Does Your Boat Need Insurance When It’s In Storage?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on October 29, 2020. It has 0 comments.

boats in storage that should not have their boat insurance coverage cancelled.

The colder weather is nearly here, and your fun on the water is done for another season. It’s time to put your boat in storage until spring. You’re probably looking forward to the cost savings for fuel and maintenance, but before you consider cancelling your boat insurance to save a little more over the winter months, think again.

Threats Exist Off the Water, Too

When you imagine needing your boat insurance, you probably imagine an accident on the water or a problem while docking. Plenty of threats exist on shore that your boat insurance can cover like fire, theft, vandalism, and damage from winter storms and other weather-related problems.

Whether you’re storing your boat at a marina or on your property, anything can happen. A fire at the storage facility could damage your boat. A winter storm could knock a tree down in your yard and crash into your watercraft. You’ll want insurance coverage to pay for the repair or replacement so you don’t have to pay out of pocket.

Home Insurance Won’t Be Enough

If you’re storing your boat at home, you may be tempted to rely on your home insurance coverage. This can be an expensive mistake. Most home insurance policies only cover very small boats like canoes or small sailboats. What coverage you get likely won’t be enough for the full replacement of your boat if needed. Give us a call to find out what, if anything, your home insurance covers for your boat, but don’t be surprised if the answer is, “Not much.”

Boat insurance, like other forms of coverage, offers a wide variety of options. For full protection, your policy should include comprehensive and collision, property damage, and bodily injury. Anything less, and you’ll be financially responsible to repair or replace your boat after an accident.

It’s Cheaper to Stay Insured

Periods of no insurance coverage might save you money in the moment, but you may pay more over time. Why? Insurance companies tend to charge higher premiums after a period of not being insured. You can lose discounts and the perception of risk may be greater, so your premiums go up.

Instead of cancelling your boat insurance while your watercraft is in storage, modify your policy. It’s a good idea to maintain full coverage but you may be able to change your policy limits or increase your deductible to save overall.

Boat Insurance Might Be Required

For boat owners who financed the purchase of your boat and still have a loan with a bank, boat insurance will be required for the life of the loan. Even once you pay it off, it’s still recommended to maintain coverage. Before you cancel your policy, check your finance agreement.

Want to change your boat insurance coverage for the winter months? Need better coverage at a price you can afford? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote!

Disaster Preparedness for Every Homeowner

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

a home on fire amidst a natural disaster

No one wants to think a disaster will ever happen to them, but storms, fires, and other dangers can strike out of nowhere. To keep your family and your same safe, prepare early for potential disasters. Here’s what you need to know as a homeowner.

Identify Potential Hazards

Certain hazards are common to everyone, regardless of where you live or whether you own a home or not: fire, storm damage, flooding from a broken pipe. Other hazards are specific to where you live: hurricanes, earthquakes, flood risk (flooding can occur anywhere but some areas experience higher risk of flooding), ice, snow, and winter storms — to name a few.

Knowing those potential hazards will help you prepare. Having a fire extinguisher and knowing how to turn off the main water or gas line to your home are things you can do to minimize risks when accidents occur. Buying flood insurance or earthquake coverage and checking your homeowners insurance policy’s limits are other ways to prepare for potential disasters, as well.

Make a Plan

Once you know what hazards you could face in your home and as a family, it’s time to make a plan. Part of that is what we’ve already mentioned: fire extinguishers, shut off valves, and the right kind and amount of insurance coverage. Beyond that, there are a few other things to do to prepare for a disaster:

Keep an updated inventory of your home. You can do this with pictures, video, or a written list. Update it every year or anytime you make big purchases. This makes an insurance claim easier after a disaster because you can show what you’ve lost.

Know how to secure your home. Think about storm shutters for big storms. Inspect your roof, windows, and doors regularly to make sure they’re in good condition in case of a storm. Know where outdoor equipment and furniture can go when a storm heads your way. Anything to make your home more storm or disaster proof helps reduce potential damage.

