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UBER INSURANCE

The wait is over. Uber insurance is available in NC! Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte and other surrounding cities in NC have waited patiently for a solution to the coverage gap for ridesharing insurance, also referred to as transportation network insurance.

As of 12/19/2016, we can now offer a personal insurance policy with an endorsement that can be added to it that will cover drivers who sometimes use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft. Insurance carriers on all personal lines auto insurance policies exclude coverage while driving for a transportation network. If you were driving for one of these companies up to this point, you were likely driving around without insurance for part of your trip.

Uber has taken the stance where they would cover a claim only while you had a passenger that you were transporting or when the Uber app matched you with your passenger you were to pick up. Your personal lines insurance policy would cover you only while you were using the vehicle for personal use. This left a gap in coverage while you were sitting with the app on waiting for a fare.

BEFORE:

Not Covered

*The app is turned on and you are waiting to be matched with a passenger.

Covered

*Match is made and you are on the way to pick up the passenger.

*Passenger is in your vehicle.

NOW:

No coverage Gaps on endorsed policies. Uber still covers you during the times stated above. Your endorsed policy will cover you while the app is on and you are waiting to be matched with the passenger.

Transportation networks are brand new, and we will without a doubt see changes in the future as the industry grows and changes. This sort of hybrid policy is a step in the right direction. Up to this point, drivers only had 2 choices.

  1. Purchase a true livery or taxi cab policy that was rated much higher than a personal auto policy due to a much higher exposure. You would also need to find a company that would allow you to add an endorsement to your policy that would allow you to use the policy for personal use as well.
  2. Take a chance and drive uninsured.

With a more affordable policy available in NC, there is no excuse for transportation network drivers driving for Uber, Lyft, or various other companies to drive without the proper coverage.

Anyone who has ridden in a vehicle for one of these ridesourcing companies cannot deny the ease of use of the app and, in most cases, the low fare cost. With so many users opting for Uber and Lyft over taxi cabs these days, we know that this form of transportation is here to stay.

If you have any questions or would like a quote on Uber insurance or Lyft insurance, please give us a call at 704-494-9495. There is no reason to have a gap in insurance coverage any longer. YOU MUST PURCHASE A POLICY WITH THIS ENDORSEMENT ADDED TO BE COVERED.

We will continue to update you on this exciting change with future articles regarding this subject.

MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE

If you are purchasing a motorcycle then you will likely be looking into purchasing a motorcycle insurance policy as well.

Spring is here which means you may have the fever to go out and explore the open road. We will discuss some important factors in motorcycle insurance before you buy one.  There are several things that you should be aware of when you take out one of these policies.  These policies are very similar to your auto insurance policy and cover many of the same things but there are some differences.

Motorcycle policies are written on annual basis in NC whereas auto policies can be written 6 months at a time, a full year, or both depending on the company. The reason for this is because the state of NC requires you to have liability insurance on a bike just as you are required to have one on an auto.

Many people might forget to renew their motorcycle policy if it is off-season and you aren’t riding at the time. You still must keep liability insurance on the bike unless you turn in your tags. If you are financing the bike then the bank will require you to keep comprehensive and collision coverage on the bike as well until you pay off the loan regardless of the season. In NC and SC, our seasons are longer anyways and the weather can be warm enough in any month to warrant a ride

Liability Limits

The liability limits you choose are required to be at a minimum 30/60/25 limits as required by NC law.

These split limits stand for $30,000 bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury total for each accident and $25,000 property damage for each accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage or Under-insured Motorist Coverage

We typically recommend higher liability limits on motorcycle policies not because you are likely to do more damage while on your bike versus a car, but due to the un/underinsured motorist coverage also being higher. We are more focused here on bodily injury claims than property damage. Unfortunately when you have an accident on your bike and have bodily injury, the expenses are oftentimes very high.

If you carry higher limits of liability then you can also carry the higher matching uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage. For instance if your limits are $100,000 bodily injury per person and you carry matching uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage up to these limits then you are protecting yourself much more. If you are hit by an uninsured motorist then you will be covered up to your $100,000 limit for your injuries. If that same driver hits you and he has only the minimum $30,000 bodily injury limit required by state laws, then you will still be better covered. Where that $30,000 limit stops, your under-insured motorist coverage kicks in and pays up to your $100,000 under-insured bodily injury limit.

