Do I Need Insurance if I Don’t Own a Car?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 19, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a Charlotte, NC man in a car with a non-owner auto insurance policy

You don’t have a vehicle, and you’re ready to cancel your auto insurance. Before you make that call, consider a non-owner auto insurance policy instead. Non-owner auto insurance policies are designed for people with a driver’s license but no vehicle. If you drive occasionally, it saves you money and helps protect you from the financial loss of auto accidents when you drive a vehicle you don’t own.

Here’s what you need to know.

Requirements for a Non-Owner Auto Insurance Policy

Each insurance carrier may have slightly different requirements, but in general, you’re eligible to purchase auto insurance as a non-owner, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a valid driver’s license.
  • You don’t own a vehicle.
  • You don’t have regular access to a vehicle.

“Regular access” can mean different things to different insurance providers, so it’s important to talk to an insurance agent about what this means for you.

How to Decide if a Non-Owner Auto Insurance Policy is Right for You

The real question isn’t whether you can get a non-owner policy, but if you need one at all. There are several circumstances in which carrying non-owner auto insurance could be a good idea.

  • You drive a friend or family member’s vehicle every so often. In this case, you shouldn’t be living with or be a dependent of your family member in order to qualify.
  • You regularly rent cars but don’t own your own. As a non-owner, you may need to rent a vehicle for personal or business trips. A good non-owner policy prevents you from having to pay for expensive rental insurance.
  • You use car-share services to get from place to place. Some liability coverage may be included in the service, but it won’t be enough in a major accident. A non-owner policy provides extra protection.
  • You want to maintain auto insurance coverage while you wait to buy a new vehicle. Going without insurance for more than 30 days can increase your premiums drastically. To save yourself a big price increase, a non-owner policy may be the solution.

Secondary or Supplemental Insurance

If you borrow someone’s car, you may be thinking you can depend on their insurance coverage in an accident. Yes, their insurance may cover the vehicle in an accident, but you can still be held personally liable if you’re at fault. A non-owner auto insurance policy acts as secondary/supplemental insurance and helps protect you from the financial fall-out of a big accident. This is especially important in accidents where multiple vehicles and people are involved. Liability adds up very quickly in these situations.

The Coverage You Choose Matters

While most basic non-owner auto policies only include liability coverage, you can buy more robust policies that also offer medical payments for your injuries and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, as well. You may pay a little more for your auto insurance, but you’ll also be protected when you’re injured or when you’re not at fault for the accident.

At Charlotte Insurance, we’re here to help you maintain auto insurance coverage at a reasonable price, even when you don’t own a vehicle. If you’re occasionally driving another vehicle, a non-owner policy is worth looking into. Contact us today to answer your questions or for a free quote.

Does Business Interruption Insurance Cover COVID-19?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 17, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a closed business due to COVID-19 wondering if they qualify for business interruption insurance

Schools and businesses are closing. Events have been cancelled. Even in areas where COVID-19 hasn’t quite been felt yet, the business interruption is clear. You may be wondering if your business interruption insurance can help.

Here’s what you need to know.

Many Policies Include Standard Business Interruption Coverage

If you think you don’t have business interruption coverage at all, chances are you do, especially if you have a comprehensive insurance package for your business. Business disruption isn’t a standalone coverage you purchase separately. It’s typically included within your policy. This coverage is limited to specific types of disruptions to businesses and specific exclusions, depending on the policy.

Business Interruption Often Excluded from Coverage

First, the bad news, in most standard business interruption coverages, communicable diseases are explicitly excluded. In 2003, after the SARS outbreak, millions were paid in business interruption losses. Insurance companies quickly moved to add communicable diseases to their list of exclusions.

In the rare instance that an insurance policy does cover diseases and illnesses like COVID-19, courts ruled in the post-SARS era that an company’s liability was limited to the amount of disruption caused after a specific trigger date — the day the disease is required by law to be notified to an authority. Even if business interruption and losses begin earlier, insurance coverage doesn’t kick in until that date.

