Earthquakes and Your Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 31, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a cracked road due to an earthquake in Charlotte, NC

On August 9, 2020, in Sparta, North Carolina a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck. It was felt across the entire state and was the second strongest to occur in North Carolina since 1900. In the devastating aftermath, many victims of the earthquake received even more bad news. Their insurance policies, in large part, would not cover the loss of their property.

This moment serves as a clear reminder that earthquakes can and do strike North Carolina. Before another one hits, make sure you know what your insurance does and does not cover, and how you can protect yourself from the financial damage of earthquakes.

Standard Policies Don’t Cover Earthquakes

Homeowners insurance and dwelling policies do not automatically cover losses caused by earthquakes, though policies may cover a direct loss by fire, explosion, or theft that might result from earth movement. Renters insurance policies typically excludes earthquake coverage, although direct loss by fire, explosion, or theft will be covered.

There is no such thing as automatic earthquake coverage, but an endorsement can be purchased for homeowners insurance and dwelling policies.

If you own a business, the same is true for you. Commercial property policies do not automatically include earthquake coverage. You can purchase an endorsement to protect your business property.

The one exception to this rule is that some mobile home policies (specifically MH C policies) cover earthquakes, but if you’re not sure, check with your agent or give us a call.

How to Get Earthquake Insurance

Home insurance, dwelling policies, MH F policies for mobile homes, and commercial property insurance can obtain earthquake insurance through an endorsement purchased and added to your existing property coverage.

For homeowners insurance and dwelling policies, here’s what you need to know about an earthquake endorsement:

  • Your property is covered for direct losses to your dwelling, other structures, and your personal property.
  • A single earthquake event includes one or more earthquake shocks that occur within a 72-hour period. Even if you’re not directly impacted by the first tremor, damage suffered from aftershocks within that time period count.
  • An endorsement for earthquake coverage will not increase your liability limits.
  • There may be exclusions listed in the endorsement for things like flood, filling land, and exterior masonry veneer.
  • Deductibles will apply and must be paid by the homeowner for each claim. You may have separate deductibles for your dwelling, other structures, and personal property. Make sure you understand both your coverage and your deductibles.

Protect your home, business, and family from the financial devastation of an earthquake. Make sure you have the right kind of insurance coverage as soon as possible. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We can give you a free quote and explain your options so you know exactly what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t.

How to Help Your New Driver

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 27, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a car with a student driver sign on the top being drive by a young driver

The most exciting thing that happens in your teen’s life may be the scariest thing for you — learning to drive. You want them to learn, to have a bit of freedom, to run errands for you when you’re tired. But as parents it’s easy to worry about the potential dangers, too.

How can you help your new driver stay as safe as possible out on the road? Here’s what you need to know.

Why New Drivers Need Help

Teen drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than older drivers. Why is that? Studies show the main culprit is a lack of experience. New drivers don’t yet know how to handle the vehicle in a variety of conditions, don’t always react appropriately to situations, and don’t know how to drive in adverse conditions. At the same time, due to their inexperience, new drivers are more likely to miscalculate what’s happening in traffic. Some teens also tend to be more easily distracted and succumb to peer pressure or overestimate their own abilities.

How You Can Help

The biggest help to new drivers is more experience behind the wheel. Driver’s education classes and private lessons offer, on average, about six hours of on-the-road driving experience. Teenage drivers need at least 50 hours of practice to be proficient. This means they need extra lessons from their parents, guardians, and other responsible adults in their life.

Start by helping them learn the basic skills of driving. As they become better at those skills, slowly allow them to drive in more complicated situations under your guidance. Get into the habit of handing the keys to your new driver whenever you’re running errands or making a trip. The key, one study shows, is to give teenagers a variety of routes to practice. Yes, they can make the drive to school or to the grocery store on a regular basis, but they’re better served by also being allowed to drive in rainy weather, on highways, and in different levels of traffic.

Practice and experience are the biggest factors in raising safe drivers, but there are a few other things parents need to do.

