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Charlotte Car Insurance

Charlotte Car Insurance

Comparing Car Insurance Rates in Charlotte, NC? 

I am going to tell you the best way to do it and how to get the best rates on your Charlotte car insurance.

Since we represent most of the insurance companies available in Charlotte, we know a thing or two about car insurance here.  Who has the best rates in Charlotte?  We will tell you. There are several factors that are considered when rating auto insurance.  We will discuss those and some ways you can save the most money on your car insurance rates.

comparing car insurance

Shopping Charlotte Auto Insurance Companies

You would need a crystal ball to know which insurance company is going to offer you the best rates.  The only way to truly know is to quote every single company that sells car insurance in NC.  We know you don’t have time for that.  So what is the next best option?  Your best bet is to find an independent insurance agency that represents the most companies.  We shop to find our clients the best rates.  In order to win more than 70% of the time, we have to represent the majority of insurance companies in Charlotte.  It is just the law of numbers.  

Don’t focus on bundling with one company.  In most cases you can fall into a trap on that.  The reason is, it is unlikely that one company will offer you the best rate on your auto insurance, home insurance, business insurance and motorcycle insurance.  If a company is low on car insurance, they will likely be higher on one of those other lines.  They typically have to make up for low rates on one policy with higher rates on another.  

An independent insurance agency can spread your policies around to the best company on each line of business.  They can also offer bundle discounts, in many cases, just for having your other policies with the agency.  The end result is you save the most money on each policy.  That is what we do with our own policies and that is what we do with our clients as well.

Even if you could find one place online that you could quote all companies yourself (you can’t), you don’t always know everything you need to know regarding the insurance coverage.  That is why it is imperative to find an agent you can trust to do it for you.  One that has your best interests at heart and can provide all of the insurance discounts needed to offer you the best rate.

So you found an agent that can help you shop multiple companies.  What is next?  We will discuss what factors play a role in getting you the best rate in Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte Insurance Rates by Zip Code

In the past in NC, zip codes played a much smaller role in car insurance rates.  Today the rates can be vastly different.  There is a lot of data that is looked at to determine what zip codes should have higher rates and which should be lower.  They look at the chances of accidents and theft when making these determinations.  

I can’t say I agree with the actuaries completely on this.  I agree they should play small role, but we have seen rates go up as much as 30% when a client moves from a preferable zip code to one that is higher rated.  First of all, the zip codes in Charlotte are pretty large.  In many cases there are pockets where the accidents and thefts are occurring much more than other areas within the same zip code.  In addition, very few people work in the same zip code that they live in.  This work address isn’t picked up on the risk and we all spend a significant time at work which leads to our vehicles spending time there too.  It isn’t just the commute either.  If you go out for lunch or to run errands during a break, you may be more likely to have a loss around work than home.

For those that live outside of Charlotte, your rates are cheaper.  If you live in Concord, Harrisburg, Waxhaw, Matthews, etc then you will see a significant rate reduction then those living in Charlotte.  This is true even if you work in Charlotte.  Below is a breakdown of some of the higher and lower zip codes.

Cheapest Charlotte Zip Codes:  27277, 28227, 28226, 28210
Highest Charlotte Zip Codes:  28216, 28262, 28269, 28213

Charlotte Population

Charlotte, NC is the 16th largest city in the nation.  We are just above Indianapolis and just under San Francisco.  The estimated population as of 2019 is 872,500.  This is a 19% increase in just 9 years.  To say that Charlotte is growing is an understatement.  In fact, Charlotte, NC is the 5th fastest growing city in the US behind Phoenix, AZ; San Antonio, TX; Fort Worth, TX; and Seattle, WA.

With population increases like these, along come increases in crime and accidents as well.  These things will dramatically effect car insurance rates.  Each time companies take large losses, they will raise rates to incorporate their profit margins in what is called loss ratio.  Insurance companies are in the business of making money after all.  If they incur more losses, the only other option is to raise rates to lower their loss ratio and increase their profitability.

