Halloween 2019 Safety Tips

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

jack-o-lanterns on halloween in Charlotte

Halloween is meant to be a night of fun for kids and adults alike. But all too often, it’s also filled with accidents, theft, and insurance claims. A bit of prevention beforehand will help you and your neighbors have a good time and avoid costly claims.

Here’s what you can do to stay safe this Halloween.

Halloween as a Homeowner

Whether you plan to give out candy at the door or you’re hosting a Halloween party, there is plenty that can go wrong if you’re not prepared.

  • Light your front yard and walkway so it’s easy for trick-or-treaters or guests to get to the front door without tripping. A well lit home also deters vandals and thieves who look for shadows to hide in.
  • Clean off your lawn and walkways to reduce tripping hazards. If you decorate your lawn, make sure decorations are easily visible to avoid slips, trips, and falls.
  • Keep your pets inside. If they’re agitated by the ringing doorbell or a lot of guests, keep them in a separate room until the fun is over for the night. Pets often run away on Halloween night because a door is left open. Some pets become so nervous that they jump and bite other people.

Halloween as a Driver

In a perfect world, you’d be home well before dark on Halloween night. But that typically doesn’t happen. So if you find yourself out and about on Halloween night, keep yourself and pedestrians safe.

  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times. You want to watch sidewalks, crosswalks, and between parked cars, too. No matter how tempted you are, try to ignore all the decorations and fun costumes because they may distract you just as a small child runs out into the road.
  • Halloween brings out plenty of dishonest people. Make sure to park your car in well-lit areas and avoid vacant or deserted parking lots whenever possible.
  • When you leave your vehicle, bring your valuables with you. If that’s not possible, make sure they’re well hidden. If a thief can see it through your car window, they’ll be more tempted to break in.

Halloween as a Parent

The last thing you want to do on Halloween night is to make a pit stop to the emergency room.

  • Make sure your child’s costume fits well. A mask or head covering shouldn’t obscure their vision, and hems shouldn’t drag the ground. Both can lead to nasty falls. Costume props should be dulled, flexible, and plastic — no glass, metal, or anything sharp and breakable.
  • Kids and other trick-or-treaters need to stay visible to drivers on the road. You can cover costumes in glow sticks or reflective tape. Everyone should carry a flashlight as well.
  • Follow all traffic laws while walking around to trick-or-treat. Watch traffic signals. Obey stop signs. Use crosswalks, and look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Children should trick-or-treat with an adult. Older kids and teenagers who go out on their own should tell you their planned route and set a time when they’ll be home.

No one wants to end their Halloween fun with a call to the police or to an insurance adjuster. A few precautions can prevent a lot of pain and frustration later. If you’re throwing a Halloween party or you know you’ll be out and about that night, contact Charlotte Insurance to check your insurance coverage. We’ll make sure you have the right kind and amount of insurance to protect you, no matter what happens.

4 Things to Know About Condo Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on October 22, 2019. It has 0 comments.

condo in need of charlotte condo insurance

Owning a condo is a great option for people from all walks of life. Empty nesters and retirees have less house to take care of. Newlyweds can have a nice home before they start a family. Small families can have the space they need instead of owning too much home. And if you hate doing yard work or worrying about big maintenance jobs like roof replacement, condo ownership is probably perfect for you.

One thing that doesn’t change whether you own a single family home or a condo — the need for insurance. But condo insurance isn’t exactly like other property insurance. Here are four things you need to know about it.

You Don’t Insure the Building

Condo buildings and communities are run by either a condo association (COA) or a homeowners association (HOA). These associations purchase their own insurance coverage, usually referred to as a Master Policy. This insures the building(s) and common areas under the purview of the association. It also pays for bodily harm and property damage suffered by third parties that occur outside an owner’s unit, on the grounds, and in other common areas.

Your Coverage Insures the Inside of Your Unit

In general, condo insurance covers damage to the interior of your unit but the exact type of coverage depends on the type of policy you have. This is dictated, in large part, by the COA/HOA master policy.

All-in: The master policy covers anything originally built inside your unit — cabinets, fixtures, etc. You’re responsible for your personal belongings and for any changes you make that replace original fixtures.

Bare walls: Your condo insurance covers everything to the bare walls. The master policy covers the building, as well as the walls, floor, and ceiling.

Wall studs in: As the condo owners, you’re responsible for everything from the studs into your condo, including the drywall. The master policy covers only the bare structure.

Condo Insurance Covers Plenty of Situations

A lot of what your condo insurance covers will be familiar if you’ve ever had a homeowners insurance policy.

