Getting Your Boat Ready for Summer

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 26, 2020. It has 0 comments.

someone getting their boat ready for summer

Even with social distancing and the changes to everyday life, you can still hit the water on your boat this summer. But not before you make sure it’s ship-shape and ready to sail. Doing so keeps you and your family safer and ensures that you have fun with less worry and stress.

Here’s what you need to do to get your boat ready for the summer.

Protect Your Boat

If your boat has been in storage — at home or in the marina — it’s time to see what winter has done to it. It’s time to look underneath the tarp or covering. Good tarps can be dried and stored for future use. Shrink wrap and cheap tarps can be recycled.

It’s time to clean and wax topside so your boat is protected and looks good. Use marine paste-wax instead of cheaper, lower quality options. It shines and protects better than anything else you might use. Do not wax non-skid surfaces unless you want to turn your boat into a skating rink.

Make sure you insert the drain plug before you launch. That’s not a lesson you want to learn the hard way.

Check the Mechanics

There’s a lot going on “under the hood” so to speak, and you need to check every element to make sure it’s in good condition before you get on the water.

  • Check outboard cowlings for rot or condensation.
  • Check hose clamps and fittings.
  • Take a look at the wiring.
  • Check the throttle and shift cables.
  • Make sure the strainers are clean and clear.
  • Check the belts, fluid levels, spark plugs, and engine zincs.

If you worry you’ll miss something, have your boat professionally serviced instead.

Remember, Safety First

It does you no good to have a boat in tip-top shape if it’s not safe for you and your family. Make sure the flares and fire extinguishers are up-to-date. When in doubt, replace them. Test the bilge blowers and bilge pumps. Make sure you have enough life preservers for the maximum amount of passengers. Have your kids try them on to make sure you have enough PFDs to fit them. As they’ve probably grown since last year, you may need to invest in new sizes.

Don’t Forget These Things…

It’s not enough for your boat to be in good condition (although that’s definitely required). There are a few other things to check:

  • Take a look at your trailer. Is it in good condition? Do the lights work? Do you need to fill the tires?
  • Make sure your license and registration are current.
  • Update your boat insurance policy. And if you don’t have boat insurance, now is a great time to consider a policy to protect your boat and yourself.

Have questions about your current boat insurance policy? Need to update your coverage levels or information? Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can help. And if you don’t currently have insurance for your boat, we can send you a quote!

Things to Consider Before Getting a Trampoline or Swing Set

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 21, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a boy playing on a trampoline despite home insurance concerns

With the kids being home all the time, you might be running out of ways to entertain them. Or you’re just worried about all the screen time they’re getting. You want them to go outside and play while staying at home, but you’re not sure what they can do. So you’re considering getting them that trampoline or swing set they’ve been begging for.

Here are a few things to consider before you do.

How Much Space Do You Have?

Not only do you need space in your yard for the structure itself, but you also need space around it. A swing set needs enough room for your children to safely swing back and forth without hitting anything. A trampoline needs clearance space, too, preferably on grass.

Will You Add an Enclosure or Fence?

Trampolines are safest with an enclosure, even though they’re not required for installation. Enclosures keep people from falling out and hurting themselves. Fences keep kids from the neighborhood from wandering in and playing where they don’t belong. Remember, you may still be liable for injuries sustained by your trampoline or swing set, even if you didn’t invite them over.

What Weight Limits Do You Need?

Every trampoline and swing set comes with a specific weight limit. Be realistic about who will play on it and factor in future growth. You don’t want a trampoline that only works for a year before your children hit a major growth spurt because it becomes unsafe and you need to replace it. Also, if you have a bunch of teenagers playing on it, you need something sturdier than what six and seven-year-old children need.

What Safety Features are Included?

Yes, trampolines and swing sets are a lot of fun, but they come with inherent risks. Reputable manufacturers know this and should include certain safety features and avoid certain safety risks.

Trampolines safety features:

  • Padding over springs
  • Durable frames
  • No-gap enclosures
  • Rust-resistant springs

Swing set safety precautions

  • Should not be top heavy
  • Avoid vertical climbing features
  • Rust-resistant material

Have You Thought About Your Homeowners Insurance?

