How to Properly Vet a Contractor

Written By Charlotte Insurance on September 28, 2021. It has 0 comments.

a home in the middle of being renovated by someone who took the time to vet their contractor

You’re finally ready for a big home improvement project and know you want to hire a contractor to get the job done. This is a big financial investment and will impact your home and your life. It’s important to hire the right person.

Here’s how to vet a contractor so you hire the best person for the job.

  • Ask for a quote from multiple contractors. This gives you an idea of the price range for a job like yours.
  • Don’t automatically go with the lowest or highest price. Low price doesn’t automatically mean low quality and high price doesn’t always mean the work will be done well. The other things you’ll learn during the vetting process will give you a lot more information than their price will.
  • Ask for their credentials. They should be able to tell you how long they’ve been in business, how many employees work for them, and whether they’ve done projects like yours in the past.
  • Get references. The important part of this is to actually check those references. Ask if they were satisfied with the work, how problems were handled, and if they would hire them again.
  • Check reviews. If you found this contractor online, you’ve probably already seen reviews, but if not, Google them. Find out what others are saying about them.
  • Ask if they’re licensed and insured, and then check to make sure they are. Their license should be active and in good standing. They should be able to provide proof of insurance, and then you can call to verify.
  • Find out who they work with and who will be in your home. Do they have a crew of employees or do they subcontract out the work? If they use subcontractors, you’ll want to vet them as well — at least for license, insurance, and reviews.
  • Discuss a timeline and schedule. They might be a great contractor but if they can’t do the work when you need them to do it, it won’t be a good experience.
  • Ask about permits. Will they take care of that or will you need to do it? Be wary of anyone who tells you not to worry about permits. You’ll be the one who has to pay if the correct permits aren’t pulled for your job.
  • Find out what kind of warranty or guarantee they offer for their work. They should be willing to stand by it and offer some amount of time to come back for repairs or to fix problems.
  • Ask about their payment schedule. Small jobs are often paid upon completion. Larger jobs tend to have a payment plan with some kind of deposit up front, usually around 10 percent but never more than 50 percent.
  • Ask how communication will be handled. You should expect updates about your job, especially as subcontractors come and go or deliveries are made. You shouldn’t have to chase down your contractor for that information. They should provide regular updates for you.

Never work with a contractor that’s not licensed, insured, and bonded. This protects you as the homeowner if something goes wrong on site. Your contractor should have both liability coverage and workers’ compensation for their employees.

And if your project involves adding onto your home, make sure your homeowners insurance covers the latest addition. Contact us at Charlotte Insurance today to update your policy or for a free quote for a new policy.

Auto and Renters Insurance for Your College Student

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

2 Charlotte college students in need of auto insurance and renters insurance

College is a big step in the lives of your children — and in your life. You’ve spent their entire life protecting them, and now you have to let them go off without you. With the right insurance coverage, you can keep protecting them every day — at least until they graduate.

Here’s what you need to know about auto and renters insurance for college students.

Auto Insurance for College Students

The auto insurance needs of your college student will depend in large part on where they go to school and whether they bring their vehicle or not.

In-State College

Going to college in state may mean very few changes for your auto insurance coverage. You’ll want to update your coverage with their new location and their new estimated annual mileage. This information can impact your insurance rates.

For students who live at home and commute to school, you likely won’t need many updates to your auto insurance coverage. Though, if they’re driving significantly more or less than before, this is one update to make.

Out-of-State College

Students who go to college out of state either bring their vehicle or leave it at home. Either situation has its own auto insurance considerations.

  • Check your auto insurance to make sure your policy covers your college driver if they live out-of-state and are bringing their vehicle. If not, you may need to change policies or purchase coverage for them.
  • For students leaving their car at home, you may be tempted to drop them from your policy to save money. This can cause them problems later as it will be seen as a “gap in coverage” which may raise their rates when they need insurance again.
  • If you want to take your college-aged child off your policy but want to let them drive your vehicle when they come home, check your auto insurance to make sure you have coverage for “permissive drivers.” You may not have it, or you may have a limited amount of coverage for them.