  • Damage to the interior of the unit (based on the type of policy — see above)
  • Stolen property
  • Liability for bodily harm or physical damage to a guest in your condo
  • Living expenses if your condo becomes unlivable after a covered event
  • Loss assessment

What is a loss assessment?

Your association’s master policy will have a limit just like any other insurance coverage. If a covered event exceeds the policy limits of the COA/HOA insurance, unit owners will be expected to help pay the difference. This cost is a loss assessment. Some condo insurance policies include coverage for loss assessments which may pay all or part of your assessment.

Condo Insurance Doesn’t Cover Everything

Like all insurance policies, condo insurance excludes certain events, some of which can be guarded against with a separate policy.

  • Earthquakes
  • Flood
  • Wear and tear
  • Damage from vermin like bugs, rodents, or birds
  • Damage from underground water like a sewer back up

When you purchase your condo insurance policy, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Ask if there are additional riders, endorsements, or policies you can purchase to provide more protection from hazards.

Whether you’re buying your first condo or you haven’t updated your current condo insurance in years, contact Charlotte Insurance today. We can help you find the policy that offers the best protection and coverage.

Best of Charlotte: Haunted Houses

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

a haunted house in charlotte

Halloween is nearly here, and if you’re ready for thrills, chills, and goosebumps, it’s time to plan a trip to a haunted house! There are lots of spooky, creepy, and scary events in the Charlotte area. If this is your kind of terrifying fun, here’s where you need go this year!

The Fear Farm

Located in Blacksburg, South Carolina, the Fear Farm is really five attractions in one location. It’s also been voted the scariest haunted house for five years in a row — so keep the little ones at home. When you go, choose from five options: Fear Farm Midway which is where you buy tickets and enjoy carnival food and games; Abyss where you have to make your way through total darkness; Dr. Feelgood’s House of Dentistry; The Farm House; and the Ringmaster’s Circus Academy (as if clowns weren’t already terrifying enough). The cost is $20 per person, and Fear Farm is open every weekend in October and on Halloween night.

Lake Hickory Haunts

Ever wanted to go to a haunted theme park? Lake Hickory Haunts in Hickory, North Carolina may be the creeptastic fun you’ve been looking for. Choose from three main areas to get scared until you scream: The Nightmare Factory Morgue, the Lair of the Undead, and the Big Top Circus. General admission is $35 per person with a discount for military, police, and fire fighter personnel. Parking is $5 per vehicle (cash only). You can also purchase a VIP pass for $50 per person. Lake Hickory Haunts is open every Friday through Sunday in October, on Halloween, and the first weekend in November.

Haunted Pyramids

With all those mummies entombed in the pyramids in Egypt, they must be haunted, right? The Haunted Pyramids in Laundale, North Carolina sure are! It’s so scary in fact that only adults are allowed in. Choose from five horrifying locations in one: The Haunted Pyramids, Monster Manor, Carnival of Terror, The Abandoned, and Dr. Venom’s Snake Pit. The cost is $25 per person or $60 for a season pass (cash only). They haunted houses open at 7:00 p.m. (even when it rains) and don’t close until well after the witching hour. Like the other options, Haunted Pyramids is also open every weekend in October, plus October 31 through November 2.

Insanitarium: Nightmare on Main Street

Want to get creeped out, and then relax at a fun block party? Head to Laurinburg, North Carolina to the Insanitarium: Nightmare on Main Street. Admission to the haunted house is $10 per person, but the block party is free! Only people 12 and older are allowed into the Insanitarium, though. It’s open on October 19, 20, 26, and 27 from 8:00 p.m. to midnight so get there while you can! You can also pay $20 per person for a fast pass to avoid lines and wait times.

Gilbert House of Terror

If you’re looking for an authentic haunted house experience, head to Gilbert, South Carolina to the Gilbert House of Terror. You’ll get a terrifying and haunting guided tour of the house, with 20 or so scary scenes to walk through. The cost is $15 per person with proceeds benefiting multiple organizations: Palmetto Therapeutic Riding Program, Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration Program, First Calvary Food Pantry, and Gilbert Boy Scout Troop 60. This haunted house is open from 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on October 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, and 31 and November 1.

Whether you love Halloween for the terrifying haunted houses or for the candy, Happy Halloween to you from all of us at Charlotte Insurance!

Who is Responsible for Collisions Involving Driverless Vehicles?

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

a driverless car that needs insurance

A self-driving Tesla rear-ended a fire truck in California. An automated-vehicle being tested by Uber hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. In Florida, a test driver for Tesla was killed in a car accident. The more companies test their automated or self-driving vehicles on the roads, the more we’ll hear about accidents and fatalities. 

