Critical and Often Overlooked Small Business Coverages

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 30, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a small business owner hanging an 'open' sign on their door

General liability insurance? Check! Commercial property insurance? Check! Think that’s all the business insurance you need? Wrong!

Every business faces unique challenges and risks which means every business needs insurance tailored to their needs. If you only have the basic coverage, you’re missing out on a lot of protection. Here are several overlooked (but very important) coverages for small businesses.

Liability Coverage

As a small business owner, you know you need general liability insurance. You may even purchase coverage specific to your industry such as liquor liability for restaurants or builders risk insurance for construction companies. But there are other liabilities you face as a business and without the right insurance, you stand to lose a great deal when something goes wrong. Consider the following coverage.

Cyber Liability

If even one business computer has any amount of customer information on it, you’re at risk of a data breach. Cyber criminals target small businesses, betting on the near certainty that you haven’t put a security protocol for your data in place. The big companies might make the headlines for their breaches, but smaller companies are the likelier target because of how vulnerable they are.

After a breach (once you discover it), you’ll have a great deal of responsibility: letting people know, monitoring credit information, fixing the breach, repairing your business reputation. Cyber liability insurance helps you through all of it.

Employment Practices Liability

It only takes one angry ex-employee or one bad manager to bring a lawsuit down on your head, even if you know you did nothing wrong. Employment practices liability insurance (ELPI) covers you when your business is accused of wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, and more. It covers the legal costs of the lawsuit and the settlement amount, if it comes to that.

Professional Liability

If any part of your business model relies on your knowledge and expertise, it’s possible you’ll make a mistake or be accused of negligence as a professional. At the same time, if you market your business, you could be accused of breaching copyright. When these accusations arrive, it’s usually in the form of a lawsuit. Professional liability insurance protects you and helps pay settlements.

Umbrella Coverage

It’s impossible to know how big a liability claim might be. All it takes is one catastrophic moment or one bad decision for a claim to outpace your policy limits. Umbrella coverage kicks in to cover the remaining amount if your liability exceeds your insurance coverage. You might only need it once in a while, but you’ll be glad you have it when you do.

Property Insurance

Carrying generic “property insurance” for your business may not be enough. Consider these overlooked coverages to better protect your company.

Business Interruption

In general, your commercial property insurance will likely include coverage for some business interruption. But what if your business is interrupted by a peril not covered by your standard policy? This is where business interruption insurance comes in handy.

Contingent Business Interruption

Sometimes your business gets stalled not because of anything you’ve done (or that’s happened in your location) but because of problems with vendors and suppliers. You don’t have what you need to make and sell your product, and your business revenue suffers. Contingent business interruption insurance is made for these circumstances, although not enough small businesses take advantage of it.

Auto Insurance

If you think commercial auto insurance is only for businesses with a company vehicle, think again. Every time you or an employee runs an errand for the business in your vehicle, you as the owner are opening yourself up to liability and extra expenses. Commercial auto insurance covers anyone driving on company time for company purposes, even without a company car.

Flood Insurance

Your commercial property insurance will cover a great deal of disasters, like fire and lightning. But one thing it likely won’t cover is flood damage. Most homeowners know they should purchase flood insurance, but it’s not something business owners think too much about. Where it can rain, it can flood, and when it does, the expenses are ruinous. Flood insurance for your small business will help you rebuild and get you back to work sooner rather than later.

Basic business insurance coverage is a great place to start as a small business, but there comes a time when your company needs more protection than standard policies can provide. Contact Charlotte Insurance today and let’s discuss the unique needs of your business to find the right coverage to keep the doors open long into the future.

How to Protect Your Home This Summer

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

a homeowner checking their home security system on their phone.

Summer is a great time for major home projects and renovations, time spent with family, and a lot of other activities both at and away from home. To make sure your summer stays fun and your home stays protected, take care of these things before summer fully arrives.

Home Security

Summer, especially this year, tends to be a time of travel and fun. We’re off on adventures with our family, leaving our home empty and at risk. Whether you’re spending this summer in the backyard or in another state, make home security a priority.

