Each year, the seasonal flu has a marked impact on businesses and employers, causing increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. The past few flu seasons have seen high hospitalization and mortality rates, which has public health experts fearing another deadly flu season.

Unfortunately, the 2020-21 flu season isn’t the only health crisis employers and employees have to address this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the workforce, and the combination of another potentially bad flu season and the pandemic has public health experts worried.

As an employer, you are well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the impact that influenza has on your business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strategies to help employers fight the flu and talk to employees about what a flu season during the pandemic looks like.

Educate Employees on the Flu vs. COVID-19

Unfortunately, because the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, some of the symptoms are similar. For example, common flu symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, congestion, cough and sore throat. All of those are currently considered symptoms of COVID-19.

One of the difficult aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the symptoms are wide-ranging and vary in severity. Some with COVID-19 may experience little to no symptoms, while others may be severely ill and require hospitalization.

Due to the similarity in symptoms between COVID-19 and the flu, it may be difficult to determine whether an employee has the flu or COVID-19 without being tested. As such, it’s important to encourage employees to stay home if they are sick.

Consider allowing employees to work from home, if they’re healthy enough to complete their work or while they wait for test results, and encouraging employees to take paid time off if they need to. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to take time off to recover, they may be eligible for leave under a multitude of federal and state laws.

Preparing Your Workplace for Flu Season During the Pandemic

There are a variety of steps employers can take to protect employees and prepare for flu season—which may include steps you’ve taken in response to COVID-19—regardless of whether employees are in the office or working remotely.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Host an on-site, socially distanced vaccination clinic—One of the most important steps for preventing the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. Hosting an on-site flu vaccination clinic can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.
  • Encourage employees to get the flu vaccine—If you choose not to or are unable to provide an on-site flu vaccination clinic, you can still emphasize the importance of vaccination to your employees and educate them about local opportunities to get vaccinated.
  • Disinfect and clean the office—Because the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility. Some best practices include:
    • Cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs.
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
    • Providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • Implement and enforce social distancing protocols—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Social distancing best practices for businesses can include:
    • Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
    • Instructing workers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people
    • Hosting meetings virtually when possible
    • Limiting the number of people on the job site to essential personnel only
    • Leveraging work-from-home arrangements and staggered shifts when possible
    • Discouraging people from shaking hands
  • Employee safety training—Ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, taking into account:
    • Respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene—Businesses should encourage good hygiene to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. This can involve:
      • Providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles
      • Providing soap and water in the workplace
      • Placing hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene
      • Reminding employees to not touch their eyes, nose or mouth
      • Asking employees to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing is not possible
    • Staying home when sick—Encourage employees to err on the side of caution if they’re not feeling well, and stay home when they’re sick or are exhibiting common symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu.

These strategies may not be right for every organization. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to implement additional prevention strategies. Contact The SIG Insurance Agencies to discuss your organization’s situation.

For More Information

The combination of COVID-19 and flu season could have a significant impact on your business this fall and winter. Contact The SIG Insurance Agencies and request employee educational materials regarding flu prevention, vaccination promotion and good hygiene to start protecting your business and employees today.

Protecting your business against different risks, including unexpected ones, is an essential part of the business. Natural disasters, fires, illnesses, and cyber-attacks can bring you operations to a standstill and cause you to feel hopeless. Without offices, power, internet service, or electronics, you may find yourself ultimately out of business. FEMA estimates that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses fail to reopen their doors after a disaster. Larger corporations may have an easier time due to access to resources. However, big or small, a disaster recovery plan goes a long way in ensuring business continuity. 

How To Create a Disaster Recovery Plan 

Your recovery plan depends on the type of disaster your business faces. Let’s explore some critical elements you should include in your plan. 


Business insurance is vital for the continuity of any business because it helps you cover the costs of recovering after a disaster. First, check your insurance policy to see what it covers and see if you need to upgrade it or get a separate cover for different risks. It’s essential to have policies that cover natural disasters, fires, and cyber-attacks, among other catastrophes. Keep a record off all property, both physical and intellectual, and take photos is necessary. Have your insurance agent note all items before agreeing on an appropriate cover for damages after a disaster. After a disaster, take pictures, records, and keep all receipts and appraisals to support your claim. 

Communication Plan 

Communication helps you manage stress levels, build trust, and minimize confusion among workers. The ideal communication plan should include all employee contacts to help you reach out after a disaster. Reassure the workers about their jobs and safety, and request that they keep in touch for further guidance. In your communication, ensure that you discuss: 

  • Timelines for reporting back to work
  • Duties after the disaster
  • Payments and wages 
  • Communication with clients about their projects 
  • Precautions against discussing the tragedy with external parties if necessary 

Emergency Response Plan 

When an emergency occurs, you need to know your next course of action. For example, when a fire starts, all workers must run to the exits and gather at an assembly point. An emergency response plan ensures that you and your employees know what to do. The first step should be to care for the health of each employee. Emergency supplies such as first aid kits, water, cash, food supplies, and emergency contacts are always essential for disasters. 

If no one is injured, your plan may entail different questions. Whom should you call when a cyberattack happens? Is there a designated formula for who gets called first, and who delivers the message to others? Once you create a guide, remember to assign roles to each worker and conduct training. 

