Having your finances, insurance and important papers in order before a natural disaster strikes can ease the stress of dealing with the damage and disruption caused by a hurricane, earthquake or other catastrophic event. But many Americans do not prepare.

According to a survey by The Weather Company, 40 percent of Americans have no plans on how to handle an emergency and only 16 percent have a preparedness kit ready in case of a severe weather event.

In addition to the lack of physical preparedness, there is a lack of financial readiness for emergencies. A recent Bankrate survey found that only four in 10 adults would cover the cost of an unplanned $1,000 expense using their savings. The rest would use a credit card, borrow from family or friends, take out a loan or forgo paying something else to come up with the money.

“The expression, ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’ speaks to the importance of developing a financial plan to deal with natural disasters before they take place rather than after the fact,” says Kurt J. Rossi, CEO of Independent Wealth Management in Wall, New Jersey.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hammered the U.S. economy and forced more than 30 million Americans to apply for unemployment benefits, is a grim reminder that disaster can come in many forms and hit anywhere. Regardless of where you live, here are steps you can take to prepare your finances for a natural disaster.

Build an emergency fund

A good strategy is to try to save $1,000 as soon as you can. Then, build up your savings to at least three to six months’ worth of your current expenses. A savings account with a high APY and low minimum balance requirements, such as those offered by American Express Bank or Varo Money, can help you reach these goals. Designate the account specifically for emergencies and sign up for automatic deposits.

You can also build up your emergency fund in a money market account. Like a savings account, a MMA is a safe place to park money and earn some interest.

Also consider creating a smaller cash fund in case power is cut off and bank services are not available. Create a cash fund to cover expenses for up to three days. Consider the fact that you could be without access to your bank account or even a paycheck for a while after a disaster.

Budget for repairs to strengthen your home

Do you live in an older home or one that’s not built or equipped to withstand natural disasters? You may need to make repairs and/or updates to better protect your home.

If you’re not sure about your home’s condition, consider getting both a home inspection and a roof inspection to identify vulnerabilities. Focus on making safety-related repairs and upgrades. Postpone aesthetic or superficial changes until you have the cash.

Review your insurance policies

Storms, fires, droughts and other natural disasters in the United States resulted in insured losses of $24.4 billion in 2019, per data from Property Claim Services.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the largest property loss events of 2019 included: flooding across the Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri River basins ($20 billion), Tropical Storm Imelda ($5 billion), California and Alaska wildfires($4.5 billion) and Hurricane Dorian ($1.6 billion in U.S. East Coast losses).

Check your insurance policies to make sure there aren’t gaps in disaster coverage. Most homeowner policies cover fire damage, for example, but don’t cover damage caused by floods or earthquakes.

“As you acquire assets and build your net worth over time, it is important to protect these assets,” Rossi says. “Property and casualty insurance is a critical part of proper planning. From reviewing home and auto insurance coverage to umbrella insurance and business coverage, understanding the extent of your insurance and their limitations is important before the unexpected occurs.”

Here are some key natural disaster and insurance facts you may want to consider before buying insurance:

Flood

  • Most homeowner insurance policies don’t cover flood insurance. You have to buy a separate policy.
  • You may be required to get flood insurance if you’re in a flood-prone area.
  • Forty one million Americans live in a 100-year flood zone, according to a 2018 report released by University of Bristol, U.K., and the Nature Conservancy. A 100-year flood is a flood event that has 1 chance in 100 (or 1 percent) of being equaled or exceeded in a given year.
  • You don’t have to live in a high-risk flood zone to be struck by disaster. About 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low to moderate risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) generally has a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect to prevent people from buying it at the last minute, when flood danger is imminent. Buy coverage well before hurricane season begins.

Earthquake

  • Earthquake insurance isn’t normally included in homeowner policies and isn’t required by law.
  • You’ll need to add a policy endorsement or separate policy if you decide you need earthquake insurance.
  • Consider getting earthquake insurance if you live in an area prone to seismic activity.
  • Earthquake insurance covers any damage from an earthquake (except fire).

Wind

  • Homeowners insurance typically covers wind damage, but there are some exceptions.
  • Some states have homeowners insurance policies that won’t pay for windstorm damage. If your policy doesn’t cover windstorm damage, it likely won’t cover damage from a tornado or hurricane.
  • If you live in one of those states and want coverage, buy a separate windstorm insurance policy.

Wildfire

  • Damage from wildfire or fire is usually covered in a homeowners policy. However, coverage may vary by location.
  • You might find that some insurers do not sell homeowners policies in areas where wildfires are common.
  • Dwelling, personal property, additional living expenses and landscaping coverage are typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Check your individual policy for details.

Hurricane

  • Most homeowners in hurricane-prone areas are required to have hurricane insurance.
  • Homeowners insurance policies in some hurricane-prone states will partially or completely exclude wind and flood-related damages.
  • You may find that if your policy does cover wind damage, it might include a separate hurricane deductible that is higher than your regular deductible.