Lock Windows and Doors

At the end of the day (or when you leave) close any windows and doors you’ve opened for air circulation. Make sure you lock them, as well. The last thing you need is someone coming in at night or while you’re away. Build a habit of checking doors and windows at night and before you leave to make sure they’re secure — and include your garage door, sheds, and other outbuildings, too.

Install Outdoor Motion Lights

You probably don’t want bright lights shining in your yard all night long, nor do your neighbors. But if someone is in your yard, you do need to know about that. Outdoor motion lights are perfect for this. A would-be burglar doesn’t want to get spotted outside so they’ll avoid your house, and you don’t have to worry about the lights being on when you’re trying to sleep.

Keep Valuables Out of Plain Sight

When your blinds or drapes are open, and especially when your windows are open, it’s important to keep your valuables put away. Many burglaries are crimes of opportunity. They saw something of value and decided to take it. Don’t make their job easy for them. Put things away, close your blinds when not in the room, and lock your windows after you close them.

Add Home Security Features to Your Home

From security cameras you operate with your smartphone to whole-house alarm systems monitored 24/7, you have a lot of options in home security. Install the features that will work for your home, your life, and your budget. These days, most monitoring can be done from a phone or web browser making it easier than ever to check up on home when you’re gone. It’s great for catching porch thieves stealing your Amazon order and getting help to your home in an emergency.

Accident Prevention

Summer fun means more time spent outside. The activities are fun, but accidents will happen. To protect your home and your family this summer, make accident prevention a priority.

Practice Grill Safety

Fires are a major hazard for homeowners. During the summer, the grill is a potential culprit for an accident. Before your next cookout, keep a few things in mind:

  • Inspect your grill for damage before using it.
  • Make sure you’re using the proper fuel for your grill.
  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet from your home and don’t grill under tree limbs or awnings.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Keep children away from the grill while in use.
  • Put out the flame immediately when done and allow to cool down completely before storing your grill away.

Secure Your Pool

You and the kids want to get out in the pool this summer, but make sure it’s safe for everyone before you do.

  • Add a locking gate to prevent children — your own or neighbors — from accessing the pool without permission.
  • Consider adding an alarm so you know when someone opens the gate to the pool.
  • Never leave children unattended at the pool.
  • Take a CPR class.
  • Keep your pool clean and free from debris.
  • Have your pool maintenanced regularly.
  • If you have a deck or other structure attached to your pool, check it for damage and to make sure it’s structurally sound.

Home Maintenance

Taking care of your home prevents a lot of damage and accidents. Insurance companies take regular maintenance into account when you file a claim, as well. If the damage was caused by neglect, your claim won’t be paid. Now that it’s summer, make sure you take care of a few issues before they cause problems.

  • Schedule routine pest control. Ideally this occurs quarterly, but early summer is ideal for pest control as well. The warm weather brings out the bugs, some of which can do serious damage to your home (like termites).
  • Seal cracks around windows and doors. This prevents warm air from coming in but it also stops moisture from getting inside and causing damage, too.
  • Clean your gutters. You want rain to move away from your home to prevent damage to your foundation, and your gutters need to be free of leaves and debris for this to happen.
  • Deal with septic, sewer, and plumbing issues that could cause serious problems. This includes back-ups, clogged pipes, and/or flooding in and around your home.

One last thing to do to protect your home this summer: update your homeowners insurance. If it’s been years since you thought about your policy, you’re past due for an update. And if you’ve added a home security system, you might be entitled to a discount on your premiums.

Contact Charlotte Insurance today for free estimates on a new policy or to ask questions and update your existing homeowners policy.

Planning a Road Trip? Check Out These Insurance Tips

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

a map of a road trip

Summer is here, and it’s time to hit the road for an adventure! Before you hop behind the wheel, make sure you know how your auto insurance will work and what you need to do if you’re renting a vehicle.

Here’s what you need to know.

Pick: Your Car vs. a Rental

What vehicle are you driving for your road trip? Your vehicle or a rental? That decision will determine a lot about your auto insurance needs and what to do to prepare for your trip.