Charlotte Insurance Driving Experience Years

The number of years you have had your license has the largest impact on your rates.  The reason for this is statistics overwhelmingly show a correlation for new drivers and accidents.  Currently the inexperience rating factor is incremental starting with 0 years experience and phasing out at 3 years.  This means that you pay the highest when you have under 1 year of experience and your rates go down for each year you have been licensed.  

A lot of people believe car insurance is rated based on your age.  This isn’t true.  It is solely based on when you first obtained your license.  This means if you first got your license at the age of 40, you will still pay higher rates as if you were 16 years old.  

Keep a watchful eye on the House Bill HB 221 that is in the NC General Assembly currently.  If approved, this will increase the number of years that you can face higher inexperienced rates in addition to charging any violations of 4+ points for a longer number of years.

Charlotte Insurance with Tickets and Claims 

accidents and insurance

The quickest way to raise your insurance rates is to cause an accident or to get a speeding ticket.  Your car insurance rates can go up 30-40% just for one of those unfortunate events.  The more you get, the more your rate goes up.

Accidents are settled as either not-at-fault, 1 point, 2 points, or 3 points.  The more points an accident is, the higher surcharge on your auto insurance policy.  You need to weigh this when you decide whether to file a small claim or not.  Depending on the company’s underwriting guidelines, this can effect you for 3 years or as much 5 years.  

Other Discounts on your Charlotte Car Insurance

There are many factors that effect your rate on Charlotte car insurance other than your driving experience, zip code, vehicle and driving record.  Some may surprise you.  I will mention several with explanations

Credit Rating

Most companies will adjust rates depending on your credit rating.  If you have worked hard to maintain excellent credit, then this will be very pleasing to you.  If you haven’t, then not so much.  Either way most companies will rate based on this factor.  Favorable credit can save you hundreds of dollars per year so it pays to clean it up if your credit rating is less than stellar.

Marital Status

That’s right.  Your marital status can effect your rate as well.  Marriage is more than just blissful love and tax benefits.  It will also save you on your auto insurance as well.

Incident Free Discount

This one is relatively new.  It used to be that if you were involved in an accident that was not your fault, it would not impact your rate in any way.  Not so anymore.  A lot of companies will give you an additional discount if you have had no driving incidents.  This includes being free of not-at-fault accidents, waived speeding tickets and accidents, and even those improper equipment rulings you paid your attorney to get you out of that speeding ticket.  These items don’t vastly increase your rates but it will make a difference with many companies.  It is always helpful if your driving history is blemish free.

Gender

This one is new in NC as well.  Other states have rated males higher for quite some time now.  Yes even way back when I got my license this was the case.  NC did not base rates on gender at all for a long time.  They do now.  It isn’t excessive, but you pay a little more.  Females do typically mature faster than males and statistics don’t lie.

Length of Prior Insurance

Having prior insurance will impact your rates.  Some companies won’t write your policy at all without prior insurance.  Others give larger discounts if you have had it.  Still others look at the length of prior insurance with your previous insurance company.  Call it a loyalty credit for how long you were with your prior company.  The new company hopes you will do the same with them.  Most insurance companies don’t make any money until you renew your policy after all.  This is due to the increasingly higher costs of doing business and the expenses of running motor vehicle reports.

 

10 Largest Auto Insurance Companies in NC

Top Charlotte Insurance Companies

Below is the list of the largest companies in NC by market share on written premium. Combined they make up over 86% of the market share in NC.  After these top 10, it is very much spread out from there.  

  1. State Farm
  2. Geico
  3. Nationwide
  4. National General
  5. NC Farm Bureau
  6. Allstate
  7. USAA
  8. Progressive
  9. Erie Insurance
  10. Liberty Mutual

Top Charlotte Insurance Companies by Risk Type

Charlotte car insurance has become more complicated to rate than ever before.  When shopping our clients in the past, we could very intuitively choose which company will win on a certain risk type.  Due to an increased number of rating factors, it is much harder to guess which companies will be the best with each risk type.  With that said we will give several scenarios along with the insurance company that would likely offer the best rates in Charlotte.  

