Protecting Your Home While You’re Away

Written By Charlotte Insurance on July 30, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a burglar breaking ijnto a home while the family is on vacation

The summer months are a great time for a family getaway, whether you’re headed across North Carolina or across the country. While you’re gone, your home is vulnerable to emergencies, natural disasters, and dishonest people. Before you head out of town, make sure you’ve done everything you can to protect your home.

 Keep Your Maintenance Schedule

If you regularly have a lawn crew, pool service, or house cleaner in your home, maintain that schedule while you’re gone. It will give your home the appearance that someone is there regularly, fooling would-be robbers into leaving it alone. 

Ask Someone to Check on Your Home

This could be a friend, family member, or neighbor that you trust. Make sure to compensate them for their time. They can bring in the mail and any Amazon deliveries, take the trash can to the curb and bring it back, and water the flowers. They’ll be an extra set of eyes in case anything goes wrong — like a leaky roof — and create activity in your home so no one thinks it’s empty.

Use Lighting Smartly

On the outside of your home, install a motion-sensor floodlight. When anyone comes up to your home at night, it’ll turn on, lighting up the area. Thieves hate that. Inside your home, set a timer for your interior lights — or use smart lights, like Philips Hue and an app on your smartphone — to have them turn on and off at set times. This will give the impression that someone is home.

Think About Energy Costs and Power Surges 

If your home electronics like your TVs and computers aren’t on a surge protector, now is always the right time to get one. But while you’re gone, you may consider disconnecting your electronics, in case of a power surge or lightning strike during a bad storm.

At the same time, don’t turn off your air conditioner completely — the humidity can create a mold problem. Instead, set your AC to a higher temperature than normal so it uses less energy but still comes on occasionally to keep the humidity down.

Don’t Advertise Your Vacation on Social Media

Once you get back to town, share all the pictures and talk about what an amazing time you had. But before you leave and while you’re gone, keep a low profile. And definitely don’t check-in anywhere on Facebook. This is a big advertisement to anyone who can see your social media profile that you’re not at home and won’t be for a while. You never know who’s watching. 

Add Extra Home Security

At minimum, lock all doors, windows, and the garage door. Then double-check yourself before you leave. You also don’t want to leave a key outside while you’re gone. Thieves will look in any place that might hold a key — and they’ll find it eventually.  

Consider adding an additional home security system with cameras and direct connection to emergency responders if something goes wrong. You can also look for a system that lets you monitor your home from your smartphone so you’re always connected. 

Before you go on vacation, make sure your home insurance policy is current. If it’s been several years since you thought about your coverage, it probably needs to be updated. Anything can happen while you’re away. Make sure your homeowners policy will cover you when it does. Contact Charlotte Insurance today.

6 Things You Need to Know About Boat Insurance

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

a boat insured with a charlotte boat insurance policy

Every time you look at your boat, you imagine being out on the water again. The wind and spray in your face. The open water in front of you. It’s fun in the sun, but there are always risks when you head out, too.

Before you take your boat out again, make sure you’re covered by the right kind of boat insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

Small Boats Need Insurance, Too

Your homeowners insurance typically won’t cover your boat in the water unless it’s extremely small. If you’re unsure, ask us to check your policy. Even if your home insurance does cover your boat, it won’t offer protections specific to boat insurance like certain liability and boat-specific damage coverage.

Consider Additional Coverage Beyond Standard Boat Insurance

Standard boat insurance policies are a good place to start as they’ll protect you from common hazards. But they’re not designed to cover everything that can happen out on the water. Look beyond standard boat insurance and consider additional coverage for things like fuel spill liability, injuries from uninsured boaters, on-water tow coverage, and more.

Your Boat Needs Insurance Protection on Land, Too

The vast majority of boat insurance policies only protect you and your boat while you’re on the water. Make sure you’re covered on dry land, too. Find out if your auto insurance covers you while you’re towing your boat. Ask if your homeowners insurance protects your boat while it’s parked at home. If not, you may need to update your other policies, too.

Your Boat Insurance Policy Doesn’t Cover You Everywhere

Most boat insurance policies only cover your boating activities and property in areas you “typically” boat in and a certain range beyond that. If you want to hitch up your boat and tow it across country for vacation, contact your insurance agent to make sure you have the right kind of insurance.

Boat Insurance Rates Determined by Multiple Factors

Just like your auto insurance, your boat insurance premium is determined by multiple factors. The size and type of boat is part of the price, but also where you boat, any training or certification you’ve completed, your driving record, and, as always, the size of your deductible. When shopping for boat insurance, work with an independent insurance agency who can offer quotes from multiple carriers so you get the best deal.

