Signs You Need a New Roof

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 23, 2021. It has 0 comments.

contractors replacing the roof on a house

The roof of your home is one of the most important elements. It keeps out water and protects the interior of your home. It’s also expensive to replace and is something most people put off until they have no choice.

You know you need to replace your roof at some point, but how do you know it’s the right time?  There are several signs that will help you figure out when it’s time to replace your roof.

Interior Signs

What you see in your home can indicate damage to the roof. If you haven’t done so in a while, look up at your ceiling for these signs:

  • Light coming through the roof from the outside. If you see streams of light, that means you have cracks or holes in your roof.
  • Dark streaks and stains on the ceiling mean your roof is likely leaking. The water leak can also damage the structure of your house, too.
  • Sagging spots are also a definite sign of a problem. Gently prod the spot with your hand or a broom handle. If it’s soft, wet, or bends easily, that’s moisture damage.

Exterior Signs

The signs you need a new roof tend to be visible from the outside, if you’re paying attention.

  • Dark stains and streaks on the roof indicate water damage.
  • Rotten or sagging spots also mean there’s water damage to your roof.
  • Decaying shingles and shingle pieces in the gutter indicates your roof is falling apart.
  • A damaged chimney and cracked or damaged flashing (the seal around the seams on your roof) are a sign your roof may need to be replaced.
  • Multiple patches are also a clear sign that you have a larger problem with your roof, and it’s likely time to replace it completely.


When your roof was originally installed, it came with an estimate of approximately how long it should last. Most roofs are designed to last at least 20 years. If your roof is over 20 years old, it’s probably time to replace it. For roofs rated to last 25 or 30 years, you may have some time as long as you don’t see any of the other signs already mentioned. Remember, though, if a roof is 10 years old and has the problems listed above, it needs to be replaced, regardless of how “new” it is.

Your North Carolina home insurance rates can be affected by the age and condition of your roof. In some cases, an insurance inspection can lead to needing a new roof or potentially losing coverage. Once you get a new roof, let your insurance agent know. You may qualify for discounts on your insurance because a newer roof means less risk of water damage and future insurance claims. Whether you need a hand dealing with a claim, or you’d like a quote a new policy, give us a call. Our dedicated agents are ready to help.

Reminder: Your Personal Auto Insurance Policy Doesn’t Cover Your Side Hustle

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 19, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a man delivering groceries as a side hustle

You started your side hustle delivery job to make some extra cash to pay off some debt and save money. Don’t put it all at risk by relying on your personal auto insurance to cover you on your deliveries.

Here’s what you need to know.

You Need a Commercial Auto Policy

As a delivery driver, your personal auto insurance isn’t designed to cover you if you get into an accident while “on the job.” Driving for business purposes (like delivering food or picking up people) carries higher risks. You’re on the road more often, and you’re often under pressure to arrive within a certain amount of time (though you should never speed or break the law to do so). That means you’re at higher risk of getting into and, potentially, causing an auto accident.

Commercial auto insurance policies are built with these risks in mind. Personal insurance isn’t. During the pandemic some auto insurance providers offered limited temporary coverage for delivery drivers through personal auto insurance. The key words are limited and temporary. It won’t last forever. This side hustle of yours needs commercial auto insurance.

Don’t Rely on Your Employer

If you work for a local business as a delivery driver, they should cover you under their own commercial insurance. If not, talk to them about it. And if they still won’t get a policy, buy your own. But for those who work for the big delivery apps, don’t rely on them to cover you.

  • DoorDash provides $1 million in excess coverage as long as you’re in an active delivery. That means they don’t pay until after your insurance covers you and only while you have the order with you.
  • Postmates offers excess coverage, too, but they require you to have your own policy.
  • Grubhub and Instacart don’t provide the excess coverage. They simply require you to be insured if you want to drive for them.
  • Uber Eats is the one exception, covering you under their policy from the time you accept a delivery until you make the delivery. There’s a $1,000 deductible and some coverage requires you to also have your own auto insurance policy first.

Why Commercial Auto Insurance is Important

The most important reason to buy a commercial auto insurance policy is so you don’t go broke after an accident. You’re working the side hustle to make money, not lose it. If you get into an accident while on the job, and you’re at fault, your personal insurance might not cover you. If it does, it might not cover the full amount of the accident. Either way, that’s money you’re going to have to pay out of pocket.

