Does Renters Insurance Cover Theft?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 26, 2021. It has 0 comments.

an apartment that was a victim of theft and covered by renters insurance

Ever gotten into your car and realized your stuff is gone? Walked into your apartment and found a gaping hole where your TV or computer should be? Did someone walk off with your laptop in a coffee shop?

Theft can be overwhelming from a personal security standpoint and financially devastating when you need to replace what’s gone. You might wonder what recourse you have if you rent instead of own.

If you’ve got renters insurance, that theft may be covered.

How Renters Insurance Covers Theft

Twenty-seven percent of thefts occur from vehicles, while ten percent happen in buildings (like single-family houses and apartments). For those with renters insurance, you’re usually protected either way because both in-home theft and theft outside of your living space are covered.

Renters insurance breaks down into three main parts:

  1. Liability protection – for third parties who get hurt or suffer damage while on your property.
  2. Personal property coverage – this covers all of your possessions.
  3. Additional living expenses – you’re covered when you can’t live in your rental because of another covered claim.

Your personal property coverage is used for theft claims. When you purchase renters insurance, you select a policy limit for your personal property, usually based on how much you think it would cost to replace everything you own. A common personal property coverage limit is about $30,000. Though it can be more or less depending on your needs.

Special Limits for Theft

In renters insurance policies, there are special limits designated for theft of items from certain categories: electronics, collectibles, and jewelry. Those limits can be set much lower than the overall personal property limit. It may be $1000 or $1500 per claim. If you know your electronics or jewelry are worth more than that limit, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage specifically for those categories of items.

How to Use Renters Insurance for a Theft Claim

You realize your laptop, computer, TV, or other item has been stolen. Maybe it’s when you get in your car to go to work or when you get home for the day. Maybe it happens while you’re sitting at a coffee shop or having lunch with a friend. Now you need to file an insurance claim.

The first thing you need to do is file a police report. This will be required to file the insurance claim. If you’re not sure what to do, contact your independent insurance agent and let them help you through the process.

Once the claim is filed and (hopefully) approved, you’ll receive a payout of the claim total minus the deductible you’re required to pay. Then you’ll have the cash you need to replace what was stolen.

Rental Insurance Exclusions for Theft

There are two main exclusions in a standard rental insurance policy for theft:

  • Theft caused by negligence, like leaving your keys in the door or not rolling up the windows in your car.
  • Theft that occurs while your property is the responsibility of a third party, like the airport after you’ve checked your bag.

If your claim is denied, it could be for one of these two reasons.

Have questions about your renters insurance policy limits or exclusions for theft? Finally ready to purchase a policy to protect your stuff — from theft and other perils? Contact Charlotte Insurance today. We can answer your questions and provide a free quote for a new policy.

Protect Your Small Business From Ransomware Attacks

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 24, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a computer screen with a ransomware attack on the screen

In July, one ransomware attack on a software company impacted as many as 1500 businesses. The company shut down the attack within an hour after it happened. If they hadn’t, the attack could have impacted tens of thousands of small businesses.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise and 71 percent of the victims are small businesses. Here’s what you need to know to protect your business.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware attacks are a form of cyber extortion. Hackers hold your device and/or your data hostage and demand an exorbitant payment to release it back into your control. To gain this control, they use ransomware.

Ransomware is malware (a malicious software) that takes over your computer, your smartphone, your tablet, or other device. It activates in one of a few ways:

  • Clicking a link in a phishing email.
  • Downloading a file from an email.
  • Having your device accessed through a Remote Desktop Protocol with the hacker trying user IDs and passwords until they find one that works.
  • Using security holes in software to access your network.

Once they have access, one of two things happens:

  1. You’re completely locked out of the device or the network and can’t access anything on it with your login.
  2. The data on the device is encrypted and can only be accessed with a decryption key. The hackers claim they’ll give it to you upon payment, but this is often a lie.

They often want large sums of money and if you don’t pay up, they threaten to destroy your data or publicize it.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Small businesses are often the focus of ransomware attacks because they’re seen as easy pickings. You might think you’re too small to be of notice to a hacker, but you’re not. As a result, many companies don’t take proper precautions to prevent attacks. Hackers rely on small businesses not protecting themselves — that’s why they focus on you.

