Starting a Home-Based Business? Consider This, First!

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 25, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a woman sitting at a desk at her computer researching insurance options for her home based business

Starting a business, especially one you can do from your home, is exciting and nerve-wracking. You’re taking control of your income, following your passion, and doing something you love! Of course, you’re thinking about supplies, marketing, how much to charge, what tools you need, and everything that goes into running a successful business. Maybe you’re already dreaming of the day when you’ve made it big.

If you really want to make your dreams a reality, there’s one detail you probably haven’t thought about yet, but you need to. And quickly.

How will you protect your home-based business? That’s right, insurance needs to be one of the first things you think about. Here’s what you need to know.

Homeowners Insurance and Your Home Business

Your standard homeowners insurance policy likely won’t be enough to cover your business, especially once you begin to purchase equipment, supplies, or inventory. Basic policies tend to offer about $1,500 in coverage for personal property used for business reasons and $750 in coverage for business property used away from home. That might be enough when you first start but within a month or two, it likely won’t cut it.

What you don’t need, as a new business, is to pay out of pocket to replace necessary equipment to run your business. That’s where the right insurance coverage becomes important.

You have three options to protect your home business.

Home Insurance Endorsement to Increase Business Property Limits

While your business is still small, or if you don’t anticipate handling a lot of inventory, you may be able to add a home-based endorsement to your existing home insurance. To determine if this is the right option for you, your business should:

  • Plan to have less than $4,999 of business-related property kept in your home.
  • Not allow customers to visit your home-business location.
  • Only have $750 of property intended for business use outside of your home.

In-Home Business Endorsement

For slightly larger home businesses, or those who have higher inventory and/or equipment needs, consider an in-home business endorsement for your homeowners policy. You’ll receive more coverage for business equipment and additional liability protection with this option.

Business Insurance Policy

It’s possible that from the start or at some point in the future, your business will be too much for your home insurance to handle. At that point, you need to consider a business insurance policy. Consider this if and when your business:

  • Provides services to customers inside your home.
  • Plans to have $5,000 in business property kept at your home.
  • Generates enough income to support your household.

Business insurance isn’t as exciting as picking out a new logo or deciding what product or service to offer. But it’s one decision that will protect your business now and in the future.

Not sure what kind of business coverage your home-based business needs? Contact Charlotte Insurance today to discuss your options!

How Much Renters Insurance Should You Have?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 21, 2021. It has 0 comments.

Whether your landlord requires it or you’ve decided to buy a policy on your own, the hardest part about renters insurance is figuring out how much you need to buy.

Buy too little, and you won’t be protected when you most need help. Buy too much, and you could be wasting money.

Here’s what you need to know to buy the right amount of renters insurance coverage.

What Renters Insurance Covers

To figure out how much renters insurance you need, it’s important to know what it covers. Your landlord’s insurance takes care of the actual building including whatever is a permanent fixture and/or belongs to your landlord. That means, if a fire destroys your apartment, the landlord’s insurance will fix the building and the interior of the apartment. It will not, however, help you replace your belongings.

That’s what renters insurance does. If your stuff is destroyed, damaged, lost, or stolen in a covered peril, it pays to replace those items for you, minus your deductible. Most people own more things than they realize and most things cost a lot more to replace than we realize. A common renters insurance policy is about $30,000 of coverage and costs approximately $12 per month. That’s a lot of coverage for not a lot of money.

How Much Renters Insurance to Buy

The big question, of course, is how to figure out exactly how much coverage you actually need. The most important step to figure this out is to take a home inventory. You can’t know what it would cost to replace all of your personal belongings until you know what you have.

Whether you use a piece of paper, the notes app on your phone, or a home inventory app, it’s important to have a way to make this list. Pick the method that suits you best. Whatever that is, make sure you have a way to keep multiple copies — on your computer, on your phone, or in the cloud.

Now, go room by room and list everything in it. Larger items, like furniture or tech, should be listed individually. Small items like clothes or video games can be grouped together i.e. 5 pairs of jeans, 15 games, three pairs of sneakers, etc. Once you have the list, then you can determine the approximate cost to replace it all.

