Domestic Employees and Workers’ Comp Insurance

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

cleaning supplies belonging to a domestic employee who may be entitled to workers' compensation insurance in NC

Hiring someone to help you with a new baby can be a huge help when you’re running a business or trying to deal with older kids. Some families hire a caregiver to help with their elderly parents so they can age at home — safely and with proper care. No matter what kind of help you hire, when someone works for your family working in your home, they are a domestic employee.

As an employer, you have certain responsibilities, including protecting them from injury and yourself from potential liability.

Do you need workers’ comp insurance when you hire a domestic employee? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Domestic Employee?

If you’re unsure whether your employee can be considered a domestic employee for tax purposes, it’s always a good idea to check with your tax accountant or an attorney. In general, the IRS considers a variety of job roles as a domestic employee:

  • Nannies
  • Housekeepers
  • Home health aides
  • Adult caregivers
  • Gardeners
  • Personal chefs
  • Personal assistants
  • And more

Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Required?

Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. In North Carolina, workers’ comp isn’t required for domestic employees. But just because you don’t have to buy coverage, doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.

As an employer, you can be held liable when an employee is hurt or becomes ill in the course of their job duties. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that protects you both. You pay an annual premium, and in exchange, you and your employee are covered if they get hurt, become ill, or even die while on the job.

While workers’ comp has a reputation for being expensive, your premiums are based on the number of employees you have, their relative risk on the job, and their annual wages. It may not be as expensive as you fear.

Workers’ comp pays your domestic workers’ lost wages and medical expenses after an injury or illness. If they die, their family receives death benefits from the policy. In exchange, when they accept workers’ compensation, they usually forfeit any right to sue you. Without workers’ comp, employees can sue you, and you may be found liable for their costs and their legal fees.

Hiring someone to help you around your home — or your parents’ home? Make sure you and your domestic employees are covered in case of an injury or illness. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote for workers’ comp insurance.

Preparing Your Home for a Tornado

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 25, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a tornado during tornado season

We all know that it only takes one change in weather, and a tornado can be on our doorstep at any time of year, especially if a hurricane makes landfall somewhere to the south of us.

Tornados don’t give a lot of warning that they’re on the way, and the damage can be surprising and devastating. All anyone can do is be prepared. Here’s what you need to know to prepare your home for a tornado.

Know Where to Go in Your Home

When you know there are storms on the horizon, pay attention to the weather and the news so you can get early warning of potential tornados. The best place to hide during a tornado is in a basement. If that’s not available, an inner hallway is a good alternative. The next option is a small, inner room that has no windows like a bathroom or closet. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to go when a tornado is on the way — before a storm strikes.

Reinforce Your Garage Door

Long before a tornado hits, make sure your garage door is reinforced to withstand wind and debris. A garage door technician can install the reinforcement. It’s recommended that you hire a professional to do this because the door’s counterbalance system may need to be adjusted. This will help protect the door and the contents of your garage. 

Install Permanent Storm Shutters

Even if a tornado doesn’t plow through your home, the high winds can still do plenty of damage to windows and doors. Install permanent storm shutters that can protect your windows with a roll down mechanism. You may even consider shutters that operate by motor for quicker protection. When seconds matter, you won’t have time to fumble with covering your windows which makes permanent shutters a good option. 

Remove Trees and Other Potential Hazards

During good weather, take a walk around your yard and look for potential hazards. Are there trees that might land on your home if they fall? Do you typically keep garbage cans, tools, and other equipment outside? All of these things can become dangerous during a tornado. Remove trees that are tall enough to land on your house if they come down. Keep smaller objects inside your garage when possible. Make sure outbuildings and storage sheds are properly anchored so they have a better chance of staying put. 

Update Your Home Insurance Policy

Even with the best preventative measures, a tornado can still damage your home. The best protection you can have from the high costs of a devastating storm is a good homeowners insurance policy. Each year check in with your independent insurance agent to update your policy limits and make necessary changes so that your entire home is covered. If you do need to rebuild, you need a home insurance policy that will cover the total cost.