This is the most important question to consider before you go through the expense and time of buying and installing a trampoline or swing set. The first thing to do is check to make sure your current Charlotte home insurance policy covers trampolines or swing sets. There are three potential options:

No exclusions: Trampolines, swing sets, and other features are allowed. If they’re damaged by a covered peril, you’re covered. If someone is hurt while using it, your liability coverage will pay up to your policy limits.

Trampoline exclusion: Some items, like a trampoline, may be named as an exclusion. It’s not covered by your insurance under any circumstances which means you’re paying out of pocket if you have one and someone gets hurt. In some cases, your insurer may even cancel your coverage if they find out you have one.

Coverage with safety precautions: Some insurers will allow these “attractive nuisances” (dangerous features that children are attracted to) as long as you take specific safety precautions. This can include enclosures, fences, and more.

Thinking about getting a trampoline or swing set for the kids? Want to make sure your home insurance covers it? Contact Charlotte Insurance today. We’ll let you know your options with your current insurer and provide estimates for a new policy if necessary.

Maintaining Your Car Even Though You’re Driving Less

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

a car in need of maintenance despite not being driven often

If there’s one good thing to come out of sheltering in place or working from home, it’s how little you need to drive your car or fill up the gas tank. But just because you drive less often these days doesn’t mean your vehicle doesn’t need to be maintained.

Not taking care of a few basic maintenance issues could result in a big repair bill or permanent damage later. Here’s what you need to do.

Drive Your Car at Least Once a Week

You don’t need to have a particular place in mind, if you’re trying not to go to stores or be around crowds. Driving around the block a few times counts. A little driving will do wonders for your vehicle.

  • Keep the battery charged. Batteries discharge when they sit for too long which means they’ll die if your car sits long enough. Turning on your vehicle will help some, but driving is best.
  • Keep moving parts lubricated. Driving prevents the engine and mechanicals from drying out, oil from settling, and fluids from separating.
  • Prevent flat spots on your tires. Tires lose pressure over time and the weight of your vehicle can leave flat spots — which usually means you need new tires.

Park Your Car Carefully

When you drive nearly every day, you don’t give much thought to where you park, because you’ll move your vehicle soon enough. Now that your car sits in one place for a long time, you need to really pay attention to where you park your vehicle.

  • Pavement is an ideal parking location, with gravel being a good second choice. Avoid grass or dirt for long-term parking because both allow moisture to accumulate in your undercarriage which can cause rust.
  • Consider what you park under, too. Tree sap and bird poop can ruin your car’s paint. If you don’t have a choice about what you park under, a car cover will protect the paint.
  • Don’t use your parking brake for an extended amount of time. Your brake pads and rotors can fuse together if your vehicle sits too long.

Get Gas

Top off your gas tank before you park your vehicle for the long-term. You might not need a full tank of gas any time soon, but it’s good for your car. When a vehicle sits for a long time, condensation can accumulate in the gas tank if it’s not full, allowing moisture into your gas. A full tank also stops gasoline fumes from building up to hazardous levels.

Keep a Normal Maintenance Schedule

It might be difficult to justify the expense to maintain a vehicle you’re not driving, but this will save you money in the long run. Get regular oil changes based on a time schedule, usually three months, but check with your mechanic. You also want to check your brakes, fluids, tires, hoses, and more regularly. You’ll find problems when they’re small and inexpensive and make sure your car is ready to get on the road when you have to go back to work.

Even though you’re not driving your car as much, make sure you don’t neglect your auto insurance, either. Insurers are offering credits and rebates, and you may be able to get payment assistance if you’ve been laid off. Whatever you do, don’t cancel your auto insurance just because you’re not driving your vehicle. If you need help with your auto insurance or finding a more affordable option, contact Charlotte Insurance, today. We’re here to help!

5 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day While Social Distancing

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 15, 2020. It has 0 comments.

American flags in support of Memorial Day celebrations despite social distancing requirements due to COVID-19

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and for a lot of people, it’s a long weekend to unwind, relax, and have fun with family and friends. While we may still need to maintain social distance and keep ourselves, our families, and everyone safe, Memorial Day may look a little different this year. Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate while staying safe.

Memorial Day Party via Zoom

It’s not perfect, of course, but why not schedule a Zoom meeting with everyone who would normally attend your Memorial Day bash? If you’re usually a guest, mention it to the usual host. Everyone can do their own barbecue, grill, or food thing, but you’ll be doing it together. Which, of course, is the entire point.