  • Set a good example. Put your phone away. Follow traffic laws. Drive as safely as possible.
  • Explain your driving decisions. When you’re the one driving, talk to your teen driver about why you’re making certain choices and what you’re doing.
  • Talk to your teen driver after lessons and ask questions so they can think critically about their own abilities. What did they do well? What will they do differently in the future?

The other thing your new driver needs is protection on the road, as does your entire family. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to discuss adding your teen to your auto insurance policy and what discounts may be available to lower your costs.

How Having Your College Student Back at Home May Impact Your Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 25, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a college student who moved back home with parents, impacting their insurance

Having your college-aged kids back home is meant to be a nice surprise or a fun holiday. No one expected them to have to move back in for a pandemic. Everyone will have adjustments to make this school year as college and university students learn online from the safety of their homes.

What does this mean for your insurance coverage? Here’s what you need to know.

Home Insurance

How this move impacts your home insurance depends on how coverage changed when your child left for college in the first place. Your home insurance covers college-aged children living in the dorm up to a percentage of your policy limit, usually 10 percent. If you increased your policy limit to give them more coverage, you may be able to lower it back down to previous levels. But if your college student now owns a lot of pricey books and technology, you might want to keep your limit right where it is. Take an inventory of their possessions and the cost to replace it all and then decide if your home insurance needs to change now that they’re home.

Renters Insurance

Did your child have a renters insurance policy — or did you pay for renters insurance for them? If they’re no longer living in an apartment for college and are now back home, you can cancel that coverage. They’ll be covered under your home insurance policy while they’re living with you again. Alternatively, if you or they purchased dorm insurance instead of renters insurance, that can likely be cancelled for now, too. Talk to your independent insurance agent to find out how easy it will be to purchase coverage again once they can go back to school.

Auto Insurance

If your college student purchased their own auto insurance, they simply need to update their policy with their new home address once they come home. This may lower their premiums if they’re no longer living in an apartment complex or dorm building where parking is crowded. If your child was still on your policy, make sure your auto insurance coverage is updated with the location of their vehicle and the average miles driven. Again, this could change the premiums you owe if their vehicle is now parked in a “safer” location with less risk of damage or theft.

Health Insurance

As long as your student is enrolled in school and under the age of 26, they can be covered by your health insurance policy. But if they enrolled in a student health plan, they need to find out what the impact of online-only school versus being on campus has on their coverage. You may need to update your health insurance policy if they’re no longer covered by a previous plan. Talk to your workplace or your independent insurance agent to find out if this qualifies as a life change that will allow you to update your health insurance policy before the next renewal.

In some cases having your college-aged child back home could lower insurance expenses. It may have minimal impact on your coverage. But it’s important to make sure you know what the impact is so you’re not surprised after an expensive accident. Contact Charlotte Insurance so we can help determine what, if any, impact this change will have on your insurance coverage.

Do You Need Additional Insurance for Your Shed or Garage?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 20, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a shed that needs insurance

Have you ever wondered if you need a separate insurance policy for your shed or unattached garage? The answer is…maybe. Some homeowners will be just fine with their standard home insurance, but others won’t. How you use your shed, what you store in it, and the perils covered under your current policy will determine if you need additional coverage or not.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Standard Home Insurance Covers

Standard North Carolina home insurance policies cover “unattached adjacent structures” on your property. This typically includes sheds, unattached garages, pools, fences, and more. The structure is covered under your policy’s dwelling limit at a percentage of the total limit. In most cases, this is 10 percent. If your policy offers $300,000 in coverage for your home, any other structures would be covered up to $30,000. The contents of your shed or garage are included under your contents coverage. If you need more coverage than that, you can raise the limit on your policy.

The key to using your home insurance policy for your shed or garage is understanding what perils are covered. Only the perils available through your policy will be covered in a claim for a shed or other unattached structure. Lightning, theft, vandalism, fire, and other common perils will qualify. But if some other hazard, say bugs destroying valuable clothing, causes the problem, your claim won’t be approved.

Coverage for Your Shed

If you worry about destruction or damage from something not included in your homeowners policy, you can always purchase additional coverage. Flood and earthquake insurance may be available, as well as specific coverage for your outbuildings, especially if you use them as part of your business.