Experienced drivers with excellent credit, prior insurance, and no prior driving incidents:

  • National General
  • Progressive
  • Geico

Driver with a DWI conviction:

  • National General
  • Dairyland
  • Progressive

Mom and Dad with a child in the household that is a new driver:

  • Travelers
  • National General

Driver with 3 or more accidents in the last 3 years:

  • Dairyland

Clean driver with previous military service:

  • USAA

NC Minimum Liability Requirements

North Carolina has minimum liability requirements of $30,000 bodily injury each person, $60,000 bodily injury each accident, and $25,000 property damage each accident.  These split limits are commonly referred to as 30/60/25 in shorthand. 

These limits have been the same for way too long.  In today’s dollars, these amounts don’t go too far.  We recommend having at least 100/300/100 on your policy.  A large percentage of vehicles purchased new are well over the $25,000 minimum property damage required.  That that means is if you hit a car over $25,000, you are responsible for the rest.  

At the very least you should purchase one step up from the minimum 30/60/25 limits and choose 50/100/50.  Some people will try to protect themselves with limits 250/500/100 and further protect themselves with an umbrella policy over top of that.  I believe the small change in premium is worth the peace of mind that you are covered if an accident occurs.  Also, companies increase your discount for having prior insurance if your limits were higher with your previous insurance company.

Charlotte Car Insurance Rate Compared to NC and the US

NC has some of the cheapest auto insurance rates in the nation.  In fact compared to the rest of the United States, we are the 5th lowest in the nation.  Charlotte just happens to have some of the highest rates in NC though.  As stated earlier, this becomes much more complicated when zip codes are taken into consideration.  Some of the lower zip codes in Charlotte may see lower rates than higher zip codes in other towns, even though that town itself offers lower overall rates than Charlotte does.  

To conclude, there are more factors used to rate an auto insurance policy today then ever before.  Insurance actuaries are always trying to find new ways at assessing risk.  This means that shopping for car insurance rates are harder now as well.  It is probably more important now than ever to have a knowledgeable agent as your advocate to ensure you are getting the best rates.  We have saved our customers hundreds and even thousands of dollars by using our vast knowledge and number of insurance companies to their advantage.  

If we can help you with your car insurance or answer any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 704-494-9495.

DOES MY BUSINESS NEED CYBER INSURANCE?

DOES MY BUSINESS NEED CYBER INSURANCE?

8 Questions Regarding Cyber Insurance and Your Business.

Cyber insurance is relatively new in comparison to other business insurance types.  It is increasingly being a necessity for many businesses today though.  Some industries require it while others simply want it to protect themselves.   

You have worked hard to build your business and maintain it.  It can only take one unfortunate situation to cost you a significant amount of money or even put you out of business. 

With cyber insurance being so new, many companies don’t fully know exactly what it is and if they have a need for it.  We have put together a handy questionnaire to help you assess your need for this valuable product.

Ask yourself these 8 questions when determining if cyber insurance is right for you.

      1.  Do you have employees? 

Most breaches come from mistakes made by your employees.  You may tell yourself that you wouldn’t make any mistakes that would cause a data breach.  The same may not be said for those who work for you. 

Even when an employee has the best of intentions, mistakes can be made.  Simply opening an email that is suspect could lead to someone accessing your customer’s or vendors information wreaking havoc on maintaining the success of your business. 

Also, keep in mind that we are all humans and even us as business owners can make a simple mistake.  Oftentimes you don’t even need to make a mistake.  You have just experienced bad luck in becoming the target.   

     2.  Does your business have a website? 

Your website could be hacked which could cause valuable information getting stolen.  You could also face business disruption due to your website being down.  Further, you could be at risk of defamation in printed word and copyright and trademark infringements. 

You should also make proper considerations to ensure your business website is ADA compliant.  Your cyber insurance policy may protect against some of that backlash.

     3.  Does your business accept credit or debit cards or other mobile friendly payments? 

Cyber criminals are most often trying to obtain customer credit card numbers in these data breach situations.  This can be especially detrimental if you store any payment information. 

