Small Business Saturday

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

a small business in charlotte supporting small business Saturday

Amazon might have free one-day shipping. Big retailers may carry big ticket items at bargain basement prices. But when you’re deciding where to spend your money this holiday season, don’t forget about the small, local businesses in and around Charlotte, too. This Small Business Saturday, shop locally and everyone benefits — including you.

Support Local Jobs

We all watch the news and know that jobs are being outsourced to other countries or disappearing completely. Small, local businesses create local jobs. When you shop with a small business in town, you help keep people employed. You’re an active part of your local community, and the reason your neighbor can work close to home.

Grow the Local Economy

When you buy from a local business, your money stays close to home. Instead of big corporations who pay taxes in other areas, small businesses pay local taxes, too. The owners of local businesses also tend to shop with other local businesses, so the economy grows here — not in some far off state or country.

Support the Community

Local business owners and employees are your neighbors. We care about the town and neighborhood because we live and work here, too. That’s why so many small businesses get involved with schools, charities, local sports teams, and other organizations. We’re a part of the community and want to see it grow and thrive as much as you do.

Bring Personality to an Area

Small businesses provide a certain personality and vibrancy to a community. Instead of homogenous big brands and box toys that all look the same, local companies are unique. Each small business offers something special to the town and neighborhood where it’s located, making your hometown colorful and vibrant. From mom and pop shops that have been around 50 years to brand new businesses that opened a few months ago, the community comes to life because of these small companies.

Know the People You Do Business With

One overlooked benefit of shopping with a small business is that you can get to know the people you’re doing business with. Not just the person behind the desk or at the register. In many cases, the owner is right out there in front, talking with and helping customers side by side with their employees. This provides a connection you rarely get with a national brand.

Shop Small, Buy Local, Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

Local clothing boutiques and small cafes offer unique experiences to shoppers. But what about the more mundane things like buying insurance? Should you “shop local” there, too? We think so. Independent insurance agents offer something that the big brands can’t.

  • We work for our clients, not the carriers.
  • We have the freedom to find more creative and flexible solutions to fit your unique needs and your budget.
  • You have someone to call when you have a question or are in a crisis and we’ll advocate for you with the insurance carrier.
  • We’re your neighbors, and we care about the community we live in, too.
  • You’re so much more than a number in a ledger to us. We want to be your personal advisors for a lifetime, not just when you buy a new policy.

When you shop local this Small Business Saturday, check out a fun local store, try some local coffee, and enjoy everything the local community has to offer. But don’t forget to keep your insurance coverage local, too. Here are Charlotte Insurance, we work for you, not the insurance provider. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you or to get a free quote.

Staying Safe on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Written By Eddy DeMelo on November 26, 2019. It has 0 comments.

a person shopping on black friday or cyber monday concerned about identity theft

Once Thanksgiving is over, people often turn their attention to holiday shopping.  You want to get a good deal and buy your friends and family what they want. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and the entire holiday shopping season) is a great time for this, but it’s also prime-time for identity thieves.

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

Update Your Antivirus Software 

Make sure your home computer, laptop, tablet, and even phone are as safe as possible with an up-to-date antivirus software. Don’t count on free versions. Pay for the software and make sure it’s properly installed and updated. This will help protect you from viruses, phishing scams, hackers, and more. That way, if you click on a fake link or shop on an unsecured site, you’ve got something protecting you from theft. 

Watch Your Payments

Some people want to use debit cards. Others use a specific credit card. Still other shoppers rely on payment apps and virtual wallets. Know how your preferred payment option handles fraudulent charges before you shop. Credit cards often provide more protection than a debit card will. Payment apps may have a resolution center that could take a while to get your money back. Once you start shopping, monitor your accounts to make sure the correct transactions go through. If you see something you don’t recognize, report it immediately.