Need a quote for a new home insurance policy? Have questions about your existing coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance today and protect your home and your family.

Celebrate Insurance Awareness Day

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 25, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a man reading about insurance awareness day

If the only time you think about insurance is when you need to file a claim, you’re not alone. Most people would prefer not to think about it at all. But your policy, whether auto, home, renters, or life, is such a crucial way to protect yourself that it’s not something to forget about completely. That’s what makes Insurance Awareness Day, on June 28, so important.

Think of it as a mid-year check-up for the protection of your home, family, and business.

The Origins of Insurance

Believe it or not, insurance isn’t a modern invention. It’s been around in some form or another for thousands of years, dating back to 3000 BC. The Code of Hammurabi, the set of first written laws, even include some information about insurance protection. Modern insurance, as we know it, was put into place after the Great Fire of London in the 1600s. All the devastation and loss of life and property helped bring about the concept of property insurance — the idea that you could pay to protect your property. From there, other forms of insurance coverage were born.

Personal Insurance

For Insurance Awareness Day, you can do several things to better protect yourself and your family. One quick call or meeting with your independent insurance agent, and you’ll know you’re properly covered when you need it.

  • Review your current policies to make sure you have as much insurance as you can afford.
  • Update your information especially if your commute has changed or if you’ve renovated your home.
  • Ask about discounts you may qualify for, especially if you’ve made recent changes.
  • Make sure you’re not paying too much for your insurance coverage. Ask for a free quote.
  • Check your policy limits to make sure they can cover you in a disaster. This is especially true for home insurance as rebuilding costs have gone up over the years.

Business Insurance

Insurance Awareness Day is a perfect time to take another look at your business insurance, too. As your business grows and changes, so do your insurance needs. Set a meeting to go over your insurance coverage with your insurance agent.

  • Review your current policies to make sure your business information, including employee information, is accurate.
  • Remind employees about current safety procedures to help avoid accidents. This is also a good time to review your safety procedures to make sure they’re updated.
  • Check your cyber security. Although you should have cyber insurance, you don’t want to have to use it unnecessarily, either.
  • Make sure you have the right kind of insurance for your business. This includes liability coverage and protection for your inventory, equipment, and other property.

For business or personal insurance coverage, let Charlotte Insurance help you protect what matters most. Give us a call to discuss your insurance needs this Insurance Awareness Day!

What You Need to Know About North Carolina RV Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 20, 2019. It has 0 comments.

An RV from Charlotte, NC that needs insurance

Now that summer is in full swing, you may be ready to hit the road in your RV. Maybe you’re finally ready to buy the recreational vehicle of your dreams. Either way, one detail can’t be overlooked as you prepare to get behind the wheel — the importance of RV insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about RV insurance in North Carolina.

RV Insurance is Required

In North Carolina, all types of RVs — from luxury coaches to trailers hitched to your vehicle are required to purchase liability and uninsured motorist coverage. This is to protect you and anyone who may be involved in an accident with you. Your minimum liability coverage should be $30,000/$60,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage. However, the minimum amount won’t cover a major accident. It’s important to purchase as much as coverage as you can afford.

Liability and uninsured motorist coverage aren’t the only options available for RV owners, though. The other types of insurance protection you can purchase depend on the type of RV you have.

RV Classes

Recreational vehicles and cargo vans are separated into different classes. The class your RV is in will determine the types of insurance coverage you can purchase.

  • Class A: These are RVs up to 75 feet in length: luxury coaches, converted buses, and motor coaches.
  • Class B: This is the smallest class of RVs and include vehicles that don’t have a cab-over: cargo van without the cab-over, travel trailers, and camper vans.
  • Class C: These are your standard cargo vans and fifth wheel vehicles.

Basic Insurance for RVs

The insurance available for your RV depends on how you’re using it and what class it falls in. RVs that are towed by your vehicle may have some coverage under your auto insurance. Always check with your insurance agent to find out what additional insurance coverage you can or should purchase. The basic protection for your RV in North Carolina includes:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Insured motorist and personal injury protection
  • Limited property damage coverage
  • Property protection
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage

Specialized Coverage for RVs

Depending on how you use your RV and how often you take it on the road, basic coverage may be all that you need. But if you’ve customized your RV or you spend a lot of time in it, you’ll want to consider other specialized forms of insurance coverage.