But if you do business online or collect sensitive information on customers, clients, or patients, you’re at serious risk. Here are a few things you and your employees can do to safeguard against a ransomware attack.

  • Install and use antivirus software on every device. Scan devices regularly to look for malware and viruses.
  • Make sure your network firewall is configured to guard against ransomware specifically — as well as other risks.
  • Train your employees on proper data security protocols: don’t click links from an email you weren’t expecting and don’t download mystery files.
  • Back up your company’s data regularly. If you are attacked, you’ll still have most of your data.
  • Perform updates of operating systems and software as they’re released. There are often security patches in these updates to prevent these kinds of problems.
  • Put a strong spam filter on company-wide email systems to prevent phishing emails from reaching anyone.
  • Make sure your employees don’t have too many administrative privileges with their login. If an employee doesn’t need access to the entire system, don’t give it to them.
  • Require two-factor authentication for logging in so getting around the system isn’t as easy as clicking “forgot password.”
  • Purchase cyber liability insurance for your business.

How Cyber Liability Insurance Protects Your Business

You might think paying the ransom demanded by hackers will make the problem go away. In reality, they’ll likely take the money and refuse to grant access or they’ll demand more money. It might seem like that’s the only way to protect your small business, but it doesn’t work.

Instead, purchase a robust cyber liability insurance policy. It covers your business in multiple ways when you’re the victim of a ransomware attack.

  • Helps notify all of your clients, customers, or patients that their data has been compromised
  • Provides financial assistance to help pay for the years of credit monitoring you’ll need to do for affected customers, clients, or patients
  • Provides assistance with investigating what happened, who did it, and how you were hacked
  • Helps find and patch up security issues that allowed the attack to happen
  • Pays for business interruption expenses and potential loss of income

Take the security measures you can to prevent a ransomware attack. Give yourself extra peace of mind that if it happens anyway, you’re fully covered with a solid cyber liability insurance policy.

Contact Charlotte Insurance today so we can discuss your options and provide a free estimate to help you protect your small business.


Protecting Your Vehicle and Preventing Theft

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

a thief attempting to break into a car

No one wants to imagine their vehicle being broken into or stolen, but it happens every day. You can’t prevent all crime, but you can take measures to protect yourself.

Here’s what you need to know.

Tips to Protect Your Vehicle

Theft is often a crime of opportunity. Most criminals want to get what they came for and get away quickly. Without taking proper precautions you may leave yourself open for that opportunity. Here’s what you can do:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Find out what kind of area you’re driving into before you go, especially if you need to stop for errands. Avoid those areas at night and avoid them completely whenever possible.
  • Always turn off your vehicle when you exit the vehicle; never leave it running when you’re not in it.
  • Close your windows, lock your doors, and take your keys with you when you park.
  • Never leave your title in your vehicle. If it is stolen, you don’t want to make it easy for the thief to convince a police officer that the car really belongs to them.
  • Avoid keeping valuables in your vehicle. If you must, store them out of sight to help remove the temptation for a broken window and quick smash and grab.
  • Park in well-lit areas and as close to building entrances as possible, especially when out at night.
  • At home, if possible, park in your garage and keep the garage door closed, especially at night, but also during the day.
  • Keep your car locked even when in your own driveway. Thefts can and do happen even in the safest neighborhoods.
  • Install an anti-theft device. Not only will this help you recover your vehicle if it is stolen but it may help prevent the theft in the first place.
  • When possible, calibrate your vehicle’s alarm to go off when it senses a vibration. This can be extremely helpful if the thief isn’t stealing your entire vehicle but a part of it (like a catalytic converter).
  • Have your VIN etched into your window. This makes it harder and more expensive for a thief to unload for cash later because a VIN can be traced back to the owner.