Whether you need additional coverage depends on what you store in your shed or outbuilding and how you use it. In some cases, the value of your shed and its contents may be higher than your homeowners policy limits. In this case, you’ll want to contact us to get a quote for a separate policy.

Don’t think your shed has enough insurance coverage? Know you have high-value items in your shed that need extra protection? Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can discuss your unique needs and find the right coverage for you.

4 Reasons Why You Need Insurance for Your Camper (Even a Small Pop-up!)

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 18, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a travel trailer that needs insurance

Think insurance for your small camper is unnecessary? Didn’t purchase coverage in order to save money? You might lose money without insurance for your camper — yes, even with a small pop-up camper!

Here are four reasons why you need insurance for your camper, no matter how small or old it might be.

It Might Be Required

If you’re driving a large motorhome or towing a large camper, RV insurance may be required. In North Carolina, it is with a minimum liability coverage of $25,000. This not only protects people injured in an accident you cause, it protects you financially, too. To get the most financial protection, choose higher liability coverage than the minimum required. Most accidents cost more than you think they will, especially if you’re driving a motorhome.

You Might Need Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance options like AAA won’t tow a trailer if you’re stuck on the side of the road. Not even a small pop-up trailer. In most policies for RVs and campers, roadside assistance is included so if you’re ever stuck on the side of the road, you can get help. The last thing you need is the added expense of coming back to get your camper from the side of a busy highway after you break down.

Insurance Isn’t as Expensive as You Think It Is

The cost of insurance for your camper depends on the size and how you use it. Smaller campers and vacation RVs have lower insurance premiums than a camper you’re using as your permanent home. But even then, it’s still less than most homeowners insurance policies. As an example, a small pop-up camper can be insured for as low as $120 per year and it includes 24/7 roadside assistance among other benefits.

Camper Insurance Covers More Than Your Auto Insurance

Your RV or camper isn’t the same as your personal vehicle. It has different features and even different risks. Camper insurance not only offers standard coverage you expect from auto insurance: bodily injury and property damage liability, medical payments, and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, you also get coverage for custom features, the contents of your camper, and vacation liability.

If you thought you didn’t need camper insurance or it was too expensive for you, think again. Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote on coverage based on your camper or RV. You shouldn’t hit the roads without the right kind or amount of insurance. You deserve the financial protection and peace of mind that camper insurance can provide.

Top Reasons Cleaning Companies Should Have Insurance

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

a cleaning company mopping floors that is in need of business insurance

Insurance is one thing we never hope to need but are glad to have when the need arises. This goes for business insurance, especially. Depending on the situation, one seemingly small mishap could ripple out to the point where suddenly you’re shutting down your business and wondering what happened.

Not only is having the right types of insurance a legal requirement, having it also sends a message to your clients that they are working with professionals who are in it for the long haul. It communicates you want to protect their business as much as yours and that you have the means to do so.

In addition to your commitment to your customers, there is also your commitment to your employees to consider. Are they protected as well? Employers who show they care about their workers will hold on to those workers longer and get better performance.

So on multiple fronts, your cleaning business having a comprehensive insurance plan is an absolute must.

What Types of Business Insurance Should You Get?

Different businesses have different needs. As a cleaning business, these are some of the business insurance plans essential to have on hand.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects your business from someone who files a claim stating they have suffered an injury due to your business. It also covers you if your business is inadvertently responsible for any property damage.

In addition, a general liability insurance policy pays for damages associated with bodily injury and property damage, up to the limits set in your policy, should you be found to be legally liable. This insurance should also cover legal fees and medical bills for the individual injured as a result of your business.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance takes care of your trucks, vans, and other vehicles used to get the job done. If you or an employee get into an accident while on the job, you’re covered up to your policy’s limits.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Finally, workers’ compensation insurance helps cover medical costs and a portion of lost wages to an employee injured on the job.

Thinking About The Costs

Of course, you want to find a balance between the expense of the insurance and the protection that it provides you and your business. Here are some things to remember.


Consider how much you can afford to pay out of pocket if you file a claim.

Policies with higher deductibles may have lower premiums but can lead to financial stress while filing a claim. Plans with lower deductibles charge higher premiums and require a smaller payment should you file a claim.