Total Loss Replacement: This is only available for brand-new RVs with only one owner. Older RVs receive actual cash value replacement instead. Total loss replacement means that you’ll receive the full amount to replace your RV if it’s totaled.

Custom Equipment: If you’ve upgraded your RV, inside or out, you may want to consider this additional coverage. A standard policy includes about $1000 of coverage. Many customizations are worth much more, and a special rider or add-on is necessary to offer better protection.

Vacation Liability: Vacation liability coverage is commonly available for RV owners who only occasionally use their RVs, in or out of North Carolina. This coverage is usually included automatically if you choose comprehensive and collision coverage. It offers additional liability protection while you’re using your RV as a vacation space.

Roadside Assistance: Roadside assistance provides towing for a disabled RV and transports you to the closest qualified repair shop. It also covers the labor costs of covered issues:

  • Electrical or mechanical failure
  • Dead battery
  • Flat tired
  • Locked out
  • Insufficient fluids — gas, oil, water, etc.
  • Entrapment in snow, mud, sand, or water — as long as your RV is within 100 feet of the roadway

How Much Does RV Insurance Cost?

A lot of factors determine the cost of any insurance policy, including RV insurance:

  • The class of your RV: class A is most expensive and class C is least expensive
  • Whether you’re using your RV as a vacation residence or living in it full-time
  • Your driving history
  • Your claims history
  • The limits and deductibles you choose for your policy
  • Any additional riders or speciality coverage you add-on to your basic coverage

To find the right RV insurance policy for your needs and to get the best price available, contact Charlotte Insurance today. We’re happy to talk to you about your options and give you a free quote!

Helping Your Teen Become a Better Driver

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 18, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a teen driver who could use some driving tips

Having a young driver is a milestone for both you and your teenager, but it’s also a stressful time for everyone. You know the risks your kids face behind the wheel, but eventually they have to learn to drive. You can help your teen become a better driver before and after they get their license. Here’s what you need to know.

Give Them Plenty of Practice

Studies show that teens who get at least 110 hours of supervised driving practice before they get their license drastically reduce their chance of getting into an accident. In that time, they’ve gained experience through practice. This will help them in the long run as they face the very real perils of driving without you.

Limits the Friends in Their Car

When teens get together, they don’t always focus on the task at hand. This is especially true and even more hazardous when your teen is driving. The more teenagers that are in the vehicle, the higher likelihood of an accident because of distraction and not paying attention to the road ahead. Create a rule that your teen needs to limit how many people are in the car with them.

Talk About Distracted Driving

Everyone is at risk of distracted driving, but teenagers even more so. The biggest culprit is their smartphone so talk about not texting, talking, messaging, or going on social media while they drive. But you also need to discuss other forms of distracted driving that they might not consider: grooming, eating, singing, and reaching for objects are just a few examples. If they do have friends in the car, they need to be aware of the dangers of being distracted.

Make It Easy for Them to Get a Ride From You

No one wants to believe that our teens (or their friends) might drink and drive, but it happens much too often. Let your child know that if they or their friends have been drinking, they can call you to come pick them up. They shouldn’t drive after they have a drink or get into a car with someone who’s been drinking. But if they think they’ll get into trouble by calling you, they’re more likely to take the risk.

Model Good Driving Habits

From the time they’re small and definitely once they start driving, model good behavior for your children. Don’t drive aggressively or break traffic laws. Put your own phone down and avoid distractions while you drive. Talk to your kids about how they can stay safe while they drive and the precautions you take to avoid accidents. They’re paying more attention than you realize. Yes, even when they become teenagers. If you drive dangerously, they’ll believe they can, too.

Teach Good Driving Behavior

When you talk to your teens about being good drivers, talk about the things they can do to keep themselves safe.

