Heating Your Home with Oil? Don’t Ignore This Important Coverage

Written By Charlotte Insurance on April 27, 2021. It has 0 comments.

an oil tank in the basement covered by oil tank insurance

Other than refilling your home’s heater oil tank, how much time do you spend thinking about it? Probably not much — until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, with oil tanks storing anywhere from 250 to 1000 gallons of oil, a “problem” gets big and expensive quickly.

If you think your homeowners insurance will cover leaks or damage to your oil tank, think again. Here’s what you need to know.

Homeowners Insurance and Leaky Oil Tanks

A standard homeowners insurance policy covers a lot of perils and pays to repair damage in and around your home. But one thing that’s not part of a typical policy is damage from a leaking oil tank, if the damage only impacts your property.

A leak in your oil tank might be the last thing on your mind, but it shouldn’t be. Without proper coverage, you’ll be responsible for the clean-up and repair costs. The average cost to clean-up after an oil tank leak is $8,000. In some cases, it can cost as much as $100,000.

To avoid that, you need oil tank insurance.

What is Oil Tank Insurance?

Oil tank insurance adds a layer of protection to your home and property in the case of damage or a leak in the oil tank that heats your home. In some cases it’s offered from the dealer when they sell a homeowner their heating oil tank. For most homeowners, this isn’t an option because you purchased your home with an oil tank already installed. That’s where an independent insurance agent can help.

As with all insurance coverage, there will be some exclusions, but in general, oil tank insurance covers the following:

Leak protection: If a leak occurs, your policy will pay for the damages, clean-up, repair, or replacement minus your deductible.

Repair coverage: Whether your oil tank is above ground or in-ground, it can be repaired so you can continue to use it to heat your home.

Replacement coverage: In some cases, your tank can’t be repaired. When this occurs your policy can pay to replace it. Ensure it for a value similar to your current tank so you can get a comparable one as a replacement.

Property damage coverage: This provides the coverage your standard homeowners policy doesn’t. If an oil leak damages your property, you won’t have to foot the entire bill. Your insurance will pay up to your policy limit (minus your deductible).

Oil Tank Inspection

Unlike other forms of coverage, oil tank insurance isn’t just a matter of calling up your independent insurance agent and requesting a quote. An oil tank inspection will need to be completed as part of the process. This makes sure there are no existing leaks before coverage begins.

It’s a good idea to purchase or maintain coverage when a new tank is installed. It’s also recommended that you have the tank inspected as part of the home buying process. The last thing you need is to move in and discover you have a leak and that you can’t get your tank insured.

Oil Tank Insurance Transferability

In some cases, oil tank insurance coverage may be transferable when a home is sold. This will not always be true, so it’s important to read the fine print and make sure you have documentation from the former owner. Discuss this with your real estate agent and your insurance agent to make sure the policy really is transferring to you upon completion of the sale and to understand the details of the existing policy.

Have questions about oil tank insurance? Want to start the process to purchase your own policy? Contact Charlotte Insurance, today!

Personal Cyber Insurance: A New Coverage Worth Considering

Written By Charlotte Insurance on April 22, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a person typing on their laptop, researching their personal cyber insurance options

You likely hear a similar refrain of advice on a frequent basis, either from family and friends or on social media: Don’t click a link in an email from an address you don’t recognize. Be careful about what sites you shop from. Avoid logging into your bank or financial service sites on public WiFi.

Where does all this advice come from? Is everyone just paranoid? Not at all. This advice is designed to help protect you from cyber crimes — people trying to steal your data and your money. But our despite best efforts, hundreds of thousands of people continue to be the victim of digital crimes every year. That’s why it might be time to consider a personal cyber insurance policy.

Why Personal Cyber Insurance

If you’ve ever experienced the hassle of replacing a credit card that’s been compromised or needing to change every password on every site you visit, you already know the impact of cyber crimes. Anyone who has had their identity stolen knows the pain of undoing the damage. It takes a lot of phone calls and too much time to set everything right again.

Over the years, as our lives become more and more digital, the problem continues to get worse. In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received nearly 300,000 complaints of cyber crimes at a cost of approximately $1.3 billion, according to a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. By 2020 (just four years later), that number jumped to almost 800,000 complaints to a tune of $4.1 billion.

The risk of theft, fraud, and financial loss will only grow from here.

What Does Personal Cyber Insurance Cover?

You might think that identity theft doesn’t happen to the same person (or family) often enough to warrant an entire insurance policy. But a personal cyber insurance policy covers much more than the most common forms of cyber theft.