Have a Cookout at Home

For those who usually find a friend’s party to crash or head to the beach, you may be at home this weekend. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Order grocery delivery and get as many cookout supplies as possible — burgers, chicken, chips, the works. Start the day with your favorite beverage, maybe a mimosa, and spend it with your family out in the sunshine in your own backyard.

Play in the Sprinklers

Do you usually take your kids to the beach or pool over Memorial Day weekend? It’s tough having to disappoint them, but there are alternatives. If you have oscillating sprinklers or even an irrigation system in your home, let them run through the water — like you did when you were a kid. Note: This is only a good idea if your home doesn’t use reclaimed water to irrigate. Let them put on their suits and run through the grass. They’ll use up some energy and have a good time.

Run Your Memorial Day 5K Alone

If you usually sign up for a Memorial Day race, you can still run it. Map a route through your neighborhood — as long as you can maintain social distancing guidelines. If not, figure out how big your backyard (or front yard) is and run until you hit the 5K mark. You can set a goal with your family and friends, ask them to donate to worthy causes (since most 5K races are for charity), and reward yourself with a beer and barbecue when you’re done.

Celebrate Virtually with the American Legion

For those who typically spend part of Memorial Day remembering the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, the parades and ceremonies will likely be canceled. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up this time-honored tradition. The American Legion is celebrating virtually through Memorial Day weekend. They’ll remember our lost and fallen soldiers on their social media platforms. Check out their website and follow them on Facebook and other platforms to commemorate the day with them.

We can still have fun and do what matters to us under social distancing guidelines. We just have to think creatively and be aware of other people around us. There are plenty of ways to enjoy Memorial Day weekend this year and kick off summer! From Charlotte Insurance, we wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day.

How Does Coronavirus Impact Your Personal Insurance?

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

a woman wondering if coronavirus impacted her home insurance

It feels like coronavirus has taken over every part of our life at this point. Because of it, we’ve changed where we go, how we shop, and how our kids go to school. Has coronavirus impacted insurance, too? In some ways, yes.

Here’s what you need to know.

Inability to Pay Premiums

The biggest impact has been on people working fewer hours, getting laid off, or being furloughed due to the coronavirus. With less money coming in and the stress of the unemployment system, you may not be in a position to pay all of your bills on time, including your insurance premiums. The vast majority of insurance companies recognize this. In many cases, before public pressure or requirement from state governments, many insurers began offering assistance.

Many, if not all, insurance providers have stopped terminating coverage for non-payment up to a certain amount of time. They are also offering temporary payment help to those who reach out. Don’t assume you’ll be okay if you skip a payment. It’s important to reach out and confirm what assistance is available.

Slower Claims Process

If you do need to file a claim for your home (as an owner or renter) or for your personal vehicle, coronavirus may impact how quickly your claim can be processed. Insurance companies want to keep their own employees safe while also following local and state guidelines for sheltering in place and working from home. This means a claims assessor may not be able to handle your claim as quickly as they once did.

Many companies are getting creative in order to better serve customers. Some assessors may be able to do an exterior inspection for damage. Others may be willing to go virtual and view the damage for your claim via video. Ultimately these decisions are made to keep assessors and customers safe while still taking care of your insurance needs.

Insurance Credits

Because of shelter in place orders and more people working from home, there are fewer vehicles on the roads. Which decreases the chance of an auto accident. The auto insurance industry recognizes this and also understands that many people are struggling financially right now. That’s why many companies have offered credits towards auto insurance premiums. Some companies offer a rebate of a specific percentage, for example 15 percent, and others offer a flat rate, for example $50.

Don’t Cancel Your Insurance to Save Money

With coronavirus deeply impacting household incomes, it’s understandable that you might be tempted to cancel coverage for auto insurance and other coverages to save money. In fact, that’s the worst thing you could do because you’ll leave yourself unprotected after an accident or covered peril. There are other ways to save money:

  • Contact your insurance provider to ask about their payment assistance options.
  • Increase your deductible to the highest amount you can afford to lower your premiums.
  • Adjust your auto insurance to reflect your lack of commute and any other changes — especially if these changes will be long-term for you.

Need helping contact your insurer for payment assistance, filing a claim, or updating your information? Charlotte Insurance can help! Contact us today.