  • Remind them to focus on the cars around them and the road.
  • Tell them to take their time. They shouldn’t speed or cut in and out of traffic.
  • Caution them to use their turn signals and to avoid unnecessary lane changes.
  • Encourage them to drive at less busy times of the day. Rush hour in the morning and evening can be potentially dangerous for inexperienced drivers.
  • Make a rule that seat belts are mandatory, including for you.

Protect your teens by instilling good driving habits and behaviors. Keep them protected with enough auto insurance coverage. Despite your best efforts, accidents will still happen, but they don’t have to be financially devastating. Contact Charlotte Insurance to make sure you have the best auto insurance you can afford and protect your entire family.

How to Rent with Pets

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 13, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a cat in a rental home

Being a pet owner is a big responsibility but can also bring so much joy to your life. If you rent instead of own your home, you might think owning a pet is out of the question. Not necessarily.

Here’s what you need to know about renting a home as a pet owner.

Look for the Right Property

Whether you want an apartment or a single family home, you need to find a rental that’s pet-friendly. Many landlords don’t allow pets because of the potential for damage, but some will happily rent to you and your furbaby. You just have to find the right property.

  • Give yourself time to search for a new home if you’re making a move with a pet. This will help you find the right home for everyone.
  • Visit properties before you agree to rent to make sure it’s right for your entire family, including your pets. They should have room to play and be in a space that’s safe for them, too.
  • Review a landlord’s pet policies before you apply to rent. Some properties have size and breed limitations.
  • Be prepared to pay a non-refundable pet fee and/or extra rent each month as a pet owner.
  • Be honest about having a pet. If you sign a lease with a “no pet policy” and you’re found to have a pet later, you could be in violation of the lease. This could get you kicked out of your rental home.

Help Convince Your Landlord Your Pet is a Good One

If you know your dog or cat is really a sweetheart, there are ways to let a potential landlord know, too. Get references from previous landlords who can verify that your pet didn’t cause damage and that you took care of the property. Share information with your landlord about your pets vaccinations, whether they’ve been spayed or neutered, and any flea control measures you’ve taken. You might even want to invite your potential landlord to meet your pet so they can see for themselves exactly who will be in their property.

Take Care of Your Pet and Your Home

Many landlords are skeptical about renting to tenants with pets. Take extra care to show them that pets don’t have to be a problem. This means taking care of your pets and keeping them healthy as well as taking care of your rental.

  • Get your pet spayed or neutered if they’re not already.
  • Take them for yearly vaccinations and shots.
  • Have a regular vet for any illnesses or problems.
  • Keep the yard free of pet waste.
  • Fix any damage your pet causes.
  • Keep your rental property as clean as possible and clean up after your pet, especially after an accident or illness.

Not only will you maintain a good reference from your landlord in the future, you’ll also make it easier for other tenants to rent with their pets later.

As a renter, you may not be able to imagine life without your furbaby. Once you find the perfect place for your entire family, make sure you have a solid renters insurance policy to protect your belongings from whatever happens. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free estimate on a new policy.

6 Ways to Show Dad Some Love on Father’s Day

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 11, 2019. It has 0 comments.

He taught you how to drive a car and how to play catch. Your dad was there to read stories and scare away the monsters. He worked hard and raised you to work hard, too. With Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to show him some extra love.

Here are a few ways to celebrate Father’s Day with your dad this year — without buying him another tie. 

Have a Meal Together

If you’ve got cooking, grilling, or barbecuing skills, put them to good use for your dad this Father’s Day. Make his favorite meal and pair it with his beverage of choice. Cook what you’re good at and what he enjoys, and then sit down to enjoy it together. No cooking skills? More likely to burn water? Take him out to eat at his favorite restaurant. The whole point is to sit down together, enjoy a meal, and spend time with each other.

Call or Visit Him

How long has it been since you talked to your dad or saw him? If you live close enough, go for a visit. Spend the day with him and really listen to what he has to say. When distance is a problem, give him a call or chat via Skype or Facetime. This is your chance to ask questions and talk about whatever’s on both your minds. There may be things he really wants you to know. Today is the day to listen.