Considering one accident can cost $10,000 in property damage and up to $80,000 for a non-fatal injury, you’re going to need more side hustles to cover the costs if your insurance won’t pay. It’s better to have a commercial policy that can handle an accident like this.

As a part-time delivery driver, a commercial auto policy won’t cost you the same as it costs a big business. Contact Charlotte Insurance so we can tell you what your options are. The added expense of a policy will be worth it if you get into an accident.

Curbside Pickup: 5 Things Business Owners Should Know

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 16, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a business offering curbside pickup

Curbside pickup was almost unheard of pre-pandemic. Now, it’s a necessary option to make sure you’re not turning away business unnecessarily. It’s also a great way to reduce the exposure to COVID-19 that your employees face.

Whether you implemented curbside pickup early or you’re just starting, there are a few things to do and consider to reduce your risk and liability.

Designate a parking area and procedures for pickup

Curbside parking should not block traffic and it should not require your employees to cross high-traffic areas. Nor should it require patrons to back out into traffic when they leave. The parking area also needs to be located in a well-lit area. Also, put up signs that tell customers what to do when they arrive: what number to call and what information is needed. This helps streamline the process and keeps everyone safe.

Check for safety hazards

You need to do this before you set up curbside service and continue checking regularly to catch problems before they arise. Look for areas that could lead to slips, trips, and falls for employees and fix any issues you see. Make sure the designated parking area has enough lighting. Don’t wait for someone to complain that a light has gone out in the parking lot. Walk the area on a weekly basis, during the day and when it’s dark out.

Establish procedures for employees to follow

Make sure employees wear masks while interacting with customers. They also need to wear appropriate non-slip shoes to reduce the chance of a slip or fall. You may want to provide high visibility vests or a hat for employees so they’re easily identifiable to customers. Have a plan for how orders will be taken out to customers — in a bag, box, or other carrier. Advise employees to wash their hands before and after each interaction.

Require patrons to pay in advance

If at all possible, offer curbside pickup for customers who have paid in advance. This eliminates the need for an employee to carry cash or a credit card between multiple points — reducing theft and accusations of theft. You’ll also reduce the risk of a customer placing an order they can’t pay for. Paying in advance also streamlines the pickup process, meaning customers get in and out more quickly.

Make sure you have enough insurance

Workers’ compensation is required by law in every state with, very few exceptions. You should already have coverage. Make sure you have the right amount of coverage for curbside service. Employees will be at higher risk of injury due to their interaction with customers in the parking lot. Be prepared for more slips, trips, and falls, as well as potential hazards from vehicles in the parking lot.

Curbside pickup is a great way to keep your business running while keeping customers and employees safe. When done well, it increases revenue and provides a necessary service for vulnerable customers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely risk-free. That’s why it’s important to have the right kind of insurance for your business.

Contact Charlotte Insurance today to discuss your current policy or receive a free quote for a new policy.


Still Offering Delivery to Your Customers? You Need a Commercial Auto Policy

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 11, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a person delivering a package without having a commercial auto insurance policy

The world has changed in the past year, and businesses have had to adapt to keep up. If staying afloat has meant offering delivery, you’re not alone. While it’s a good business decision, it also opens your business and your employees up to additional liability. Auto accidents are a very real concern for delivery drivers.

If you foresee delivery as a long-term strategy for your business, you need a commercial auto insurance policy.

Your General Liability (Usually) Won’t Cover You

For most businesses who added delivery as a response to COVID-19, most relied on personal vehicles to do it. Maybe you drive your vehicle, or your delivery person drives their vehicle. Either way, you need liability coverage for the potential of an accident and the lawsuit that will likely follow.

Don’t rely on a standard general liability policy to cover you, though. Most don’t include coverage for accidents involving a personal vehicle. A temporary solution is to add Hired Auto and Non-Owned Auto (HNO) to your policy. It offers limited liability coverage so it’s not a great long-term solution.

Commercial Auto Insurance Offers the Most Protection

For liability coverage only, HNO might get the job done to protect you and the business from a lawsuit after your delivery driver is involved in an accident. But there are a lot of other expenses beyond just that. Without the right insurance policy, that’s coming out of your pocket. A commercial auto insurance policy offers the best, most robust coverage for any vehicle used in your business.