Boat Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

It’s tempting to skip extra insurance because of the cost, but boat insurance doesn’t have to be expensive. Just like with other insurance policies, discounts are often available. Taking safety courses, bundling insurance coverage, and paying your premiums in full are all ways to score discounts and lower your overall cost.

Before you hit the open water again, make sure you’ve got a solid boat insurance policy in place. You’ll protect yourself, your family, your boat, and everyone else on the water with you when you do. Contact Charlotte Insurance for more information or a free quote today!

Getting the Most Out of Charlotte Summers

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

Charlotte, NC summers

It’s impossible to let the summer heat get you down when you live in or around Charlotte. There’s simply too much to do right now. Whether you prefer to stay inside and beat the heat or get outdoors and enjoy the fun, there’s plenty to do! 

Improve Your Golf Game

Hit the links early in the morning to beat the sweltering heat — which will automatically improve your game. But if you need lessons, check out the Ballantyne Golf Academy with Dana Rader or Leatherman Golf Learning Center. Once you’re ready to hit the links, there are 40 golf courses in and around Charlotte to choose from.

Head to the Speedway

Love fast cars, all the noise, and the thrill of the race? Head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Summer Shootout Series which features all kinds of races. If you can’t make that event, there’s always something to see at the Speedway.

Hop On Your Bike and Ride 

Hit the Rail Trail and get a few miles of biking in this summer. Don’t have a bike to ride? You can rent one from Charlotte B-cycle. Check a bike out, get a ride in, and return it to the closest B-cycle station when you’re done. When you buy an access pass, two hour rides or less are included!

Stop and Smell the Roses 

The Charlotte area is filled with secret and not-so-secret gardens for horticulturists and plant-lovers alike to enjoy. You can spend most of your summer enjoying the beautiful plants and flowers at McGill Rose Garden, The Duke Mansion, and Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary. 

Hit the Water 

Nothing says “summer” like heading out to open water. You can rent paddle boards for a few hours of fun. Check out Dave’s Paddle Boats. Or you can head to Rockin’ River Adventures and go kayaking, canoeing, or tubing for a day. Either way, you’re having fun in the sun and cool waters.

Enjoy Your Favorite Team 

The summer is a great time to celebrate your favorite team. Head to Panthers Fan Fest in August to help the Panthers get hyped up about the upcoming football season. Catch a Charlotte Knights baseball game at BB&T Ballpark. And if you’re a soccer fan, check out a few games at Panthers Stadium before summer ends.

Go to a Wine Tasting 

Vineyards abound in and around Charlotte. Small, local vineyards always have something new and interesting to see, try, or learn about. Enjoy the Vineyards of Swan Creek and check out the actual treehouse at Treehouse Vineyards. Even if you don’t pick up a bottle of wine, you’ll have a good time.

Explore a Museum

If you love history, learning, and staying out of the heat, the Charlotte museum scene is a great way to pass the day or weekend. The Carolinas Aviation Museum showcases historic aircrafts. If you love modern art, head to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. And if you’re a music lover, don’t miss the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Make this your best summer ever and enjoy all that Charlotte and the surrounding area have to offer. Indoors or outdoors, you’re sure to find all the fun and entertainment you could ever want. No matter how long you’ve lived here, there’s always something new to discover. Summer is a great time to explore Charlotte!

6 Safety Tips for Grilling Season

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

a grill belonging to someone who followed common grilling safety tips

Nothing says “summer” quite like an outdoor barbecue. Are you ready to fire up the grill? Before you break out the charcoal or propane, let’s review some safety tips.

First, some interesting grilling facts from the National Fire Prevention Association:

  • 70 percent of Americans own a grill, and 64 percent of these are gas grills.
  • Grills cause an average of 10,200 home fires a year.
  • July is the peak month for grill-caused fires, followed by June, May, and August.
  • More than 19,000 people go to the ER each year with grill-related injuries. More than 9,300 of those are thermal burns.

The North Carolina fire code says you can’t use charcoal grills on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of a building of combustible construction. That includes just about every building that isn’t made out of brick. Exceptions are one and two-family dwellings and buildings where balconies and decks have automatic sprinkler systems. Gas grills with propane tanks larger than 2.5 lbs. cannot be used or stored within 10 feet of combustible construction.

Now that we’ve covered the law, let’s talk safety with these six tips:

Only use your grill outdoors

Leave your gas grill hood open while lighting

  • Propane can accumulate under a closed lid and explode.
  • Leave the hood open until the grill has ignited.
  • Check grill for leaks and hoses for cracks or loose connections before lighting.
  • Shut off the valves to the propane tank after use.