Avoid Fake Sites and Fake Coupons

We’ve all received the email that said we needed to click a link and login to our account to deal with a dispute. Many of these are phishing scams trying to get your personal information. On social media, especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s not unusual to see a too-good-to-be-true coupon from a major retailer — these are also fake. When you click the link, you’re asked to provide your personal information. Scammers use this to steal your identity and your money.

Don’t Shop on Public WiFi

Public WiFi isn’t a secure connection. If you don’t have a VPN on your device, don’t login to your bank or use your credit card while you’re at that coffee shop. It’s possible for thieves to monitor what you’re doing and take your information. Now they have everything they need to steal your identity, use your credit card, and make your holidays extremely stressful.

Add Identity Protection to Your Policy

As a homeowner you can often add identity theft protection to your homeowners insurance policy. It costs time and money to prove you didn’t open that credit card, make those purchases, or take out that loan. This coverage protects you from the financial loss that comes with identity theft.

Before you make your shopping list for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, make sure you have a plan to protect yourself. Update your devices. Avoid scams. And add identity protection to your insurance policy. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to get a price quote and learn more.

Being a Good (and Responsible) Thanksgiving Host

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

a family in charlotte, nc enjoying a thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s your turn to host family and friends. Whether it’s your first time or you do this every year, there’s a lot to do and remember. You want it to be fun for everyone, but you also want everyone to be safe.

Here’s what you need to know to be a good — and responsible — Thanksgiving host.

Limit Alcohol

If you can’t imagine eating a family dinner without a glass of wine, you’re not alone. But as the host, you need to be careful about your guests’s alcohol consumption. Social host laws hold that a party host can be found legally responsible (and liable) for what happens when guests are served alcohol by the host.

  • Underage drinking is illegal, but if you serve the drinks, and they get into an accident you’ll be in the middle of a legal mess.
  • Guests who drive under the influence and cause an accident after your party could cause you to get sued by the victim.
  • If someone drinks too much and hurts themselves later, you might be liable for their damages.

The best way to avoid this problem is to limit the alcohol served, always offer non-alcoholic options, and get an Uber or Lyft for friends and family when they’ve been drinking. If you’re hosting a large gathering, check with your independent insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage or to find out if you need a special rider for your homeowners insurance policy.

Avoid Fire Hazards

It’s Thanksgiving, and you’re probably going to have turkey. Avoid the temptation to fry your turkey. Not only is it a fire hazard to your home, splashed or spilled oil could cause serious injury to a guest. So many precautions have to be taken to safely fry a turkey that the stress alone may not be worth the effort.

If there’s a chill in the air, and you decide to light the fire on Thanksgiving, make sure you take precautions to keep everyone safe. Remove flammable objects from around the fireplace. Don’t allow children or pets near the fire while unsupervised. Only use safe materials and make sure someone who’s responsible and experienced watches over the fire.

Make Thanksgiving Easier on Yourself

It’s tempting to take on all the work when you’re the host for Thanksgiving. You want things to be just right and for everyone to have a good time. But you don’t have to do everything on your own to make it a good day for your friends and family. Give yourself a break, and let others help you out.

  • Ask everyone to bring a side dish or dessert. If you worry you’ll have 10 pumpkin pies and no potatoes, tell everyone which (side or dessert) they should bring. But let’s be honest – is there really anything wrong with having 10 pumpkin pies?
  • Accept offers to help you clean up the kitchen. If members of your family like to duck out and ignore the mess, give them other jobs to help out.
  • Focus on being together instead of setting the “perfect” table. A beautiful table is nice, but it’s the time spent with your family that matters most.

Before Thanksgiving, get yourself ready to be a good and responsible host. Make a list of what you need. Divide the tasks up among your family. And contact your insurance agent to make sure you’ve got enough coverage to weather whatever the day brings.