Cyber Attack Coverage: This form of coverage offers protection both for your home and for you and your family members. You may be financially reimbursed if cyberbullying causes you to lose your job. It can also pay to replace or fix your home security system after a cyber attack locks you out or leaves your security system inaccessible.

Cyber Extortion: We’ve all heard the horror stories of logging into your laptop or computer and seeing a message: All of your files are encrypted. Pay a certain amount of money to get it back. This is a form of extortion. Another increasingly common form is threatening to release sensitive information publicly unless a ransom is paid. This coverage reimburses those payments, helps pay for an investigation, and can help cover the costs to prevent this from happening again.

Fraud Coverage: This type of protection will sound most familiar to many people because this is what helps you if your identity is stolen, your bank account gets cleaned out, or someone fraudulently uses your credit cards or checks. It reimburses you for the financial loss as well as helping you get your identity back.

Personal cyber insurance includes several tools for policyholders to navigate a digital crime and loss:

  • Access to fraud specialists to help you figure out what happened and how
  • Cyber monitoring of your accounts, credit reports, and other entities to stop further theft or fraud
  • Lawsuit protection in case you’re accused of unintentional online invasion of privacy, slander, or libel
  • Help to replace or repair your electronic data
  • Help retrieving or replacing identification documents, both financial and personal

The right personal cyber insurance policy can help you through every step of the process in getting your identity, information, and/or money back.

How to Purchase Personal Cyber Insurance

As a standalone policy, personal cyber insurance is extremely new and limited. In most cases, you may be able to add it as an endorsement to your existing home insurance or renter’s insurance policy. It’s more widely available for high-value insurance policies — typically for policies with home values of $1 million or more. But even if you don’t have a high-value home, it’s worth asking your independent insurance agent about it.

Want to add a layer of security and protection against the inevitable cyber crime you’ll likely experience? Contact Charlotte Insurance today and ask about a personal cyber insurance policy.

April Showers Bring May…Flooding

Written By Charlotte Insurance on April 20, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a multi colored umbrella getting rained on.

Scroll through the news on your phone or turn on the evening news during dinner before or during a storm, and you’ll hear the same thing: Warnings about potential flooding. In November 2020, Charlotte was hit with historic and deadly flooding. In late March 2021, forecasters warned of flash floods and other dangers after a rainstorm.

The fact remains that flooding is a constant threat, even if you live in an area designated “minimal risk.” Where it rains, it can flood. You can’t predict it or prevent it, but you can protect yourself from flooding.

How to Protect Your Home

There are two main ways to protect your home from potential flood damage:

  • Make it difficult for water to gather near or in your home.
  • Buy flood insurance for when prevention measures don’t help.

Home maintenance can help many situations. Clean gutters, retaining walls, well thought out landscaping, and a driveway that gives water a place to go will go a long way in preventing localized flooding during a storm. Installing a sump pump can help move water away and prevent damage before it occurs.

Flood insurance can’t prevent damage to your home or hold back water, but it can provide necessary financial support after a flood. For those living in low risk areas, the costs are minimal. For those in high-risk flood zones, the premiums are a small price compared to total devastation and rebuilding your home and life from scratch.

How Flood Insurance Protects You

We’ve all seen the news in the aftermath of a storm. Gutted homes. People waiting in long lines to apply for assistance. Displaced families. Flooding devastates entire communities. The ability to repair your home and get back to normal can take months, sometimes years, especially for those relying on disaster assistance.

Your homeowners insurance won’t cover the vast majority of flooding perils. If you have water damage because a pipe broke, you may be protected. But a flash flood that leaves you with an inch of water in your living room won’t be covered by standard insurance policies. Only flood insurance policies handle these types of claims.

Like your standard policy, the limit of your flood insurance should be enough to help you recover. In North Carolina, the maximum policy limit for a policy backed by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is $250,000 for the structure of your home, and $100,000 for personal belongings. If you need more coverage, private insurers offer flood insurance.

After a covered peril, your policy will help you gut and repair the damage to your home or help you rebuild from the ground up.

What Flood Insurance Offers

Like all insurance policies, there are some exclusions, but more than you realize is covered under a flood insurance policy. Under a NFIP-backed policy, the following are included in coverage:

Structural Coverage:

  • Walls, roof, windows, and doors
  • HVAC, electrical, and plumbing
  • Built-in appliances
  • Flooring
  • Detached garages

Personal Property Coverage:

  • Furniture, curtains, electronics, and portable appliances
  • Rugs and other moveable flooring
  • Frozen food
  • Some valuables

Debris removal is also covered in your policy.