On January 8, 2020, COVID-19 was included in the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation 2020 and the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance, making it a notifiable disease. Any possible coverage of business interruption begins as of that date.

How Business Interruption Coverage Typically Works

Beyond specifically excluding communicable diseases like COVID-19 from business interruption policies, this coverage pays only for quantifiable physical losses, something much harder to show when business simply slows down or hours become limited. There are four factors that trigger business interruption coverage:

  • Property sustains damage
  • Property is insured.
  • Peril must be insured — meaning not specifically excluded
  • Loss must be quantifiable

Even if communicable disease isn’t specifically mentioned, it can be difficult to meet this threshold. By this criteria, companies that experience slowing of orders or customers, decreased revenue, disruptions in supply chain, or even need to close would not qualify as a business interruption.

Communicable Disease Coverage and Contingent Business Interruption Coverage

Not all is lost for every business. In some cases, businesses who negotiated very specific policies may have more options.

Communicable Disease Coverage

Since communicable diseases are often specifically excluded from business interruption, companies who want this coverage must negotiate it into their policy. While it can help a business recover, there are key details to remember:

  • The coverage must be negotiated and accepted at the time the policy goes into effect. It cannot be added in the midst of an outbreak.
  • There will be limitations on the amount of recovery available.
  • A trigger event must occur for the policy to pay out. For example, a closure to sanitize facilities or to protect employees or customers from contracting the disease.

Many policies will limit the amount recovered to physical costs like clean up and sanitization while excluding loss of revenue.

Contingent Business Interruption Coverage

A contingent business interruption rider may be the best way for a business to recoup losses during an outbreak as long as the policy specifically includes loss of revenue caused by disease. If it does, you are covered in a variety of situations:

  • Loss of revenue from lack of customers
  • Cost to clean and sanitize your business
  • Loss of revenue due to proximity of other business closures that directly impact your business
  • Supply chain outages and shortages that impact your business
  • Cost to repair or replace facilities and equipment

Whether you’re convinced your business insurance policy will or won’t cover you during the COVID-19 outbreak, don’t assume anything. With this Pandemic being uncharted waters, the claims departments of our different carriers have asked us to advise our clients that if they think they have a reason to make a claim, by all means go ahead and make one.  Each situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For additional resources, please visit: https://www.hilbgroup.com/coronavirus/

Spring Home Maintenance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 17, 2020. It has 0 comments.

somehow tackling some home maintenance tasks

Now that the winter weather is on its way out the door (minus those last minute cold snaps, of course), it’s time to turn your attention to spring. Not just the beautiful weather and the fun to be had outdoors. It’s also a good time to take care of spring home maintenance, especially as the cold weather can easily cause damage in and around your home.

Making repairs and doing a bit of maintenance now will make for a better spring and summer.

Check Your Roof

Cold, wet weather can do a lot to your roof over the winter months. Check to make sure no shingles are damaged or missing, and replace any as needed. Have your chimney inspected as well, to make sure there are no cracks or structural problems after a winter of use. If you used your fireplace regularly, now is a good time to have the flue cleaned and inspected, as well.

Check Doors and Windows

Between the damp and the changing temperatures, any wood around your doors and windows can easily swell and shrink multiple times during winter, making it easier for air to flow in and out of your home. You can probe wood trim to check its sturdiness with a screwdriver and replace or repair any problem areas. While you’re looking at doors and windows, check your screens for holes or tears. They’re meant to keep bugs out of your home, especially if you open your windows to let the breeze in, but they can only do that if the screens are intact.

Check Your Gutters

After a long winter of the last of the leaves falling, storms, and wind, your gutters likely need a bit of attention. Clean your gutters and downspouts so rain can move quickly away from your home. Replace or repair any loose or leaky gutters. Check to make sure the downspouts drain properly away from your home. The last thing you want is for water to soak into your home’s foundation.