Consider Liability Coverage Limits

Renters insurance also includes liability coverage. This means that if someone gets hurt while in your rental or on the property, you don’t have to pay for the damage or medical bills out of your own pocket. How much liability coverage should you buy? As much as you can afford. A minimum of $100,000 is a good place to start. But if you can purchase more, do it. You may never need the full amount, but you don’t want to be in a position to have to worry about it, either.

Once you have your home inventory, contact Charlotte Insurance for a free quote on renters insurance. You may also qualify for discounts if you bundle your auto insurance with your renters policy. Ask us how!

Preparing Your Home for Windy Weather

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 18, 2021. It has 0 comments.

an uprooted tree due to high winds

Storm winds cause more than half of all reported damage after a storm, according to the NOAA. Damage sustained to a home can be costly and devastating. Protect your home by preparing it for potential high winds and storms before they hit.

Check for Necessary Repairs

Routine maintenance around your home can help prevent unnecessary damage in windy weather or during a bad storm. Once or twice a year, walk around your home and look for loose or damaged parts of your home including:

  • Siding
  • Shingles
  • Roofing material
  • Brickwork

In a bad storm or high winds, not only could these parts of your home sustain even more damage, but the loose material could become dangerous debris that causes damage in other areas, too. Imagine a loose brick flying off your home and hitting a neighbor’s window or your car.

Protect Your Windows and Doors

In extremely windy conditions, your windows and doors are some of the most vulnerable parts of your home. Depending on your budget, you have multiple options to keep the wind from doing damage.

  • The best option, and the most expensive, is to install permanent storm shutters for your windows and doors. You can lower them in advance of bad weather and know your home is protected.
  • The next best option is to replace your windows with “impact resistant” windows so if the wind blows anything your way, your windows are less likely to break.
  • The final option is the most affordable but can be just as effective, as well. Place plywood over your windows and doors as temporary coverings prior to a bad storm. However, this only works if you know a storm is on the way and have time to prepare.

Have Your Roof Checked Out

Roofs are particularly vulnerable in bad wind storms. Many roofs have been destroyed by high winds, causing more expensive damage on the inside of a home, too. It’s a good idea to have your roof and chimney inspected yearly. During this time, you can find and repair problems and get a good idea on how much longer until you need to have your roof replaced. If that’s not on your usual home maintenance list, go ahead and do it now as part of your windy weather plan.

Older roofs may need to be replaced. The roofer can also let you know if your plywood sheathing is secure and repair it if necessary which will help protect your roof in windy weather. You can also brace the roof side walls with 2x4s and have hurricane straps installed. Both will help secure your roof.

Take Care of What’s in Your Yard

Two big safety concerns in high winds are your trees and any outbuildings like garden sheds, carports, and other free-standing buildings. Both can be knocked over by the wind, and in extreme cases, picked up and cause even more damage.

  • Trim tree branches away from your home. Have dead limbs thinned out from older trees.
  • Remove dead and dying trees that could topple over in the wind.
  • Use anchors and tie-downs on outbuildings that do not sit on a permanent foundation. Pick the kind used on manufactured homes as they’re made for this kind of job.

While you’re preparing for windy weather and eventual storms, make sure your homeowners insurance is current and is high enough to cover any potential damage from high winds. If you haven’t thought about your insurance policy in a few years, there’s a good chance it may need to be updated. Contact Charlotte Insurance for a free quote or to update your existing policy.

Preparing for Boating Season

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

marina full of boats ready for spring

You’re watching the weather slowly warm up, and you can’t wait to get your boat out of storage and onto the water. Before you do, make sure you prepare it and yourself for the upcoming boating season.

Here’s what you need to do to get ready.

Check Your Boat

The most important element of boating season is your boat. To make sure you have a great time out on the water, it’s important to make sure it’s in good condition before you take it out.

  • Before winter, you should have filled your tank with fuel to prevent condensation from building. If you didn’t, you may need to get your boat in to be serviced.
  • Also, take a look at the fuel line for cracks and make sure it’s attached properly. This is a good time to change your fuel filter, too.
  • Reconnect your battery cables if you disconnected them when you winterized your boat. Make sure the terminals aren’t corroded, and clean them if they are. Test the battery before you take it out on the water.
  • Fill up your cooling system if you emptied it before winter, and check the hoses for cracks.
  • Check your oil, changing it now if you didn’t do it at the end of the season, and change the filter.
  • Make sure the belts are all tight and fit properly. They shouldn’t move around a lot. Tighten or replace as needed.