Independent Wealth Management’s Rossi says it’s common for policyholders to cut corners and opt for cheaper insurance that leaves them with gaps in coverage. Consider speaking to a specialist in this area to review your coverage. “Be sure to make an accurate apple-to-apple comparison of coverage, deductibles and exclusions before changing providers,” he says. “Remember, cash reserves alone will most likely be unable to cover sizable losses that can be realized in a natural disaster.”

Create an emergency document kit

Figure out what paperwork and documents you might need in the event you have little time to get organized, need to flee or are unable to stay in your home.

Get a waterproof and fireproof box to store copies of important documents you might need after a natural disaster. FEMA suggests storing electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected format on a removable flash drive or external hard drive.

Make sure you copy and safe keep these documents in case of emergency:

  • Homeowners insurance policies
  • Health insurance policy and information
  • Deeds and recorded real estate documents, including appraisals from the title company
  • Mortgage information from your lender
  • Copy of your lease from your landlord
  • Living wills and advance directives from your attorney
  • Information on all investment and financial accounts from your bank or investment company
  • Driver’s license information and auto title from the secretary of your state or the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Birth certificate and Social Security card from Vital Statistics and the Social Security Administration
  • Other important documents you may need at some point, such as tax returns, contracts, alimony or divorce decrees

Take a look at FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, which also includes a printable checklist of all the important documents to gather for your emergency box. Consider storing all original copies of important documents in a safety-deposit box at a bank or a secure offsite storage facility.

Bottom line

It’s important to be financially prepared if disaster strikes and you find yourself facing steep, unexpected costs. Budget for repairs to fortify your home against a natural disaster.

Review your insurance policies and whether you have the right coverage for your needs. Create an emergency document kit for easy, immediate access to your most important papers after a disaster.

It’s critically important to thoroughly document your losses after a disaster.

“Remember, you must be able to prove and substantiate the fair market value of your property before and after the loss using appraisals, receipts and any additional supporting documentation,” Rossi says. “Also, consider taking numerous pictures as evidence for your losses before the loss occurs. Bottom line: The more evidence supporting the valuation of your assets and damage incurred, the better.”

Learn more: 

Wells, Libby. “Preparing Your Finances For Disaster.” Bankrate, Bankrate.com, 18 May 2020, www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/how-to-prepare-your-finances-for-a-natural-disaster/.

 

In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have recommended that individuals who may have been exposed to the disease self-quarantine at home for 14 days. In addition, public health officials are recommending that healthy individuals practice social distancing, staying at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Following the advice of public health officials can help stop the spread of COVID-19, but if you don’t take proper precautions, your mental well-being could suffer while you’re quarantining.

If you’re self-quarantining or practicing social distancing, keep the following tips in mind to maintain your mental well-being.

Maintain a Routine
One of the best things that you can do to preserve your mental well-being is to stick to a routine. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an at-home workout in before you go to work or start your workday from home. Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help keep your mood as lifted as possible, and prevent boredom and distress from taking over.

If you have children that will be at home now, it’s also important to create a routine for them. Whether they are practicing virtual learning with their schools or if they will just be home, you should implement a structured schedule for them so they know what your expectations are. Try to limit as much screen time as possible and incorporate learning activities throughout the day.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with sticking to a routine. While you’re at home, it can be easy to go to bed or sleep in later than you typically would. Breaking your normal sleep routine can have negative effects on your overall mental well-being, so you should try to stick to your typical schedule as much as possible.

Spend Time Outside
Unless health officials give you explicit instructions to stay in your home no matter what, try to get outside periodically throughout the day. This could involve going out in your backyard or taking a walk around the block, but shouldn’t include going to a park or other areas where large groups of people may be.

Being outside also helps to promote higher vitamin D levels, a vitamin the body makes when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, so exercising outside can be a great way to correct that.

Leverage the Power of Technology
When in quarantine or self-isolation, it can be easy to feel lonely. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others without having to physically be in contact with them. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends reaching out to loved ones with technology to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and to supplement your social life while you’re quarantining or social distancing. If you’re feeling down, use video calling technology or social media to get in touch with friends and family.

Don’t Obsess Over the News
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by watching the news and reviewing the updates of the COVID-19 situation. While it’s important to be informed of the situation, you should not obsess over the news. For example, instead of monitoring the news all day from home, consider checking for updates once in the morning and once at night.

Practice Positivity and Gratitude
Taking five minutes a day to write down the things that you are grateful for has been proven to lower stress levels and can help you change your mindset from negative to positive. While you’re quarantining or social distancing, it’s important to build time into your routine to practice positivity or express gratitude to change your mindset on your situation and boost your mood.

Summary
Your mental well-being plays a huge role in your overall health and well-being, and it should be prioritized. These six suggestions may help you maintain your mental well-being during a quarantine, but shouldn’t be considered as medical advice.

If you have concerns about your mental well-being while you’re in quarantine, please contact your mental health professional or use SAMHSA’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).

Speak with The SIG Insurance Agencies for more information on staying healthy. For complimentary health insurance quotes please visit the link or call (866) 346-3744.

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak and can be caused by a variety of agents, including influenza and coronaviruses. During a pandemic, transmission can be anticipated in the workplace not only from patients to workers in healthcare settings, but also among co-workers and between members of the general public and workers in other types of workplaces.