If you drive your own vehicle, your auto insurance policy will cover you, although there are a few things to do before you hit the road (see below). If you get a rental, there are variables to consider.

Understand: Rental Insurance vs Your Auto Insurance

Rental companies offer multiple insurance coverage options while you have their vehicle in your possession:

  • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
  • Supplemental Liability Coverage (SLC)
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
  • Personal Effects Coverage (PEC)

A driver with no auto insurance will need to purchase at least LDW and SLC or purchase a separate auto insurance policy before renting. A driver with their own vehicle and auto insurance will have more options.

Your Auto Insurance May Cover Your Rental

If you have full coverage for your personal vehicle, specifically collision insurance, you can skip the rental insurance. But if you only have the bare minimum liability coverage on your vehicle, consider adding the rental coverage as extra protection.

Your Credit Card May Cover Your Rental Insurance

Check with your credit card company but it’s highly possible that if you pay for the rental on your credit card, they’ll cover the LDW for you. They may also offer other travel perks or benefits, so it’s worth a call before you get on the road.

Think About Roadside Assistance

For drivers with full coverage on their own vehicle, roadside assistance and towing is often included or made available as a benefit. Make sure you have that option turned on before your trip. When you rent a car, ask about roadside assistance or consider purchasing a third-party option. This could be a benefit offered by your credit card company, as well. No matter how you obtain it, make sure you have an easy way to get help if you get stuck on the side of the road.

Reconsider Bare Minimum Liability Coverage

If you only have the legally required amount of liability coverage, that may not be enough for your road trip. Each state mandates its own minimums, and if you travel to a state with higher requirements, your policy may not be enough to cover an out-of-state accident. Most insurers offer a temporary increase if you get into an accident out-of-state but only to that state’s legal minimum. It still may not be enough to cover the entire accident, meaning you’ll pay the difference.

Call Your Insurance Company Before Your Road Trip

Want to make sure you have the best auto insurance coverage for your trip? Plan on letting friends and others drive, too? Contact your insurer to make sure you know what your policy covers and to add coverage if necessary. Car insurance follows the car, so in general, anyone you allow to drive should be covered, but it’s worth a call to check. At the same time, this would be a good opportunity to ask about your current coverage and increase it if necessary.

Planning your next road trip? Contact Charlotte Insurance today to make sure you have the right kind and plenty of auto insurance to get you through whatever happens out on the road.

Celebrating Dad: 8 Ways to Honor Your Dad This Father’s Day

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

a family celebrating fathers day

Father’s Day is nearly here, and you might be wondering what to get your dad this year. It’s not about the money you spend on a gift, but the time you spend with your dad. Make the day truly special for him with one of these ideas to honor and appreciate the most important man in your life.

Let Him Tell Old Stories

Whether your dad is the silent type or he’s a man with a gift of gab, chances are that he doesn’t usually have a rapt audience for his old stories. Now’s the time. Whether you’re together in person, on Zoom, or you give him a call, ask him to tell you an old story. “Tell me about the time…” or “What’s that story you used to tell us as kids about…?” Not only does he get the pleasure of reliving the old days, he’ll feel the love of knowing you want to hear his story.

Encourage His “Dad Jokes”

Got a dad who knows all the eye roll-worthy puns? Is he the kind of guy who says, “Pull my finger?” Instead of asking him to stop, Father’s Day is the perfect time to let him revel in his own silliness. He’ll think he’s hilarious, and you’ll get the fun of remembering jokes you’ve heard your entire life.

Do What He Loves with Him

From fishing or bowling to watching old movies or bird-watching, whatever your dad loves to do, now is a great time to do it with him. It’s not about the activity itself, unless you love it, too. It’s about spending time with him while he’s doing something he loves — with someone he loves. You may learn a thing or two about your dad in the process.

Watch Old Home Movies

Was your dad the type to bring a camcorder to everything when you were growing up? Did he figure out the camera on his smartphone before he learned to text? He’s got a lot of memories in those old movies. Walk down memory lane with him this Father’s Day and watch those movies together. You may cringe at your 90s haircut, but he’ll love reliving “the good old days” with you. As a bonus, digitize those old movies for him, too.