In general, it’s a good idea to keep your child insured even if they leave their vehicle at home during the school year. You’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re covered if they borrow a friend’s car or when they’re home. And they won’t have to worry about overpaying for auto insurance when they do buy a policy later.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is a good idea for a college student, even if they live on campus. But the only time it’s a necessity is when they live off-campus. Here’s what you need to know.

Living in a Dorm

If your college student lives in a dorm, your homeowners insurance should cover their possessions under “off-premises coverage.” The problem is that they only have a percentage of your total policy limit. If your personal property coverage is $100,000, your policy may only extend 10 percent of the coverage. They’ll have $10,000 of coverage to replace everything they own.

Think about the cost of what they’ve brought with them, including their phone, computer or laptop, and other belongings. Now factor in their clothes, furnishings, and even text books. If what your home insurance provides is enough, great. If not, consider renters insurance.

Living Off-Campus

For students living off campus, renters insurance is an absolute must. In some situations, their landlord will require it. But even if they don’t, it’s a smart decision. And it’s more affordable than most people realize.

Their landlord’s insurance will only cover the building in a disaster. To replace their personal possessions, they need renters insurance. You can purchase it for them and bundle it with your other policies. They can also purchase it on their own. It’s so affordable that the annual premiums can cost as little as $200 for the year, depending on the amount of coverage purchased.

Renters insurance offers both you and your child peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, neither of you has to worry about how you’ll replace everything.

Sending your child off to college? Need to make sure they’re properly insured? Contact Charlotte Insurance today to discuss your auto and renters insurance needs.

How Does an Electric Vehicle Impact Your Insurance Rates?

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

an electric vehicle being charged

You want to drive an electric vehicle because you care about the environment. These days, electric models can drive further and are more affordable than in the past. Plus, charging stations are popping up all over the place. For those who want to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and get away from combustion engines, electric vehicles are a great option.

But there’s still the practical side of things to consider. How will an electric vehicle impact your auto insurance rates? Here’s what you need to know.

Auto Insurance Rate Changes

The reality is that the cost to insure an electric vehicle is often higher than a standard vehicle. It’s not because electric cars (or their drivers) are riskier. It has everything to do with the cost to repair or replace them. Electric vehicles tend to sustain damage more easily than combustion engine models. If a “minor” accident damages the battery pack, that could easily be a $15,000 (or more!) repair.

For insurance companies, it costs more to insure an electric vehicle because it costs more to repair damage, and they’re more likely to be damaged in an accident. So yes, your rates may go up when you switch from combustion engine to electric.

How Insurance Rates are Calculated

The cost to repair or replace your vehicle isn’t the only consideration for your insurance rates, though. A lot of factors go into determining what you’ll pay, some of which you can control. Other factors that determine your premiums includes:

  • Where you park: on the street, in a driveway, in your garage
  • How many miles you drive each year
  • Your driving history: accidents, tickets, etc.
  • Your age: the older you are, the less you tend to pay
  • Safety features installed in your vehicle
  • The type of coverage you select, as well as the deductible
  • Any discounts you’re eligible to receive

How to Save on Your Auto Insurance

To save on your auto insurance for your electric vehicle, it’s not that much different than other vehicles with one exception.

  1. Avoid accidents and tickets to keep your insurance rates from increasing. Drive safely, follow the rules, and pay attention to the road.
  2. Get quotes from multiple insurance providers to make sure you get the best price. An independent insurance agency like ours can help you with this.
  3. Bundle policies where possible to take advantage of any available discounts.
  4. Search for available rebates or tax credits for electric vehicles. If you’re eligible, this will help offset the increased costs of owning an electric car.

One thing to remember, if it helps, is that by driving an electric car, you’re no longer spending a lot of money on gas. This savings may help reduce the impact of any increase in your auto insurance.