Never use charcoal lighter fluid on burning coals

  • Even if you don’t see flames, adding lighter fluid can cause a big flare-up. You’ll end up with singed eyebrows at best, or at worst a serious burn or fire.
  • Never use lighter fluid or charcoal in a gas grill.
  • Put used coals in a metal container with a lid after they’ve cooled completely.

Don’t grill near flammable materials, such as pine needles, leaves, or mulch

  • Check for low or overhanging tree branches around and above your grill.
  • Look up! The space above your grill should be clear of combustible materials, just like the space around it.

Clean your grill after each use

  • This removes grease that can start a fire or turn rancid. Pay no attention to what your neighbor says about never cleaning the grill because it improves flavor. You won’t find “rancid grease crust” on any menu anywhere.
  • Deep clean your grill at least once a year.

Don’t leave a lit grill unattended

  • Keep kids and pets from playing near the grill, and make sure an adult always has an eye on the grill.
  • Remember a grill stays hot long after you’re done cooking.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions

  • This is especially important for turning on and lighting your gas grill.

As our outdoor spaces become more important, you can create an oasis with beauty and safety in mind. If designing an outdoor kitchen, make sure the cooking areas are near a water source and away from tree branches or anything else likely to catch fire. When it comes to enjoying your outdoor space with family and friends, safe grilling should be a priority. These tips and some common sense will have you happily grilling all summer long.

9 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

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

an ice cream cold melting - one of the ways that you can keep cool in NC

With the summer heat more brutal than ever before, your home is often a haven of cool air and comfort. But keeping your home cool uses a lot of energy and increases your electric bill, too. Here are nine ways to keep your home cooler this summer without wasting energy or money.

Change your HVAC filters every 30 to 90 days. The more your AC runs, the more often you’ll need to change your filter. This keeps the air flowing freely so you feel the cool air and your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.

Add insulation to your attic and your walls. This helps keep cool air in and warm air out during the summer, and it does the reverse in the winter. Your AC unit won’t have to work quite as hard as normal, and your home will feel more comfortable.

Close the blinds, shades, or curtains. You only need to do this for windows that get direct sunlight. The sunshine is nice, but the heat can increase the temperature inside your home.

Turn on your ceiling fans. During the summer, ceiling fans should spin counter-clockwise to draw the warm air away and circulate the cooler air. Not only will rooms feel cooler, your air conditioner won’t have to be set as low as normal.

Adjust your thermostat. When your house is empty and everyone’s gone for the day, set your thermostat a little higher. Your home will be cool when you get back, but without using as much energy.

Upgrade your HVAC. Older, outdated models have to work harder than new models, and they’re less energy-efficient. If you’re doing all these tricks to cool off your home, and it’s not working, it may be time for a new AC unit.

Close doors to empty rooms. Keeping the doors closed helps all rooms retain the cold air within. Each room will feel colder without the air conditioner working any harder.

Cook outside. You’ll want to cook during the coolest part of the evening, but grilling outside keeps your kitchen from warming up. Even if you only do this once or twice a week, you’ll give your oven and your AC a bit of a break.

Plant trees strategically. While this is clearly a long-term plan, you can develop natural shade to keep your home cooler during the summer months — eventually.

During the height of the summer, we all need a place to get away from the heat and humidity. Make your home more comfortable without spending too much money or wasting energy. Use these tips and enjoy a cooler summer whenever you’re at home.

Protect your cooled off home with a homeowners insurance policy that will protect you from summer storms and other disasters. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote or to learn more about your current policy.

What Types of Insurance Does Your Hemp Farm Need?

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

hemp seeds as part of a hemp farm that needs insurance

With the changes in the hemp industry at of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the many changes on the horizon, it’s important that you protect your business and your investment. Now that hemp has been classified as an agricultural commodity, hemp farms have access to insurance options that other crop farmers use.

What type of insurance does your hemp farm need? Start with these three policies.

Multiple Peril Crop Insurance

One of the most common insurance policies for crop farmers is multiple peril crop insurance or MPCI. These policies are federally regulated but available for purchase from your local independent insurance agency.

MPCI covers crop losses and lower yields that occur after natural events:

  • Disease
  • Drought
  • Fire
  • Insect damage
  • Flooding
  • Weather damage from hail, frost, and wind

Your policy must be purchased before your crop is planted each growing season and by federally mandated deadlines. If you experience hemp crop damage early in the planting season, your policy may include incentives to help you replant. But it may also include penalties if you don’t replant at all.