Have an outside contact. Figure out who you can call outside of your local area when you get ready for a storm or just after a disaster. This could be a parent, sibling, or close family friend, but they’re the one who will know where you are and if you’re safe. They can also help spread the word to the rest of your family.

Know your evacuation options. If a big storm heads your way, will you stay in your home? Will local shelters be set up? Would you rather leave the area and stay with family or get a hotel room? Decide this before a disaster is on the way so you don’t lose time getting ready.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit should help you ride out any potential disasters that leave you without electricity or easy access to resources for a few days. You need enough supplies to survive without help for at least three days, as it can take that long for federal or charitable aid to become widely available. Put these items in your emergency kit:

  • Multiple flashlights and batteries
  • Solar-powered or hand-crank radios and other electronics
  • Flares
  • Water — at least one gallon of water per family member per day
  • Nonperishable food items and a can opener
  • Plastic bags for storage
  • Blankets
  • Clothes, shoes, outerwear
  • First aid supplies
  • Supplies for pets including food, water, and medication
  • Important documents like passports, insurance docs, etc.

Just before a known disaster reaches you, add a few items to your kit:

  • Cash
  • Refills on prescriptions
  • Top off gas in vehicles
  • Gas for generators

Update Your Homeowners Insurance

Before disaster strikes, make sure your homeowners insurance policy will cover you, your family, and your home. Flood insurance isn’t included in a standard policy so that needs to be purchased separately and it takes 30 days to go into effect. Over time, your policy limit needs may change, especially as your family has grown and the value of your home may have changed.

As part of your disaster preparedness plan, contact Charlotte Insurance. We’ll go over your existing insurance coverage, offer solutions to increase your protection, and provide you with a free quote for a new policy. Contact us today!

What Type of Insurance Does Your Gas Station Need?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on October 22, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a Charlotte gas station in need of the right insurance policies

Want to make sure your gas station thrive’s in today’s economy? It’s not just your prices or your inventory you need to worry about. Thriving and surviving is also about how well you recover from accidents, injuries, and other insurance claims. For that, you need the right kind of insurance for your gas station.

General Liability

As a business owner, you deal with the public in a variety of ways. As a gas station owner, you have to face certain risks like fire and environmental exposures that threaten damage or harm. General liability insurance covers claims made by non-employees for property damage or bodily injury that occur while at your gas station or while doing business with you. This includes slips, trips, falls, vehicle damage, and more.

Commercial Property Insurance

From the building to the gas pumps to the inventory in your gas station, everything you need to do business costs money. If a fire, storm, or theft damages your property, replacing it so you can get back to business will be expensive. Commercial property insurance helps you replace equipment, inventory, and supplies for your gas station after a covered peril.

Equipment Breakdown

If your gas pumps don’t work, you lose money as customers pass you by for the station up the street. Equipment breakdown coverage helps you get back up and running quicker with less out-of-pocket expense for you.

Underground Storage Tank Coverage

Your station stores a massive amount of fuel underground. When something goes wrong with a storage tank, the risk of damage and injury is very real. Underground storage tank insurance is a form of liability coverage that pays claims after an accident resulting from your fuel storage tanks.

Loss of Income

When an accident shuts your business down, you’re not making any money. You can’t pay vendors, employees, or yourself. Loss of income coverage helps you meet your financial obligations while your gas station is being repaired or rebuilt.

Crime Coverage

Gas stations face crime in two ways: dishonest employees and burglaries. Even when you put protections in place to prevent theft, it can still happen. When you lose money from crime, this insurance coverage will help you recover financially.

Workers’ Compensation

As an employer, workers’ compensation insurance may be required, but it’s also a good business practice. If an employee gets hurt or becomes sick while at work or in the course of their duties, you will be responsible for their lost wages and medical expenses. Workers compensation pays those costs and covers you if an injured employee decides to sue.