Whether you’re driving a standard or an electric vehicle, Charlotte Insurance can help you find the best coverage at the best rate for your auto insurance. Contact us today for a free quote!

How to Use a Generator Safely

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

a generator being used safely in Charlotte, NC

After a storm, when the power is out, especially in summer, your home gets miserable fast. No cold A/C. Spoiled food. And no one can charge a phone or turn on a light. That’s why generators are growing in popularity with many homeowners.

Once the power goes out, you can at least have a little bit of power until electricity is restored. But if you’re not careful, your generator can cause more problems than whatever caused the power outage.

Safe generator use is extremely important because unsafe use can easily lead to three major hazards: electrocution, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here’s what you need to know to use your generator safely when the power is out.

  • Read the instructions. Whether you have a portable generator or a whole-house model installed, read the materials that are included. You’ll find valuable information inside, and it’ll likely answer questions you’ll have in the future.
  • Keep your generator outside and at least 15 feet away from windows. Having it inside or too close to a window can easily lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Place your generator where it can stay dry: on a dry surface and underneath a canopy or awning. When possible, avoid using your generator in rainy, wet weather.
  • Disconnect power to your home before hooking up your generator for power. If you don’t, the energy from the generator could backfeed into the utility lines.
  • Properly ground your generator to prevent shocks and electrocution during use.
  • Turn your generator on before you plug in your appliances or equipment.
  • Once you plug everything in, then turn on your appliances and lights one by one to avoid overloading the generator.
  • Plug appliances and other equipment the generator will power directly into the generator. Use heavy-duty, outdoor safe extension cords for your appliances.
  • Never plug a generator into a wall outlet. If you want your generator connected to the main source of power in your home, you’ll need to hire an electrician. Without proper training and experience, doing it yourself could lead to a fire.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your generator. This is a combination of learning your generator’s rate of fuel consumption and knowing how much fuel you can safely store at your home or business.
  • When you need to refuel, turn your generator off and let it cool down completely.
  • Keep your children and pets away from the generator while it’s running. It becomes very hot during use and may burn someone who touches it.
  • Keep your generator well-maintained and inspect it regularly for damage like cracks and leaks. You can also have your generator regularly serviced to keep it in good condition.

Having a generator to use after a storm or when the power is out is convenient and makes it easier to shelter in place. But not following basic safety precautions can lead to further tragedy. Make sure you know how to safely operate your generator before you use it.

Before any bad weather or natural disasters take the power out, make sure you have enough home insurance coverage to weather any storm. Contact Charlotte Insurance today to ask questions about your current policy or for a quote on a new one.

Back to School: Setting Your Students Up for Success

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

No matter what school looks like for your child this year, it’s nothing like any of us hoped it would be. From masking guidelines to social distancing, a lot has changed in the past couple of years. For students going back to school, there’s a lot of excitement but also stress, even in a typical year.

Here’s how you can set your student up for success and help them navigate the challenges of the school year ahead. Once they have these skills, they’ll be better able to handle future school years, too.

Expectation Management

No matter what age your student may be, they all have an image in their head of what they think school will be like. Now is a good time to sit down with them and discuss your expectations and also the reality of the current school year. Be honest that this won’t be a year when anything gets back to “normal.” Talk to them about how you expect them to behave so they can keep themselves safe.

Encourage them to talk about their own worries and fears with you. This can be a great opportunity to answer their questions and offer reassurance. Let them know it’s okay to ask for help, too.

Create Routines

Going from summer fun to the strict schedule of school isn’t easy. It’s even harder if your student learned virtually last year. Put together both morning and evening routines to help them stay on track and set them up for success. This minimizes important things being forgotten and helps keep the morning chaos to a minimum.