Comprehensive and Collision

This is the same coverage as your auto and covers damage to your bike for accidents, weather, theft, etc. Even if you have your bike paid off you should seriously consider comprehensive coverage in addition to your liability coverage at the very least. Sport bikes especially have a very high theft rate and would be covered under these comprehensive claims.

Medical Payments

It is probably important to carry higher limits for medical payments on your cycle policy which will cover you and any passengers on your bike if you are hurt. This is true for obvious reasons.

Additional Equipment

Many companies allow for coverage for additional after-market equipment and safety equipment. A lot of them give you automatic coverage up to $3,000 under their standard premium. Higher limits are typically allowed to be purchased for an increased premium amount. It is important to keep accurate records and receipts of this additional equipment so you can present it to the company in the settlement of your claim.

Cost of Motorcyle Insurance

We write through many different insurance companies that specialize in motorcycle insurance. The cost of insurance can vary greatly from company to company. It is important that you shop out this insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal. We do this for our customers and we are able to save them a great deal by shopping it out.

Typically insurance on cruisers are cheaper than those of sport bikes due to the loss likelihood so sport bike riders should be even more pro-active when comparison rate shopping.

There are many discounts that can be applied to help lower your rate. A few examples are shown below. Be sure to ask about these when shopping.

*Motorcycle Safety Training

*Prior motorcycle coverage

*Motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license

*Rider Association

*Points not being charged if charged already on your existing auto insurance policy

*Bundle discount

Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if we can answer any questions as to proper coverage on motorcycle insurance. Due to the risk level, this is a very important topic and we don’t want anyone to wait until it is too late before educating themselves.

The Insurance Bundle Myth

One of the biggest myths in shopping for insurance is the insurance bundle discount.

A lot of insurance companies use this to entice customers to put all of their insurance policies with them. It is true that a discount is being offered on each policy but the overall rate of each policy might be higher than if you put each policy with a separate company.

There are very few companies that will be competitive across the board on insurance policies for auto, home, life, health, boat, motorcycle and business insurance.

There is exactly zero companies that will offer the best rate for every customer on all of these insurance policies. It is pretty typical for an insurance company to be competitive on either auto or home insurance policies. Whichever policy they carry a higher premium on would be made up by the competitive rate on the other policy.

Customers should look at all of their policies separately to make sure that they are, in fact, getting the best overall rate on all policy types. This is the value of an independent insurance agency. An independent insurance agent can shop out all of your policies with various companies to determine the best company for you. You would still have one agent for all of your policies and only one person to call to ask any questions you may have, but you would allow them to make sure you are getting the best overall rates.

A lot of times your independent agent can offer you discounts on each policy for carrying multiple policies with the agency which is equivalent to a bundle discount but you would not be forced to have all of your policies with the exact same insurance company.

As I write this I currently have my auto insurance with National General(GMAC), my home insurance with Bankers Insurance Group, my business general liability and workers compensation policies with The Hartford, my life insurance with AIG, and my health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The overall rate along with claims satisfaction and ease of doing business should be the most important factors in deciding where to put your insurance policies.

It is also worth mentioning that you should talk with your agent regularly to make sure that your policies are still with the best companies for you. Insurance companies change rates quite often and what may have been the best for you a couple of years ago may not be the best option for you now.

Don’t get roped into words and phrases that advertisers use to make you feel safe and that you are getting the best value. Shop for yourself and see if they are truly the best options for you. Call your independent agent today and have them work for you.

Builders Risk and Vacant Home Insurance

Certain circumstances may warrant you having a different policy for your home than a standard home insurance policy. We will focus on 2 separate kinds of insurance policies; builders risk policies and vacant home insurance policies. We will discuss the differences of each so you can make an educated decision on what is best for you and your needs.

Builders Risk Insurance:

This is a policy that is either purchased by the owner or the builder on a home that is being built from the ground up. A builders risk policy will cover the home while it is under construction. Coverage is also extended to the materials and equipment that are being used to build the home.

Once the home is completed, the policy should be canceled and replaced by either a vacant home policy or a standard home insurance policy. Claims settlement payouts on a builders risk are based on the amount of construction that has been completed. This means that if you are insuring the home at $200,000 and home is 50% complete then they will payout $100,000. This is a very simplified explanation and a true value of the amount completed would be determined on the overall payout.