Hang Out Together 

Because Father’s Day is all about dear old dad, whatever you do together should be something he enjoys. Head to a game, movie, or concert. Get a coffee or stop by his favorite bookstore. Go camping, hiking, or fishing. What you do doesn’t matter. Spending time together, doing what your dad enjoys, is the important thing. 

Plan an Excursion

If your dad isn’t quite sure what he’d like to do for Father’s Day, plan something fun and unique. You could go to a beer or wine tasting. Local breweries and distilleries abound, and this could be a chance to find a new favorite. Plan a trip to an escape room or head to an amusement park. Now that you’re both adults, having fun together takes on new meaning — and makes even more lasting memories. 

Vacation Together

Up for a longer visit? Why not go on vacation together? You might take a weekend road trip to the mountains or a beach. Whether you make it a dad and kid only trip or you bring spouses and grandkids is up to you. Your dad may have memories of the struggle of family vacations when you were a kid, or maybe you never got to take one. Now’s your chance, and your dad can enjoy it more because you’re a part of the adventure.

Help Your Dad Around the House

Showing your dad some love on Father’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Stop by and help him out for the day. Mow the lawn, fix whatever is broken, or help him clean. He was there for you when you were a kid, and now it’s your turn to be there for him. It’s also a chance to spend time together so order pizza or throw something on the grill while you’re there.

From all of us at Charlotte Insurance to all the dads, Happy Father’s Day!


What to Know Before Finishing Your Basement

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 6, 2019. It has 0 comments.

contractor working on finishing a basement

Whether you’re trying to increase your home’s value or you want to add extra living space, finishing your basement is a big job. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make and contractors to hire to get it all done. Before you get started, consider these things first.

Check for Water Issues

The most common damage to any basement is flooding and water damage. Before you go to the expense of finishing the basement, make sure there are no existing problems first. If you find them after the work has been done, it’ll be much more expensive to fix.

Look for certain things that indicate you’ve got a water problem somewhere:

  • Pools of water
  • Dripping walls
  • Water stains
  • Cracks in the foundation

Get these dealt with before you do anything else.

Prevent Future Flooding

Not all flooding can be stopped, but you can do several things to help waterproof your basement. Inside your basement, make sure you use mold-resistant drywall and vapor barriers to minimize problems. Outside there are a few things you can do to prevent water from seeping into your basement:

  • Grade the soil in your yard away from the foundation
  • Extend your downspouts so that water is diverted at least 10 feet away from your home
  • Repair cracks in the foundation to avoid water seepage
  • Install an efficient sump pump to deal with rising water. You may want to consider a main sump pump and a back-up in case of a big emergency.

Conduct Radon Testing

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious health problems such as lung cancer. There’s no way to tell it’s in your home without a test. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you test the lowest lived-in level of your home. Since your basement is about to be finished, this is a good place to test. You can get a DIY test from your local home improvement store. If radon is found, it’s much less expensive to fix before you finish your basement rather than later.

Update Your Home Insurance

With a new lived in addition to your home, your home insurance also needs to be updated. The value of the policy will likely need to be increased. Not only have you added to your living space, you’ve also increased your personal possessions and added to the cost of rebuilding your home if the worst happens. If you don’t have flood insurance, now is the time to purchase a policy. Even with all of your preventative measures, basements can still flood. When that happens, make sure you’ve got the right kind of insurance to cover the costs to rebuild.

Ready to finish your basement? Have other big remodeling projects planned for your home? Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can make sure your home insurance covers your entire home once the work is done.

Renting Out Your Home or Vacation Home

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 5, 2019. It has 0 comments.

the inside of a home used as a short term rental that is in need of insurance

Renting out your property when you’re not there can be a great way to earn extra cash and build wealth, especially if you live in an area tourists want to visit. Whether you use AirBnB or a property manager, you’re not alone in looking at a vacant property and seeing the potential. But the first question you need to ask yourself is about how well you and your property are protected from harm.

Here’s what you need to know about your insurance when you rent out your home.

