

Big Days and Busy Crowds

There are certain days of the year that you know will be big ones — the Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day, big college game days. Plan for these times by beefing up server staff and security staff. Extra servers will be able to better monitor alcohol consumption and security can help prevent problems before they happen. Not only will you reduce problems, but you’ll also show that you actively tried to prevent a problem if something happens anyway. 

Liquor Liability Coverage 

Despite your best efforts, anything can happen once alcohol is involved. Make sure your bar has liquor liability coverage and enough of it. This will help cover legal fees, assault and battery expenses from fights, employee claims, and claims that may happen after a DUI. Your liability prevention policies will also show that you actively try to reduce problems stemming from your bar and the alcohol you serve.

Need a liquor liability policy? Not sure you have enough coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance, and we’ll review any existing policy and give you a free estimate for a new policy.

Eco-Friendly Landscaping Ideas

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 16, 2019. It has 0 comments.

people working on an eco-friendly landscaping project

If you want to have a beautiful yard but worry about what your yard work might be doing to the environment, you’re not alone. Lawns can require a lot of water and the chemicals used to maintain a yard aren’t good for the environment. But you have options for eco-friendly options that let you green up your green spaces, helping the planet and your wallet. 

Synthetic Grass

This isn’t the astroturf like football stadiums use, but it’s not real grass either. Eliminate mowing, watering and dead patches of grass with synthetic grass. It’s designed to look like your lawn. You won’t need to use chemicals like fertilizer or pesticides to keep it beautiful. You’ll be able to enjoy the look of a manicured lawn without the hassle, maintenance, or watering. 

Reduce the Size of Your Lawn

You can’t magically decrease the size of your property — and you wouldn’t want to. But do you need all of that grass in your lawn? If synthetic grass isn’t an option you want to try, let parts of your lawn be used for different purposes instead. You can install a patio with natural stone or create pathways with mulch and gravel. Install plant beds with plants that require little care, maintenance, or water. By reducing the size of your lawn, you use fewer chemicals and less water and help the planet.

Living Walls

A living wall, sometimes called a garden wall, is a section of fencing or wall where plants are encouraged to grow. You can grow herbs and flowers or anything that may grow and reach up and over the fence or wall. It serves as an area where plants can thrive which is good for the environment. It also adds privacy to your backyard and beauty for everyone to enjoy.


Mulching might sound like a semi-annual chore, but it’s good for the environment, too. Mulch around trees and plants helps retain moisture so you need to water less often. It also reduces the spread of weeds so you use less herbicide. And it will decompose naturally over time so you don’t have to deal with clean up or worry about what’s going into the ground.

Recycled Materials

When you re-do parts of your lawn and landscaping, reuse materials whenever possible. You can use old natural stone for your patio. Old pots and containers are great for adding plants to your living wall or your patio. You can also use found wood for walkways or adding space for your living wall to grow and spread. Using these old materials reduces what gets sent to a landfill and saves you money.

We all want our homes and yards to be beautiful, but most landscaping requires lots of water and chemicals to maintain. Great landscaping doesn’t have to hurt our planet or waste resources. In fact, with a little creativity, your yard can help conserve water, reduce your use of chemicals, and make the world a better, more beautiful place.

14 Ways to Show Mom You Care

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 14, 2019. It has 0 comments.

ways to show mom you care

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and if your mother is still a part of your life, this is the time of year to treasure your bond even more. We should all show our mothers appreciation all year long, and now is a great time to start.

Not sure what to do for the moms in your life this year? Here are 15 ways to show you care.

  1. Write her a note, a poem, or a simple “thank you” in a card. Give it to her so she can keep it forever.
  2. Donate to your mom’s favorite charity or a cause that’s important to her.
  3. Take care of her yard. Do it for the weekend or for an entire month. Mow the lawn, weed her flowerbeds, and put down mulch.
  4. Wash her car. Don’t forget to vacuum out the inside and wax it once it’s clean. Let the kids know to watch their crumbs the next time they get in for a ride.
  5. Get together for a meal, especially if the family has scattered over the years. Make sure it’s a meal she doesn’t have to plan, cook, or clean up later.
  6. Hang out with her. Go for a bike ride, take a walk, enjoy a hike, or go shopping. Simply spend time with your mom for the day.
  7. Go on an adventure. Maybe you take that road trip you’ve been talking about, or you do something adventurous like skydiving or riding roller coasters at an amusement park.
  8. Spend the day watching her favorite movies or binge-watching her favorite Netflix series. You provide the snacks and clean up later, too.
  9. Tell your mom you love her. Tell all the moms in your life that you love them, too.
  10. Thank the moms in your life for their hard work and for the job they do every day.
  11. Call your mom in the middle of the day or week — and not just at your normally scheduled time.
  12. Fix things in her home or replace something that can’t be fixed to make life easier for her, especially if you know she won’t get it done herself.
  13. Take your mom to lunch or dinner at her favorite restaurant. Encourage her to get dessert or the glass of wine she usually skips.
  14. Let her know she was right for whatever you argued about as a teenager.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