Workers who believe that their employer provides a safe and healthy workplace are more likely to report for work during a pandemic. Clear communication promotes confidence in the employer’s ability to protect workers and reduces absenteeism.

EMPLOYERS SHOULD ENSURE THAT THEIR WORKERS UNDERSTAND:
• Differences between seasonal epidemics and worldwide pandemic disease outbreaks;
• Which job activities may put them at risk for exposure to sources of infection;
• What options may be available for working remotely, or utilizing an employer’s flexible leave policy when they are sick;
• Social distancing strategies, including avoiding close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) and large gatherings of people;
• Good hygiene and appropriate disinfection procedures;
• What personal protective equipment (PPE) is available, and how to wear, use, clean and store it properly;
• What medical services (e.g., vaccination, postexposure medication) may be available to them; and
• How supervisors will provide updated pandemic-related communications, and where to direct their questions.

Principles of worker protection:
• Consistently practice social distancing
• Cover coughs and sneezes
• Maintain hand hygiene
• Clean surfaces frequently

SICK LEAVE
Employers may consider providing sick leave so that workers may stay home if they are sick. Flexible leave policies help stop the spread of disease, including to healthy workers.

TRAINING
Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, employers should provide worker training on infection controls, including the importance of avoiding close contact (within 6 feet) with others. Employers should provide adequate supplies and ready access to soap and running water, tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and cleaning agents. Some worksites may need PPE (e.g., gloves, face shields, and respirators). Frequent visual and verbal reminders to workers can improve compliance with hand hygiene practices and thus reduce rates of infection. Handwashing posters are available from the CDC: www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing.

Control Measures
Employers may modify the work environment and/or change work practices to provide additional protection to workers and clients. For example, employers may install physical barriers (e.g., clear plastic sneeze guards), conduct business in a different manner (e.g., use drive-through service windows, implement telework arrangements), improve ventilation (e.g., install high-efficiency air filters, increase ventilation rates), install additional hand sanitizer dispensers, provide facial tissues, and have workers use PPE. Employers should select equipment, such as surgical masks and respirators as described below, that will protect workers against infectious diseases to which they may be exposed.

For additional information, see OSHA’s Fact Sheet “Respiratory Infection Control: Respirators versus Surgical Masks” at www.osha.gov/ Publications/respirators-vs-surgicalmasksfactsheet.pdf.

Depending on the pandemic, a vaccine may or may not be available to protect people from illness. If available, employers may offer appropriate vaccines to workers to reduce the number of those at risk for infection in their workplace.

Comparison of Surgical Masks and Respirators
Surgical Masks Respirators (e.g., filtering facepiece)
•Used by workers to protect themselves against splashes and sprays containing infectious agents.
•Placed on sick individuals to prevent respiratory infections that spread by large droplets; worn by surgeons to avoid contaminating surgical sites.
•May not protect against airbornetransmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal.
•Can be used by almost anyone, regardless of training.
•Should be properly disposed of after use.
•Used by workers to prevent inhalation of small particles, including airborne transmissible infectious agents.
•To be effective, should have the proper filter material (e.g., N95 or better), be NIOSH-certified, and must fit tightly to prevent air leaks.
•For use, require proper training, fit testing, availability of appropriate medical evaluations and monitoring, cleaning and oversight by a knowledgeable staff member.
•Employer must establish a respiratory protection program that is compliant with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134. OSHA consultation staff can assist with understanding respiratory protection requirements.

Risk Communication
Workers should be aware of the exposure risk level associated with their job duties. In addition, a pandemic may disproportionately affect people in certain age groups or with specific health histories. Workers with job-related exposure to infections who voluntarily disclose personal health risks should be considered for job accommodations and/or additional protective measures, e.g., use of PPE.

Higher risk work settings include those healthcare workplaces where: infected patients may congregate; clinical specimens are handled or transported; or materials contaminated with blood or infectious wastes are handled. These settings warrant: use of physical barriers to control the spread of infectious disease; worker and client management to promote social distancing; and adequate and appropriate PPE, hygiene and cleaning supplies. Additional information, including an OSHA Fact Sheet on exposure risks in healthcare workplaces, can be found on OSHA’s Publications page: www.osha. gov/publications. Employers and workers can also learn about preparedness for pandemics and other events at OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness and Response page: www.osha. gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness.

Very High & High
Exposure Risk
Medium Exposure Risk Lower Exposure Risk
Healthcare workers,
particularly those working with known or suspected pandemic patients.

Workers with high-frequency
interaction with the general public (e.g., those working in schools,
restaurants and retail establishments, travel and mass transit, or other
crowded environments).
Workers who have minimal
contact with the general public and other coworkers (e.g., office workers).

OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems. To locate the OSHA On-site Consultation Program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/ consultation.

Note: This information provides guidance for employers during a pandemic, but is not intended to cover all OSHA standards that may apply. State Plans adopt and enforce their own occupational safety and health standards at www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Speak with The SIG Insurance Agencies for more information on staying healthy in the workplace. For complimentary health insurance quotes please visit the link or call (866) 346-3744.