Check Concrete Around Your Home

You’ve likely got more concrete around your home than you realize: the foundation, your driveway, walkways, a patio area around a pool. Look for cracks or signs of movement. Fill cracks with concrete filler or silicone caulk to prevent further damage. Once it’s dry, power wash and seal the concrete to protect it for the spring and summer ahead.

Check Outside Irrigation

Check your hose faucets for freeze damage from the winter. Replace and repair as needed. Also inspect your garden hose for any dry rot and get a new one if necessary. Run any sprinklers you may have and look for leaks and broken heads. Go ahead and get these fixed now before you’re ready to bring your lawn back to life after the cold winter.

Service Your HVAC System

After several months of running the heater or furnace, you want your HVAC system ready to handle the warm months ahead. Now is the time to schedule HVAC service and maintenance. This helps catch small problems before they become big (and expensive) problems. If you have a furnace, have it cleaned and checked so you know it’s in good working condition when next winter rolls around.

Regular maintenance, in spring and winter, keep your home in good condition and help catch problems before they become major repairs. This also gives you a good idea as to what condition your home is in and allows you to plan ahead for costly renovations and replacements (like a new roof).

One more thing you can do in the spring to help protect your home: check your home insurance policy and make any necessary updates. If you haven’t thought about your homeowners insurance in several years, you might not have enough coverage to protect your home or your family. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote or to check your current insurance coverage.

Importance of Having All of Your Policies with a Single Agency

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 12, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a woman meeting with her independent insurance agent

Does keeping up with your insurance policies, renewal dates, and payments feel like major hassles? Do you ever wonder if you’re really getting the best price? Are you tired of calling multiple companies to settle one claim? It may be time to move your insurance to a single independent insurance agency who can handle all of your needs.

Save Time and Money

When you insure your home, car, business, and other parts of your life with a single insurance agency, you save time and money. You have one place to go to make a payment, file a claim, or ask a question. There’s no need to keep up with multiple companies and policy numbers because it’s a one stop shop, reducing your stress at a time when you could use the help — like when you need to file a claim.

Having multiple insurance policies in one place often leads to steep discounts that save you money up front. But it also saves you time in other ways you can’t predict. Let’s say a tree comes down during a storm and damages your home and your car. Instead of having to make multiple phone calls, you’ll be able to make a single call to your independent insurance agent and they can help you through the entire process.

Take Advantage Unique Options and More Choices

Working with a single agency for your insurance needs also gives you more options than you might otherwise have. Independent insurance agencies work with multiple carriers which means we can customize your insurance policy into a bundle that fits your needs. Instead of a few options offered by a single insurance carrier, you can select from multiple products from multiple carriers.

This allows you to mix and match available insurance policies to choose the coverage you need from home and auto insurance to RV, motorcycle, and watercraft insurance. We can often build a custom product tier that provides you with the best coverage, at the best possible rates.

Rely on a Personal Advisor

When you work with a single agency for all your insurance needs, you get to know them, and best of all, they get to know you. You have one number to call for all your needs and any questions you may have. Your agent can offer personalized advice for you because they know you, your family, and your goals. As a result, you get better coverage and more help.

And when you need help, have questions, or need to file a claim, you have a single point of contact. Call your agent, and they’ll help you with every step of the process. Instead of waiting for people who don’t know you or your situation to give you imperfect information, your agent advocates for you and offers real solutions and help. You may need to rely on this help in the middle of the worst disasters in your life. Ultimately you get through a tough time with more help and less stress than you might when you work with multiple insurance providers at multiple companies.

If you’re ready to move all of your insurance needs to a single agency and make your life easier and less stressful, contact Charlotte Insurance today. We work with multiple insurance carriers and can put together a plan that fits your unique needs — at an affordable price. Get in touch today.

Tips to Reduce Your Lawn Care Budget

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 10, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a lush lawn maintained by following these budget lawn care tips

When budgeting for home maintenance, your lawn is one place you don’t want to forget. You don’t need a fancy landscape or expensive bushes and trees to make your yard look good. There are plenty of ways to care for your lawn without breaking the bank. Here are the best tips to reduce your lawn care budget.