What Insurance Does a Small Business Need?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 7, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a charlotte small business discussing their insurance options

The right approach to insurance contributes a lot to the success of a small business.

According to the US Small Business Administration, over 600,000 small businesses start up each year in this country. Within 18 months, a large portion of those businesses also fail. While there are several reasons why this happens, a lack or insufficient amount of insurance can put a business at serious risk and contribute to its failure.

To avoid that, it’s important to know what types of insurance are available and recommended for your small business. While our first piece of advice would be to discuss your options with a local independent insurance agency like ours, let us help you get the conversation started.

Liability Insurance

Any business can become subject to a liability claim which could shutter a business permanently if the right insurance isn’t in place. Two of the most common and useful forms of liability insurance are general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

General liability insurance covers claims that involve bodily injury or property damage that may be connected to your business. Examples of this could include a customer slipping on a wet floor or a plumbing installation going wrong and resulting in a flooded basement.

Professional liability insurance addresses lawsuits regarding any errors or omissions made by your business in the course of providing a service. Common forms of this are claims of negligence, substandard delivery, or breach of contract.

Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner policy (BOP) bundles the basic coverage a small business requires into a single policy and is often less expensive than individual policies combined. A BOP often includes coverage for major property and liability risks, business interruption insurance, victim of crime, spoilage, and more. Our agents look at several factors when deciding what kind of BOP is best for you. These factors include such things as location, size, type of business, and earnings.

Business Interruption Insurance

When a business experiences loss of income due to disaster—either due to a forced closing or need for rebuilding—business interruption insurance can help recover some of that loss. This can cover costs associated with operating expenses, moving to a new location, payroll, taxes, or even loan payments.

Unfortunately, issues related to communicable diseases such as COVID-19 are usually not covered.

Additional Insurance to Consider

The Small Business Administration lists a few more types of insurance they recommend businesses look in to, and how to go about buying business insurance. Other types of insurance include:

  • Product liability insurance protects against financial loss resulting from a defective product resulting in injury or bodily harm.
  • Commercial property insurance protects against loss and damage of company property from events such as fire, flood, storms, and vandalism.
  • Home-based business insurance is usually added to one’s homeowner’s insurance and can offer coverage tor liability and some business equipment.

Protecting Your Business

In addition to legally-required insurance connected to any employees you may have, your business could be at risk of a lawsuit for any number of reasons or require coverage for your assets in case of disaster.

Take steps ahead of time to protect your business from these risks by talking with your insurance agent about what kind of coverage is best for you.

This article was sponsored by Ballantyne Business Center, which offers executive suites and private offices for small businesses in the Charlotte area.


Don’t Forget to Thank Mom!

Written By Charlotte Insurance on May 6, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a sign to show mom that you appreciate her on mother's day despite social distancing efforts due to COVID-19

Mother’s Day is nearly here, and you may feel sad that you can’t celebrate it like usual. You want to thank your mom and show her how much you love and appreciate her, but you also want to keep her safe and maintain social distancing. You don’t have to skip the entire day. There are still plenty of things you can do to show your mom how much you love and appreciate her.

Schedule a Family Zoom Meeting

Wanted to bring everyone together for a big celebration this year? Keep everyone safe and go virtual instead. Get the family together, no matter how spread out you are, for a family Zoom gathering. You can all tell your mom how much she means to you and give her a chance to see the faces of those she loves, especially her grandkids, grandcats, and granddogs.

Facetime Your Mom

Substitute “Facetime” for any video chat option on your smartphone. This year, instead of the typical Mother’s Day phone call, make it a video call instead. Your mom wants to see your smiling face, even if you’re tired, stressed, and still need coffee. Tell her Happy Mother’s Day and then let her worry that you’re clearly not getting enough sleep or eating enough. It’s what moms do.

Send Flowers

Yes, you can still send your mom flowers. Choose a company that lets you specify how to leave them for your mom to keep both the delivery driver and her safe. Ideally, they should leave them at the front door, ring her doorbell, and then leave with no or minimal contact. Flowers are never a bad idea, any day of the week, and they will certainly brighten her day. Combine that with a Zoom meeting or a video call for extra thanks and love.

Send Digital Gifts

Normally you take your mom to brunch or lunch, buy her a sweet gift, and give her a card. This year, that’s not exactly possible or safe. Digitize your gift-giving instead. E-cards are still a thing, and gift cards help support businesses without requiring sales associates to put themselves at risk. Buy the gift card and let your mom know you’re planning for a lunch or brunch date in the future when the world gets back to normal.