Make Sure You Have the Right Insurance Coverage

Despite all your best efforts, your vehicle may be stolen or broken into. To help you fully recover from the loss, make sure you have the right kind of auto insurance. Comprehensive insurance helps replace or repair your vehicle for damage not caused by collision. It covers specific perils:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Fire
  • Falling objects
  • Damage from animals
  • Natural disasters
  • Civil disturbances

Comprehensive coverage does not include payment for medical costs, but you can count on it to help repair or replace your vehicle. You’ll have a deductible that must be met first and a policy limit that cannot be exceeded, unless you have an umbrella policy, too. As with all insurance, it’s important to purchase as much as you can afford in order to have the most protection possible.

Curious about discounts for adding an anti-theft device to your vehicle? Ready to make sure you have the most protection possible with comprehensive coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote and answers to all your auto insurance questions.

“Other Structures” Coverage Explained

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

a shed that would be covered under a homeowners insurance policy's "other structures" coverage

You know your home and everything inside is protected by your home insurance under “dwelling” coverage. But what is “other structures” coverage and what exactly do you get with that coverage?

Here’s what you need to know about this very important but often misunderstood part of your homeowners insurance policy.

What is “Other Structures” Coverage?

“Other structures” coverage, also known as “Coverage B” provides insurance coverage for structures that are not attached to your home dwelling. This includes:

  • Detached garages
  • Fencing around the property
  • Sheds
  • Guest houses
  • Detached patios
  • Gazebos
  • Mailboxes
  • Barns
  • Walkways
  • Swimming pools*

*Swimming pools are handled differently by your insurer depending on the type of pool, proximity to your dwelling, and other factors. To understand how your swimming pool is covered under your home insurance policy, talk to your independent insurance agent.

How Does “Other Structures” Coverage Work?

In many ways “other structures” coverage works like the rest of your home insurance policy.

  1. Perils included in your policy will cover the other structures. Likewise, perils not covered still do not apply, either. This includes floods, earthquakes, normal wear and tear, and more.
  2. The amount you receive to repair or replace the other structure will be determined by your policy type: actual cash value or replacement cost.
  3. You can increase your coverage amount if you need more than what your standard policy provides.

In one very key way, however, “Other Structures” coverage is very different. Your policy limit will be a percentage of your total dwelling coverage. For example: If your dwelling coverage has a limit of $300,000 in coverage, and the limit for Coverage B is 10 percent of that, you only have $30,000 in protection. You’ll need to decide if that’s enough insurance for the other structures on your property.

Using “Other Structures” for Home-Based Businesses

Do you have a shed or workshop where you make products you sell? Are you using your detached guest house as an AirBnB rental? It’s important you understand what your home insurance covers and what it doesn’t.

In general, home-based businesses should be protected by a business insurance policy. It’s likely less expensive than you’re thinking. Give us a call and we’ll talk you through it!

Why does it matter? If your home insurance policy covers your business at all, it will likely only be a small amount for equipment, usually about $5,000. For many business owners, this isn’t enough to replace equipment, supplies, and inventory. It also won’t cover any lost business income the way some business insurance policies do. Worse, you won’t have the protection of business liability coverage either.

Need more home insurance protection for your “other structures” than your standard policy offers? Ready to better protect your home-based business? Contact Charlotte Insurance today for a free quote!

What Types of Insurance Do Self-Employed Individuals Need?

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 13, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a self employed individual typing on a laptop, researching insurance that he needs

Working for yourself comes with a lot of perks: Freedom to work when you want, where you want. The ability to do the work you love. Time with your family and friends. Financial independence.

But you’re also responsible for everything: the work, your income, and protecting yourself and your business. Insurance is a must for anyone who’s self-employed. Not having it puts you at a real financial risk if something goes wrong.

Here are the some of the insurance policies you need if you’re self-employed.

Personal Insurance Coverage

Working for yourself means you don’t receive benefits as a perk from the company. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself the same benefits anyway. Depending on your age and the amount of coverage you need, this may be more affordable than you realize.

Health Insurance

Whether you purchase health insurance directly through an insurance provider or you use to buy it, this is something you can’t skip. Working for yourself means when you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Don’t let an illness or injury linger too long because you didn’t have the coverage to see a doctor and get better.

