COVID-19 and the New Cyber Challenges

The CIOVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we do business in a very significant way.  Many businesses are requiring people to work remotely.  Employers are finding that having employees work remotely may be the new normal.

COVID-19 has forced us to become more dependent on the internet, as desperate measures, like social distancing, disrupt economic activity and everyday life.

This new way of doing business could mean that employees are collecting client information from home or other places that may not have the same cyber security as an office network.  In some instances, employees who are working remotely are forced to use their home computers because they do not have a company laptop.

Top Work-from-Home Cyber Concerns

Unsecured video conferencing

Using unsecured networks

Spam and phishing campaigns exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic

Maintaining security-critical operations, such as patch management

Supporting employees to ensure they have what they need to work from home without sacrificing security

Theft of client information from lap tops

Changes to regular security-critical processes

Using social media platforms from unsecured networks

What Can Employers Do to Reduce the Threat?

Do not open email from people you do not know.

Do not reveal personal or financial information in emails, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

Do not provide personal information to unknown websites or uninvestigated third-party messengers.

Do not share the virtual meeting URL’s on social media or other public channels.

Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, and be wary of email attachments.

Lock your screen if you work in a shared space.

Provide corporate computers/devices to staff while teleworking, where possible.

Use secure, password-protected emails when sending documents.

Ensure that adequate information technology resources are in place to support staff.

Provide secure video conferencing for corporate clients (both audio/video capabilities).

How Best To Insure Your Home

Many people look to save a few dollars on their home insurance premium by insuring their home for less than its replacement value. While this may save a few dollars now, it will cost you thousands later. Your homeowner’s insurance policy, if it is written correctly, can repair and or replace your current home with “new” like kind and quality materials. Amy Bach, executive director of the consumer advocacy group United Policyholders, says one 2019 study found that two-thirds of U.S. homes are underinsured. Why? For one thing, many homeowners buy only enough insurance to cover the amount of their mortgage. But the mortgage may be, at most, 80 or 90 percent of the value of the house, depending on the original down payment (less, if the home has appreciated in value).

Key Terms

Market Value is the amount you might sell your home for based on real-estate conditions in your area.

Appraised Value is the term that describes what the local government uses to determine your property taxes.

Replacement Value is the amount it would cost to rebuild your home with like kind and quality. The replacement cost, however, is based on the total cost of labor, activities, and materials to put the structure back to the way it was before the damage. This would include costs related to clearing and cleaning up the damage debris -activities that precede the actual build-out of the home.

Replacement Cost Considerations

There are a number of factors that go into determining your home’s replacement value, including:

Type of construction quality

Materials used in the construction

Size of your home

Location

Your lot configuration, (hillside or flat)

Are there any unique materials, like imported stone, marble, etc.?

The overall quality of construction—is your home average construction or high-end?

The average cost per square foot for new construction in your area.

We always recommend you insure your home to the full replacement values and have an inflation cost factor added annually.

 

The Best Ways To Insure Your Recreational Toys

Do you need insurance for your boat, RV, motorcycle, or ATV?

Regardless of whether you are relaxing on your boat at the lake, traveling through the Rocky Mountains, camping with friends and family, or enjoying the open road on the bike of your dreams; you need to take the proper steps to protect what you have worked so hard to enjoy.

All these activities need personal insurance to protect you against damage and other claims. Generally, we have found that we can get better coverage and pricing when we use our specialty carriers.  For example, watercraft insurance has pollution coverage for fuel spills, coverage for injured water-skiers, and on-water towing coverage that homeowner’s insurance won’t provide.

RV Insurance

RV insurance rates differ from company to company, so it really pays to have us shop your insurance. Some markets offer better rates for trucks, RV’s, and campers, while others can offer better rates for motorcycles. To properly insure your RV, you may need liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, medical payment, and towing coverage.

Motorcycle Insurance

All motorcycles on the road are required by law to have motorcycle insurance. Motorcycle insurance protects a motorcycle and its owner in the event of a loss. You may need to consider special coverage.  Custom parts and equipment (ACPE)/Accessory coverage can be purchased for motorcycles less than 25 years old. You may spend thousands of dollars customizing your bike and that is why you need custom motorcycle insurance.