In fact, 40% of all cyber crimes come from an attempt to steal client credit card information 

     4.  Does your business use email? 

A lot of information is delivered by email and could get into the wrong hands which can come back as a claim against your business. 

You could also have someone hack your email and send out phishing emails that could come back on your business. 

     5.  Does your business keep records of customer information? 

If you keep records of customer data than you could be at risk of this data being stolen. 

That includes but is not limited to the following: 

  • Social Security Numbers 
  • Date of Birth 
  • Drivers License Numbers 
  • Credit Card Info 
  • Bank Account Info 
  • Addresses 
  • Email Addresses 
  • Medical Records 
  • Company Tax ID Numbers 

     6.  Do your employees use personal devices? 

Stolen phones, laptops, and tablets could contain valuable customer data that could be detrimental if it got into the wrong hands. 

Even if a hacker can’t get into your network, they may have a much easier time getting into your employee’s devices. 

     7.  Does your business have a social media presence? 

I don’t have to tell you that we live in very sensitive times.  If you or an employee posts a comment on Facebook, Instagram, Next Door, etc, and it is seen as discriminatory or harmful to another person it can be very damaging to your business.   

Remember, the intentions of your comments don’t even matter these days.  Only how someone received your comments. 

    8.  Do you know exactly how to react if you had a cyber breach? 

Let’s say the worst thing happens, and you are a victim of a data breach.  There are certain things that need to happen immediately.  If you have cyber insurance, the company will immediately go to work to rectify the situation and acting quickly can be the difference between an unfortunate situation and something that may put you out of business. 

Let’s discuss some of those common claims paid by cyber insurance companies. 

Common Claims Paid by Cyber Insurance 

  1. Paying ransomware. 
  2. Covering fraudulent funds transfer from your bank. 
  3. Reimburse you for lost income from a network or website interruption. 
  4. Cover legal fees in suits made against your company from a data breach. 
  5. Pays legal fees for slanderous comments made by your company on social media. 

I hope this has helped shed some light on the world of cyber insurance and how it can be useful to your business. 

If you have any questions or would like a quote on this valuable coverage, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 704-494-9495.  We directly represent the best companies and the most competitive premiums in the industry.   You can also click here for my previous article on this topic.

Special Event Insurance

Special Event Insurance

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If you are hosting a special event, you will likely be considering a general liability policy. This is a policy put in place to protect yourself and any liability against yourself or your organization if you are sued during the event.

Even if you don’t desire the insurance to protect yourself, you are likely going to be obligated to have it if you are holding your event on city, county, or even privately owned property. Many entities require you to have special event insurance policies to protect them from any lawsuits that may arise.

The most common limits that are required are $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 aggregate. Aggregate means the maximum limit the policy will pay out for that term. Lesser limits are available if that is all that is required.

These policies generally have shorter terms which would cover only that event for it’s duration. There are longer terms available, up to 1 full year, if you plan on having multiple events throughout the year. In many cases each event does not need to be specifically scheduled. You should definitely check with your agent to ensure that you will be covered though.

Additional Insureds

You will likely be required to list the city, county, or individual company that owns the venue or property where the event is being held as additional insured. By listing these entities as additional insureds, they receive additional rights on the policy and they are typically notified in writing if your policy is ever to cancel.

Common Additional Insured Types

Below is a list of common entities that may require you to have general liability insurance for your hosted event.

  • Venue owners (convention centers, concert halls, playhouses,etc.)
  • City of Charlotte (or other city, county, state)
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department or other county police force
  • Neighborhood condo or home association
  • Apartment complex owner
  • Church
  • School district

What exactly are we talking about when we discuss special event liability insurance? Below is a list of some common events that may require liability insurance.

