Recent News

Attention: T-Mobile Users - Data Breach

On August 20, 2018, T-Mobile contacted their customers to alert them of an unauthorized person accessing certain personal information.  The data that was compromised was name, phone number, email address, account number, and type.

Breaches such as this are now common place and you need to protect yourself with identity theft insurance coverage.

Give us a call at the agency to discuss.

Do You Know What The Most Costly Home Property Damages Are?

These five causes of home damage were identified by the Travelers in their recent report which tracked claims from 2009 to 2016.

  • Water-related water - leaking roofs and frozen pipes 
  • Wind – damage to roofs, walls, and uprooted trees
  • Non-weather related water damage – plumbing, sewer or appliance leaks or failures
  • Hail – damage to roofs (home or cards)
  • Fire – Electrical, cooking, wildfires

When reviewing your policies we will review your homeowner’s coverage to make sure that you have the right limits and coverages in place to protect you against these types of claims.

Have a question, give us a call at the agency.

Source: Travelers, Property Casualty 360

Cyber Protection is More than Insurance

No matter what your business, cyber-attacks are an increasingly common occurrence.  They not only affect the Internet, but also attack your core business systems.  In addition to your cyber liability coverage, you need to implement risk management support. 

What are the components of a risk management solution?

  • Clear identification of risks and vulnerabilities
  • Evaluation of customer and corporate data security
  • Advanced email security 
  • Point to Point Encryption
  • Malicious Intent Site Blocking
  • Employee Policies & Procedures
  • Adherence to ISO 270001/2 which includes hardware and software implementations that have change management oversight along with non-production testing and evaluation.

A recent article by Phil Britt on eSecurity Planet provides a great outline analyzing what is cyber security risk management along with the risk management process to apply to your business.

There is also an in-depth report you can download called “The Ultimate Guide to IT Security Vendors” which can assist you in learning about the potential threats to your business and what vendors specialize in cyber prevention.

A program that has strong risk mitigation precautions, coupled with extensive employee training, the proper software, and incident response protocol will help to protect your business. Cyber-crimes are not going away and businesses need to be vigilant in its prevention. 

Give us a call to discuss your cyber insurance and risk protection program. 

Source: eSecurity Planet

Back to School

August is Back to School Safety Month.  With the new school year about to start, it’s a good time to remind motorists to be extra careful at all times.  Here are some safety reminders for drivers:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving

Reminders for your kids:

  • Cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
  • Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars
  • Always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them

 For addition tips, go to the National Safety Council at https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/seasonal-safety/back-to-school.

Take the Pledge

What are the 100 deadliest days for teens?  It’s from Memorial Day to Labor Day, when accidents among teens drivers spike by 15%. Join the millions who have pledged to drive distraction free.  From checking emails to posting on social media - all of it can wait.

Go to www.itcanwait.com and take the pledge. Pass it along and save our teens. Check out the videos, take the 2018 VR Tour, and become an advocate with download documents you can share.  

 

Going Boating? 8 Things to Leave Behind

There are plenty of things you should remember to bring when heading off on a boating adventure, but there are also a few things that you’d be better off leaving behind. Certain items can create safety issues on a boat, while other things can just be a plain mess to clean up. Whether it’s your own boat or someone else’s, consider leaving these things behind when heading out for a day on the waves.

1. Shoes with marking soles

While shoes with dark soles are more likely to leave marks than those with light soles, you can test any pair of shoes to make sure they are non-marking and won’t leave scuff marks on the boat. Just draw a line with the heel of your shoe on a piece of plain white paper, and then check the paper to see if your sole left a mark. If you do not see a mark, you have non-marking soles. If you do see a mark, leave that pair behind.

2. Spray sunscreen

Pack a bottle of sunscreen or jar of clear zinc oxide to protect your skin from the sun while on the boat, but leave the spray sunscreen behind. When used on a boat, spray sunscreen can leave a slippery film on your deck, making falls much more likely.