If you see any problems with your boat or aren’t sure how to do some of these things, have your boat professionally serviced so it’s ready for the start of the season.

Check Your Trailer

If your boat must be hauled by trailer, you need to make sure that it’s in good condition, too.

  • Make sure the tires are full with the correct level of air pressure. Check the tread and replace your tires if they’re worn down. You’ll also want to make sure your spare is in good condition.
  • Check the lights at the back and the hook-up for your vehicle to ensure they work properly.
  • Also, make sure your hitch is in good condition and the correct size.

Check Your Navigation and Safety Systems

Boating is fun and relaxing, until something goes wrong. Before you plan your first trip of the season, make sure your boat is ready for anything that could go wrong.

  • Make sure your lights work.
  • Check that your navigation charts are current and that your GPS and other equipment works properly.
  • Make sure you have enough flares and that they’re still current.
  • Inspect the condition of your dock lines, anchor lines, and running rigging.
  • Check your life jackets. If you have children, find out if last year’s life jackets still fit or if it’s time to get bigger sizes for them.

As one final safety measure, to make sure you haven’t missed anything, contact the Coast Guard to ask about a courtesy vessel inspection. They’ll let you know what you can improve to stay as safe as possible.

Update Your Boat Insurance

Your boat is too big of an investment to leave to chance or to rely on your home insurance to cover. From potential damage to the boat to accidents out on the water, when something goes wrong, it’s going to be costly. Protect yourself and your family with the right kind and amount of boat insurance.

Contact Charlotte Insurance today to go over your current policy or to request a free quote for a new boat insurance policy.

Classic Car Insurance 101

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 10, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a row of classic cars that are protected with the right classic car insurance policy

You’ve spent months, perhaps years, bringing your beloved classic car back to life. You’ll spend much longer keeping it that way. And you love to show it off to fellow classic car enthusiasts, talking shop and soaking up the appreciation for a fine automobile. The kind they just don’t make anymore.

With all of that invested time, money, and hard work, your classic car must be protected with the right kind of insurance coverage. Here’s what you need to know about classic car insurance.

What is Classic Car Insurance?

Unlike standard auto insurance, classic car insurance focuses on the value of the classic car, taking into account the age, modifications, and increasing value of the vehicle over time. This insurance is based around agreed value coverage. You and the insurer agree on the value of the vehicle, and therefore the coverage limits, based on an appraisal of your vehicle. This also means that over time, as your classic car increases in value, so too should your policy limits.

What Coverage is Included in Classic Car Insurance

Classic car insurance is not designed to give you the same level of coverage that your personal auto insurance policy does. That’s because a classic car policy will be written with the understanding (and requirement) that your classic vehicle isn’t used for daily commutes and other trips.

That being said, classic car insurance can include some protection you’ll be familiar with: liability, collision and comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and personal injury protection. What’s most important for a robust classic car insurance policy are the additional features you can add to your policy specific to being a classic car owner:

Increased Replacement Cost: If your vehicle is stolen or totaled, and the actual value is higher than the agreed value coverage, this pays the difference.

Roadside Assistance: Similar to personal auto insurance, you’ll get help if you breakdown on the road. But only a flatbed tow truck will be used to prevent wear and tear on your vehicle.

No Attendance Required: Your vehicle will be covered while on display at an exhibit or car show when you’re not present.

Auto Show Medical Reimbursement: While your vehicle is on display at an event or exhibit, you’re covered if someone sustains an injury.

Spare Parts Coverage: You’re covered if the spare parts, like tires, are damaged or stolen as part of a covered peril.

Cash Settlement Option: In the event your classic car is completely totaled or stolen, you can opt for a cash payment that doesn’t require you to replace or repair your vehicle.

Who Can Get Classic Car Insurance?

There are eligibility requirements for both vehicle and driver to qualify for classic car coverage. Every insurer will be a little bit different but these are the basic guidelines:

Classic Car Eligibility

Your vehicle must fall into at least one of these categories:

  • Vehicle must be at least 25 years old
  • Modern muscle car
  • Exotic vehicle
  • Modified vehicle

Your vehicle must follow all of these conditions:

  • Good condition and repair
  • Parked in a fully enclosed space at a secure location: garage, storage facility, etc.
  • Not used for daily community
  • Not a racing vehicle
  • The vehicle must be driven less than 7500 miles per year. (Exact mileage requirements may vary from insurer to insurer.)