A commercial auto policy includes the following types of coverage:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Property damage liability
  • Medical payment coverage
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Collision coverage

If that looks a lot like a personal auto insurance policy, you’re right. There are key differences, though. Commercial auto policies tend to have much higher limits, offer different types of eligibility for claims, and more robust coverage.

In most cases, though there are some exceptions because of the pandemic, personal auto insurance won’t cover a claim from the business use of a vehicle. If delivery service has become part of your business strategy, a commercial auto policy needs to become a necessary expense.

Have questions about your liability coverage? Need a quote for a commercial auto policy? Contact Charlotte Insurance today!

4 Things General Liability Doesn’t Cover

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 9, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a busy restaurant kitchen

You know you need general liability insurance for your company. It covers you when a third-party is injured or suffers damage while in the course of doing business with you, on or off company property.

Because of the name, you’re not alone in thinking that the coverage itself is, well, general and covers a lot of possibilities. For the most part, it does, but there are certain instances when your general liability insurance coverage won’t be enough.

Damage to Your Business Property

While property damage is included in general liability, that doesn’t include your property. General liability pays when a third-party suffers property damage caused by your business in some way.

Your business property can be damaged in any number of ways: theft, vandalism, fire, storms, and more. To protect yourself, you need commercial property insurance. This will cover your equipment, inventory, buildings, and signs.

Damage to Company Vehicles

Just as with business property, your general liability insurance doesn’t take care of damage to your company vehicles. It pays for damage made to a third-party’s vehicle if you’re found liable for their damage.

If you have a company vehicle, or a vehicle you use for business-purposes, you need a commercial auto insurance policy. Any vehicle you drive for work-related reasons should be included on the policy, even if it’s your personal vehicle. The coverage is more robust, and it offers its own liability coverage in case of an accident.

Injured or Sick Employees

You may be liable for the injury or illness of an employee, but that’s not covered under your general liability policy. Employees are not included in this form of coverage.

You need, and are likely required by law, to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This will help pay the medical expenses for an employee who is injured or becomes ill on the job. It also pays lost wages and covers you if the employee decides to sue.

Your Professional Mistakes

No matter how hard you try to prevent them, mistakes happen because you’re human. But as a professional, your mistakes can cost someone else money, time, or their reputation. Yes, you’re liable for those mistakes, but your general liability policy isn’t going to help you here.

To protect yourself and your business from the mistakes you’re bound to make, you need Errors & Omissions also known as Professional Liability coverage. You’ll be protected against claims for negligence, unkept promises, and/or errors/mistakes you make while working with a customer or client.

If you’ve purchased general liability coverage for your business, that’s a great first step, but it’s just the beginning. To really protect your company and yourself from multiple forms of liability, you’ll need more coverage. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance today to learn what insurance is best for your business and to get a free estimate.

Does Being Part of a Homeowners Association Impact Your Insurance?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 4, 2021. It has 0 comments.

homes that are part of a homeowners association

Owning a home in a homeowners association (HOA) often comes with plenty of benefits. The streets are usually cleaner, the neighborhood is safer, and the community is a place you enjoy living.

Living in a gated or deed-restricted community might sound idyllic, but what impact will it have on your homeowners insurance? Here’s what you need to know.

Increased Safety Features = Decreased Risk

Homeowners associations do a lot of things for the communities they manage and oversee, including providing a strong perception (and reality) of safety. From security guards and neighborhood watch programs to locked gates, living in an HOA may lower your risk of theft. Even in communities without built-in security measures, these neighborhoods tend to be safer simply from the perception of additional security and watchful neighbors.

This is great for your homeowners insurance as it can lower the claims filed due to theft in the neighborhood. Many home insurance providers will offer lower premium rates or a discount because you live in a HOA. It’s worth talking to an independent insurance agency like ours to see what discounts you may be eligible for.

The HOA Insures the Community But Not Your Home

Your HOA will have their own insurance policy for the association and communal areas. You still have to pay your fee each month to help pay for those amenities, but if something goes wrong, the HOA insurance coverage takes care of it. An HOA insurance policy covers many things, including the board, the HOA’s liability, and the property.