There are a lot of unanswered questions about automated vehicles including who exactly is responsible for a collision when it occurs. Like many new technological advances as they meet with current day reality, the answer is complicated. 

Drivers Using Autopilot Mode

In automated vehicles currently on the road, a driver is still in the vehicle. They have the ability to take over the system if there’s a problem. In the case of the Tesla accident in Florida, it seems that the car warned the driver to disengage auto-pilot mode to take control of the vehicle, and he either didn’t or didn’t do it in time. 

Automated vehicles are also equipped with Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) systems. If the car senses an impending collision and the driver does not react in time, the car is supposed to brake on its own. In some cases, the system doesn’t work until the driver touches the brake pedal.

This leaves room for plenty of human error. In order for a vehicle to truly be driverless, it must also be completely safe with all safety features able to react better than we can.

The Manufacturer Makes the Vehicle

Self-driving car accidents could implicate the manufacturers more than the driver or the victim. In the Uber fatality in Arizona, a homeless woman walked out from the shadows, off the median, to cross the street. The sensors in the self-driving vehicle didn’t detect her in time. If the accident was caused by a faulty sensor, it’s possible that the responsibility could be product liability. 

Product liability states that manufacturers are responsible when defects or errors in their product cause damage, harm, or injury. But preliminary investigation of the accident found that the sensors and vehicle worked as programmed.

As automated vehicles begin to go more mainstream — over time — companies like Uber who pick up fares with driverless cars could be held to the “common care doctrine.” This states that bus and taxi companies, hotels, even insurers have a responsibility as a provider to a higher standard of care for customers and clients. Does this mean that accidents in a driverless Uber would be automatically considered the fault of the manufacturer or company?

The Law Isn’t Clear

Right now, the law isn’t clear on exactly who’s responsible. As most of the automated vehicles involved in collisions have been in test phases, there have been few cases making their way through the court systems. Even with a 2018 lawsuit filed by a bicyclist hit by an automated vehicle against General Motors after an accident involving the Bolt, there is still no clear answer. The police report states that the person hit may have been at fault, though that did not stop the lawsuit from moving forward.

Like we said before, determining who’s responsible for automated vehicle accidents is complicated. If the vehicle performs the way it was made, it may be difficult to hold a manufacturer liable. If the accident victim’s own actions played a part, that could reduce anyone else’s liability.

The law hasn’t caught up to the idea of self-driving cars just yet, so it may be awhile before anyone can safely say who’s responsible for an accident. Until then, it’s best that all drivers have plenty of auto insurance. Need to update your current policy? Looking for a quote to save money on your auto insurance? Contact Charlotte Insurance today!

5 Landlord Insurance Horror Stories

Written By Charlotte Insurance on October 10, 2019. It has 0 comments.

charlotte nc apartment complex that needs insurance

Insurance on a rental property can seem like just one more expense in a long list of things that cost too much money. But it’s there for a reason — to protect you and your investment when something goes horribly wrong.

Not convinced? Check out these real-life horror story experiences from landlords just like you.

Evicted Tenant “Accidentally” Sets Fire

He’d been a decent renter, until he wasn’t. Eventually the landlord had to evict him for non-payment of rent. The tenant began to move his belongings out of the property. At about the same time as he’d moved his “good” stuff out (but not everything), a mysterious fire ignited in the rental — a box was left on a burner that was turned on. The damages cost the landlord $61,000 — thankfully he had landlord insurance to cover it. 

Three Floods in Six Months

A disgruntled and troubled tenant began to become more than your typical nuisance. While the landlord attempted to have her evicted, local laws made it difficult. Even when she turned on the water, blocked all the drains, and flooded units below her rental, the landlord still couldn’t evict. As the unit owner, he was, however, responsible for dealing with the damage to his rental unit and the other units impacted by the flood — which occurred three times in six months.

Exotic Pet Store Gone Wrong

For many landlords, tenants bringing in a single pet would have been a violation of the lease. But in this case, the tenants set up “shop” in the basement as an exotic pet store. They had cages and tanks for rats, turtles, and snakes. During the eviction process, the tenants left early but not before a hoard of rats escaped into the property, causing plenty of damage and lingering for far too long. 

Vandals and the Damage They Cause

While one rental home sat vacant, vandals broke in. Not to squat or take shelter from the cold. These lawbreakers purposely flooded the property. They turned on the water in every bathroom and plugged all the drains. To make it worse, this was a multi-story home with bathrooms on every floor. Thank goodness for landlord insurance that protects against vandalism and the damage caused.