Get Dirty

A big chunk of your lawn care budget can be reduced by getting dirty. Instead of hiring someone to maintain your lawn, get out there and get it done yourself. Hiring someone to maintain your lawn can cost as much as $1,000 per season!

If you have children that are capable of performing lawn care duties, you might even consider paying them to work for you. You’ll still save money as opposed to hiring a professional, and it gives a chance for the family to get involved in lawn care too.

Herbicides and Insect Spray

Not only are herbicides bad for the environment, but they can dip into your lawn care budget slowly. Instead of using store-bought chemicals, you can make your own herbicide with everyday household products such as vinegar, salt, and dish soap.

You can also make your own insect spray to help deter pests from destroying your lawn and garden. A simple mixture of soap and water can prevent mites and other pests, while beetles can be kept at bay with cayenne pepper, garlic, and water. These mixtures are less harsh on you, your lawn, and the environment.

Freebies

Another typical expense for lawn care is mulch or dirt. While dirt is readily available everywhere, getting clean fill dirt can add to your budget unnecessarily. Some cities offer soil or mulch free of charge to residents, so check with your local municipal center to see if they have a similar program! Even if they don’t, keep an eye out in local buy, sell, trade groups, and other classified postings to see if anybody is offering free fill dirt or mulch.

Watering

When there is a shortage of rain, watering your lawn will help keep it from turning brown and dying. However, overwatering your lawn increases your water bill. Once you can figure out how often you need to water to keep your lawn alive and green, you’ll be doing your water bill and the environment a favor.

Mowing

Maintaining a proper height for your lawn will reduce your lawn care budget. Over mowing is not healthy for your yard. Not only does it waste gas and time, but keeping your lawn too short opens the doorway for weeds and makes your grass vulnerable to the elements. Unhealthy grass means more money needed to repair and maintain it.

Lawn care doesn’t have to be costly. Most jobs can be done yourself, saving you money on labor. If you’re looking to reduce your lawn care budget, be careful, how often you mow, and water. Figuring out the least amount of water needed to maintain a healthy lawn will reduce your water bill while less frequent mowing saves you money on gas and is better for your yard. Keep an eye out for free fill dirt and mulch if you’re landscaping instead of buying it. The best tip to reduce your lawn care budget is to get dirty. It may be tedious work, but you can maintain your lawn for much less than professionals.

Additional Options

Aside from overall routine lawn care, you may also want to set aside budget for any larger projects you might be interested in pursuing, such as building a retaining wall or updating your backyard lighting.

 

Preparing to Sell Your Home

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 10, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a home for sale

Whether you’re moving up to a larger home for your growing family or you’re downsizing as empty nesters, selling your home is your first step. You want to get the most out for your current home so you can easily move onto the next stage of your life. Here’s what you need to do to get your home ready to sell.

Make Repairs

Even the smallest things can turn a potential buyer away from your home. Replace a cracked wall plate. Install a new faucet. Make sure all light bulbs work. And those are just the small things. Finding later that large repairs need to be done can lead to a request to lower the price or the buyers walking away from sale, so take care of those big things — repair the roof, new gutters, fix the garage door — before you list it.

Declutter Everything but Especially Closets

Buyers want to see your home, not your stuff. They also want to know if their belongings will fit if they buy the property. That means they’ll look closely at room size and available closet space. Make sure they’re not inundated with your clutter as they’re deciding to put in an offer or not. Trash, donate, or store your extra stuff so your home looks clean and clear.

Repaint the Walls

If your home is already full of neutral colors, you can probably skip this step. But any room that is a bright or “wild” color should be repainted. You may love a bright violet or grass green, but you want your home to appeal to a stranger. Bright colors can turn people away when they look at pictures before they view the property. Neutral tones invite people to view your home and help them imagine themselves living there.