Considering Solar Panels? Here’s What You Need to Know

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 9, 2019. It has 0 comments.

solar panels impacting a homeowners insurance

There are a lot of details to consider when you want to go solar. Since most solar panel installations are designed for the roof of a home, your roof becomes a central factor in whether now is the time to go solar or not. The technical details aren’t the only consideration. It’s important to know what going solar will do for your Charlotte home insurance coverage as well.

Your Roof Matters Most

If your solar panel system is going to be installed on your roof — and most are — the details matter. The size, slant, and other factors determine how effective solar will be for your energy needs.

  • South-facing roofs are best for capturing sunlight. The worst are north-facing roofs, and a qualified solar panel installation company may advise against solar panels on your roof if it faces north.
  • The sun needs to beam down on the solar panels for at least five hours a day in order to produce the most energy. If your roof is shaded most of the day, this could prevent you from getting adequate power.
  • Solar panel systems need 100 square feet per kilowatt of power. The average home needs enough panels to generate 5 kilowatts of power, which amounts to 20 panels for 500 square feet of roof. If you need that amount of power but don’t have the available space, a roof installation won’t be an option.
  • Solar panels are most easily installed on asphalt shingles or corrugated metal roofs. You can install them on slate or tile roofs but the cost goes up due to the increased complexity.
  • The slant of your roof matters as well. Solar panels can be installed on any roof that’s slanted zero to 45 degrees because it need to be angled at 30 degrees. The racking system can be adjusted to meet the angle requirements for your solar panels. If your roof slants more than 45 degrees, solar panels on your roof may not be an option.
  • If you install solar panels on an older roof, you’ll add to the overall cost over time. Because solar panels last 25 to 30 years, when you replace your roof, your solar panels will have to be taken down and re-installed. It’s best to install the panels right after you replace your roof to avoid this extra step and cost.

Solar Panels and Home Insurance

Most home insurance policies will cover your solar panels if they’re installed on the roof of your home because they become a part of the permanent dwelling. Always check with an independent insurance agency like ours before you have them installed to check. Here are a few other ways solar panels can impact your home insurance.

Solar panels not installed on roof: You may need an add-on or rider for a solar panel system not installed on your roof. In some cases, you may need a separate policy. Talk to your insurance agent to confirm before the installation takes place.

May need to increase home insurance coverage: Solar panels that you own (not leased) can potentially add thousands of dollars to the value of your home. The system also has a high value, especially if it needs to be replaced after a covered peril. As a result, you may need to increase your policy limits in case you ever need to file a claim.

No home insurance changes if you lease: For some homeowners, leasing solar panels is the best option. While it doesn’t increase your home’s value, it also doesn’t require you to update your insurance policy. Make sure you read the agreement carefully to make sure the leasing company will cover the equipment and any problems after an accident, storm, or other problem that leads to damage.

If you’re looking into solar panels to reduce your energy costs and to help the environment, talk to us before you sign any agreements. Here at Charlotte Insurance, we can let you know what your current policy covers and what, if any, changes you’ll need to make once the solar panels are installed. Contact us today!

Preventing Slips and Falls in Your Restaurant

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

a slip and fall sign in a Charlotte restaurant

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common accidents for restaurants from patrons or employees. All represent potentially expensive claims, and even lawsuits if a customer or third-party experiences injury or property damage. Thanks to the amount of people in your restaurant, the speed in which staff need to move, and wet floors and tripping hazards, accidents are a given, but they don’t have to become commonplace.

Here are some things you can do to prevent slips and falls in your restaurant.

Perform an Audit

This isn’t a financial audit, but a floor and walkway audit. Look for hazards — potential or current — and make a note of them. Get feedback from your staff who will have encountered problems that might not be obvious during your walkthrough. A few examples you may find in your audit include:

  • Rippled or worn mats that are tripping hazards
  • Places where water collects — at the front door due to weather, by drink stations, in the kitchen near sinks, etc.
  • Anything that blocks staff from easily navigating the front and back of the restaurant.