Small Problems Can Become Major Disasters

When the tenants in a condo unit called their landlord about their tankless hot water heater not working correctly, he had it serviced as soon as possible. Thinking that was that, he didn’t give the hot water heater another thought. Until he got a call from a condo owner in the same building — whose unit was being flooded by the hot water heater and who expected the landlord to take care of the problem. 

As a landlord, you’ll quickly learn (if you haven’t already) that almost anything can happen. These horrifying stories aren’t the exception to the rule — scary and wild things happen all the time. When it does, make sure you have the right kind of insurance for your rental property. Landlord insurance offers coverage that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t, including loss of rental income. Need a new policy or to update an existing one? Contact Charlotte Insurance today!

Fire Prevention Week 2019

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

a home on fire during fire prevention week of 2019

Not every hero wears a cape, so plan and practice your escape in case of a home fire. Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12) is an excellent time to educate everyone in your home and in your life on how they can keep themselves safe from home fires. 

In a typical home, you may have as little as one to two minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm goes off. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can become a major fire. Here are a few things you can do during Fire Prevention Week to keep your home and family safe .

Plan Your Home Escape 

If a fire occurs, you and everyone in your home needs to know how to get out quickly and safely. Draw a map of your home, showing every door and window. Know at least two ways to get out of your home in case one escape route is blocked. Talk to your children in kid-friendly terms so they understand the escape routes and what they should do if there’s a fire.

Have a Fire Drill

Local schools and some businesses plan routine fire drills so they know everyone else knows what to do and how to leave safely in case of a fire. You can plan a fire drill for your home. Let your family, especially small children, know to expect it so it’s not a complete surprise. This will be your opportunity to discover if everyone knows the safe route out and knows where to meet in front of your home.

Check Your Smoke Alarms

You should test and change the batteries in your smoke alarm every six months. If you don’t remember the last time you did it, Fire Prevention Week is a good time to start. Make sure your smoke alarm is in good working condition and has fully charged batteries. When in doubt, replace the alarm with a newer version that you feel confident works.

Make Sure You Have a Fire Extinguisher

Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher. If you have a fireplace, you need one in that room as well. It doesn’t take long for a small blaze to get out of control. If you can stop a fire in its tracks, that’s always the best option. Make sure everyone knows how to use it and what to do if a fire occurs in the kitchen or near your fireplace.  

Check Your Heating Before Winter Arrives

Cold weather will be here before we know it, and it will finally be time to turn on your heater. Have your HVAC system serviced to make sure it’s in good working condition and all electrical components are safe. If you use space heaters during the winter, keep them three feet away from furniture, drapery, and other household items. Keeps pets and children away from space heaters while they’re in use, and never leave a heater unattended.

Update Your Home Insurance Policy

Even with plenty of preparation, a fire can still occur. Your home insurance policy limits should be enough to rebuild your entire home if necessary. As building materials and replacement costs increase, it’s important to make sure your insurance policy limit keeps pace. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to make sure you have enough insurance in case a fire destroys everything.

We hope you never experience a devastating home fire, but if you do, we’re here to help make sure you and your family are covered.

Insurance Options for Crafters

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

crafter in need of insurance

With fall quickly approaching, the season of craft fairs will soon begin.  In cities across the United States, many individuals will set up tables at craft fairs to sell holiday items, jewelry, clothing, accessories, baked goods and other items.  While you may think of this as “small business”, the creative industry continues to be an avenue for individuals to earn additional money.  According to the Association for Creative Industries, the total size of the creative industry in the United States is $43 billion dollars!

If you are one of the many people who are selling products at craft fairs this fall, do you know if you are protected from an unexpected loss?  We have found that a majority of individuals will rely on their homeowners policy or not realize that they need additional coverage.  However, they face real exposures which may not be covered under their homeowners policy.  We can provide you with a policy that offers the following coverages:

  • Liability at home and at craft fairs: Coverage for someone who slips and falls while picking up an order at your home or in a booth at a craft fair.
  • Business Personal Property at home and at craft fairs: Protection for your inventory and the products you use whether it is damaged in a fire at your home or stolen from a table at a craft fair.
  • Ability to add a venue as an Additional Insured: Many times the owner of the location will want to be added as an Additional Insured.  We can make it easy to add this coverage.
  • Annual policy for all of your shows throughout the year for as low as $182 per year!

We make it easy for you to get the coverage that you need. Simply CLICK HERE to get a quote online in less than 5 minutes.