Boat/Watercraft Insurance

Your boat will need boat insurance for liability and damage to the hull and personal property. Boat insurance can include physical damage coverage, medical payments, liability, and trailer coverage.

ATV Insurance

ATV insurance is similar to motorcycle insurance. We can combine motorcycle coverage and ATV insurance into one policy for multi-vehicle discounts. We offer additional ATV coverage for damage to custom equipment that you’ve added to your ATV.

Why Work With Our Insurance Agency?

We know and understand your risks

We are a full service independent insurance agency

Our goal is to provide the best possible combination, of coverage, price and service

Tips for Working at Home

OVID-19 Have You Working From Home?

Due to the stay at home mandate, there are many people who are working remotely these days.  It appears this mandate will last at least another month.  Many people have thought that working remotely would be great, but working remotely is a double-edge sword.  Sure, you get to stay home, but studies show that it can be harder to focus on work.

Benefits of Working Remotely:

Remote employees tend to be more productive

Remote workers cost employers less

Remote employees tend to be happier and more satisfied

Remote workers have a better work/life balance

Remote Workers Need to Be Aware of These Challenges:

Lack of a work routine

Tendency to over-work

Lack of human interaction

Prioritizing a work project

Interruptions from family, pets, phone calls, and the doorbell

How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

Confine your workspace to a specific area in your home.

Set up your workspace like your office.

Set a schedule and create a routine.

When in doubt, go with over-communication; update your boss frequently on everything you are doing, and whether your schedule and deliverables are changing in any way.

After work, stay off electronic devices for some time to transition to “home time.”

Take regular breaks.

Get dressed every day.  Taking the time to get dressed and perform your usual self-care routine can prove a big psychological booster.

 

Is Your Personal Insurance Impacted by COVID-19?

We hope you are safe and healthy. We are living in different times and having the right kind of insurance is more important than ever.

As our country continues to manage through the COVID-19 crises, we thought it might be useful to take some time to remind you of the importance of your personal insurance during this time.  The coronavirus pandemic won’t affect your auto or homeowner’s insurance too much, but there are a few coverages that could be impacted because of the temporary lifestyle change.

Do not cancel your auto insurance just because you are temporarily not driving.  Auto insurance is required by law.  If you are looking for ways to save money on your auto insurance, give us a call.

If you are working remotely via computer, there should be no issues with your homeowners or renter’s insurance.  However, this is true as long as there are no customers coming to your home.  If you are running a business from your home, you will need business insurance.  We are happy to help you with this.

If you have a claim, we are open, as are the insurers.  Give us a call, and we will be ready to help you. Your policy has toll-free claim numbers to help you get the process going.

Many insurance companies are offering relaxed payment terms.  We suggest you contact them directly if you feel you may miss a payment. Of course, you can always contact our office to assist you.

Be aware of credit card and cyber scams. Unfortunately, criminals have ramped up their efforts during this crisis.  The fraud ranges from false claims of cures and treatments for the coronavirus to fake charities attempting to soliciting money to help those suffering.

As we all have so much time at home, now is a good time to complete a home inventory of your personal property.  Creating and updating an inventory of your personal possessions is one of the best ways to make the most of your homeowners or renters insurance, and it makes filing a claim easier and more efficient.  If your home is damaged or totally lost due to a fire or other event, having a home inventory will help you recover all your personal property with the least amount of time and stress.

COVID-19 Statement

The global coronavirus outbreak is slowing commerce, and we are still assessing the full business impact on our agency. We are open for business and are here to help you should you require it. We are not taking in office visits but you can connect with your account manager via email or phone.

We continue to monitor the situation and are taking appropriate steps to safeguard our employees and visitors to our office.

We stand together with you through this tough time.

Have You Just Started A New Business?

Business Insurance

Startup businesses are exposed to a wide variety of issues including business insurance, risks, and concerns. There are many different decisions that, as a new business owner, you need to make, and selecting the right commercial insurance is one of them.

The first thing you need to do is hire the right agent to help you through the process of obtaining the right kind of commercial insurance. We recommend you choose an independent agent to help you. Independent agents have access to many different markets and can provide the right combination of commercial insurance products and services.