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Coronaviruses are fairly common and don’t typically affect humans. When they do, their effects are usually mild, as in the case of the common cold.

However, deadlier variations of these coronaviruses have cropped up in recent years. Two examples of these evolved strains are the SARS virus of 2003 and the novel coronavirus, which was first seen in 2019. In both instances, the viruses ravaged the populations they infected, illustrating why employers must stay alert to developing outbreaks.

It’s the responsibility of every employer to protect employees from these and other illnesses in the workplace. Taking even small precautions could save an organization countless hours of lost productivity.

Identifying Coronavirus Symptoms
Common coronaviruses typically cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, and those affected exhibit cold-like symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

•Headache
•Cough
•Fever
•Sore throat
•Runny nose

Some cases of coronavirus can be more severe, and individuals experience more serious lower-respiratory tract illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia. For the elderly, infants and those with weakened immune systems, a coronavirus can be deadly.

Diagnosing a Coronavirus
More dangerous coronavirus strains elicit similar symptoms to the cold or flu, so identifying the virus can be difficult. If employees are suffering from flu-like symptoms—especially if they recently traveled to a country experiencing a coronavirus outbreak—they should call their doctors immediately. Doctors typically request initial phone calls, rather than visits, to properly prepare for a coronavirus patient.

Precautions for the Workplace
Employers should protect against coronaviruses much like they protect against the flu: Offer on-site flu shots, stock cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, and educate employees on prevention methods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals should take the following precautions to avoid person-to-person spreading of a coronavirus:

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
•Avoid contact with those who are sick.
•Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Unfortunately, there is no known vaccine for a human-contracted coronavirus, making precaution that much more critical.

Avoiding Potential Discrimination
As with any workplace policy, employers should be wary of inadvertent discrimination when it comes to a coronavirus prevention policy (e.g., ordering employees home when they seem sick). Just because an employee recently traveled to China and coughed in the elevator doesn’t mean an employer can send them home.

Whatever policy a company decides to pursue, it must be equally enforced. Discriminating against employees—or asking illegal health-related questions—can introduce a host of legal concerns.

Summary
Employee education is one of the best lines of defense for a workplace. General preventive health practices, like washing hands, can safeguard workers even when they’re at home.

Remind employees to keep up their hygiene and share their knowledge of coronavirus symptoms so they know what to look out for. Together, you and your employees can stay safe, healthy and productive.

Speak with The SIG Insurance Agencies for more information on staying healthy in the workplace. For complimentary health insurance quotes please visit the link or call (866) 346-3744.

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

When a data breach or other cyber event occurs, the damages can be significant, often resulting in lawsuits, fines and serious financial losses. What’s more, cyber exposures impact businesses of all kinds, regardless of their size, area of focus, or status as a private or public entity.

In order for organizations to truly protect themselves from cyber risks, corporate boards must play an active role. Not only does involvement from leadership improve cyber security, it can also reduce liability for board members.

To help oversee their organization’s cyber risk management, boards should ask the following questions:

1. Does the organization utilize technology to prevent data breaches?

Every company must have robust cyber security tools and anti-virus systems in place. These systems act as a first line of defense for detecting and preventing potentially debilitating breaches.

While it may sound obvious, many organizations fail to take cyber threats seriously and implement even the simplest protections. Boards can help highlight the importance of cyber security, ensuring that basic, preventive measures are in place.

These preventive measures must be reviewed on a regular basis, as cyber threats can evolve quickly. Boards should ensure that the management team reviews company technology at least annually, ensuring that cyber security tools are up to date and effective.

2. Has the board or the company’s management team identified a senior member to be responsible for organizational cyber security preparedness?

Organizations that fail to create cyber-specific leadership roles could end up paying more for a data breach than organizations that do. This is because, in the event of a cyber incident, a fast response and clear guidance is needed to contain a breach and limit damages.

When establishing a chief information security officer or similar cyber leadership role, boards need to be involved in the process. Cyber leaders should have a good mix of technical and business experience. This individual should also be able to explain cyber risks and mitigation tactics at a high level so they are easy to understand for those who are not well-versed in technical terminology.

It should be noted that hiring a chief information security officer or creating a new cyber leadership role is not practical for every organization. In these instances, organizations should identify a qualified, in-house team member and roll cyber security responsibilities into their current job requirements. At a minimum, boards need to ensure that their company has a go-to resource for managing cyber security.

3. Does the organization have a comprehensive cyber security program? Does it include specific policies and procedures?

It is essential for companies to create comprehensive data privacy and cyber security programs. These programs help organizations build a framework for detecting threats, remain informed on emerging risks and establish a cyber response plan.

Corporate boards should ensure that cyber security programs align with industry standards. These programs should be audited on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness and internal compliance.

4. Does the organization have a breach response plan in place?

Even the most secure organizations can be impacted by a data breach. What’s more, it can often take days or even months for a company to notice its data has been compromised.

While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, breach response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Breach response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damage.

Board members should ensure that crisis management and breach response plans are documented. Specific actions noted in breach response plans should also be rehearsed through simulations and team interactions to evaluate effectiveness.