Vacant Home Insurance:

This is a policy that covers vacant homes that are unoccupied either because it is listed for sale, listed for rent or lease, under construction, or the home is currently not inhabited for other reasons.

It is very important that once a home is vacated for any of the said reasons, that you notify your insurance agent immediately to avoid any possibility of a denial of future claims.

If your home is unoccupied and a claim is filed under a standard owner-occupied policy, the claim can be fully denied or payouts can be significantly reduced. Most home policies request to be notified within 30-60 days from the home being vacated.

2 Types of Vacant Home Insurance Policies

  1. Vacant with Renovations

    This type of policy will cover renovations being done to the home as long as the existing studs and foundation are being used. Some policies require there to be a distinction if there are renovations being done or not so they can rate the policy accordingly. If you are building completely from the ground up, including new studs or foundation, you should purchase a true builders risk policy.

  2. Vacant without Renovations

    This policy is what you should choose if the home is not undergoing any renovations or construction and is either up for sale or rent. These policies are typically cheaper than builders risk policies or vacant policies with renovations since the risk level is typically lower.

If you have questions regarding what policy is right for you, please contact your agent before a loss occurs. Denials of claims or reductions in the total payout can be detrimental due to the large investment value of your home. Our agents are always available for any questions you may have for home insurance policies in NC or SC regarding the above topics. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 anytime.

Personal Property Inventory

 Your home insurance policy likely has coverage for your contents of your home listed under personal property. This includes all of your items that you own that are not permanently attached to your home. Examples of personal property are clothing, appliances, electronics, tools, furniture, jewelry, etc. What you may not be aware of, is that you, as the insured, are responsible for documenting the items that you own in the event of a payout from your home insurance claim.

In the event of a loss, the insurance company will ask for a detailed list of items that you own in determining the claim settlement amount. They will not just write a check for the amount of coverages that you had chosen on your policy which is listed on the declarations pages of your policy. Further, you will need to prove that you owned said items.

If tragedy struck and your home and all of its contents were destroyed by a fire, how good of a job would you do in remembering every item you own? On top of that, very few us can remember brand names and especially model numbers of these items. How many work shirts do you own? How many pairs of shoes?

I would strongly recommend that every home owner take the proper precautions in documenting all of their personal property. Their are different ways to go about this and it is probably best to take a mix of these different ways of documenting your possessions.

  1. Keep receipts of all major purchases. Store these receipts somewhere away from your home. Furniture, appliances, electronics, etc. are examples of some items where receipts will be helpful in the event of a loss.

  2. Take photos of rooms in your home to prove what you own and help trigger your memory of items you own should you have a total loss. Store the photos or files away from your home.

  3. Walk around your home with a video camera talking out loud about purchases naming brands and models when known. Store the video or file away from your home.

  4. Use a site such as www.knowyourstuff.org to track your contents. They also offer an app that you can use directly on your phone.

The more details of your belongings, the better prepared you will be to get your insurance company a list of these items.

 Keep in mind, as we discussed in other blogs, that certain items are limited in their total payouts and these items would need to be scheduled on your policy. Some examples of these items would be jewelry, artwork, guns, computer equipment, and musical instruments. Check with your insurance company to see if appraisals are needed or what items will need to be scheduled.

 Don’t wait until it is too late to take a personal inventory of your owned items. Every little bit of time you take now will be greatly appreciated in the event of a tragedy. It will help ease the stressful situation of a large claim and you will be happy that you did it.

High Value Home Insurance in NC

If you own a high-value home, then this this is likely one of your largest investments. You want to make sure that you protect that investment for any loss in any situation. We specialize in writing high-value home insurance policies. We shop our clients with several of our insurance companies taking premium and coverage options in to mind. We would like to discuss some important items that you should take into consideration before insuring your home.

Dwelling Replacement Value- It is important that you have set your dwelling coverage at an acceptable limit so that if there is ever a total loss you will be adequately insured.

Replacement Cost Estimate:

A replacement cost estimate should be done to ensure you have the correct value. This is a program that should be run by your agent before issuing your home insurance policy. It takes into consideration the square footage and construction type of your home. It is very in-depth in determining what it would cost in today’s values what it would cost to reconstruct your home exactly as it stands today.