Deep Clean Bathrooms

You know your bathroom is clean — you clean it all the time. But a potential buyer will notice dark stains and grimy tile. Give your bathroom the spa treatment and turn it into a spa when buyers view your home. A deep clean, a few decorative towels or soaps, and nice accessories can make a great impression for even the smallest bathroom.

Service the HVAC

The HVAC unit of any home is a big concern for most buyers. They want to know it works well and won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. Make sure you schedule service and maintenance before you list your home. They’ll be able to find and repair any small problems and give you a clean bill of health for your unit. This gives buyers peace of mind and makes it easier for them to make an offer.

Pay Attention to the Exterior

Curb appeal matters more than most people realize. Many buyers will drive by a home several times before they walk inside. As a seller, you want them to see what makes your home great. What you don’t want them to see are overgrown weeds, too-high grass, and a cluttered yard. Pressure wash the outside of your home. Landscape the yard. Clean up the tools, hoses, and other stuff that you’ve left outside. Repair or repaint the shutters. This will be a buyer’s first impression of your home, and you want them to love what they see.

Remember Small Touches

The smallest details can make a big difference. Make sure your home smells nice — clean and fresh. Avoid overly strong smells, whether a cleanser or a candle, as these can be a turn off for buyers. Replace your welcome mat. It’s a small first impression but it tells buyers that you take care of your home. Always tidy up before a showing so buyers see your home in the best light possible.

When you sell your home and move into your next, you’ll need tp update your home insurance or get a renter’s insurance policy. Give Charlotte Insurance a call for a free quote before you move.

5 Things to Do Before Starting a Business

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 5, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a man thinking about the things he needs to do before he starts his business

You’ve dreamed about it for so long that it doesn’t feel real, but you’re finally ready to start your own business. You’re going to work for yourself, be your own boss, and make money doing what you love to do. Starting a business is easier than it’s ever been, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple.

Before you strike out on your own, set yourself up for long-term success and do these 5 things.

Create a Business Plan

What kind of business are you starting? What materials, equipment, inventory, and/or tools do you need to do your business? How much do those cost? What’s your personal budget, and how much do you need to make to turn a profit or live off your income? A business plan answers all of these questions and more. It helps you determine your course of action for today and into the future.

Know Your Purpose and Your Niche

No matter what kind of business you start, you need to know who you want to serve and what your business is. Are you a graphic designer or an artisan contractor? Who is your ideal customer? What industry will you focus on? Will you offer a service in other people’s homes or businesses? Where does your ideal customer live and what problem are you solving for them? Knowing this information helps you focus your efforts and your marketing message.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Starting a new business is exciting, but it’s also tough. You have to get people to pay attention to you long enough so you can tell them how you can help them. Figuring out your message happens once you know your purpose and your niche. After that, you need to choose what methods you’ll use. Will you use Facebook and Instagram? Networking events in your local area? Both? Having this in place before you begin makes it easier to promote yourself and your business.

Build a Team

When you work for yourself, you have to wear a lot of hats. But part of building and growing a successful solo business is knowing what you do well and what you don’t. If math and numbers aren’t your strong suit, look for a professional or a great tool to help with accounting. If you’re confused by marketing, you might want to find a freelancer who can help. Sometimes you can barter skills with other self-employed professionals for a service you both need. Sometimes you just need to find the right online tools to help you get the job done. Doing this before you start your business gives you more time to focus on the work you want to be doing.

Protect Your New Business From Day One

Business insurance probably sounds like something only established or large businesses need. Actually self-employed people need insurance as much, if not more, than any other type of business. If something goes wrong, and you’re liable for damage or injury, how will you pay for it? What if a storm or fire damages your supplies and equipment? Can you afford to buy all new equipment and materials? Insurance for self-employed people is less expensive than other business insurance, and it’s there when you need it most.

As you venture out on your own, ready to make your business dreams come true, protect yourself and your business from day one with the right insurance coverage. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to learn more about CoverSmart — insurance made for businesses just like yours.