Play It Safe

It’s going to be tempting to settle for the minimum insurance coverage to save money. While it may cost more upfront, it’s always better to have the right amount of coverage in place. Without it, you’re opening yourself up to tremendous risk.

Feel free to ask questions

Insurance is supposed to work for the customer, not the other way around. Your cleaning or office equipment maintenance business is no exception. Take the time to work with your insurance agent to get the best deal you can, and in terms you plainly understand.

You’ll be glad you did.

Recently Renovated Your Home? Give Us a Call

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 13, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a man renovating a home and thinking about the home insurance implications

You finally upgraded the kitchen like you’ve talked about for years. New fixtures and appliances. All granite countertops and real wood cabinetry. Have you called your insurance agent yet?

After years of talking about it, you finally extended part of your home to add an extra room. It provides much needed extra space for your family. Did you let your insurance agent know before the work started?

From new roofs and pools to remodels and add-ons, when you renovate your home, it impacts your homeowners insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

Increase Your Dwelling Coverage Limit

Simply put, when you put money into your home to make updates, changes, or additions, you increase the amount of money it costs to replace or repair your home. If something catastrophic happens, you need to know your homeowners insurance limit is high enough to pay to rebuild your home from the ground up. More importantly, insurance companies require a home to be insured for at least 80 percent of the replacement cost. If your dwelling limit is too low, a claim could be denied right when you need help the most.

This policy limit is known as the dwelling coverage limit. Here are a few examples of renovations that could impact this amount.

  • Adding extensions / additions onto your home
  • Renovating a kitchen especially when replacing old, less expensive materials with newer, costlier options.
  • Replacing your roof, though you may also qualify for discounts when your roof is new and up to current code.
  • Installing a pool. This not only increases your rebuild value, but also your liability. Insurance may cover the new pool but only if you include certain requirements like fencing, gates, and/or enclosures.

Anytime you do work on your home that improves it in some way, contact your insurance agent. We can tell you if or how it will impact your homeowners insurance.

Call Before You Renovate

The next time you plan a renovation project, call your insurance agent first. Many homeowners insurance policies don’t cover homes when they’re “under construction” because of the increased risk of theft, vandalism, or storm-related damage. Not every renovation project will fall under this guideline but many will. When that happens, you may need a “dwelling under construction” endorsement or to talk to your builder about their builder’s risk insurance so that your home is covered until the work is completed.

Don’t get caught without enough home insurance to cover your home after a claim. If the work is already done, give us a call here at Charlotte Insurance and let’s talk about how your policy needs to adjust. And if you haven’t started yet, give us a call so we can make sure you’re covered until the work is done and your policy reflects the new value when the work is complete.

Setting Up Your Home for Distance Learning Success for Kids

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 11, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a young girl participating in distance learning

It’s clear the pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and your kids may be home for school for at least part of the year. The end of the last school year was just about getting them (and yourself) through it. Now you have the opportunity to set your kids up for success. Here’s what you can do around your home to make this a better distance learning experience for everyone.

Designate a Space

You don’t have to have a big home for this. You just need a place you can designate as a “learning space” during school hours. This might be your kitchen table or a small desk in the corner of the living room. It needs to have good lighting and enough room for the computer your child will use with space for them to write, read, and do other activities.

Provide Organizational Tools

Nearly everything may be digital for distance learning, but your kids will still have plenty of stuff as part of their school experience. Set up a calendar where due dates can be written down to check at a glance instead of relying on crumpled papers or endless email reminders. Use a storage tote or small set of plastic drawers to house pens, pencils, paper, and headphones when not in use. This eliminates a lot of clutter and means everything has a place to live when school isn’t in session.

Limit Distractions

Kids get distracted — their teachers work hard to keep them on task in a classroom. Make sure their at-home learning space is free from as many distractions as possible. This includes turning off the television during “class time” and not allowing other mobile devices while they’re logged in for school. Your kids shouldn’t eat or drink at their desk, either. For young kids, set aside break times for snacks so they don’t go hungry but while they’re learning they can focus.