Create a Business Continuity Plan 

After a disaster, it’s essential to have a plan that focuses on continuing business operations. This plan is known as a business continuity plan (BCP). The key difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is that your BCP swings into action immediately after a disaster or during the disaster. However, disaster recovery continues long after the incident to keep the business afloat until it returns to normalcy. A BCP usually includes: 

Business Impact Analysis (BIA): This is step happens before a disaster occurs. It helps you analyze various catastrophes and their impact on your operations. A BIA also enables you to estimate how long the effects last and how long it would take you to recover. Besides that, a BIA also helps you identify the legal and financial implications of any BCP program. Having an estimate of the costs beforehand helps you make arrangements before the disaster. 

Recovery Plan: After identifying the possible impacts of any disaster, the next step is finding possible ways to recover after a disaster. Recovery procedures help you mitigate the impact and swing back into action. For example, having data backups for all your information and records in separate servers or contracting third parties helps with recovery. You may also need plans for emergency power supply, computer and IT infrastructure, and office set up. 

Assigning Responsibilities: It’s crucial to have a plan that details each employee’s role in disaster recovery. With proper communication and role details, you can ensure that every worker helps your business achieve recovery objectives. Every worker should identify their role in creating work stations, setting up communications, recovering data, setting up secure information systems, contacting clients, and providing emergency relief, among other duties. 

Disaster Recovery for Physical Equipment: If you live in zones prone to water damage through floods and hurricanes, you should have a plan to protect your property before a disaster. Move all your computers, printers, and wiring from the floors and basements to higher areas. Alternatively, you can put them away for secure storage until the storm passes. Seal everything if you need to. 

Testing: No plan is complete without testing to check if the recovery procedures work or how long they take to implement. After testing, note the results and necessary updates. Testing should be frequent because some disasters change over time. Being prepared is the best way to stay afloat.

Written by Reciprocity Labs

Does your homeowners insurance cover water damage? Or maybe the better question is; does your homeowners insurance cover all kinds of water damage. For instance, if you wake up in the night to find that your basement has been flooded by a broken water heater; will the insurance cover the cost of repairing the damage?

What if the flood is the result of a rainstorm, will your insurance pay to replace the things you lost? This is a question many homeowners never ask but as Sterling Property Solutions warns, knowing the right answers will save you unnecessary headaches.

Water damage in your home is not always covered by the standard homeowners insurance. Yes, water damage is included as one of the calamities covered by the policy. But not every kind of water damage is covered; certain types of water damage are not included.

Most homeowners don’t realize this until they suffer an incident and the insurance company tells them it is not one of the things covered under the policy. What types of water-related issues are covered by standard homeowners insurance?

Why this is important

Water damage is the most common and most costly type of homeowners insurance claim. This is because the threat of water damage is ever present in a home, which makes knowing how to deal with the threat very important.

To succeed in a water damage claim you must know what the policy covers or does not cover. That knowledge will also help you protect your home from water-related issues that are not covered.

The standard homeowners insurance covers 16 perils, many of which can lead to water damage. To qualify for coverage under the policy, water damage has to meet the following conditions:

• The damage must be sudden and internal, such as from a burst pipe
• It cannot be gradual damage, such as from a leaking sink
• The damage must not be the result of neglect or due to improper maintenance
• The water must have never touched the ground outside, which means that floods are not covered
• The water must not come from outside the home

The types of water damage covered by homeowners insurance

Based on the above criteria, here are the types of water damage that are covered by your homeowners insurance.

Water damage from storms
If during a storm, the rain gets into the house through a broken window and damaged parts of the home or your belongings, homeowners insurance will cover that. However, if the damage was made possible by neglect – because you failed to replace a broken window – the policy will not cover the damage.

Appliances leaking
If your washing machine floods a room because a piece of clothing blocked the overflow hose, the policy will cover that sort of incident. However, if the flooding is determined to have occurred due to your own negligence, the policy will not cover it.

Pipe leaks

If a pipe that was in good condition suddenly develops a leak, the resulting water damage is included in the calamities covered by the policy. But leaks that result from poor maintenance will not be covered. Frozen pipes that burst is also covered as long as the pipe did not burst because you failed to keep the home properly heated.

Water damage while extinguishing a fire
If a fire breaks out in one part of the home and there is damage to the home from water used by firefighters or your sprinkler system, the insurance company will pay for the claims. However, if the fire started as a result of your own carelessness, the insurer will not pay for the damage.

Types of water damage not covered by homeowners insurance

Water damage not covered by the policy includes:

• Damage caused by maintenance problems
• Flooding that caused by storm, hurricane, or tsunami
• Water damage from intentional acts
• Water damage from earth movements such as earthquakes, mudslides, or landslides
• Water damage from a backed-up sewer or drain
• Water damaged caused by a swimming pool leak or similar structure
• Water damaged that is the consequence of seepage or leaks through the home’s foundation
• Water damage that happens because a sump pump or related equipment failed
• Also not covered is the cost of fixing or replacing the source of water damage to your home, such as a broken washing machine.

Now back to our question: does your homeowners insurance cover every kind of water damage? The answer is no. The homeowners insurance only covers water damage if the source of the water is inside the home and the damage is not due to the homeowners’ failure to maintain.

This means that to get the most out of your homeowners insurance, you must follow-up maintenance issues promptly and adequately. And for more comprehensive coverage, you should buy insurance policies that cover areas that are not covered by your homeowners insurance.

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:


  • 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 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).


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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.

• 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

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.

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:

•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.

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

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