Need more coverage than what’s available here? Several insurers offer their own flood policies that provide more options and flexibility than the NFIP-backed plans.

Ready to protect your home from flooding? Contact Charlotte Insurance today to learn more about your insurance options, either through the NFIP or directly through private insurers. Because of waiting periods for insurance to take effect, it’s better to call sooner rather than later! We can help you protect your home.

Earth Day – Go Green Without Breaking the Bank

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

a child on a lawn celebrating Earth Day 2021 in Charlotte

Earth Day is a time to appreciate the planet we have and think about how we can do our part to keep it thriving and beautiful. The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth. The task ahead might seem daunting, but if everyone does a little bit, it all adds up to a big change.

You can go green in your home without spending a lot of money. Even better, over the long run, you’ll save money, too. Here are a few ideas.

Home Upgrades

Some of the changes you can make in your home will save more than you realize and cost less than you expect. Others will require larger financial investments but will also help the environment and your wallet at the same time.

LED Light Bulbs

When it’s time to change light bulbs, choose LED options. You can find them in every style and wattage. Yes, the cost is greater upfront but you’ll buy fewer bulbs over time because they last years longer than standard bulbs. Plus, they use 75 percent less energy so you’re saving on your electric bill, too.

Fix Leaks

The first type of leak that comes to mind should be pipes. A slight drip might not seem like a lot of water, but it adds up quickly. That’s water being wasted unnecessarily and a higher water bill for you. The other kind of leak is the kind that lets hot air into your home in the summer and cold air in during the winter — causing your HVAC system to work overtime. Seal cracks around windows and doors and when you can, upgrade to better windows and doors with tighter seals.

Go Low Flow

You’re already turning the water off while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and doing your best to limit your water use. While those are great ways to reduce the amount of water you use, you can put your plumbing to work to help you out with a few upgrades:

  • Low flow shower heads produce great water pressure while using less water.
  • Newer dishwashers use less water than old styles when you’re ready to upgrade.
  • Low flow toilets use less water with each flush.

Choose Reusable

This isn’t technically an upgrade in your home, but it’s an upgrade in the products you choose for use in your home. Where possible, replace throwaway items with reusable or less wasteful options.

  • Buy cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
  • Get cloth towels and ditch the paper towels.
  • Use containers that can be washed and reused for food and pantry items instead of using plastic bags.
  • Add a low flow bidet attachment to your toilet to use (and buy!) less toilet paper.

Next time everyone panic buys all the paper products in a store, you’ll have less to worry about because you already have what you need at home.

Lawn and Garden Upgrades

You can turn your lawn and garden into an eco-friendly haven without spending a lot of extra cash.

Start a Compost Pile

Want to help your vegetables, flowers, and/or fruit trees grow and thrive? Give them nutrient-rich help with compost made of your own trash — produce scraps, lawn waste, egg shells, and coffee grounds to be precise. Many coffee shops even offer their old coffee grounds (for free) to help you keep your compost pile going or if you need help starting one! You throw out less trash and make the outside of your home even more beautiful.

Choose Native Plants

Ready to put in a new flower bed? Go with native plants. They can handle the climate better and require less water and fertilizer to help them thrive. Plus, native plants encourage the native ecosystem of bugs and other wildlife to flourish and thrive. The National Audubon Society has an online native plant finder that helps you find the right plants based on your zip code.

Collect Rainwater

Watering your plants, trees, vegetable garden, and more uses a lot of water and doesn’t help your water bill each month. Why not try collecting rainwater? The only upfront expense will be the rain barrel. After that, let Mother Nature help you even when the weather is beautiful and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

Going green doesn’t have to be expensive, and in the long-run, it will save you money. Whether it’s the planet you’re worried about or your expenses, making small eco-friendly changes can have a big impact in multiple ways. You can make a difference on Earth Day and all year long.


Common RV Insurance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Written By Charlotte Insurance on April 15, 2021. It has 0 comments.

someone sitting outside of their RV, thinking about some common RV insurance mistakes

Ready to hit the road and travel this great country in your RV? Before you do, you need an insurance check-up to make sure you’re as protected as possible while you travel.

Make sure you’re not making any of these common RV insurance mistakes!

Relying on Auto Insurance for Coverage

Your auto insurance might cover your RV if it’s a trailer hitched to your vehicle, but it won’t cover your personal belongings inside the RV. It also won’t provide specialized services specific to your RV. Whether you tow or drive your RV, you need a separate policy designed just for your vehicle. You get the same type of coverage: collision, comprehensive, liability, and more, but it’ll be tailored to the reality of owning and operating a recreational vehicle.