Common Types of Events Requiring Insurance

  1. Concerts
  2. Sports tournaments
  3. Beauty shows
  4. Auto shows
  5. Conventions
  6. Dog shows
  7. Fairs
  8. Flea markets
  9. Food tastings
  10. Hay rides
  11. Parades
  12. Poker runs
  13. Walkathons
  14. Races
  15. Music festivals
  16. Wedding receptions
  17. Religious meetings
  18. Craft fairs
  19. Festivals
  20. Dances
  21. Sports camps or clinics
  22. Christmas tree farms

When you call to request a quote for insurance on your event you will need to have certain information available. This type of policy can be quoted and issued very easy. In fact, it is much easier than most commercial general liability policies. You will need to provide some basic information though. In order to quote and issue your event insurance policy the company would need to know the following:

Items needed for quoting

  • The event type
  • Date and times of event
  • Location of event
  • Number of attendees
  • How long the event will last
  • Number of set-up and take-down days
  • If there will be any beer, wine, or liquor served
  • If there is private security at the event
  • If there are amusement rides
  • If there will be fireworks
  • If there have been any prior losses or claims

Two common occurrences that are not covered under your special event liability insurance policy are liquor liability and workers compensation. We will discuss both briefly below. If you have a need for either you should discuss this with your insurance agent.

Liquor Liability

Liquor liability coverage is required when you sell, serve, or furnish alcoholic beverages to customers. Any liability that arises from over-serving patrons or selling to minors would be covered under a liquor liability policy. Your special event liability policy would limit or exclude such losses so make sure you have a liquor liability policy in place if you plan to sell alcohol at your event.

Workers Compensation

Workers compensation, also referred to as employers liability insurance, is an insurance policy that will cover your employees or subcontractors for any lost wages or medical payments from losses while they are hurt on the job. NC law requires that any business with 3 or more employees have a workers compensation policy in force. This includes independent contractors if they don’t have current coverage themselves. If you want to protect yourself for any employees injured while working at your event, you should purchase a workers comp policy to protect yourself since these losses will also be excluded from your special event liability policy.

I hope that this article has answered many of your questions regarding special event insurance. If not please call us at 704-494-9495 to discuss any other questions you may have or to clarify anything that we have discussed. We specialize in special event policies of all kinds throughout Charlotte and all areas of North Carolina.

We also have a limited market offering online quotes.  If it doesn’t fit the target market of the companies on this rater, feel free to give us a call so we can shop our other markets. 

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Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance

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What is professional liability insurance and why do you need it?

One question people ask me a lot is: what is professional liability and what does it cover? Professional liability is like a general liability policy for industries that provide service and/or advice.  It is also commonly referred to as errors and omissions insurance.

This is not to say that a general liability policy should not be chosen in addition to a professional liability policy for these service industries. In some cases, especially when there is an office where customers visit, a general liability policy should also be considered.

Professional liability policies not only pay out for any awarded damages to another party but they can pay your cost of defense in these situations as well. So even if a suit is unwarranted, the cost to defend yourself can cripple your business if you don’t have a policy in place to protect you for this.

 

What types of industries need professional liability or errors and omissions policies?

Professional Liability in NC

What is a retroactive or retro date?

Professional liability policies are on a claims made basis. What this means is that your policy would cover any losses that arose during that policy period only. A retroactive date can be used on these policies that will go back to the original date you began your business.

So if your policy was in effect from 04/01/2018-04/01/2019, your expiring policy would no longer be on the hook for any claims made after that expiration date of that policy. If you moved to another insurance company that began on 04/01/2019 then they would pay out on any claims made after 04/01/2019 regardless on when the said error occurred.

If you started your business in June of 2003 than that would be your retroactive date on your policy so any losses during that policy term would pay out for any errors that occurred since your business began. This is why your rates for errors and omissions policies increase the longer you are in business.

What is tail coverage or extended reporting period?

Tail coverage, also known as extended reporting coverage, cover claims arising after the policy period is over.  This is common on a business owner that retires or sells his business.  You pay a premium based on how long this tail coverage extends for.

What does retention mean in professional liability?

Retention, when referring to professional liability insurance, refers quite simply to your deductible.  Typically deductibles chosen are much higher for these policy types.  Most common retention ranges from $0 to $10,000 with the most common around $2,500.  This means that if you have a loss you will be responsible for your deductible before your insurance company begins paying on the claim.  Keep that in mind if you choose a higher retention option.