In addition, response plans should clearly identify key individuals and their responsibilities. This ensures that there is no confusion in the event of a breach and your organization’s response plan runs as smoothly as possible.

5. Has the organization discussed and formalized a cyber risk budget? How engaged is the board in terms of providing guidance related to cyber exposures?

Both overpaying and underpaying for cyber security services can negatively affect an organization. Creating a budget based on informed decisions and research helps companies invest in the right tools.

Boards can help oversee investments and ensure that they are directed toward baseline security controls that address common threats. Boards, with guidance from the chief security officer or a similar cyber leader, should also prioritize funding. That way, an organization’s most vulnerable and important assets are protected.

6. Has the management team provided adequate employee training to ensure sensitive data is handled correctly?

While employees can be a company’s greatest asset, they also represent one of their biggest cyber liabilities. This is because hackers commonly exploit employees through spear phishing and similar scams. When this happens, employees can unknowingly give criminals access to their employer’s entire system.

In order to ensure data security, organizations must provide thorough employee training. Boards can help oversee this process and instruct management to make training programs meaningful and based on more than just written policies.

In addition, boards should see to it that education programs are properly designed and foster a culture of cyber security awareness.

7. Has management taken the appropriate steps to reduce cyber risks when working with third parties?

Working alongside third-party vendors is common for many businesses. However, whenever an organization entrusts its data to an outside source, there’s a chance that it could be compromised.

Boards can help ensure that vendors and other partners are aware of their organization’s cyber security expectations. Boards should work with the company’s management team to draw up a standard third-party agreement that identifies how the vendor will protect sensitive data, whether or not the vendor will subcontract any services and how it intends to inform the organization if data is compromised.

8. Does the organization have a system in place for staying current on cyber trends, news, and federal, state, industry and international data security regulations?

Cyber-related legislation can change with little warning, often having a sprawling impact on the way organizations do business. If organizations do not keep up with federal, state, industry and international data security regulations, they could face serious fines or other penalties.

Boards should ensure that the chief information security officer or similar leader is aware of his or her role in upholding cyber compliance. In addition, boards should ensure that there is a system in place for identifying, evaluating and implementing compliance-related legislation.

Additionally, boards should constantly seek opportunities to bring expert perspectives into boardroom discussions. Often, authorities from government, law enforcement and cyber security agencies can provide invaluable advice. Building a relationship with these types of entities can help organizations evaluate their cyber strengths, weaknesses and critical needs.

9. Has the organization conducted a thorough risk assessment? Has the organization purchased or considered purchasing cyber liability insurance?

Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to address the risks that come with using modern technology—risks that other types of business liability coverage simply won’t cover.

The level of coverage your business needs is based on your individual operations and can vary depending on your range of exposure. As such, boards, alongside the company’s management team, need to conduct a cyber risk assessment and identify potential gaps. From there, organizations can work with their insurance broker to customize a policy that meets their specific needs.

Asking thoughtful questions can help boards better understand the strategies management uses to prevent, detect and respond to data breaches. When it comes to cyber threats, organizations need to be diligent and thorough in their risk prevention tactics, and boards can help move the cyber conversation in the right direction.

Cyber exposures impact organizations from top to bottom, and all team members play a role in maintaining a secure environment. However, managing personnel and technology can be a challenge, particularly for organizations that don’t know where to start.

That’s where The SIG Insurance Agencies can help. Contact us today to learn more about cyber risk mitigation strategies you can implement today to secure your business.

For Complimentary Cyber Insurance Quotes:
To get started on your quote, call our office or click over to our quotes page. Either way we’ll make the process simple!

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Doxxing
In this day and age, the amount of information being stored online is constantly increasing. Some of this information may be confidential, and some may be so sensitive that a data breach could threaten the future of your business.

“Doxxing” is a type of cyber attack that results in the collection and exposure of sensitive information that could damage the credibility or reputation of a person or an organization. In doxxing, the criminal’s goal is to breach, collect and expose documents, often abbreviated as “docs.” This is usually done with the purpose of either harassing, blackmailing or embarrassing the victim. Sometimes, doxxing may even be part of the hacker trying to get revenge or incite physical harm.

As cyber criminals become more sophisticated, it is clear that anyone can be targeted, whether they be ordinary citizens, law enforcement agents, politicians or business leaders.

Your Business at Risk
Companies of all sizes are at risk of being the target of cyber attacks. Good cyber security practices are always important for protecting your employees’ information, confidential company files and sensitive details about your partners or clients.

But, when it comes to doxxing, it’s your leaders who are most likely to be targeted by attacks. One of the most effective ways to embarrass a business, or harm its reputation, is by exposing negative information about one of its leaders. If embarrassing details about a leader in your organization come to light, even if they have nothing to do with the actual business practices of your company, the effects can be devastating.

How It Works
There are a number of ways that doxxers may be able to gain access to sensitive information. Some common sources include:

IP addresses—All devices connected to the internet have an IP address, which can then be tracked with an IP logger to track online activities and locations.
Data brokers—Data brokers purchase customer lists from other businesses that you may have provided your information to, such as airlines or subscription services.
Domain sales brokers—Registration information used to create a website can be accessed through domain sales brokers or the WHOIS database. This is especially noteworthy for organizations that have created their own website.

