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.

Boat Insurance Basics You Need to Know

A spin around the lake or a cruise down the river can be a great way to spend an August afternoon. Just make sure you have the necessary coverage to protect your boat (and your wallet).

The type and amount of boat insurance you need depend on the kind of vessel you own and how you use it. Simple craft such as kayaks, smaller sailboats, and small powerboats may be covered by your homeowners policy. Larger, more powerful vessels such as yachts and Jet Skis require separate coverage.

A boat insurance policy typically covers damage to the boat itself, theft, and general liability. Additional coverage, including protection for trailers and boating accessories, may also be available. 

These insurance policies typically offer one of two types of coverage: actual cash value or agreed amount value. Actual cash value pays for the cost of replacement minus the depreciation of the boat. Agreed amount value policies pay the total that you and your insurer have agreed upon as the value of the vessel. Under this coverage, old items are replaced with new without subtracting depreciation.

As a boat owner, you may be eligible for discounts to your insurance premiums. Common discounts include those for multiple policies with the same provider, safety equipment onboard the vessel, and crew’s completion of safety education courses. Remaining claims-free for a certain period of time may also qualify you for a discount. 

In addition to obtaining proper insurance, maintain best practices to protect your boat and its passengers. Equip your vessel with proper lighting, an emergency signal (horn, whistle, or bell), and life jackets. Stock your boat with an emergency kit that includes fresh water, a flashlight, a radio, flares, tools, and a first aid kit, and keep a fire extinguisher readily accessible. Lastly, always adhere to marine traffic laws.

Not sure if you have the coverage you need for your boat? Give us a call to review your current coverage and discuss the options available. We’ll make sure you and your vessel are well protected the next time you set sail.

Reduce Their Risk: Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

It’s time for a teen to get their driver’s license. Who is more nervous – the teenager or the parent? 

Parent anxiety during this rite of passage is understandable. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death among those age 15 to 20. 

Fortunately, teens and parents can take steps to improve safety on the road. If you have a teen behind the wheel, try these best practices. 

Choose a safe car: Sure, your teen will probably prefer to drive that sporty convertible, but giving a teenager the keys to a sleek, fast car will only encourage speeding and other unsafe driving habits. For a teen’s first vehicle, choose a car that is easy to drive and offers solid protection during an accident. Avoid small cars and SUVs, which are prone to rollovers.

Limit their risk: Consider following a graduated driver’s license (GDL) program. These are in place in some states, and parents can institute similar policies in areas where they aren’t required. Under these programs, teens’ driving privileges are restricted until the teen has gained experience behind the wheel. Restrictions may prohibit driving at night or with teen passengers. 

Emphasize safe habits: Talk with teens about risky driving behaviors. Explain the dangers involved with distracted driving caused by phone use, radio use, or conversations with passengers. Stress the importance of remaining focused while driving. 

Additionally, certain practices, such as enrolling teens in a safe driver program or using electronic devices to monitor their driving, may qualify you for insurance discounts. Contact our office to discuss what programs are available in your area.

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.