The purchase of business insurance is an essential investment for business owners. Insurance policies protect the business from the financial consequences of accidents and mishaps that could erode profitability and threaten continuity of the operation.

Property- Damage or loss of buildings and equipment

Liability- Injury or claims from customers or other third parties

Workers’ Compensation- Injury to employees as outlined by state statutes

Automobile- Direct damage to your vehicles and liability for the operation of your vehicles

Insurance for business operations is complex, and when considering the purchase of insurance it’s vital to take into account all of the risks that face a business. It is also important to remember that insurance needs change over time as a business grows or diversifies its operations.

Commercial insurance is one of the most important products a new business needs. Our agency can help you review your risks and guide you through the process of securing the right combination of coverage and price.

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Your VRBO?

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Your VRBO?

The sharing economy is on the rise in America, with many people using their home for rental property. like homes (with Airbnb or VRBO)

More and more people are using services like VRBO and Airbnb to find vacation rentals.  As a result, many people are using their homes to develop rental income.  A standard homeowner’s policy may not cover losses incurred while your home is rented out.  You may require a more specialized insurance policy.

Key Homeowner’s Insurance Concerns With Rental Property

Homeowner’s insurance will not cover rental property.

You need insurance when you do not occupy the same residence as your tenant. You will also need special insurance if you are renting out your own home temporarily, or sharing accommodations such as your basement level, with a renter.

Consider liability coverage in the event your renter is injured on your premises.

Consult a local attorney who is knowledgeable in home rental laws in your area. Some cities have new laws that make it easier (or harder) to legally rent out part of your home if you’re not a licensed hotel or B&B.

VRBO, Airbnb and other rental sites may require proof of insurance.

There are only a few insurance carriers willing to write an Airbnb liability insurance policy.  We have experience with insurers who handle this kind of risk.  While sharing economy companies like AirBnB and VRBO offer a “master agreement” that seems to cover a lot, reviewing that with an actual insurance agent will always be in your best interest to ensure adequate coverage.

The Coronavirus Will Have An Impact The United States

The Coronavirus Will Have An Impact The United States

The Centers for Disease Control recently stated that the Coronavirus will have an impact in the United States. People who contracted the Wuhan virus have reported symptoms that include fever, chills, headaches, difficulty breathing, and a sore throat.  Now is a good time to start thinking about how you might protect yourself and your family from contracting this virus.

The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend that you take the usual precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands are not clean.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

Clean surfaces you often touch.

Stay home from work, school, and public areas if you are sick.

Check with your doctor if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, and tell your doctor about any recent travels.

Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or animal organs.

If you are visiting live markets in areas that have recently had new coronavirus cases, avoid contact with live animals and surfaces they may have touched.

Business Insurance Coverage That You Might Be Missing

Business Insurance Coverage That You Might Be Missing

Insuring your —- building is one of the most important decisions you make as an owner. In the event of a loss, having the right kind of insurance will be critical in recovery and resuming your business operations. Over 40% of businesses that suffer a total loss never resume operations. If these businesses had purchased the right insurance they might have been able to resume operation.

No two businesses are alike. We can offer coverage options and tailor coverage specifically for your business’s unique needs. Companies frequently purchase commercial property insurance as a part of a Business Owner’s Policy.

We wanted to provide you with a few coverage options that you may not have considered.

Having enough business income and extra expense coverage. In the event of a covered loss, your commercial property insurance can provide funds for lost income, and extra expenses to help in the recovery. All too often, these are not reviewed on a regular basis.

Property managers need to make sure all tenants have provided proof of commercial insurance. Check these annually.

The increased cost of construction for building codes is often overlooked. If your commercial building is over five years old, you may have risk due to new building codes that might increase the value of your building.

Requesting your property policy to have 100% agreed amount valuation. Having an agreed amount will eliminate any coinsurance.

We specialize in providing insurance for office building owners, apartment owners, and commercial building properties. Our experienced staff understands the challenges and concerns that building owners face every day, and work with you to provide the best coverage at the best possible price with the best service.