Preparing for a Breakdown

Written By Eddy DeMelo on November 19, 2019. It has 0 comments.

flat tire belonging to someone with an emergency kit in case of a breakdown

No matter how new your vehicle is or how well it runs, eventually, it will break down on the side of the road. Maybe you run off the road to avoid an animal. Maybe your gas gauge breaks and you come to a standstill on an empty highway. A broken belt, faulty starter, or any other mechanical mishap can leave you stranded.

To save yourself time, stress, and money, make sure you’re prepared before you break down. Here’s what you need to know.

Maintain Your Vehicle

You can’t prevent all breakdowns, but you can prevent some by keeping your car maintained and getting it serviced regularly. A little maintenance can go a long way to keeping you from being stranded on the side of the road.

  • Get regular oil changes.
  • Have your fluid levels checked.
  • Rotate your tires and have them checked for wear and tear, nails, and leaks.
  • Have your battery checked and replace when needed.
  • Don’t ignore “check engine” or other mysterious lights on your dashboard.

Don’t find yourself stuck on the side of the road because of a preventable problem. When this happens, an inexpensive fix often becomes a costly one.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit for your vehicle is meant to help you handle whatever life throws at you during a break down. From flat tires to bad weather, your kit will make sure you have what you need until help arrives or until you get your vehicle running again. Consider the weather of where you travel the most (like flooding rains, freezing snow, and ice), and what you may need if you have to wait hours for someone to come get you.

Include these things in your emergency kit:

  • First aid kit for minor injuries
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire changing equipment
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Wrench and pliers
  • Ice scraper
  • Rain ponchos and blankets
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food items/snacks
  • Spare tire
  • Phone charger cable
  • Road flares
  • Empty, refillable gas can

Sign Up for Roadside Assistance

An emergency kit will help you survive the elements and fix small problems. But some breakdowns are simply too big for you to fix. Your vehicle might get stuck in a ditch. Your battery may die in the middle of the highway. Flat tires, locked doors, and major problems with your engine or transmission can easily sideline you.

Signing up for roadside assistance as part of your auto insurance can be a big life-saver. You have access to multiple services to help you get your vehicle and yourself to safety:

  • Towing
  • Jump-start
  • Flat tire
  • Locksmith
  • Fuel delivery — up to a certain amount
  • Extrication — in case you get stuck somewhere

Roadside assistance is often only available when you purchase comprehensive auto coverage. This means you add on collision and comprehensive coverage to your liability insurance. With roadside assistance, you have help anywhere, at any time of day.

Ready to add roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for more information and a free quote. We hope you never have a breakdown, but if you do, we’ll make sure you’ve got all the help you need.

Best of Charlotte: Hiking Trails

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

family hiking in charlotte, nc

Now that the weather has finally cooled off but before winter storms arrive, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors in and around Charlotte. For those who love to go for a walk and get out into nature, you don’t have to leave the Charlotte area to enjoy a hiking trail. 

Clark’s Creek and Mallard Creek Greenways

Consider this less a hiking trail and more of a walking path, but Clark’s Creek and Mallard Creek Greenways are perfect for walkers, hikers, skateboarders, and cyclists. The Greenway is open from sunrise to sunset. Bring your dog (on a leash, of course) or put the kids in their stroller, and enjoy a bit of nature in the hustle and bustle of Charlotte.

Upper McAlpine Creek and Campbell Creek Greenway

If you’re more interested in checking out nature than going on a long walk, check out the Upper McAlpine Creek and Campbell Creek Greenway. Located in the Cotswold area of Charlotte, you can bring the whole family, from little babies to fur babies, to enjoy the trail. With beavers, otters, and more than 180 documented species of birds in the area, you’re certain to find some part of nature to admire.

Evergreen Nature Preserve

For hiking novices, stay close to home while breaking in your boots at the Evergreen Nature Preserve. It’s two miles long over 77 acres of lush green space. You’ll get the full experience of hiking in and around Charlotte with fewer challenges — which is great when you’re more comfortable on sidewalks than on dirt paths.