In a doxxing attack, the attacker may use any one of a number of possible methods. These can vary greatly and include using the aforementioned IP logger, breaching the security of a Wi-Fi network, stalking social media profiles or even using cellphone numbers to learn personal information.

Cyber Security Practices
When it comes to protecting your company’s data and reputation, things naturally start with implementing, explaining and enforcing good cyber security practices.
To keep your business as safe as possible from a possible doxxing attack, implement the following policies:

  • Require strong passwords with a variety of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Use a variety of passwords across different platforms.
  • Instruct employees to avoid connecting devices to untrusted or unprotected Wi-Fi networks.
  • Keep software on devices updated, and avoid installing any unapproved software.
  • When possible, use VPNs in order to conceal IP addresses.
  • Instruct employees to avoid suspicious websites, be wary of phishing emails and avoid using their work email for personal reasons, such as subscription services.

These policies should be followed by all employees, including leadership, whether they are working at the office, remotely, with company computers or personal devices.

Social Media Awareness
In addition to hackers continuing to improve their methods of attack, many of their targets have simultaneously been making things even easier for cyber criminals. With social media being a part of everyday life, it has also led to vulnerability for people who are too willing to share personal information online. Oftentimes, these people do not realize that such information can be used against them.

It is important that you advise leaders in your company to increase their privacy settings on social media, or to limit the amount of information that they share to begin with. Instruct your employees to avoid allowing just anyone to view their social media pages and to limit “friends” to people who they actually know in real life and are confident would not attempt to do them harm. When it comes to doxxing, allowing just anyone to see your address, phone number, email or even place of employment can help hackers wedge their way into the private details of your life.

Employees should think twice about how much information they share, even with people they think they can trust. It may be a good idea to have employees look themselves up on a search engine, as they may be surprised by how much information is actually out there and completely public.

The process of looking oneself up on the internet and then having potentially sensitive or vulnerable information deleted is often referred to as “self-doxxing” and can greatly decrease the risk of an attack.

High Stakes
There is no shortage of examples of organizations suffering huge financial losses and severely damaged reputations due to a leader bringing about embarrassment.

Even if the victim of the attack has done nothing wrong that directly associates with their job or your company, disreputable information about their personal life can still cost you dearly.

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Home insurance coverage can differ from policy to policy depending on a multitude of factors. Being aware of these factors that affect your premium can ensure that you are appropriately covered.

1. Your Personal Information
Your credit history, claims history and marital status can all contribute to your premium costs:

  • Credit history—In most cases insurance companies will take your credit history into account when calculating your home insurance premium. Insurance companies will look at how good you are at making payments and how much debt you currently have. Typically, the better your credit score, the lower your insurance premium.
  • Claims history—Any claims you’ve made at previous residences will be assessed by your insurance company when determining your premium. The type and frequency of the claims you’ve filed can lead to higher premiums.
  • Marital status—Those who are married have been found to file fewer insurance claims than single individuals. Therefore, if you are married, you will generally have lower premiums.

2. Your Policy
The way you and your broker construct your insurance policy also determines your premiums. The following are policy items that have the greatest impact on the amount you pay:

  • Type of coverage: There are three different coverage options you can purchase for your home insurance policy:
    • Actual cash value will replace your home or damaged belongings, minus depreciation. Depreciation is the decrease in an item’s value over time due to wear and tear.
    • Replacement cost pays to repair or replace your home or belongings without any deduction for depreciation.
    • Extended replacement cost is the most expensive coverage option—but, it will pay to rebuild your home even if the replacement cost exceeds your policy limit.
  • Limit: Your policy limit is the maximum amount that your insurance will pay in the event of a covered loss.
  • Deductible: Your deductible is the amount you pay in order for your insurance coverage to kick in to help cover a loss.
  • Additional coverage: You may choose to purchase additional coverage for items or circumstances that may not be fully covered under a standard home insurance policy. Possible circumstances may include keeping more expensive items at your home (e.g. boats, fine art or jewelry), or living in an area more susceptible to disasters that aren’t already covered under your existing policy.

3. Your Home
There are a few factors about your home that may affect your premiums:

  • Home value—The value of your home can also influence the cost of your insurance. Typically, the greater the value of your home, the higher your insurance premiums will be.
  • Age of property—Older buildings tend to have costlier premiums since the materials they’re built with may be more expensive and harder to replace. For example, if you have stained-glass windows in your home, that could cost more to replace than a standard window since stained-glass windows are far less common.
  • Remodeling—Any improvements made to your home will lead to an increase in your premiums since renovations typically increase the value of your home—therefore increasing your home’s replacement costs. Although, repairs made to your roof, electrical or plumbing that increase safety or efficiency may allow you to receive discounts that can reduce your premiums. Always alert your broker about new home remodels to ensure they can be replaced if damaged or destroyed.

4. Location
If your home is located in a high-risk area, you will commonly pay more for your home insurance. Homes that are considered at a higher risk for damage or loss are those located near coastlines, farther away from response teams (fire or police departments) or are in areas that are more susceptible to natural disasters.