3. Chocolate or other messy snacks

While certain snacks, like pretzel rods or grapes, are ideal for a day on the water, others aren’t. Be mindful of bringing snacks that won’t leave a mess behind. Two snacks you should leave behind are chocolate and cheese curls. Chocolate will melt in the heat, and cheese curls always seem to give you bright orange fingers that are bound to leave prints on boat upholstery.

4. Cigarettes

Refrain from lighting up on the boat, particularly if you are a guest. In certain situations, such as at the gas pump, cigarettes can cause a fire hazard. Not to mention that most boat owners don’t want to have to worry about someone burning a hole in the seats or throwing cigarette butts overboard. Leave the cigarettes at home.

5. Unexpected guests

If you don’t own the boat and didn’t give the boat owner a heads up about bringing a friend, child, or dog, it’s best to leave any surprise guests behind. Since boats have certain capacity restrictions, you should be respectful of that and always ask permission before bringing along a guest on someone else’s boat.

6. Perfume

Leave perfumes or scented body sprays behind, and keep in mind that it’s best not to apply them before going on a boat trip either. Perfume not only attracts bees and other pesky insects, but others who are along for the ride may not appreciate the scent in such close quarters.

7. Glass bottles or containers of any kind

Don’t bring along any soda bottles or glass containers that could shatter and leave small pieces on the boat deck. Glass can create a safety hazard, so opt for aluminum cans or recyclable plastic containers instead, and make sure you dispose of trash in proper receptacles at the dock.

8. Plastic grocery bags

These may seem like a good idea for transporting food and snacks at first, but once you empty out whatever you put into them, they are likely to fly off the boat as soon as a breeze kicks up. Help keep our waterways clean by leaving the plastic grocery bags at home, and use zippered lunch bags or cooler bags to carry food onboard instead.

Now that you have a list of things you should leave behind, don’t forget to think about the important things you need to have onboard. If you are a new boater, be sure to check with the U.S. Coast Guard to find out what safety equipment you are required to have onboard. Happy boating!

Source: Progressive

Food Safety During the Summer Months

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor picnics, barbeques, and sports.  It is also the perfect time to breed food bugs.  Take a look at some tips from the Food Network to keep both your food and family 

  • Use a thermometer – Don’t just rely on how food looks; make sure it is cooked.
  • Monitor leftovers – Cooked meats and salads should not be left out at room temperature for over two hours.  If weather is hot (90 degrees plus), never leave food out longer than an hour.  Toss any unrefrigerated food if it is passed that time.
  • Don’t reuse marinades.  Be sure to discard used marinade; this will prevent raw meat juices getting on your cooked food.
  • Separate raw and cooked food.  If you are ready to grill meat, use one plate for the raw food and a second clean plate for cooked food.  The same applies to tongs and serving utensils.
  • Wash hands properly – Wet your hands, apply soap, rub your hands together, rinse thoroughly, dry your hands.  
  • Pack a safe picnic – place raw meats and poultry in a separate cooler surrounded by ice. Keep in the air-conditioned part of your car, not your trunk.
  • Defrost meats properly. Leaving raw meat and poultry on the countertop to defrost will only allow dangerous food bugs to grow. Plan ahead and defrost meat 1-2 days in advance in the refrigerator.
  • Wash produce thoroughly. Wash fruit and veggies in cool tap water before eating to eliminate any bacteria. This includes washing produce like melon before you slice or peel it to make sure bacteria isn’t transferred from the knife to your fruit or veggies.
  • Wash reusable grocery storage bags. If use reusable grocery bags, it’s important to wash them regularly. Studies found that harmful bacteria can linger in your totes and hitch a ride with ready-to-eat foods like produce.
  • Decrease your cancer risk. Grilling is popular during the warm weather, but improper cooking techniques can increase your cancer risk. 

Follow these food safety tips and fully enjoy your outside activities.

Preventing Worksite Fatigue

According to a recent survey by the National Safety Council, 32% of reported injuries and near-misses are due to fatigued employees.