Communal areas covered by the HOA policy typically include:

  • Private roads and sidewalks
  • Bike paths and walking trails
  • Community rooms and clubhouses
  • Playgrounds and fitness rooms
  • Security gates
  • Swimming pools
  • And anything else managed by the HOA available for homeowner use

In rare instances, the HOA insurance may even cover a homeowner’s front yard. This information should be available on your HOA documents or from your HOA board of directors. If this is the case, talk to your insurance agent to find out how this might impact your homeowners insurance policy.

Condo and Townhomes

Condo associations (COAs) function very similarly to HOAs but in terms of homeowners insurance, there’s often one key difference. A COA insurance policy will cover some portion of the building the condo or townhome is part of. Every association policy is different, and it’s important to read through the documentation provided by the association.

Some insurance policies cover the roof and the exterior walls. Other policies cover up to the interior walls. And in rare cases, the condo association policy will cover aspects of the interior of a condo or townhouse. No matter what kind of coverage the COA purchases, it affects the homeowners insurance you buy — often by making it less expensive than a single-family home policy. Why? Because the COA insurance assumes some responsibility for risk and damage to some part of the building, even if it’s just the roof and outside wall.

Buying home insurance when you live in a HOA isn’t complicated and shouldn’t cost you more. In fact, it may cost you less. If you have questions about your homeowners policy, contact Charlotte Insurance today. We can answer your questions and provide free estimates.

Home Inventory Basics

Written By Charlotte Insurance on February 2, 2021. It has 0 comments.

the interior of a home that needs to have an inventory taken for insurance purposes

A home inventory is something every homeowner (and renter) needs. It lists all of your personal possessions so if you ever need to file an insurance claim for damage or theft, you receive the right amount to replace what was lost.

Here are a few home inventory basics to keep in mind when you make yours.

Figure Out Where to Begin

The task of making a home inventory from scratch can seem daunting. One easy method is to focus on one room at a time. While you want to get this completed as quickly as possible, doing it this way allows you to take breaks without easily forgetting what still needs to be inventoried.

You might want to pick the toughest room (with the most things) as a way to get the hard part over with. You could also start with the easiest rooms to have a quicker sense of accomplishment. Either way, make a plan before you start so you can keep yourself organized.

Include Important Details for High Value Items

It’s not enough to note what the item is such as a “gold ring” or “laptop.” Your inventory needs enough details so an accurate value can be figured out later when you file a claim. Include the following information with each high-priced or high-value item:

  • Describe each item.
  • Include make and model
  • State where it was purchased and how much you paid
  • List the serial number
  • Include other important details unique to the item

Keep Proof of High Value Items

For truly high value possessions, make sure you keep proof of purchase or of current assessed value. This means keeping receipts, proof of purchase documents, and appraisals. If you need to file a claim, this will help you receive what the item is actually worth.

Count Small Items by Category

For items like a computer or a piece of jewelry, it’s important to have as much information as possible. For basic items that are fairly easy to replace, you can be more general. When it comes to clothing, some kitchen items, and other less costly things, count the items instead of describing each one individually. For example:

  • 5 pairs of jeans
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 10 glasses
  • 5 spoons

Go Digital

There are so many ways to digitize your home inventory from taking pictures to keeping an Excel spreadsheet on your computer. Pick the method that works best for you, and then make sure you have back-up copies stored in secure places.

  • Take pictures with your smartphone
  • Transfer a written list to a spreadsheet
  • Scan documents and receipts
  • Record video and verbally describe items
  • Use a home inventory app like Sortly or Memento Database
  • Save documents in the cloud through Dropbox or Google Drive

Create an Update Schedule

Ideally you should update your home inventory whenever you buy new appliances or purchase a new electronic. But it’s easy to forget so set an update schedule for yourself. You ought to do it at least once a year, but more often is better. Put a reminder in your phone or write it in your calendar so you know when it’s time to update your home inventory.

Check Your Home Insurance Coverage

Your homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for your personal possessions. There will be some (but not a lot) of coverage for valuables like jewelry. Once you complete your home inventory, it’s important to compare that to your insurance policy. You may need to increase your coverage to make sure your personal belongings can be fully replaced if necessary. If you own valuables or collectibles, you will likely need separate coverage.

Without the right amount of insurance, you may not receive the replacement cost for your personal items or the correct value for your expensive possessions. To discuss your current insurance policy or receive a quote for more coverage, contact Charlotte Insurance, today.