Recent News

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

Small Business Optimism Nears 45-Year High

In May, Small Business Optimism rose to 107.8 - the second highest level in the 45-year survey history according to JobCreators.  Income increases hit a 45-year high with a net 35 percent reporting raises for their employees, while positive sales trends are at the highest since 1995.  Business expansion plans are also the most robust in survey history. 

 If business expansion is in your future, give us a call to discuss the affects these changes not only have on your business, but what effect they may have on your insurance coverages.

Thinking of buying a motorcycle?

You will need to consider obtaining coverage for your motorcycle.  While you can easily add it to your personal auto policy, there might be a better way to provide protection due to numerous gaps in coverage since auto policies were not designed with motorcycles in mind.

Consider a specialized motorcycle insurance policy.  Here is why:

Personal Auto Policies provide physical damage which covers the auto, but not personal property 

Specific motorcycle policies are written to motorcycle-specific terms which eliminate confusion as to what is covered when a claim occurs.

Motorcycles are bound by the same coverages as your personal auto policy.  If a motorcycle owner wants, as an example, higher medical payments, he/she would be restricted if they have chosen to use their auto policy instead of a dedicated motorcycle policy.

Specific motorcycle policies can offer discounts only available on motorcycle insurance.  This can be as much as 10%.

Give us a call when you are getting ready to insure your motorcycle, and we will explore the best option(s) for your new wheels.

Source:  IRMI

Thinking of adding a 4-legged member to your family - Breeds that are not Family-Friendly

24 dog breeds have been identified by experts that should not be around children or young families.  These breeds can also cause your homeowner's insurance to skyrocket or cause a cancellation.

  • Skye Terrier
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Dalmatian
  • Dachshund (Standard Smooth)
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Japanese Chin
  • French Bulldog
  • Greyhound
  • The English Toy Spaniel
  • Afghan Hound
  • Chow Chow
  • Affenpinscher
  • Siberian Husky
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Weimaraner
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bullmastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chihuahua
  • Akita

So before bringing a new four-legged member to your family, give us a call to discuss.

Ways to Maintain Your Home & Prevent Losses

Here are a few maintenance tips you might want to add to your Honey-Do list:

  • Caulking - helps to prevent mold and water damage
  • Dryer - Lint Traps and Exhaust Ducts - prevents dryer fires 
  • Inspect & Repair Roof
  • Test & clean the sump pump and pit - helps safeguard against basement and crawl space flooding
  • Inspect & clean chimneys yearly
  • Clean & maintain gutters and downspouts which can cause damage to your foundation
  • Check for termites yearly
  • Regularly maintain pipes & plumbing - burst pipes can send water throughout your home
  • Inspect your deck 

Performing these maintenance tips can help you mitigate the risks to your home which can result is thousands of dollars of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

Keep Safe During This Memorial Day Weekend

Lots going on this weekend; most likely you will have a barbeque and take a dip in the pool.  Here are a few things to consider this Memorial Day weekend to keep you and your family safe:

  • Pool Safety - Keep an eye on swimmers, especially younger children; never drink alcohol while swimming or supervising swimmers. 
  • Use Sun Screen - Don't forget to break out umbrellas to provide shade.  Remember, you still are exposed to the sun's rays so don't forget to wear a hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Grill Safety - Make sure your grill is clean.  Dirty grills cause many injuries.  Don't wear loose clothing and keep items, except the food, away from the flame.  After grilling, make sure the coals are out or the propone is turned off.
  • Drink Responsibly - If you are driving, don't drink and drive.  Keep your cellphone out of reach. Elect a designated driver or hitch a ride with another attendee.
  • Use Caution with Fireworks - Know your local laws regarding fireworks.  After lighting fireworks, keep a safe distance.  Don't hold fireworks in your hand after they are lit, and don't light them  in a container of any kind.  Only responsible adults should use fireworks, no teenagers.

Review these tips and enjoy and safe holiday weekend.

Source:  UPMC Health Beat

Mobile Device Threats

According to Michael Ogden in his recent article in PropertyCasualty 360, there are five mobile device threats and how to prevent them. 