Crop Hail Coverage

Crop hail coverage is not federally regulated or mandated and the majority of farmers purchase it as a supplement to their MPCI policy. It’s most common in areas with high occurrences of hail storms and damage. Unlike MPCI, you can buy crop hail coverage at any point in the growing season, and it often has low or no deductible.

Crop Revenue Insurance

Even if your hemp crop makes it through the harvesting season, you may still experience losses. Crop revenue insurance protects you in years when you have a low-yield crop or when prices fall dramatically. This policy covers your earnings against wild and potentially devastating swings in hemp prices, no matter what the cost. Your insurance policy will pay an amount that compares the current year’s revenues to previous years earnings so you don’t have to face a big loss.

Your hemp farm is a business and needs many forms of business insurance. But it’s a farm first, and without a successful crop, you could be out of business. Make sure you protect your hemp farm and your business with insurance designed specifically for your needs. As the laws and rules change regarding hemp, so too will your business options. Work with an independent insurance agency who can help you through every stage. Contact Charlotte Insurance today!

The Ultimate Guide to Home Insurance Discounts

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

a home that qualifies for home insurance discounts

As a homeowner, you need home insurance, but that doesn’t mean you want to play anymore than you have to. Many owners want to know what kinds of discounts they can get. Here’s your ultimate guide to home insurance discounts to make sure you’re not paying too much for coverage.

Bundling Discount

The most common insurance discount occurs when you purchase more than one policy from the same insurer. Many insurance companies offer at least home, auto, and life insurance. Buying two or more policies could yield a five to 15 percent discount.

Home Renovations Discount

It’s a fact that older homes are prone to more problems. Old wiring, plumbing, and roofs are ripe for accidents and damage. When you upgrade your electrical, plumbing, and heating systems, you modernize your home and reduce your risk. Upgrading your roof and even adding storm shutters can also lead to discounts.

Home Security Discount

The more you do to prevent a major disaster before it begins, the more you can save on your home insurance premiums. Basic security like smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and even deadbolt locks may lead to a five percent discount.

Upgrade your options by adding a sophisticated sprinkler system or high-end security system that notifies police or fire, and your discount may be more significant. Before you make such a big investment, contact your insurer to make sure they provide a discount for the system you want to install.

Sensor Discount

Installing sensors in your home to catch water or natural gas leaks is great for keeping your family safe and your home undamaged. It may also lead to a discount for your home insurance policy. If your system has the ability to shut down the affected area, your discount could be even higher.

Senior Discount

It’s the 21st century and being in your fifties doesn’t make you a senior. But many home insurance companies offer up to 10 percent off your premiums if you’re 55 or older. So you’re definitely not old, but there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the savings.

Married or Widowed Discount

Single people tend to have more claims than those who are married. It may be as simple as having another set of eyes in your home to catch potential problems. Or it may be that married people live a more stable life. Either way, insurance companies offer discounts to customers who are married or widowed.

Loyalty Discount

Sometimes it pays to stick with the same company for the long haul. Many insurers provide a loyalty discount based on the time you’ve been with them. Depending on the company and the number of years you’ve had a policy, your discount could be five to ten percent.

Claims-Free Discount

Not filing claims means your insurance provider spends less money and you have less damage. It indicates that you keep your home in good condition, and that you’re safe. Your insurer may be willing to pass some of that savings onto you as a discount. The more time that passes without a claim, the more likely you are to qualify for a discount (if your insurance company offers it). It could be up to 20 percent off your premiums.

HOA/Gated Community Discount

When you live in a homeowners association or a gated community, your neighborhood is viewed as safer and more secure than other communities. You likely live in an area with extra security, a neighborhood watch, and rules that are designed to keep homes free of danger and damage. You could qualify for a discount of five to 10 percent.

Non Smoker Discount

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Which means that if you’re a smoker, you’re at higher risk of damage or injury from fire. Not smoking reduces the chance of a fire in your home. For this, your insurance provider may offer you a discount of five to 15 percent.

New Homeowner

While not available from every insurance provider, some offer a discount for being a new customer and a new homeowner. As long as you’ve purchased your home in the past 12 months, you may qualify.

Paying in Full Discount

Breaking down your insurance premiums into monthly payments is convenient, but if you want to pay as little as possible, it’s better to pay in full. You get a break off your entire premium by paying it all at once. You have one less monthly expense to think about, and no one has to worry if your insurance premiums have been paid on time.

If you think you qualify for any of these discounts, or you’re not sure what discounts you currently receive, talk to an independent insurance agency like ours. At Charlotte Insurance, we’re happy to connect you with an insurance provider that offers the most discounts so you don’t have to pay more than necessary.