Umbrella Insurance

No matter how much insurance coverage you purchase, the potential for an overwhelming claim remains. This is the claim that overwhelms your standard coverage. Even after you reach your policy limit, there may still be hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay. With an umbrella insurance policy, you get additional liability coverage for those (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime accidents. Why does that matter? Because without it, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for anything above and beyond your policy limit.

Opening a new gas station and want to start off with the right insurance coverage? Give us a call! Realize you need to update your long-running gas station’s policies to add better coverage? We can help with that, too! For all your business insurance needs, contact Charlotte Insurance today.

Underground Storage Tank Insurance

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

an underground storage tank in need of insurance

The EPA regulates more than 558,000 active underground storage tanks at approximately 200,000 sites across the United States. That’s a lot of fuel and chemicals stored underground, and a lot of potential for harm and damage. Many of those storage tanks belong to gas stations.

In 2018, there were 2,829 confirmed tank releases from an array of facilities. The cost to clean up the damage and deal with injury and harm isn’t cheap. The average cost to clean up an underground storage tank release is $158,245. That means some releases cost less, but some cost a lot more.

As a gas station owner, you’re responsible for any damages from an accident or release involving your underground storage tanks. Underground storage tank (UST) insurance helps you meet that requirement with less out-of-pocket expenses for your business.

What Underground Storage Tank Insurance Covers

Underground storage tank insurance is a form of liability coverage that pays claims of bodily injury and property damage made by third parties as a result of pollution conditions caused by your underground storage tank.

UST insurance also helps pay the legal defense costs that arise from legal action brought by third parties harmed after a release or other accident. It can also help with image restoration for your business and brand, as well as provide coverage for emergency expenses.

Having a storage tank leak or release fuel into the ground is both a financial nightmare and a PR nightmare. The right UST insurance coverage can help with both.

Proof of Financial Responsibility

As a gas station owner, you also need to be able to show proof of financial responsibility for your underground storage tanks. The requirement varies, depending on the number of tanks you own:

  • $500,000 for less than 100 tanks owned
  • $1,000,000 for an output of 10,000 gallons per month or 100-plus underground storage tanks

The most affordable way to show this proof of financial responsibility is with an underground storage tank insurance policy. You don’t need to have this amount of cash on hand. You only need a policy that shows you can accept the financial responsibility.

Underground storage tank insurance protects you and your business from the financial expense of claims after a release or failure. It also offers an affordable method to show proof of financial responsibility when you’re ready to open a new gas station.

Whether you’ve owned a gas station (or multiple stations) for years or you’re opening your first one soon, Charlotte Insurance can help you protect your business with the right insurance coverage. Contact us today for more information and a free quote for an underground storage tank insurance policy.

Halloween Safety: Social Distancing Edition

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

2 kids celebrating Halloween safely during COVID-19

Halloween is just around the corner, but the world looks a lot different this year. We’ve all made a lot of changes and adjustments to life due to COVID-19, and our spooky season traditions are no exception.

Here’s what you need to know to stay as safe as possible this Halloween.

Your Old Favorites are High Risk Activities

The most high-risk Halloween activities are all the things you probably love and want to do most this year:

  • Traditional door-to-door trick or treating, especially with kids from multiple households
  • Trunk or treat events in parking lots
  • Indoor crowded costume parties
  • Indoor haunted houses
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people not in your household
  • Fall festivals located outside of your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

The CDC continues to advise people to avoid large-group activities, face-to-face activities with strangers, and indoor activities. This is especially true if anyone in your household is immunocompromised or at high-risk of being especially impacted by the coronavirus.

