CORONA VIRUS HELP:RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND HOMEOWNERS

MARYLAND ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR YOUR STATE The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering three new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: • Financial Assistance & Taxes • Employer & Worker Assistance • Licensing & Permitting For more information on any of these programs, visit the Maryland Department of Commerce website.

ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR YOUR STATE

Pennsylvania: https://www.dli.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx Delaware: https://business.delaware.gov/coronavirus/ District of Columbia: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/ recovery-business Virginia: https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus-updates/ North Carolina: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/ public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19- response-north-carolina National Resources For information regarding federal programs offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), please visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

Be Better Prepared for the Unexpected When You Travel


Is travel getting riskier? Whether traveling for business or pleasure, travel is riskier than ever. Take the recent case of the man in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl who was carjacked and shot by a group of local teens. A survey cited in Business Travel News by International SOS, a travel risk-management firm, found that over half of travel managers reported increased business travel risk in 2019, and almost half believed travel risk will increase in 2020.

Security threats, civil unrest, and even weather-related risks can cause travel problems at home and abroad. A travel insurance policy can help ensure outside help if you become sick or injured while traveling on vacation or business.

Business travelers face different concerns from those traveling for pleasure; however, the risks are similar. Travel insurance can help protect you against last-minute trip cancellations and lost luggage. Some policies offer kidnap and ransom coverage, repatriation in case of injury or worse, and expert help in medical emergencies.

Consider this. You’re in Cuenca, Ecuador, and fall, suffering a compound leg fracture. Who is the best doctor in Cuenca to repair your injury? Should you have the injury stabilized in Cuenca and then travel elsewhere for further treatment? What if, after a serious injury, you need to return home for treatment? The right policy can offer emergency medical assistance and response. Highly trained medical and security personnel can direct you to the appropriate medical treatment and, if needed, return you to the US for care.

Usually, travel insurance is inexpensive. The rates vary based on the travelers’ ages, the deductible and coverage limits you select, and where you travel. While travel insurance websites offer online quotes, it’s better to work with an experienced agent to determine the broadest coverage for the best rate.

Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

Eighty billion dollars. That’s how much insurance fraud costs American consumers each year, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. This amount of money could buy new vehicles for 2.4 million people (which would cover every driver in Oklahoma.)

This alarming cost takes many forms. It might involve staging an accident to make false injury claims. Or it might include inflating damages to get a higher insurance payout.

Whatever scam is involved, the cost of the fraud ultimately gets passed along to consumers as they are forced to cover false claims, investigations, legal activities, and (potentially) higher insurance premiums.

To protect yourself from these costs, take the following precautions against insurance fraud.

Drive defensively: Never tailgate. Other drivers may take advantage of the situation to stage an accident.

Report accidents: Even if the damage is minor, always report any auto accident to the police. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report. This will provide proof if the other driver tries to make false claims down the line.

Document everything: Take pictures of the vehicles involved in an accident. These images will document what damage (or lack of damage) is present to prevent false claims or exaggerations. Additionally, record the details of the incident. This should include license plate numbers, contact info and driver’s license numbers of all drivers, and contact info for any witnesses.

Avoid scammers: If anyone appears at the scene of an accident and attempts to guide you to an attorney or a specific doctor, turn them away. This is a red flag that they are attempting insurance fraud. The same is true for doctors who insist that you file an injury claim even if you’re not hurt. If this is the case, you may need to find a new doctor.

Consult quickly: Regardless of fault, report auto accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible. We’re here to help you navigate any claims and protect you from insurance fraud.

Does Your Hobby Need Insurance Coverage?

Gary and Nancy Doss of Burlingame, CA have been collecting Pez dispensers for two decades. They now have more than 500 of the small candy containers. The rarest product, a “Make a Face” Pez from the 1970s, is worth $5,000.

Do you have a hobby that has grown larger than you may have anticipated? You don’t have to be as dedicated as the Dosses to find yourself heavily invested in a hobby. A model locomotive could be valued at $300. One guitar can easily cost $1,500.

Whether you collect, build, or play, funding for hobbies can quickly add up to significant amounts. If you think you’ve invested quite a bit in your hobby, do a quick review.

Consider the value of your items and supplies. Is it more than $500? If you have invested more than $500 so far, you should make sure it is properly protected.

Review your insurance policies to make sure the items are covered under your homeowners or renters policy in the event they are damaged or stolen.

Keep in mind there are certain limits to most policies, and high-value items might max out the coverage. You may need to purchase a rider to add a particularly valuable piece of equipment to your insurance coverage.

If your hobby investment is less than $500, you should still make sure any high-priced items are included in your home inventory.

January is the perfect time to update this list. Be sure to add any recent holiday gifts to the inventory!

If you have any questions about your insurance coverage or needs, feel free to contact me. I’m just an email or phone call away.