If your employees are working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week strongly contribute to incidents and fatigue. Another culprit is assigning workers to the night shift indefinitely and not giving workers adequate number of hours off between shifts. Rotating shifts is a best practice that entails scheduling a worker for the night shift for two weeks and then giving them time off and then scheduling for day shifts for two weeks.  

Employers could also implement the 12-hour rule: making sure employees have 12 hours off between shifts.

Controlling the boredom factor is another best practice. For those employees with monotonous work tasks, consider rotating the tasks that are being performed.  By doing this you cut down on the chances of fatigue.

Look at your worksite practices and see if you can implement changes to cut down on worksite fatigue that leads to injuries and near-miss accidents.

Source:  Business Insurance

Check Your Deck for Summer Safety

Backyard decks are the perfect place to enjoy warm weather with family and friends. However, a poorly maintained or unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries.

In the United States alone there are estimated to be 40 million decks in use that were built 20-plus years ago, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). Building codes, construction methods, and decking materials have changed considerably in those 20 years. Add in the fact that decks are outdoor structures constantly at the mercy of rain, sun, snow, and extreme temperature fluctuations, and it’s easy to see why an annual deck inspection is a smart idea.

Water damage, insect infestation, wood rot, and separation of the house and deck ledger board aren’t always visible to the untrained eye.

The five key areas to check on your deck:

  • Splintering Boards
  • Hand Rails
  • Stairs
  • Support Posts
  • Nails & Screws

Click here to download our infographic on “Check Your Deck”

Ensure that your deck is ready for all your summer activities by performing these checks on your deck.

Source: Property Casualty 360

         

Business Continuity

With Hurricane Season upon us, it makes sense to review your business continuity plan.  To illustrate why you need a comprehensive plan, here is a story from a business owner in Houston regarding their business recovery experience.

Three Brothers Bakery, a 69-year-old business owned by Janice and Robert Jucker, suffered losses of around $1 million after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston last August.  In 2008, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike forced the couple to close the bakery for nine months.  They lost $1 million after that storm.

Since 2001, the bakery has survived four floods, a hurricane, and a fire.  Calling herself “the Queen of Disasters,” Janice says she has learned a lot over the years about how to protect their business and recover more quickly after each event.  The Juckers received the SBA’s 2018 Phoenix Award for Outstanding Disaster Recovery.

Here are some useful business continuity tips from Janice Jucker:

  • Review your hazard and flood coverage NOW.   If you don’t have flood coverage, which is NOT covered by hazard insurance, contact the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance.  There is a 30-day waiting period after you make the first premium payment, so just hope you don’t experience a flood before the policy takes effect.
  • Make sure you have access to your insurance policy information, especially policy numbers. Keep handy phone numbers for both your insurance agent and the claims department.
  • Find a good restoration company—the team who’ll help you clean up the mess so you can focus on the task of reopening your business—and save their number in your cell phone.
  • Maintain an updated list of all your employees’ contact numbers and email addresses.  You’ll want to make sure your team is safe and kept in the loop about the recovery progress.
  • Obtain a line of credit or have enough cash to run your business for at least three months.
  • Move your important business records, personal memorabilia, and anything that’s irreplaceable to an offsite location. Move as much data as you possibly can to the cloud.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, the SBA approved more than 132,000 low-interest disaster loans for a total of $6.8 billion.  While the SBA will always be ready to assist businesses, homeowners, and renters after a declared disaster, having a preparedness plan in place will go a long way toward keeping your organization intact while supporting the long-term recovery of your community.  

Disaster preparedness resources:

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety—Tips on how to create your own business continuity plan, how to rebuild stronger, and an interactive disaster hazard map

Ready.Gov—Preparedness tips for risks including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, cyber-attacks, and active shooters

Start today to draft a business continuity plan to ensure you are prepared should a major catastrophe strike.

 

 

Source: SBA Administrator