Do not get confused and take tax value, purchase price, or market value into account when determining the replacement value. These values can be vastly different than what a true replacement cost would be.

First of all, you want to eliminate land coverage in what you are insuring your home for. There are several areas, especially in Charlotte, where land value can be a large percentage of the overall market price of the home. You don’t need to over-insure your home when the land will still be intact even if you had a total fire loss. On the other end of that conversation, if you are using market value to assess the value of your home then you may leaving yourself with a big gap in the event of a loss. Market value especially at this current time can be much lower than the actual cost to rebuild your home.

Quality Grade: A quality graded is usually a higher grade on a high-value home than a standard home.

Builders grade takes into consideration the materials used and the fine details that builders use in constructing your home.

Different types of builders grades can commonly be referred to as:

  • Economy
  • Standard
  • Above Average
  • Custom
  • Premium

Some examples of things that increase your overall builders grade of your home include

  • crown molding
  • tray ceilings
  • cathedral ceiling
  • transom windows
  • picture windows
  • marble floors or exotic wood floors
  • stainless steel or high value appliances
  • granite, concrete, or marble counter tops
  • walk-in closets and custom built closets
  • whole home speakers
  • and many, many other items. The list goes on and on. The more custom your home in the build effort, the higher your quality grade will be.

 

Scheduled items or valuable items coverage- This includes items such as jewelry, artwork, silverware, guns, etc. These items have a maximum payout that may be limited under your normal personal property coverage. For example, on NC home policies, the maximum jewelry payout is usually $1500. It is for this reason that you would need them to be scheduled on to your policy at an agreed amount. Typically home insurance companies need to have a recent appraisal for every item of significant value that is to be added. Generally an appraisal in the last 3 years is sufficient.

 

Important endorsements and coverage options to consider:

Water/Sewer back-up:

This is a very important add-on to your policy for you to consider. The cost associated with water backing up into your house can be very high. This includes the cost of water damage to your flooring or walls. Most people don’t realize that this coverage is not covered on your standard home insurance policy. You must request it.

Scheduled items or valuable items coverage:

This was discussed earlier in this article and must be endorsed for any coverage to be paid more than the standard allowances.

Increased Dwelling Replacement Coverage:

You can further protect the insured value on your dwelling coverage to go above the estimated replacement value to ensure that you have covered your home for enough coverage on the building. Most companies will cover an additional 25% or 50% over what the replacement cost estimate is showing. These endorsements are pretty inexpensive to add and it will give you further peace of mind.

Personal Liability:

Liability coverage on your home insurance policy usually comes standard with $100,000 worth of personal liability coverage. It is highly recommended that you protect your assets by increasing this limit to a minimum of $300,000. You can increase this further to $500,000 or even $1,0000,000. That way if you are sued, your home investment is protected. You should also consider an umbrella policy which has been discussed in detail on one of our previous blogs on umbrella insurance. This policy will kick in and pay where your underlying policy stops.

Contents Replacement Coverage or Personal Property:

This is one area that you may be able to reduce your coverage under the common standard. Most home insurance policy covers the replacement of your contents at 70% of the value of your dwelling amount.

For example, if your home is insured at $1,000,000 then your contents coverage would be $700,000. Many people find that this is more coverage than they currently need. Ask your agent if you can reduce your personal property down to 50% which would bring your coverage in our example down to $500,000. This can reduce your premium. There is no sense in paying premium every year for coverage you don’t need.

Earthquake Coverage:

OK, here is one that in NC is pretty uncommon. The likelihood of an earthquake is highly unlikely. However, there is no coverage for this catastrophic event under your home insurance policy in NC. If you are an overly cautious person, this may make you sleep a little easier at night knowing that you are covered.

 

Your home is filled with items of value that you must really consider when you are insuring your home. You don’t want to wait until you have had a fire to realize that you should have looked more closely at your coverages to make sure you were properly insured. You will likely not pay more attention at your coverages later, at least not in the near future. It is important to get it right when you are getting ready to issue your policy. Most people pay very little attention to their policies even when they receive a renewal offer in the mail. Protect one of your biggest investments and put in just a bit more time on the front end and you can rest easy.

 

Of course we are always available to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if so.