Consider Safer Halloween Celebrations

Just because your favorite Halloween traditions aren’t safe this year doesn’t mean you have to ignore the spooky season entirely. You may want to consider some of the following ways to celebrate this year, despite COVID-19:

  • Plan an at-home Halloween party that includes only household members or a limited number of people who have also been social distancing. If you invite people over, plan an outdoor party to maintain distance and avoid the risks of indoor events.
  • Carve pumpkins with your family members.
  • Decorate your home inside and out.
  • Plan a virtual costume party with friends and family.
  • Have a Halloween-inspired movie night. Watch silly or scary movies together. You can also watch a movie a night leading up to Halloween or plan a Halloween movie marathon on October 31. If you want invite a few friends over, setup a projector in the backyard and create your own drive-in movie theater experience!

Safety Tips if You Go Out for Halloween

If you decide to go trick-or-treating or to a party this Halloween, follow safety precautions to keep yourself, your family, and your community as safe as possible.

  • Wear a mask at all times.
  • Only allow three to four people in your trick-or-treating group and only from your household or other homes where social distancing has been practiced.
  • Don’t get too close to a person’s front door. They may decide to leave a candy bowl out to avoid answering the door completely which is the safest option.
  • Don’t share candy, toys, bags, or other items to avoid multiple people touching the same item.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently, especially after ringing a doorbell.
  • Only attend Halloween events where the number of people is limited and social distancing is possible.
  • Avoid traveling to or from areas with increased spread of COVID-19.

The safest thing to do this Halloween is to stay home and celebrate with the people in your household or virtually. If we all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, maybe next year we can go back to the kind of spooky fun we really want to have.

Homeschooling and Your Insurance

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

a mom homeschooling her son during the COVID-19 pandemic

We’re in unprecedented times which calls for new and innovative ways to make sure our families have what they need while staying safe. With the pandemic still  raging, many parents have not felt comfortable sending their kids back to traditional school. If you’re keeping your kids out of in-person learning, you’re not alone, but it’s important to consider how your homeschooling option impacts your home insurance.

Here’s what you need to know.

Your Homeschooling Option Matters

The current public school options are an example of local schools doing the best they can during the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean those options will work for every parent or family. Virtual learning may keep your child safe, but it may be impossible to manage because of your work life. In-person school may not be an option because it doesn’t feel safe.

Two options that have gained popularity are homeschooling and learning pods. Contrary to popular belief, these are two separate educational options for families, even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Homeschooling occurs when a parent takes responsibility for developing their child’s curriculum (within state guidelines) and teaches their child or children throughout the school year. Each child that is homeschooled in your family tends to have their own separate track of learning, even if they’re kept together for “class time.”

Learning pods are a new development in response to the pandemic. Typically, a parent hosts a small group of children who will learn together, either guided by a credentialed teacher or through virtual learning options made available through local schools. This allows a few families to find a solution for school and work while giving their children the peer-to-peer interaction that is so important.

How Homeschooling Impacts Your Home Insurance

If you go the route of traditional homeschooling, you don’t necessarily need to make any changes to your home insurance coverage. The only exception may be if you purchase equipment to meet the demands of your child’s education. In this case, make sure your policy offers enough coverage to replace the computers, laptops, and other expensive items you need for homeschooling.

With learning pods, the conversation about insurance becomes more complicated. Depending on where you are, learning pods can be treated as a daycare (from a regulatory standpoint) which often means following state rules and requirements. In August 2020, North Carolina eliminated the requirement for home-based learning pods to have a daycare license.

That’s good news as it eliminates red tape and expense, but that doesn’t help your home insurance. Learning pods may also be viewed as home-based businesses which means your home insurance will not cover claims made as a result of your pod. When you host a pod, you also take on additional liability.

If you bring in a credentialed teacher to help the children in your learning pod, you may be subject to the same employee safety requirements as any daycare. There’s also the increased risk of injury or damage with multiple people in your home.

Because this is new territory for everyone, including insurance providers, it’s important to talk to your independent insurance agent to find out what your home insurance will and won’t cover based on your specific situation. If necessary, you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect you during the school year.

Don’t assume your home insurance will cover your homeschooling plan this year. Contact Charlotte Insurance to get accurate information for your policy and learn your options today!