Declining Emergency Roadside Assistance

Often available through your RV insurance coverage, emergency roadside assistance becomes invaluable when you’re stuck on the side of the road. A standard car tow service might not be enough to get you out of a jam. Finding someone who can help you out when you’re stuck on the side of the road is one hurdle. The other is the cost. With most policies, certain types of assistance are covered so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for the help you need.

Skimping on Liability Coverage

You have RV insurance but do you have enough coverage? An easy way most people save money is by reducing their liability coverage. “I’m a safe driver,” they tell themselves. “I won’t cause a big accident.”

The fact remains that an RV, as a larger vehicle or as a towed vehicle, can produce more damage than most people realize. That damage can be quite expensive. And there’s a reason they’re called “accidents” — despite your best intentions and efforts, mistakes and oopsies happen out on the road. With too little liability coverage, that means you’ll pay out of pocket for the damage you cause.

Choosing Market Value Coverage

If your RV gets totaled in an accident, you want a new RV — and you don’t want to pay out of pocket for a new one. That’s why it’s important to choose replacement cost coverage. Much like your personal vehicle, your RV will lose value over time. With market value coverage, you’ll only receive what your RV is worth at the time of the accident which may not be enough to buy a new one just like it. Choose replacement cost coverage instead to receive a claim payout enough to replace your RV.

Forgetting About Discounts

The most common discount is the bundled policy discount. If your RV policy is with the same company that insures your home, vehicle, or other property, you may be eligible for a discount. You may also qualify for discounts by adding certain safety features to your RV and updating your insurance when you put your RV in storage for the winter. Talk to your independent insurance agent today to make sure you’re receiving every discount you’re entitled to.

Need to update or upgrade your RV insurance? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free estimate!

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Hit and Run

Written By Charlotte Insurance on April 12, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a woman who was involved in a hit and run

No one ever wants to think about being in an auto accident, and you probably can’t imagine being the victim of a hit and run. But it can happen at any time, anywhere, even here in Charlotte. It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard.

Here’s what you need to know if it ever happens to you.

What are Hit and Run Accidents?

A hit and run occurs when a drive knowingly causes an accident and then leaves the scene without stopping to assist or providing their details. Most of the time, these drivers don’t get out of the car; they just drive away. Sometimes, they might stop for a moment but leave before you can talk to them or exchange information.

How to Handle a Hit and Run Accident

Even without the other driver around, you’ll do all of the same things you do after a typical auto accident.

Stay calm. You might be shaken up or even angry. Take a deep breath and then get to work documenting the scene. Whatever you do, don’t chase the other driver. At that point, you’re leaving the scene and may lose valuable witnesses, plus you’re putting yourself in further danger.

Get to safety. If you’re in the middle of the road, you need to move to the sidewalk or shoulder as soon as possible. Your vehicle may be disabled, but as long as you’re uninjured, get to a safe place so you stay uninjured.

Call 911. If anyone, whether in your vehicle or a pedestrian, is injured, call 911 immediately.

Document everything. Take pictures and/or video of the scene and your damage. This will be good to show the police and your insurance adjustor later. Also, take notes of what you remember about the other driver: license plate, model and model of their vehicle, the direction they went, the time/date/location of the accident, any damage you saw on their vehicle, and more.

Call the police. You definitely need to file a police report for a hit and run accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Your insurance provider may require it because there isn’t another driver to identify or insurance company to work with on the claim.

Talk to witnesses. Find out what they saw. Take notes of what they tell you. Get their contact information so your insurance company and/or the police can contact them later.

Call your insurance provider. Once you’ve done everything else, give your insurance provider a call. They’ll walk you through the next steps based on what’s available through your policy.

How Insurance Handles a Hit and Run Accident

You have two options with your auto insurance, based on the kind of policy you purchased.

Collision coverage: This pays to replace or repair your vehicle after damage occurs in a collision with another object, in this case, a vehicle. It only pays for the damage to your vehicle, though.

Uninsured motorist coverage: While designed to help pay for expenses after an accident with someone who doesn’t have auto insurance, it also covers accidents where the driver remains unknown — as in a hit and run accident. Your medical expenses, lost wages, and damages to the vehicle may all be covered.

Just as you can never know if another driver has insurance when they hit you out on the road, you can never predict when you’ll be the victim of a hit and run accident. Your best defense is a robust auto insurance policy that includes uninsured motorist coverage.

To add this to your existing policy or for questions about auto insurance, contact Charlotte Insurance today. We hope you’re never in a hit and run accident, but if you are, we can make sure you have the right policy to get you back on the road again.