Order Grocery Delivery for Your Mom

Doing something nice for your mom, to make her life easier, is always a good way to say thanks. But going to her house to take care of chores or driving her around on errands isn’t a good idea right now. Take advantage of digital options and keep your mom at home with grocery delivery. If she’s not the type to use an app or website to order her groceries, do it for her. You keep her home, and you do something nice for the woman who raised you. (Note: Tip the delivery person well as a thank you to them, too, since they’re the one doing the hard work.)

Drive By to Say “I Love You”

If your normal Mother’s Day is usually spent at her house, this year may be hard on everyone. As long as it’s safe, pile your family in the car, and drive by her house. Let her know to look out the window or stand on her doorstep. As you drive by, have the family shout out “I love you!” and wave. You can also make signs or hang balloons on her mailbox (as long as you can do it safely). It’s not the same, but it’ll definitely make her feel special.

Here at Charlotte Insurance, we know it’s tough to give up family traditions because of social distancing, shutdowns, and quarantine. This year, for Mother’s Day, create new family traditions until it’s safe to be with your mom again. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, especially our own!

Is Water Damage to My Floors Covered by Home Insurance?

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

hardwood floors that would be covered by a charlotte flood insurance policy

So you come home and discover a burst pipe and Fido practicing the doggy paddle in the kitchen. After the shock wears off, you’re wondering if it’s going to be covered by your insurance. Water damage can be extensive, and it can ultimately occur out of the blue. It is also one of the most common causes of home insurance claims. However, when it comes to home insurance, all water damage isn’t cut from the same cloth. Flood damage, sudden or accidental discharges, sewer backups, and overflows, gradual water damage, and weather-related water damage are all treated differently.

Generally, homeowners insurance covers your home itself, replacement costs, personal possessions, living expenses if your home is unlivable, and other liabilities that result from covered damages. Anything additional is usually at the discretion of your policy. At Charlotte Insurance, we offer supplemental policies that go beyond the basics, like Flood Insurance. One policy doesn’t fit all, that’s why it’s essential to speak to one of our dedicated agents who can talk you through options that meet your needs.

What Type of Water Damage is Covered?

Weather-Related Damage

This generally refers to rain, snow, or ice, causing damage to your home. If your floors or other parts of your home have suffered damage, a local contractor or hardwood floor company will often be able to help you determine the cause of the problem. Water damage as a result of these conditions, as well as collapsed roofs, is generally covered. However, the damage must have been caused by the weather event. If it is determined that your roof was in poor condition allowing the water to rush in and damaged your home, your insurance may deny coverage.

Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems are a bit tricky when it comes to insurance coverage. Generally, if a burst pipe results in a sudden or accidental discharge, it will be covered. These include air conditioners, water heaters, fire sprinklers, and any other active piping in your home. Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers are typically covered as well, but a replacement may not always be provided. Gradual plumbing leaks are a different issue.

Malicious Activity

If someone breaks into your house and turns all of your faucets on and then leaves, that’s considered vandalism, and damage is covered. Similarly, if someone else intentionally destroys a plumbing system and the result is water damage, you will not be responsible for costs.

What Type of Water Damage isn’t Covered?

Damage Resulting from Lack of Maintenance or Gradual Damage

If you have a leaky pipe that has been causing slow, progressive damage and you only discover it when the ceiling collapses, you’re likely out of luck. This includes mold, rot, deteriorating electrical wire, and other corrosion. You should periodically inspect your plumbing to prevent leaks and keep extensive records of any repairs and maintenance in the event a problem arises. Be sure to clean gutters and ensure your roof, windows, and doors are properly sealed.

Flood Damage

Overflowing bodies of water, extensive storms, and other flood damages are not covered under any standard homeowners’ insurance. That’s why it’s important to purchase flood insurance as a supplemental policy.

Sewer or Drain Backups

If water or sewage backs up into your home through an outside sewer or drains and damages your floors, it is not traditionally covered by homeowners’ insurance, but additional coverages are available for these instances, as well.

Our team of dedicated agents is ready to help you protect your home and ensure that you’ve got the right coverages in place at the best possible price. Contact us today for a policy review or a free quote.