Cook Him a Meal

If you can be together in person, cook for him. And if you’re an awful cook, order in or take him out. What matters most is sitting down for a meal with your dad. It’s a great time to listen to his stories or roll your eyes at his puns, too. If your dad has a special recipe or something only he can make, try cooking together. He can pass down an old tradition that you can carry on with your kids in the future.

Write Him a Letter

Want to let your dad know what he means to you, but find it hard to say it out loud? Write him a letter. Pour out your heart and let him know how much you love him. Talk about those tough teenage years that neither of you thought you’d survive. Let him know what he’s taught you and what he means to you. A letter is something he can read over and over again, and it’s something he can keep forever, so even when he misses you, he’ll still have your loving words.

Plan a Trip Together

Now that the worst of COVID seems to be over, planning a family trip is safer for vaccinated people. Plan a road trip or a destination trip with your dad. Maybe it’s to an old cabin in the woods, a motorcycle ride across the state, or to an attraction he’s dying to see. Sit down together and figure out when it’ll happen, plan out the details, and make it happen. On the trip, by car or plane, you’ll have time to chat, reminisce, and enjoy each other’s company.

Make a Family Appreciation Video for Your Dad

Record family members answering a set of questions about your dad. This is especially great if you have multiple siblings or if your father had a big impact on other family members’ lives, too. Ask questions like:

  • What do you love best about dad?
  • What’s his funniest joke?
  • What’s his worst joke?
  • What’s your favorite memory of him?

You can play each video separately or do a simple edit to string them all together and even add music. There won’t be a dry eye in the house while he’s watching.

Here at Charlotte Insurance we wish all dads, granddads, and dads-to-be a very Happy Father’s Day.

What to Ask When Shopping for Auto Insurance

Written By Charlotte Insurance on June 14, 2021. It has 0 comments.

Shopping for auto insurance in North Carolina doesn’t need to be overly complicated and buying it doesn’t have to cost too much. Get the best policy at the best price (with no nasty surprises when you file a claim) by asking these questions as you shop.

What Coverage Do I Need?

Each state makes its own auto insurance requirements for drivers. At minimum, your policy must meet these minimums. In North Carolina, you are required to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage.

  • Property damage liability: Minimum of $25,000
  • Bodily injury liability: Minimum of $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident

But these minimums fall short of what you truly need as a driver. The best thing to do is buy the most coverage that you can afford. This means higher liability limits and additional coverage such as comprehensive, collision, medical payments, and more.

What’s Covered if My Car is Damaged?

A lot of people believe that if they buy only the minimum required liability insurance, they’re covered in any auto accident. That’s not at all true. Liability coverage only pays for damage to vehicles or medical payments when you cause the accident and the other driver(s) suffer injury or damage. Likewise, if someone hits you, their policy should pay the costs — if they have auto insurance.

But imagine you hit a deer in the middle of the highway or your teenage driver hits a pole in a parking lot. How is that damage handled? To make sure you’re covered, you’ll need comprehensive and collision coverage.

What’s Covered if Someone Gets Hurt?

When the other driver is hurt in an accident you cause, your bodily injury liability coverage will pay the claim. However, if you’re hurt in that same accident or in another type of accident, you’ll need separate coverage to pay your medical expenses or cover lost income. Two additional coverages can help if you or someone else is hurt in an auto accident.

  • Medical payments coverage pays for the medical expenses of you and/or your passengers after an accident.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays the medical expenses, lost wages, and even funeral expenses for you and/or your passengers, regardless of who caused the accident.

These are additional coverages you must add to your auto insurance policy. They are not typically included in standard coverage.

Is Roadside Assistance or Towing Included?

In general, most insurers only make roadside assistance or towing available when you purchase “full coverage.” That means your policy will not only include liability coverage, but also comprehensive and collision coverage. It may be available at no additional charge or for a small fraction of what roadside assistance might cost otherwise. It’s good to ask this question, but expect to be required to buy more than the minimum auto insurance coverage to have access to this benefit.