Top threats:

  • Phishing Attacks - use deceptive sites or software programs that masquerade as legitimate ones to steal vital user information (user login credentials and credit card numbers)
  • Malware Infections - can steal data and eat up computing resources from mobile devises.  They can trigger users into taking actions that further compromise mobile devices.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats - are coordinated network attacks hackers use to gain access to an organization's network and data.
  • Untested Mobile Apps - beware of downloading apps from a third-party source instead of downloading from regulated app stores.
  • Outdated Operating Systems - leaves your mobile devise vulnerable to malware and other security threats.

How to avoid these threats according to Comodo Threat Research Labs:

  • Avoiding connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • Downloading apps from trusted sources, such as the Google Play Store and iOS App store, and not from unreliable third-party sources;
  • Being wary of unsolicited calls or messages; and
  • Mitigating mobile device attacks from penetrating the corporate environment, which provides the controls needed to secure, manage and monitor all the employe­e-owned mobile devices that access critical business data.

Keep these tips in mind to help you maintain your mobile device.

Support Local Businesses This Weekend

Wrap up the Small Business Week by supporting local businesses.  Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. They also create two out of every three new jobs.  To survive they need our support.

So, when you run your errands this weekend, stop by and support your local small businesses.

Compromised Emails on the Rise

The compromise of business email is on the rise, particularly for cloud-based applications, according to the most recent report from Beazley Breach Response Services, part of specialist insurer Beazley P.L.C.

The industries most affected were the financial services, health care and professional services industries, according to the Beazley Breach Insights report, released Monday.

Many of the incidents involved Office 365, the cloud-based suite of Office applications, which accounted for 13% of incidents, the report said.

Hack or malware accounted for 42% of incidents, followed by accidental disclosure at 20%, and both social engineering and insider at 9%, the report said.

Other causes were portable devices at 5%; physical loss/non-electronic record at 4%; payment card fraud at 1%; and unknown/other at 10%. 

Spreads among the different industries varied widely. In higher education, hack or malware accounted for 47% of incidents, followed by accidental disclosure at 21%, less than half.

The spread in the financial sector is even greater, with hack or malware in 55% of incidents and accidental disclosure, the next most frequent type, in just 18%.

Among health care incidents, however, hack and malware and accidental disclosure both came in at 29%, the report showed.

“These incidents are usually caused by an employee clicking on a link in a phishing email, often in the form of a ‘DocuSign’ request, Help Desk message, or Microsoft survey,” the report said.

Such incidents are on the rise because they are easy to carry out and the email accounts can be used for a variety of purposes, the report said.

Many can be easily avoided, however, by enforcing strong password policies and educating employees about the risks of recycling passwords for different applications; alerting employees who have access to accounts payable systems or wire transfer payments about these types of scams; and training all employees to beware of phishing attempts.

“The number of compromised email accounts is accelerating, but simple steps such as frequently changing passwords, having dual-factor authentication and removing auto-forwarding or auto-delete rules can help reduce vulnerabilities,” Katherine Keefe, global head of Philadelphia-based Beazley Breach Response Services, said in the report. 

Source:  Beazley Breach Response Services

Beware the latest Medicare Scam

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is warning seniors of an identity-theft scam targeting Medicare recipients.

Starting this month, Medicare will be mailing new cards with random characters – instead of Social Security numbers – to nearly 60 million seniors. The new cards are a security measure to prevent medical and financial ID theft by scammers who steal seniors’ Social Security numbers from the cards, according to the coalition.

But con artists have been cold-calling senior citizens about the new cards, trying to steal Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card information, the coalition warned. Callers pretend they’re from Medicare and request seniors’ personal information. Among the pitches scammers are using are:

  • You must pay for your new Medicare card or else you’ll lose your benefits
  • Medicare is updating its files and needs your bank and credit card numbers
  • Medicare needs to confirm your Social Security number before you can receive your new card
  • Medicare needs your bank information in order to send you a refund on your old card

The coalition warned that scam emails and texts are using similar tactics.

“Scammers prey on confusion about the new Medicare cards,” the coalition said. According to an AARP survey, three out of four seniors know little or nothing about the cards, and six in 10 think they must pay a fee. Up to half might not question the legitimacy of a call from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative.

The coalition offered this advice:

  • If someone calls you with a pitch about the new cards, hang up. Medicare won’t phone you about the cards. They’re free, and Medicare recipients do not have to report or verify information in order to receive them
  • Sign up for an alert that Medicare has mailed the new card
  • Destroy your old Medicare card when the new one arrives

Please follow these tips to keep your Medicare information. 

Source: Insurance Business America