Morning routine:

  • Wake-up at a specific time
  • Shower, brush teeth, and get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Leave at a certain time

Evening routine:

  • Prep for the next morning: make lunch, get backpack together
  • Set alarm for the next day
  • Pick out clothes
  • Shower in the evening if morning isn’t a good time

Get to Know the School

What your child’s school offers will vary based on their own safety protocols and the age of the students. But take advantage of any opportunities available to help your child learn their new school and meet their teachers. This may be through virtual tours on the school website and in-person orientations to pick up schedules, visit classrooms, and meet teachers. For students going to a new school (like rising middle schoolers or high schoolers), walk around the campus so they feel prepared to find their classrooms on the first day of school.

Get Ready to Check Email

For both students and parents, email is the main way most schools and teachers will communicate with you. If your student isn’t used to consistently checking their school email, start the habit now. Set it up on a device (phone or laptop) they have easy access to. Remind them to check their email regularly.

And parents, if you’re not great about checking your personal email, now is the time to start. A lot of information will come to you from the school this way. Both you and your student will have more and better information if you keep up with emails during the school year.

Will you have a teen driver this school year? Has another child left the nest and headed to college? Make sure your insurance keeps up with the changes. To make updates or get quotes for new coverage, contact us at Charlotte Insurance. We can help you protect your family during the school year and beyond.

Celebrating the End of Summer: Labor Day 2021

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

labor day decorations

Summer is drawing to a close, and there’s no better way to celebrate than spending time with family and friends this Labor Day weekend.

Not sure what to do or where to go? There are several events to choose from in and around the Charlotte area all weekend long.

Labor Day Celebration

This Labor Day weekend, head over to the U.S. National Whitewater Center for a weekend-long celebration. The festivities take place Saturday, September 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Labor Day Celebration features both 5K and 15K trail races, yoga, live music, pass activities, and fireworks.

It’s free to attend and parking costs $6. You must pay a registration fee for races and pay for pass activities.

Queen City Art Fest

Head over to the Boardwalk at Shoppes at University Place this Labor Day weekend for the Queen City Art Fest. It takes place Saturday, September 4 from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 5 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Art Fest is free to attend and fun for all ages. Come out to enjoy art exhibits, cultural experiences, dancing, live music, drumming, spoken word art, plus shop vendors and let the kids enjoy a designated youth area.

Battle of Charlotte Living History Weekend

Love history? Looking for a way to immerse yourself in an experience? This Labor Day weekend, head out to Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville for the Battle of Charlotte Living History Weekend. You can watch reenactments of three Revolutionary War battles. One of those battles took place, in part, on Rural Hill. Attendees can also learn about the African-American experience through the Slave Dwelling Project.

It’s fun for the whole family with kids’ drills, weapon and artillery demonstrations, cooking, music, and more. Tickets vary in price, based on age and whether you’re attending for a day or the entire weekend.

Free Museum Admission

Customers of Bank of America/Merrill can enjoy free entry to several museums around the Charlotte area Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5. To get free admission, present your Bank of America debit or credit card and photo ID at the museum. Participating museums include Mint Museum Randolph, Mint Museum Uptown, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Levine Museum of the New South, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture.

Labor Day Spades Tournament and Cookout

Love playing spades? Feeling a bit competitive? Make plans for the Labor Day Spades Tournament and Cookout on Sunday, September 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Freedom Park Shelter 3. If you only want to go to watch and eat good food, admission is $10 per person. But if you want to play, admission is $20 for single players and $40 for pairs. You’ll have a great day and maybe earn bragging rights.

Yard Art Day

Once the weekend is over, what will you do with your time on Monday? Why not participate in Yard Art Day, a national celebration of creativity? Created by artist Deborah Triplett, Yard Art Day is “a grassroots arts exhibition, curated by the community, for the community.” Not sure what kind of art to make or how to participate? Check out the Yard Art Day website for all the details.

Let yourself get creative and be playful for a day. Spend it with friends and family and make something beautiful, weird, interesting, or just plain fun.

No matter what you do this weekend, we hope you have a safe and fun time. Happy Labor Day, from all of us here at Charlotte Insurance!