Establish a Routine

One difficult part about learning from home is the lack of a clear routine between home and school. You may have experienced this if you worked from home at all. Have your kids wake up and get ready at the same time every day. They need to get dressed, too. It may be a good idea to create a transition from “home time” to “school time” like finishing up breakfast and brushing their teeth or watching one last video before school starts. This will help their mind switch gears and help them start on time.

If you’re part of a parenting group considering a homeschool pod, talk to your home insurance provider about your liability coverage. You may want to consider increasing your limit, in case there’s an accident with one or more kids while they’re in your home. If your liability coverage isn’t high enough, you’ll have to pay any difference in a claim out of pocket.

We know this is a stressful time for everyone, including parents and students. Stay safe out there, and for any questions about your homeowners insurance, contact Charlotte Insurance. We’re happy to help.

7 Ways to Save Money on Your Motorcycle Insurance Policy

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 4, 2020. It has 0 comments.

motorcycles belonging to people who are concerned that they're paying too much for their insurance

Now that the weather is good, you’re out on your motorcycle again, and it feels so good. You know it’s important to have motorcycle insurance, but you worry that you’re paying too much — which doesn’t feel good. You may even consider cancelling your policy to cut down on expenses. But doing so leaves you vulnerable to expensive accidents. Instead of putting yourself at financial risk, look for ways to save money on your motorcycle insurance policy.

Here’s what you need to know.

Consider Size and Power When You Buy a New Bike

If you’re ready to trade in your old motorcycle for something new, or you’re adding to your collection, consider the size of the bike when you buy. More powerful bikes that have the ability to move faster tend to have higher insurance premiums. Why? Because the faster you ride, the higher the chance of an accident.

Get Multiple Quotes

No matter how funny or sleek a commercial is, it’s no substitute for shopping around for your motorcycle coverage. Work with an independent insurance agency (like ours!) who can get you quotes from multiple carriers to ensure that you’re getting the best price. Make sure you ask for quotes based on the same coverage level so you can make an apple-to-apple comparison.

Look for Discounts

Many insurers will include available discounts in their quote, but if not, ask what’s available. Some discounts you can work towards, and others you can get by making a modification to your bike and how you use it. Common discounts include:

  • Mature rider discount, for riders with years of experience
  • Responsible rider discount, for riders with no claims over a certain period of time
  • Multiple bikes discount
  • Anti-lock brake discount
  • Continuous coverage discount. Avoid cancelling coverage when you can’t ride.
  • Discount for paying your premiums in full

Keep Your Motorcycle Protected from Theft

Not all insurers offer discounts or lower premiums for anti-theft measures, so always check. But some may reduce your premiums for using locks and chains or alarms and GPS tracking to protect your bike from theft. If you can, park your motorcycle in the garage. This not only protects your bike but potentially saves you money as an anti-theft safety measure.

Take a Safety Class

Some motorcycle insurers offer a discount for completing a motorcycle safety class. The class benefits you in two ways: it saves you money for your insurance premiums and it can help you stay safe out on the road. If you have time on your hands, you may decide to become a safety instructor which allows you to help new riders and, from some insurance providers, get an extra discount.

Join a Club

In your hometown, there may be a great local group that gets together to ride on a regular basis. Are they affiliated with a larger organization? If so, you may be eligible for a discount on your motorcycle insurance. Check your membership information to find out what, if any, discounts you’re eligible for. Some groups that offer discounts include:

  • American Motorcycle Association
  • Honda Riders Club of America
  • Motorcycle Safety Foundation
  • Harley Owners Group
  • And more!

Adjust Your Insurance Coverage

Once you have motorcycle insurance, you can make adjustments to your coverage that directly impact your premiums.

  1. Consider if you need comprehensive/collision coverage on an older bike. If the premiums are more than the replacement cost, it might be time to go down to basic coverage.
  2. Increase your deductible. If you can afford a few hundred dollars for a repair, increasing your deductible to $1,000 will definitely be a savings.
  3. Instead of cancelling your coverage when you can’t ride, switch to “storage coverage.” This will lower your premiums for several months and allow you to maintain continuous coverage.

Need to adjust your current motorcycle insurance policy? Looking for a quote for new coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can help you save!