What are some common claims covered on professional liability?

  • Errors
  • Omissions
  • Breach of contract
  • Misrepresentation
  • Inaccurate advice

Let’s give a few more examples of real life claim situations.

  • A computer consulting and security company provides you with advice on how to keep your computer server and customer data safe.  The advice they provide is less than adequate to prevent a data breach.   This results in client information being stolen.  You then file a professional liability claim against the consulting company’s policy.

 

  • You hire a property manager to manage a rental property for you.  A guest of the tenant falls due to a broken step.  You file a claim against the property manager’s professional liability policy for failure to maintain safe conditions of the property.

 

  • You buy a property from a real estate agent to use as business office.  Your agent wrongfully tells you that this will be fine.  Due to zoning laws, you are forbidden from using that property for your business office.  You file a claim against the real estate agent’s professional liability policy.

 

You should be aware that a professional liability policy is likely not enough for you to be covered in every situation.  These policies will not cover you if you cause bodily injury or property damage to someone outside the scope of a professional liability policy.  This is why we would recommend you having a general liability or BOP policy to supplement this policy to avoid any uncovered items arising.

If you have any further questions as to what policy is best for your business, please give us a call at 704-494-9495 and we would be happy to discuss any questions you may have.

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Truck Insurance Near Me

Truck Insurance Near Me

Trucking Insurance Agency

Getting your trucking insurance policy from a local agent is extremely important.  Dealing with a local agency that you can sit face to face with can be very helpful when you are dealing the complications of commercial auto insurance.   The trucking industry is complicated.  Insurance for commercial trucking is no different.

Commercial trucks can include any of the following types of businesses:

Truck insurance companies

Types of commercial trucks

  • Dump Truck Insurance

  • General Freight Hauler Insurance

  • Auto Hauler Insurance

  • Contractor Insurance

  • Public Transportation Insurance

  • Tow Truck Insurance

  • Non-Emergency Medical Insurance

 

If you own a business similar to one of the ones listed above, then you will likely have either a Federal or State of NC requirement to be able to acquire and keep a commercial tag.  Even if you don’t have those requirements, then you may have requirements from a contract that requires the same or higher limits as those required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the state of NC.

What Types of Coverage Do you Need?

This question will vary depending on your business type, the requirements of the State of NC and Federal Government.

  • Liability Limits: You will have some limit of liability required, depending on several factors.  These limits can range from $30,000/60,000/25,000 up to $5,000,000 combined single limits.  The amount of coverage required can depend on your vehicle, radius, what you are hauling, gross vehicle weight, and if you are crossing state lines to name a few.
  • Cargo Liability: This covers the commodity that you are hauling and can vary a great degree depending on the contract requirements and the Federal or State of NC requirements.
  • Physical Damage: This covers the value of the vehicle you are driving, and the coverage required will depend either on your comfort with losing the value of your vehicle in the event of a loss or the bank requirements of the bank you are financing the vehicle through.
  • On Hook:  This covers the vehicle you are hauling in towing insurance risks.  The value of the coverage chosen should be minimally, the highest value of the vehicle you would ever tow.
  • General Liability: This covers your negligence outside of hitting someone with your vehicle or damage to the items you are hauling.

 

  • Umbrella: An umbrella or excess liability policy will cover above and beyond where your underlying policy limits leave off.  You want this policy in place to protect yourself further or to satisfy a contract.  Many of the bigger contracts will require this policy today.
  • Workers Compensation:  This covers your legal liability for your employees or subcontractors and may even be required by a contract even if you don’t have employees.  Even if you hire only one independent contractor, you are obligated by NC law to carry workers compensation.
Commercial truck insurance takes on a whole new level of responsibility than your personal auto insurance.  You may want to consider consulting an agent that is near you, to help you with local State of NC laws and help you determine what coverage will best suit you for these requirements.  Outside of government responsibilities, you will likely encounter contract requirements that a veteran agent and agency can help you navigate.  You will also want an independent agency that can help you get quotes from multiple carriers.  Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if you have any questions or would like a shopped quote from the top insurance companies in your industry.