Long-Term Disability Insurance

No one wants to imagine they can become so sick or hurt they can no longer work, but it happens all the time. Since you’re relying on yourself for income, you need an extra layer of protection if you can’t work for a while. You can choose different policy levels, but consider a long-term disability insurance policy that pays at least 60 to 65 percent of your income.

Life Insurance

Got kids? A spouse? Parents who can’t afford to pay for a funeral? If you die unexpectedly, your income dries up almost instantly. How will your loved ones take care of your home, themselves, and future plans? A life insurance policy allows you to continue providing for your family even after you’re gone.

Business Insurance Coverage

No matter what kind of work you do, you need some level of business insurance. A freelance writer pounding away at the keyboard benefits from different types of coverage than a crafter who works farmers markets every weekend but both benefit from a good business insurance policy.

Here are the most common types of commercial insurance you should consider when you work for yourself.

General Liability

General liability insurance protects you financially when someone else is injured or has their property damaged while on your property or while doing business with you. If you meet with a client at a coffee shop and their laptop is stolen, you might be liable for the damage. If someone slips and falls at your booth in a market, you might be liable for their injuries. General liability coverage takes care of those costs and helps you if you’re sued.

Professional Liability

A lot of self-employed people provide a service and use their expertise to help their clients and customers. One mistake can cost your client money or their reputation. Professional liability insurance protects you if an upset client decides to take you to court because of a mistake you made.

Commercial Property

From computers and laptops to machines and inventory, every self-employed individual has some kind of business property. You can’t rely on your homeowners or renters insurance to cover damage or theft. Most of those policies only allow a small amount for business-related items. It’s rarely enough to replace all of your business property. Make sure you have a commercial property insurance policy to help you get back to business as soon as possible.

Commercial Auto

Think you don’t need commercial auto insurance because you don’t make deliveries? That’s not the only reason for self-employed people to purchase coverage. Any driving you do that’s business-related can be covered by an auto policy for your business. And if you don’t do a lot of driving, it likely won’t be as expensive as you fear. But not having it could mean a claim is denied if your accident occurred while you were driving for business reasons.

Loss of Income

What if the worst happens? Your equipment gets stolen. Your inventory and materials are destroyed in a fire. Everything is gone. Property insurance will replace what you’ve lost, but what will you do for income until you’re back in business? Loss of income coverage helps sustain you financially until you’re operational again and can earn money again.

Here at Charlotte Insurance, we can help any type of self-employed person protect yourself and your business with the right coverage. No matter what you do for work, there’s the perfect business insurance plan for you. Contact us today to learn more!

Business Insurance for Start-Ups: What You Need to Know

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 7, 2021. It has 0 comments.

people working in a startup researching their insurance needs

Working on a new start-up? Taking meetings? Working on funding? Building your business and marketing plans? As a start-up, there’s a lot going on and a lot you need to think about including how you’ll protect your business.

Have you thought about business insurance yet? If not, here’s what you need to know.

Why Your Start-Up Needs Business Insurance

Before you tell yourself your start-up is too new to need insurance or you’ll get it later when you’re more established, stop. There are very serious reasons to make sure you have business insurance now. If you don’t get it, your start-up may never actually get started.

Insurance Provides Financial Protection

Think of insurance as a safety net. Start-ups aren’t always flush with cash, and when you do have funds, it’s earmarked for other uses: product development, marketing, purchasing equipment and inventory, and more. Without business insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for any hazards and perils. One lawsuit or fire that destroys everything could kill your business before you get started.

Insurance Helps Build Your Business

Carrying a business insurance policy can help your business grow in two ways:

  1. Clients, vendors, and government entities may require proof of insurance before they’ll work with you.
  2. Insurance may be required when you lease office space or take out a loan to buy commercial property.

You don’t want to lose out on a source of income or the prime spot to start your business because you don’t have business insurance. In this case, purchasing a policy can actually help your start-up get off the ground and move forward.

Insurance May Be Legally Required

While your start-up only has you, you may not have any legal obligation to carry insurance. But the moment you hire your first employee, you’re required to purchase workers compensation coverage. Workers compensation protects you as much as your employees by paying for lost wages and medical bills if they’re injured or become ill on the job. It also covers you in case an employee or their surviving family decide to sue you.