Occasional, Short-Term Rentals

If you only want to rent your home out for a couple of weekends a year or maybe a week while you’re out of town, this will likely be considered an occasional short-term rental. Your homeowners insurance policy may still cover your home during this time — but only if you notify them ahead of time.

For rentals that are more frequent but still not happening on a regular basis, your insurance company may require that you purchase an additional rider or endorsement for your current policy. There’s no way to know which your insurance company will require for sure until you contact them. But not notifying them of the rental could mean they won’t cover a claim if something happens while you have renters.

Regular, Short-Term Rentals

If you’re planning to rent out your home on a regular basis, whether for a week or a weekend at a time, you’re now operating a business. Yes, even if you don’t make that much money from it. Your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover these activities. You’re going to need a business insurance policy for those times when you rent.

Talk to your independent insurance agency like ours about exactly when, how often, and how long you’re renting your home. You may need a hotel insurance policy or a bed and breakfast policy.

Long-Term Rentals

When you rent your home or vacation home for a long period of time, typically six months or longer, you’re now operating as a landlord. Your home will not be covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy at this point. You’re going to need a landlord insurance policy.

Landlord insurance policies offer multiple forms of coverage for your home or vacation home and yourself:

  • Coverage for property damage to the structure of your home
  • Coverage for personal property you’ve left at your home for use
  • Liability coverage if a tenant or someone else gets hurt
  • Some policies include loss of rental income while your home is being rebuilt or repaired after a covered peril

You can expect to pay about 25 percent more than you would for a regular homeowners policy because of the added protections. Your insurance will not cover your tenant’s personal property so it’s a good practice to require all long-term tenants have renters insurance as a requirement for renting.

If you’re considering renting out your primary residence or your vacation home, make sure you know what kind of insurance coverage you need. Tenants and guests can help you make extra income, but their presence in your home increases your risks, too. The right insurance will protect you and your home. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to find out if your homeowners insurance will cover you or to get a free quote for a new insurance policy.

Getting Your Boat Ready for Summer Fun

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 3, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a NC marina filled with boats that need to get ready for the summer

The sun’s shining, the water is beautiful, and you’re ready to take the boat out and enjoy the great outdoors. After a cold winter and a wet spring, there are a few things you need to do before you set sail.

Check Your Boat

No matter how you stored your boat over the winter, there’s always a chance of potential damage to the hull. Do a visual inspection and make a note of any repairs to be made. Check for tears in canvases or tarps, as well as cracks in the hull and damage to the paint. You’ll want to get these things repaired as soon as possible.

Wax, Wash, and Detail

Once any damage is fixed, you’ll want to clean your boat from top to bottom. This will get the dirt and grime off from the winter season and make your boat shine. Make sure to use proper cleaners made for marine vehicles. Products designed for automobiles can damage your boat’s canvassing or vinyl.

Service Your Boat

Just like you need to get your car serviced, your boat needs a maintenance check, too. Charge your battery before you’re first trip out on the water, especially if your boat sat for a while. Get an oil change and outdrive service. You should also clear the bilge and pump out water that may have seeped in from winter rain or snow. If you took your drain plug out for the winter, now is the time to put it back in.

Safety Check

Once you’re sure your boat is ready for the water, it’s time to do a safety check. Check the navigation lights, the boat’s horn, and all of the safety equipment. Make sure you have enough life jackets and a first aid kit. If you bring little ones on your boat, you need life jackets that will fit them, too. Just like servicing your boat, this is one step you don’t want to neglect. You never know what might happen once you’re on the water.

Registration and Insurance

Like your vehicle, you want to make sure your boat is properly registered. Nothing ruins summer fun like being fined for a lack of registration. Make sure your stickers are current and be mindful of any requirements if you’re traveling out of state with your boat. What will that state require in order for you to legally get on their waterways? You also need to have enough boat insurance to cover any damage to your boat or injuries others sustain. Like any other vehicle, you’ll be liable if your boat causes injury or damage to someone else.

Need to check your boat insurance coverage before you set sail? Just got your first boat and want to protect it and yourself? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote on boat and any other recreational vehicle or watercraft insurance you might need.