Will I Have Gap Insurance?

Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe on a vehicle and what its market value is at the time of a claim. It is typically required when you lease a vehicle and it’s optional otherwise. A typical auto insurance policy does not automatically include this coverage, and it should be considered for any driver who’s still making a car payment. If your vehicle is new or barely used, gap insurance offers peace of mind that you won’t have to pay for a vehicle you no longer have once it’s been totaled in an accident.

How Can I Pay Less for Auto Insurance?

We all want the protection auto insurance offers, but we don’t want to pay anymore than necessary to have it. There are multiple ways to pay less for your coverage.

  • Ask about discounts: vehicle safety, safe driver, etc.
  • Consider bundling your auto insurance with other insurance coverage
  • Increase your deductible (to an amount you can afford) to lower your premiums
  • Work with a local, independent insurance agency (like ours!) to shop multiple carriers at once to find the best coverage, at the best possible price

Shopping for auto insurance? Here at Charlotte Insurance we can help you figure out the best coverage for your needs and help you get the best price, too. Give us a call at 704-552-5888.

8 Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor

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

a family discussing home renovations

Are you planning a major home renovation or addition this year? Looking for a good contractor at a price you can afford? Before you hire just anyone, keep these things in mind to make sure you find the right person and protect your home at the same time.

Have an Idea of What You Want

When you ask for an estimate, it’s easier (and faster) if you have a clear idea of what you want. A good contractor will offer their professional opinion on what’s possible and/or more cost effective. But you also need to give them something to work with. Saying, “We want to remodel the kitchen” isn’t quite enough. Knowing exactly what you want done will make the process of getting a quote smoother.

Get Multiple Quotes

Ideally, you’ll get at least three quotes, but more is better. Prices can vary wildly from contractor to contractor but in general, be wary of estimates that are too high and too low. Good contractors will often be somewhere in the middle. Make sure that the quotes you get have the same information on type of work, type of material, etc as part of the price so you’re comparing similar quotes.

Hire Licensed Contractors Only

In a perfect world, they’ll also be a local contractor, too. Either way, they should be licensed and happy to give you that information. They should also be able to give you contact and location information for their company. Once you have this information, check to make sure their license is current and valid and that their business actually exists.

Make Sure a Contractor is Insured and Bonded

It’s great if a contractor offers this information, but you need to verify it for yourself. Request a certificate of insurance (COI) which should include the insurance company name, policy number, and policy limit amount. Once you have that, call the insurance company to verify the information is accurate. Only work with an insured and bonded contractor. If you don’t, you’ll be liable for any accidents that occur on your property.

Understand What You’re Paying For

In any renovation job, there will be a variety of costs from labor, materials, permit fees, and more. Before you sign an agreement, know exactly what you’re paying for. Take the time to ask questions until you have a clear understanding of what you’ll be charged, how any additional costs may be dealt with, and what work is being done.

Get Everything in Writing

There are a lot of details that go into a home renovation or addition. Make sure you get it all in writing.

  • Description of the work to be completed
  • Payment amount and payment schedule
  • Estimated start and end date
  • Fixed bid or “cost plus” (with a cap) information
  • Applicable guarantees and the details of those guarantees
  • Signature from you and the contractor

You should also receive a copy for your records.

Set Boundaries for the Job Site

A small job may require one or two people in your home for a day or two. Larger jobs could require multiple people in and out of your home or property for days or weeks. Contractors often work with subcontractors who have their own teams. Make sure you set boundaries for access to your property and who will be on your property. It’s important to require that subcontractors follow the same licensing, insurance, and background checks as your main contractor, as well.

Check Your Home Insurance Coverage

Before you hire a contractor to work on your home, make sure you understand what (if anything) your home insurance provides or covers during renovations. Depending on the renovation or addition, you may also need to update your policy limits or coverage. Give us a call and speak to one of our agents to ask questions and update your policy, if necessary.

Ready to hire a contractor and make necessary changes around your home? Contact us at Charlotte Insurance to discuss how it will impact your home insurance!