Drive Eligibility

Not every driver can purchase classic car insurance, even if your vehicle is eligible. Here are the general requirements you must meet:

  • Be at least 25 years old
  • 5-10 years of driving experience
  • Good driving record
  • No more than one at-fault accident within the past three years
  • Own and use another vehicle for your daily commuting and driving needs
  • Agree not to race your classic car or drive it on a racetrack for any reason

Why Classic Car Insurance from Charlotte Insurance?

Your classic car is not the same as your everyday vehicle. It’s inherent value can only increase over time. It might be your passion project that you lovingly brought back to life, but it also represents a major investment of time and money. You need insurance protection that understands the effort that goes into maintaining and showing off your classic vehicle.

At Charlotte Insurance, we work with a multitude of insurers, including those who offer excellent classic car coverage. We’ll help you find the best protection for your classic car and its unique value. Contact us today to learn more!

Get Your Motorcycle Ready for Spring

Written By Charlotte Insurance on March 8, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a motorcycle that's ready for the spring

Spring is in the air, and you’re probably itching to jump on your bike and get out onto the open road. Before you do, there are a few things you need to do to get your motorcycle ready.

Check Your Fuel

Old, stale fuel isn’t good for your motorcycle. It can cause your bike to run rough, and it can gunk up the inside of your fuel tank with condensation, build-up, or rust. Ideally, you drained your tank or added a fuel stabilizer to winterize your bike. If not, you’re going to need to check for problems and drain your tank. Once you know your tank is clean and ready for fuel, fill up with a high-octane gas to make sure you have fresh fuel running through your system before that first ride of the spring.

Check Your Battery

The longer a bike sits, the more the battery drains. You’ll need to check the charge on your battery. If it’s drained, you can try to recharge it. Keep in mind that with each new battery drain and recharge, the overall life span of the battery decreases. You can prevent this by using a trickle charger while your motorcycle is stored. If you can’t recharge the battery, it’s time for a new one. And if you’ve just recharged it for the third or fourth time, it’s time to plan to purchase a new battery soon.

Check Your Tires

When your motorcycle sits without being moved for a long time, the air will inevitably leak out. You’ll likely notice it’s visibly flatter. Add air and get the tire pressure up to manufacturer specifications. While you’re doing that, check the tread. A worn tire is a safety hazard out on the road. Replace worn tires before your first ride so you know you’re riding safely.

Check and Change Fluids, Filters, and Other Parts

If you did some maintenance on your bike before you stored it, simply check to make sure everything is tight enough, full enough, and in good working condition. If not, you’re going to need to top off coolant or brake fluid, unless you can’t remember the last time you thought about it. In that case, a full flush is recommended. You should also change the oil and filter, lubricate your chain if your bike has one, check your spark plugs, and generally go over your bike to make sure everything is in good working condition.

Take Your Bike to Be Serviced

If you have neither the skill nor the time for all this bike maintenance to get ready for spring, get your bike into a shop that can do this for you. Don’t use not knowing how to do it or not wanting to do it as an excuse. Let the professionals look over your bike and get it ready for spring. The benefit is that you’ll have a well-running and safe bike to jump back on as soon as the weather permits.

Clean Your Bike

Even if you cleaned it before the winter, there’s a good chance it’s collected dust in storage. Go ahead and give your bike a good scrub and wax. Doing this will help protect your bike from road grime and debris, protecting the paint and the integrity of the bike itself. Plus, it’ll look good for that first springtime ride. Make sure to polish your headlights, too. Not only will it look good, but it’ll increase the visibility of your lights for other drivers.

Check Your Motorcycle Insurance

If you haven’t reviewed your motorcycle insurance in a while, now is the time. What’s changed since winter? Will you ride your bike more or less this year? Do you have enough coverage? These are all questions to consider with the help of an independent insurance agency like ours to make sure you and your bike have the right type and amount of coverage.

Contact Charlotte Insurance today to discuss your current or new motorcycle insurance policy.