Entries Tagged 'General Insurance' ↓

The Importance of Managing Risk in Small Business

Small businesses are the lifeblood of local communities. From the local baker’s shop to the auto mechanics, small businesses abound and provide jobs and services for many. However, unlike their much larger brethren, they do not usually have dedicated risk management departments to protect them from unforeseen consequences. Thus, a small business owner must act as a risk manager and work to prevent any negative occurrences.

First, a small business should look at potential losses or other liabilities. This means determining what could happen if you lose your stock, physical structure, or data, are the subject of a lawsuit by an employee or customer, and other issues.

Once you have listed the risks, you should attempt to assign them probabilities and damages. For example, although it will cause heavy damage, how probable is it that your building will spontaneously collapse? On the other hand, it is likely more probable that you will have to endure an adverse weather issue leading to the closing of your business for a few days.

Following that, taking steps to mitigate any potential damages is key to preventing negative long-term effects. This could include, for example, paying for hurricane shutters in an area prone to severe storms or paying for employee training on the proper way to serve hot food items to customers.

Whether you’ve created a risk management plan from day one of your business or find yourself in need of one now, contact us so we can help provide the right insurance coverage for your business.

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.

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.

Cybersecurity Glossary: What You Need to Know

According to information from Cybersecurity Ventures, cyberattacks are the fastest-growing crime in the world. Yet PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that less than half of companies are sufficiently prepared for one of these attacks. 

Is yours? 

A good first step to protect your company from cybercrime is education. Learn the language of the world of cybercrime to increase awareness. Use the following list of basic cybercrime terms to get started.

Access control: This involves permitting or prohibiting access to information or physical locations. Proper monitoring and limitation of this access is essential to maintain company security.

Cyber insurance: This coverage protects your business from damage that results from electronic threats to your operations, including liability and recovery costs.

Cybersecurity: This encompasses all policies, standards, and strategies relating to the security of company operations that occur in cyberspace.

Encryption: This is the process of converting data from basic format into one that can’t be easily interpreted by those who are unauthorized to access it.

Hacker: A hacker is someone who attempts to gain access to a system in an unauthorized manner.

Incident response: When a cyberattack occurs, the activities that occur to address its effects are referred to as an “incident response.” This involves responding to the crisis, mitigating potential threats, preserving property and information, and analyzing response activities for optimal results.

Intrusion detection: These processes analyze information from security systems to determine whether a security breach has occurred.

Keylogger: This software tracks keystrokes to monitor a user’s actions. 

Macro virus: A macro virus can replicate and spread itself by attaching to documents and using the macro capabilities of an application.

Malware: This software performs unauthorized processes that compromise the integrity of a system.

Passive attack: With these types of attacks, the perpetrator doesn’t try to alter the system but simply makes use of it to obtain information.

Phishing: This refers to attempts to deceive people into providing sensitive information.

Redundancy: These are additional systems or subsystems that are operated to maintain functionality if another system should fail.

Spoofing: This involves impersonating an email address to gain unauthorized entry to a system.

Ticket: In relation to access control, a ticket is the data that authenticates someone, as a credential for that person to gain access.

Trojan horse: This type of computer program appears to be useful, but has a hidden function that circumvents security and accesses confidential information or otherwise negatively affects the system.

Worm: This program is self-contained and self-replicating and uses networking mechanisms to spread itself.

Would you like to learn more about cybercrime, cyber insurance, and what coverage is available to protect your business from cyberattacks? Contact our office to review your current policies and determine what coverage is appropriate for your company.

Why You Should Read Your Loss History Report

Did you know homes and cars have report cards? Do you know what grade your property deserves?

If you haven’t checked your report, you might want to look into it.

This statement is called a Loss History Report. It provides a record of the insurance claims and losses that are associated with a particular property or car. The report typically covers the previous seven years of claims history. The information is gathered by the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.). 

When insurers underwrite a policy, they typically refer to this report. The history helps define the risk level and determine the rates for future insurance.

As a consumer, you can check your Loss History Report to ensure accuracy for auto claims. Since errors on the report could result in higher premiums, it’s good to verify that all information is correct. You can obtain one free report per year. 

If you discover any mistakes, you can contact LexisNexis, which will look into the claim. Depending on the situation, you may be able to add an explanation to the information that will be included in future reports. 

Consumers can also make use of a Loss History Report for real estate transactions. If you are considering a home for purchase, you can request a copy from the sellers. (The owner of the property has to make the request directly to C.L.U.E.)

A review of this report will shed light on any previous damage to the house, which you can then follow up on to verify any repairs before you purchase the home.

Annuities: One Leg of a Three-Legged Stool

Financial planners often use a simple analogy to explain retirement income: a three-legged stool. The three legs symbolize Social Security, pensions, and personal savings.

But where do annuities fit?

On one hand, an annuity is a self-created pension plan. On the other hand, an annuity is created from personal savings. But it may be best considered as a different leg that replaces pensions.

Why? Pensions are quickly becoming a thing of the past. They are nearly a relic of a bygone era.

At one time, 88% of private-sector workers with a workplace retirement plan had a pension. That number is now closer to 33%, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And as pensions have gradually disappeared, annuities have taken their place, given their similarities. Both provide a guaranteed stream of income for life.

Regardless of where you place an annuity in a retirement plan, however, an annuity can play an important role in assembling a nest egg that can keep you comfortable throughout your golden years.

As evidence, consider a recent study from Global Atlantic Financial Group, which found that retirees who collect income from annuities can sustain much higher expenses than those who do not collect income from annuities. How much higher? The average retiree with an annuity spends 37% more than the average retiree without one ($2,545 per month versus $1,850 per month).

Moreover, retirees who had annuities were considerably less likely to have regrets about their retirement-planning choices than those who did not have annuities (42% of those with annuities had regrets, while 58% of those without annuities did.)

The key takeaway: As pensions have declined, uncertainty around Social Security has grown, and personal savings have often proven inadequate, the three-legged stool needs a replacement leg as another source of income for retirees.

An annuity can fill that role very well.

Understanding the Legal Limitations of Liability Claims

Operating a business in our litigious society involves risk. A lost lawsuit can cripple or even bankrupt a company. If a product is deemed unsafe, the manufacturer’s reputation, as well as its finances, are at stake.

Liability coverage

There is insurance coverage available to protect your company. And there are also legal limitations to consumer lawsuits. Obtaining the right insurance coverage, plus having a good understanding of the law, can give you a big edge.

However, don’t rely solely on an understanding of the law. First and foremost, ensure your company is covered. You can’t predict when a lawsuit will occur, and even cases that are dismissed can result in costly legal fees. It’s essential to always have the right liability insurance for your company.

Legal limitations

Legally, consumers have a limited time in which to file a liability claim under the statute of limitations. This varies by state. All states allow at least one year to file, and many have two-year limits. Some provide three years, but few set it higher than four years.

The statute of limitations kicks in when the injury occurs or when the injured person discovers the injury, depending on state law. Some states impose “statutes of repose” that establish a second deadline for discovery.

The law, however, can’t protect you from being sued. So, if you offer products or services to the public, consult with my office; we can help you obtain the exact coverage you need. Fortunately, there’s no statute of limitations on good advice.