Happy New Year! It’s Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage

As the new year approaches, many people review their lives and make new goals for the future, to maybe eat better or exercise more, for example. This turning of the calendar page is also a good time to review your insurance coverage. An annual review allows you to update information and policies to ensure you are appropriately protected in the coming year.

To complete this process, take the following key steps.

Take inventory: Create a home inventory (or update your current one). Be sure to add any major gifts you receive this holiday season and remove anything you have donated, sold, or thrown away in 2019. In your inventory, include a description and the cost of items. Scan or photograph receipts to save with your list. Store everything online and/or off-site so you can access it in case of disaster.

Assess automotive needs: Consider the age and value of your vehicles. Is your coverage still appropriate? Have the primary drivers on any vehicles changed this year, or will they soon? Make sure deductibles, limits, and primary driver designations all make sense for your current needs.

Look for changes: Have you experienced any changes in the past year that might affect your insurance coverage? Renovations, births, purchases, and commute changes can all affect your insurance considerations.

Check for savings: Don’t miss out on any savings opportunities. Check for multiple policy discounts, changes in requirements, or new programs that may cut your insurance costs.

Contact our office for a quick review of your policies. I can help you evaluate your insurance needs to make sure you have the right coverage as you head into the new year.

Top 10 Insurance Claims for Small Businesses

Small-business owners hope they never have to file a claim, but research by financial services giant The Hartford reveals that 40 percent of small businesses file a claim within a ten-year period.

Where is your business most at risk? What insurance coverage should you invest in to protect your company?

The Hartford analyzed claims data and discovered the following top ten most common claims for small businesses. You can consider these incidents as the most likely threats to your business and plan accordingly.

1. Burglary and theft: One in five small businesses filed this claim. Keep in mind that the incidents of theft may involve outsiders or dishonest employees.

2. Water damage: Fifteen percent of small businesses suffered damage from water or freezing and filed claims for these incidents. These claims include damage to roofs from snow and ice as well as any damage caused by frozen plumbing.

3. Wind and hail: Fifteen percent claimed wind and hail damage. These inclement weather conditions can cause damage to many aspects of a business, including vehicles, buildings, and outdoor equipment.

4. Fire: One in ten small businesses made a fire claim. Fires can cause minimal damage, or they can completely destroy a property. It’s important that business owners not underestimate the potential fire has to cripple operations. Without adequate coverage, a small business might not recover from this type of disaster.

5. Slip and falls: Ten percent of small businesses experienced a customer slip and fall that resulted in a claim. Some companies are more susceptible to this risk than others. Consider how often members of the public visit your site to determine the amount of coverage you need for these incidents.

6. Customer injury/damage: Less than five percent experienced a claim for customer injury and damage. These are covered incidents that didn’t involve a slip and fall. These claims include damage to property or personal injuries such as those that occur if a product falls and hits a customer.

7. Product liability: Less than five percent made a product liability claim. The nature of a company’s business, what they produce, and any warranties provided are important factors that determine the level of product liability for any particular business.

8. Struck by an object: Examples of these claims include falling tools, moving vehicles, and mobile equipment. Less than five percent of small businesses made these claims.

9. Reputational harm: These claims include suits of libel and slander. If a party alleges that the company damaged their reputation, they may file a suit, which results in this type of insurance claim to cover the case. Less than five percent of small businesses made this type of claim.

10. Vehicular accident: Less than five percent made these claims. Often, good safety practices and appropriate driver safety training can help prevent auto accidents and allow companies to avoid this type of claim.

Every small business is exposed to some type of risk. Some are open to more liabilities than others. To ensure that your company has appropriate protection, contact my office. We can review your operations and determine which policies make sense for your business.

Together, we can put coverage in place that gives your company the security it needs for continued growth and success.

Open Enrollment for Affordable Care Act Coming Soon

Each year, open enrollment allows new enrollment in the  Affordable Care Act (ACA). This period also gives those already enrolled a chance to review their coverage, change deductibles, and fine-tune their ACA plans.

For example, according to CNN, the average deductible for a Bronze plan is about $5,900, with an average out-of-pocket limit of a little under $7,000. Upgrading to a Gold, Silver, or Platinum plan will cost more per month; however, this could allow you to lower your out-of-pocket costs. How? A Bronze plan covers about 70 percent of your medical costs per year while a Platinum plan covers about 90 percent of your yearly health care costs.

Our no-obligation consultation about your 2020 ACA coverage can help you determine if you should stick with your current plan or consider upgrading to save on annual health care costs.

We do get busy during open enrollment, so do not hesitate to call us now. We can discuss your options and help you determine if you want to make the switch when open enrollment begins November 1, 2019. If you miss the last day of open enrollment (December 15, 2019), you will not be able to enroll for 2020 unless you qualify for coverage due to a special life event, like losing your group insurance.

Do not wait until the last minute to discuss your ACA options with us. Plans sold during the 2019 open enrollment period go into effect on January 1, 2020. If you had coverage under the ACA in 2019, your re-enrollment is automatic. However, your plan’s cost may increase, or you may find that you have different medical needs and would like to switch plans.

Don’t struggle alone with the online options when professional help is available. Contact us today.

Gone Phishing: Don’t Take the Bait

The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report indicates that one third of cyberattacks involve phishing traps. These scams involve imitating a reputable source to induce staff to reveal sensitive information. As companies increase awareness of these cons, cyber criminals increase their efforts, making tactics more sophisticated.

How can you protect your company?

First, educate yourself and staff about current phishing techniques. Cybercriminals often use links embedded in emails to direct employees to unsecure sites. A second common method is to spoof a sender email address and request secure data. Scammers may also impersonate a known IT department or vendor and ask for sensitive information over the phone. Recently, phishing tactics have expanded to texting, which can be particularly effective, since staff may be more distracted and less vigilant when it comes to these informal interactions.

In addition to education, protect your business from phishing methods by using appropriate security software and remaining current on all updates. Use spam filters and web filters to block malicious content. Develop solid security protocols for password protection and encrypt all sensitive business data. Don’t forget to require encryption for telecommuters, too.

Even with the best measures in place, you may be susceptible to attacks. To fully protect your business, establish appropriate insurance coverage. Cyber insurance policies offer protection for these situations. If you suffer a data breach, data loss, business interruption, or other expenses due to cybercrime, insurance is essential for covering the resulting costs.

Contact our office to find out more about available coverage for your company.

Technology Insurance vs. Cybersecurity Coverage

In today’s business world, most companies are dependent on technology for some or all of their company’s operations. While this makes many new processes and services possible, it also leaves businesses vulnerable to a new realm of risk.

Cyber crimes, computer crashes, and software malfunctions are just a few of the technological risks that modern companies now face. Since technological incidents can cost a business anything from a few minutes of inconvenience to millions of dollars, it’s essential for companies to have appropriate insurance coverage.

Enter technology insurance and cyber insurance.

These two types of policies provide the protection businesses need to recover from technological disasters. Not only is their coverage important, but businesses need to know that these policies are not one in the same. They apply to different circumstances, and a company might need one policy or the other, or both. Here’s the scoop.

Technology Insurance

Technology Errors & Omissions (E&O) policies cover companies that provide technology services (such as data storage) and technology products (such as computer software). The terms of the policy are designed to provide protection for loss and liability. Such losses might be related to liability for media content, damages due to security breaches, or losses due to business interruption. It can also cover extortion threats and crisis management expenses. Technology insurance also typically pays for groundless liability claims and all associated investigations.

Cyber Insurance

While Tech E&O policies are designed to protect technology providers, cyber insurance is intended to protect technology consumers (the company’s customers). It covers situations in which customers’ identities, credit cards, health records, or other sensitive information is compromised. The policy pays for any damages incurred.

Overlap

Cyber insurance policies and technology insurance do have some overlap. Either policy may provide coverage if a business experiences a loss related to technology. Since many situations impact both the technology provider and the consumer, this overlap is inevitable. However, the specifics of each policy’s terms will determine which situations are covered and which are not included.

Who Needs Coverage?

Since most businesses rely on technology for at least a portion of their operations, some form of coverage is recommended for a majority of companies. Those that serve customers and store sensitive customer information should strongly consider a cyber insurance policy.

For high-tech and internet-based businesses, technology business insurance is recommended. Such companies would include IT businesses, website developers, internet service providers, and programmers. Additionally, those who rely heavily on technology solutions as part of their operations (intranet communications, customer e-mails, database management) may also want to add this coverage.

Does your business fall into any of these categories? Are you properly protected with insurance for the tech side of your operations?

If you’re not sure which policy would be right for you or are unsure about your current coverage, contact our office. I’d be happy to review your current policies and coverage options to make sure you are prepared for any technological incidents that may come your way.

How Telematics Is Transforming Insurance

Technology is transforming every aspect of our lives, and insurance is no exception. Insurance carriers are tapping into automotive telematics to guide insurance premiums.

What is telematics? This is a form of communications technology that can be used for monitoring a vehicle to determine driving behaviors. Using a combination of GPS, Bluetooth, and mobile devices, insurance companies can review customers’ driving habits and reward safe behaviors with reduced premiums.

For example, a telematic device can monitor the times of day drivers are on the road, their mileage, and sudden changes in speed (which indicate rapid accelerations or hard braking).

Insurance companies can use this data to predict driving habits and generate a reasonable premium based on these behaviors. Drivers are typically required to have the device in their vehicle for a set period of time before a premium is established. The premium may also fluctuate as driving changes. As vehicle operators drive more safely, the premium lowers.

Of course, if drivers have poor driving habits, this can cost the policyholder. If the telematics data shows risky behaviors, the premium could go up! However, the knowledge that they are being monitored and the incentive of monetary savings may actually help drivers develop better habits on the road.

Do your operations rely on any commercial vehicles? These safe-driving programs are a growing trend and could provide significant savings on your premiums. To find out more about telematics and how it can help you save money, contact our office.