Correct or Repair Problems

From your audit, you should have a list of known problems. Now it’s time to correct them, like replacing worn out mats or fix them. Repair uneven walkway spaces. Replace mats with adhesive-backing alternatives to avoid bunching or moving. Re-configure workstations and spaces to avoid hazards.

Create Procedures for Cleaning and Maintenance

You and your staff need a procedure for cleaning up spills or tracked in water quickly and identifying repairs or problems that could cause a slip, trip, or fall. Make a floor and walkway audit something that is done on a schedule — monthly or quarterly. Have employees report potential problems immediately. Keep a schedule of when certain floor care needs to be done to improve traction.

Designate Preventative Measures

Not all slips, trips, and falls can be prevented but many can. Employees need footwear guidelines so they wear shoes that will prevent slipping. You also need wet weather policies so that known wet spots, like the front door, can be quickly cleaned up or signs can let customers know about a potential hazard. Your staff also needs to know what to do when there’s a spill — clean up, slip prevention, hazards signs, etc.

Have an Incident Procedure

Despite your best efforts, someone will fall in your restaurant. Make sure you have an incident procedure in place. A manager or team lead should be available to help fill out an incident report. If you have surveillance cameras, use those for documentation of what happened. Witness statements will need to be taken.

This information not only helps you gather information about what really happened, it’s also what your insurance provider will want to know in case of a filed claim, whether it’s your liability coverage or your workers’ comp coverage.

Make sure you have the right type of insurance for your restaurant for when someone falls and hurts themselves as well as enough coverage. Contact Charlotte Insurance today. We can go over your current policy and provide a free estimate for new and better insurance coverage.

How Getting Engaged Impacts Your Insurance Needs

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 2, 2019. It has 0 comments.

an engaged couple wondering about their insurance needs

Did you get engaged over Valentine’s Day? Congratulations! This is an exciting time for you both with a lot of new adventures in your future. While you plan your wedding and think ahead to your marriage, there’s a lot on your mind. Your insurance usually isn’t what you’re thinking about, but you should. This is a big life event that will definitely have an impact on it.

Insurance and Your Wedding

Insurance plays a larger role in your wedding than you may realize. If you’re holding your wedding or reception at a restaurant, banquet, or special events venue, they need to have enough liability insurance in case anyone attending or in the wedding gets hurt. When liquor is served by a third party (caterer, restaurant, etc), they need to have liquor liability insurance, as well. These are questions you’ll want to ask as you plan the big day.

If you’re keeping it small and simple and holding the wedding at someone’s home, insurance is still an issue. The host will need to talk to their insurance agent to make sure they have enough liability insurance in case of injury or property damage. If alcohol is being served, social hosting liability is also something to consider. The homeowner can be sued if someone gets hurt while at the wedding or as a result of alcohol being served.

Insurance and Your Marriage

The big impacts on your insurance happen once you’re married. There are a lot of changes and potential benefits.

Auto insurance: If you and your spouse join the same policy (yours or theirs), you’ll likely see a drop in your overall premium. Married people pay lower rates than single people, on average. You’ll also be eligible for bundles and discounts you may not have been able to get before.

Home or renters insurance: Whether you’re renting or you own your home, your insurance needs to reflect the change in the amount of personal possessions, especially for renters insurance. Check your limits to make sure you have enough coverage. Getting married may also qualify you for a lower insurance rate here, too.

Valuables: The engagement ring, china sets, and other valuable gifts are common after an engagement and wedding. Make sure you have enough insurance to cover them. This may be as simple as increasing your limits or you may need a special rider specific to your jewelry and other valuables.

Health insurance: When you get married, it’s a major life event that qualifies for health insurance changes outside of the open enrollment period. You can join your spouse’s plan. They can join yours, or you can keep things the way they are. Take a look at who has the better plan and what the cost would be to add someone to that plan.

Long-term care insurance: It’s hard to imagine it now, but there will come a day when one or both of you needs long-term care from an illness, injury, or due to complications from aging and chronic conditions. Buying it now, as a married couple, will be a lot less expensive than if you wait until later. Married couples tend to pay lower rates because it’s assumed you’ll take care of each other when long-term care is needed.

We are so happy for you and your upcoming marriage! Enjoy this time as you think of the future and plan your big day. But don’t forget what happens after the wedding — the rest of your life. If you need help with these changes or simply want one less thing to worry about, contact Charlotte Insurance. We can help you find new coverage and update your existing insurance policies.