5. Home-based Businesses
If your home is being used for work purposes, you may need to purchase additional coverage. Most standard home insurance policies will provide some liability coverage and limited protection for business equipment you may keep at your home, but it may not be enough. To ensure you are sufficiently covered, you may choose to purchase additional coverage or add to your home insurance policy.

6. Attractive Nuisances
Attractive nuisances are potentially dangerous objects that could attract people, including children, onto your property. The most common attractive nuisances are pools and trampolines—if you have either on your property, you will pay more for your insurance premium.

7. Dogs
Depending on your insurance policy, your dog may be covered under your home insurance policy if they are involved in a liability claim. But, some dog breeds that are marked “aggressive” may have limited coverage or none at all. The most common dog breeds that insurance companies are wary to cover are Rottweilers and pit bulls.

We’re Here to Help
It’s imperative to have a clear understanding of your policy and how it works to help you recover from a loss. Remember to review your policy regularly to ensure it protects your home thoroughly, and contact The SIG Insurance Agencies for additional guidance.

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Cyber security threats and trends can change year over year as technology continues to advance at alarming speeds. As such, it’s critical for organizations to reassess their data protection practices at the start of each new year and make achievable cyber security resolutions to help protect themselves from costly breaches.

The following are resolutions your company can implement to ensure you don’t become the victim of a cyber crime:

1. Provide security training—Employees are your first line of defense when it comes to cyber threats. Even the most robust and expensive data protection solutions can be compromised should an employee click a malicious link or download fraudulent software. As such, it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly train personnel on common cyber threats and how to respond. Employees should understand the dangers of visiting harmful websites, leaving their devices unattended and oversharing personal information on social media. Your employees should also know your cyber security policies and know how to report suspicious activity.

2. Install strong antivirus software and keep it updated—Outside of training your employees on the dangers of poor cyber security practices, strong antivirus software is one of the best ways to protect your data. Organizations should conduct thorough research to choose software that’s best for their needs. Once installed, antivirus programs should be kept up to date.

3. Instill safe web browsing practices—Deceptive and malicious websites can easily infect your network, often leading to more serious cyber attacks. To protect your organization, employees should be trained on proper web usage and instructed to only interact with secured websites. For further protection, companies should consider blocking known threats and potentially malicious web pages outright.

4. Create strong password policies—Ongoing password management can help prevent unauthorized attackers from compromising your organization’s password-protected information. Effective password management protects the integrity, availability and confidentiality of an organization’s passwords. Above all, you’ll want to create a password policy that specifies all of the organization’s requirements related to password management. This policy should require employees to change their password on a regular basis, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and use special characters in their password.

5. Use multi-factor authentication—While complex passwords can help deter cyber criminals, they can still be cracked. To further prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to employee accounts, multi-factor authentication is key. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information (e.g., a phone number, unique security code) when attempting to access corporate applications, networks and servers.

6. Get vulnerability assessments—The best way to evaluate your company’s data exposures is through a vulnerability assessment. Using a system of simulated attacks and stress tests, vulnerability assessments can help you uncover entry points into your system. Following these tests, security experts compile their findings and provide recommendations for improving network and data safety.

7. Patch systems regularly and keep them updated—A common way cyber criminals gain entry into your system is by exploiting software vulnerabilities. To prevent this, it’s critical that you update applications, operating systems, security software and firmware on a regular basis.

8. Back up your data—In the event that your system is compromised, it’s important to keep backup files. Failing to do so can result in the loss of critical business or proprietary data.

9. Understand phishing threats and how to respond—In broad terms, phishing is a method cyber criminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email or direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information. These emails and websites are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into providing credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other sensitive information. Phishing is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and it’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them and preventive measures you can implement to keep your organization safe. As such, it’s critical to train employees on common phishing scams and other cyber security concerns. Provide real-world examples during training to help them better understand what to look for.

10. Create an incident response plan—Most organizations have some form of data protection in place. While these protections are critical for minimizing the damages caused by a breach, they don’t provide clear action steps following an attack. That’s where cyber incident response plans can help. While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, cyber incident response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damages.

Contact Us
For more information on cyber liability insurance policies, or for more information on your current policy, contact The SIG Insurance Agencies today!

© 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

The insurance industry is an attractive option for many professionals who aren’t happy with their current position. Whether you’re looking for a pay raise, diversified benefits, increased vacation days, or simply a career change, the insurance market can provide these advantages. With a yearly revenue reaching into the trillions, there’s no shortage of wealth to go around. Furthermore, the sheer size of this industry ensures that anyone can find a job no matter their educational or professional background. Here are some practical tips and tech-based tools for those wanting to dive into the insurance industry.

Get a great smartphone.

Before you can even think about switching careers, you’ve got to collect some essential tools. In the 21st century, having a capable smartphone is one of the most important devices for staying connected with customers, managing a busy schedule, and staying organized. If you’re current model is lacking, consider upgrading to something like the Samsung Galaxy S10 which comes with Gorilla Glass panels on both sides, rapid processing, and an impressive battery life. If you’re more of an Apple fan, the iPhone XS is a competitive alternative with a professional camera system, extended battery life, and seamless integration with many of your current software.