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve extends over 16 miles, made up of three interconnected trails — Hill, Cove, and Split Rock. As you hike through this beautiful corner of Charlotte, you’ll discover a small prairie and the unique plant life of these grassy knolls. If you feel like you’ve stepped into the Wild West, you’re not alone. From the wild prairie grasses to the peek at Mountain Island Lake, you might forget you’re in Charlotte.

McDowell Nature Center

Want a quick hike full of nature trails and beautiful sights? Head to the McDowell Nature Center for seven miles to walk on the 1,107 acre preserve. You can enjoy the full range of natural beauty Charlotte has to offer from waterways to forests to beautiful valleys that also provide an opportunity for quick climbs.

Reedy Creek Park

Within the 10 miles that make up Reedy Creek Park, you have your choice of the experience you want to have for the day. The trail on the north side connects to amenities like the dog park, ball fields, and picnic area. You can spend a day in the fall weather with your family having plenty of fun. Head to the trail on the north side and now you’re in the midst of nature. Explore the forest or head to the Robinson Rockhouse Ruins to see how the elite lived circa 1700s Charlotte.

Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve

Want to get in touch with nature without leaving Charlotte? Escape the urban side of the city and head to the Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve. With three mile of trails to enjoy, this is more nature walk and less hiking adventure. You’ll have the opportunity to see nearly 200 species of plants, 53 species of birds, and 24 species of butterflies.

Green spaces and getting back to nature are good for relieving stress and living happier and healthier lives. No matter where you live in Charlotte, you’re not far from a hiking trail, greenway, or nature walk. Put on some sturdy shoes and head out into the great outdoors.

Honoring Our Veterans

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

veterans day in charlotte nc

This Veterans Day, November 11, honor the veterans in your family, your life, and your community. These brave men and women have served our country and fought for the freedoms we hold dear and often take for granted. Acknowledging their service, dedication, and bravery is important — especially in a time when more and more veterans need our support and help.

Here are a few things you can do this Veterans Day.

Say thank you. The simplest thing we can do is thank veterans — not just on Veterans Day, but every day. Maybe it’s someone you know or maybe you meet a stranger wearing a uniform. Pause and say, “Thank you for your service.” If you know a veteran but won’t see them that day, send a text or call them.

Send a note or care package. All around the country there are veterans in hospitals and living assisted facilities. Maybe an older relative of yours is a veteran. Write a note of thanks or put together a care package. Send it off with love and appreciation. The person who receives it will appreciate whatever you send.

Donate to veterans organizations. From PTSD support to helping elderly veterans, there are plenty of organizations run by and for veterans. Honor the sacrifices made by military members and their families by donating money to help these organizations reach their goals. You can do it on your own or bring your family or co-workers together to raise as much as possible.

Support veteran-owned businesses. There are approximately 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the US and dozens in Mecklenburg County alone. When you can, spend your money with companies owned by veterans. This helps them support themselves and their families — and you’re supporting small businesses in the local community.

Invite a veteran to speak to your group. Whether you’re a teacher at a school or you’re part of a church group, someone will benefit from hearing a veteran’s story. Schools, churches, local clubs, businesses, and organizations of all sizes can learn plenty from veterans. Everyone is impacted by what veterans have done for this county, and it’s important to hear their stories.

Volunteer. Giving your time to help local veterans is an important way to honor their service and sacrifice and to help those in your local area. You can help an organization with an event or you can volunteer to help a veteran in your neighborhood. From car washes and 5K races to helping an elderly veteran go grocery shopping, you’re making a difference in the lives of local veterans.

Attend parades and events. In and around Charlotte there are several Veterans Day events you can attend — the weekend before and the day of. Check here for event information, and bring the entire family with you. You can teach your children about what it means to serve the country and let local veterans know they’ll never be forgotten.

Everyone at Charlotte Insurance appreciates our veterans near and far for their service to this country. We are the land of the free because of the brave. We extend our gratitude to the families of veterans, as well. Thank you all for your service and your sacrifice.