Types of Business Insurance to Purchase

Every business needs a unique blend of insurance coverage to protect the company. Your needs as a start-up may be different than what you need in a few years. Work with an independent insurance agent to find the best coverage for your start-up. There are multiple types of coverage to choose from:

  • General liability protects your business when a third-party (customer, vendor, etc) is injured or suffers property damage while doing business with you.
  • Commercial property insurance helps you replace and repair your property if it’s lost or damaged in a covered peril.
  • Commercial auto insurance protects your company when you or an employee are involved in an auto accident while driving for business-related reasons.
  • Workers compensation is required once you hire an employee but it’s also a good way to protect your employees and your business after injury or illness.
  • Cyber liability coverage protects your business if you’re hacked and data you’ve collected on customers, vendors, clients, or patients is compromised.
  • Errors and omissions (E&O) is a form of liability coverage that protects you when professional mistakes or errors cause customers or clients money and they hold you responsible for the damage.
  • Umbrella insurance is an added layer of liability coverage for lawsuits and settlements that exceed your other liability insurance policy limits. Instead of paying the difference out of pocket, umbrella coverage helps pay the rest.

No matter what kind of start-up business you have or where you are in the process of building your business, you need insurance. Contact Charlotte Insurance and let us help you protect this investment in your future.

Homeowners Insurance and Storm Damage: What’s Covered and What Isn’t

Written By Charlotte Insurance on August 3, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a close up of a home's roof with storm clouds in the background

You know your homeowners insurance includes coverage for storm damage, but what does that actually include? From downed trees to roof damage, a lot can go wrong when a storm hits.

Make sure you know what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.

What Home Insurance Covers

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage to both the exterior and interior of your home from a range of storms and the perils associated with storms.

  • Hurricanes, tornadoes, and windstorms
  • Ice storms and hail
  • Lightning damage
  • Fallen trees and power surges

The amount of coverage you have available will depend on your individual policy. Your deductible will also make an important difference. A large deductible may mean it doesn’t make sense to file a smaller claim. For example, the storm caused $1,200 worth of damage to your roof but your deductible is $1,000. That may not be a claim you choose to file.

There is no separate storm damage coverage you can purchase, but you can buy add-on coverage to make recovering from storm damage a bit easier.

Sump pump overflow: After a storm, your sump pump may not be able to keep up with the water flow and could stop working. This provides an added layer of protection from the additional damage that might be caused by a failing sump pump.

Matching siding: Standard coverage will replace the siding that’s damaged in a storm, but it might not match the rest of your home. With this coverage, you can have all of your siding replaced so it matches.

Roof replacement cost: Sometimes storm damage wrecks your roof. Instead of patching it up, this coverage allows you to get today’s cost of replacing your roof, minus your deductible. You’ll have a more secure roof that should be able to weather future storms for years to come.

What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

There are two specific types of storm damage that your homeowners insurance won’t cover:

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes

Both require a separate policy in order to protect your home.

Flood Insurance: Most flood insurance is backed by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and is available for homes in any area, including high-risk flood zones and extremely low-risk zones. While your homeowners insurance may cover a flooded kitchen from a busted pipe or a leaky roof, it won’t cover standing water that rushes into your home from outside. Purchasing flood insurance provides peace of mind when the rain begins to fall and the waters rise.

Remember: After a hurricane, there can be a question of whether the damage was caused by the winds (covered) or the water (not covered). With a flood insurance policy, you don’t have to worry – either way, your home is protected.

Earthquake Insurance: Earthquakes may be rare in the Charlotte area, but they can and do happen. Your homeowners insurance won’t cover damage from them but you can add earthquake coverage to better protect your home. In low risk areas, the cost is fairly affordable.

Not sure what your deductible is on your homeowners insurance? Want to discuss flood or earthquake insurance coverage? Contact Charlotte Insurance and let us answer your questions, explain your policy, and provide free quotes for additional coverage. We’re here to help you protect your home and family!