Familiarize yourself with the industry.

With hundreds of companies comprising the insurance industry, it can be difficult to know where to apply. Since limiting your scope is an important part of the transition process, it’s important to familiarize yourself with several insurance companies. By researching the best businesses within the sector, you can find which one suits your personal preference. While researching each prospect will provide you with an in-depth look at your options, it’s a relative waste of time since there are resources that have already shouldered this burden. Glassdoor is a fantastic website where you can find reviews about different insurance companies from people who used to work there. Additionally, you can learn more about a company’s interview process, entry-level salaries, and more.

Tailor your resume.

You should always tailor your resume to the industry and position for which you’re applying. Although your work experience and skills don’t change with each job transition, the way in which you present these assets should. For example, an internship or prior job that you had omitted when applying to your current position may be relevant for your switch to the insurance sector. The same may be true for some skills such as bookkeeping or running organizational software which are pertinent to this position. It’s helpful to review the job skills and experience an insurance company is looking for and tweak your resume to reflect these desired characteristics.

Talk with someone you know.

There’s a reason your Intro to Business class in college tirelessly stressed the importance of networking. While diplomas, certificates, and past work experiences have their place, finding a position in any sector is all about who you know. The insurance sector is no different. When making this transition, it’s smart to start out by contacting anyone and everyone you know currently working in the industry. Simply let them know about your move and kindly request any information on available positions. The message is bound to make it around until something comes up.

The insurance industry is an excellent choice for professionals coming from any prior field or educational background. There’s enough of a variety in positions that even the most unique of skill sets is bound to be needed somewhere. Before diving head first into the job search, it’s important to perform some ground work to make the transition much easier.

Know Your Auto Insurance

If someone were to ask you what was covered under your auto insurance policy, would you be able to tell them? Like most of us, you would probably have a hard time confidently answering that question. Interpreting the various types of coverage offered under your auto insurance policy can be tricky, but extremely beneficial. The more you understand your policy, the more peace of mind you have knowing you are sufficiently covered in an accident. To help you develop a better understanding of your policy, here are six types of coverage that it may include.

Liability Coverage
Purchasing auto liability coverage can offer you financial assistance in the event that you are found liable for a vehicle-related incident. In most states, you are required to have two forms of liability coverage in order to meet the state’s minimum auto insurance requirements. The two forms of liability coverage offered are:

Bodily injury liability: Bodily Injury liability coverage pays for medical expenses caused by an incident for which you are found at-fault. If you or others listed on your policy were to injure a third party with your vehicle, it would be covered under your bodily injury liability coverage. Not only does bodily injury liability cover medical expenses, it can also help cover lost wages of the injured party.

Property damage liability: Similar to bodily injury liability, if you or someone on your policy collide with another person’s vehicle or property, your property damage liability coverage will assist you in paying for repair or replacement costs.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Unlike bodily injury liability coverage, PIP is designed to cover medical costs, lost wages and other expenses for you, drivers listed on your policy and passengers in your vehicle who may become injured due to a car accident—regardless of who is deemed at-fault. As such, it is also referred to as “no-fault” coverage. PIP coverage is not offered in all states. Since PIP requires your insurance company to help cover expenses regardless of who’s at fault for the incident, having PIP coverage typically results in higher premium costs.

Collision Coverage
Damage to your vehicle from a collision with another vehicle or object should be covered under your collision coverage. Collision coverage is typically required if your car is still being financed—but once your car is paid off, you often have the choice to keep or remove collision coverage from your auto policy. Although your policy may be cheaper without it, collision coverage can be beneficial in helping you cover damages to your vehicle for which you are found at-fault. If the damages were caused by a third party, it would be up to their insurance company to cover the damages.

Comprehensive Coverage
Simply put, comprehensive coverage provides insurance for losses caused by anything that isn’t covered under your collision coverage, such as losses from natural disasters, riots, vandalism and contact with an animal. If a tree were to get struck by lightning and fall on top of your vehicle, your comprehensive coverage could help cover damages to your vehicle from the incident. Although comprehensive insurance tends to have lower premiums than collision insurance, the cost can vary depending on your deductible amount and policy limits.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage
A recent study by the Insurance Research Council revealed that, in the United States, roughly 1 in 8 drivers are uninsured. Having uninsured motorist coverage can ensure you are protected in the event that your car is involved in a hit-in-run or if you get in a car accident with an uninsured third party. Let’s say you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage—if an uninsured individual were to crash into your vehicle, resulting in major repair costs and medical expenses, you could be financially responsible for all of your vehicle repairs and medical bills.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Much like uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage applies if you are involved in an accident with an individual who doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover all of the damage to your vehicle or your medical bills. For example, if your claim exceeded the other driver’s policy limits, underinsured motorist coverage would help cover the remaining balance of the claim after the third party’s insurance limit was reached. Both underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage are required in some states, while it still remains optional in others.

Contact Us
For more information on the various types of coverage offered under your auto insurance policy, or for more information on your current policy, contact The SIG Insurance Agencies today!

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Know Your Insurance – 6 Types of Auto Insurance Coverage

© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved