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02Sep 2014

man-65049_1280Imagine for a moment that your company has come under attack by a skilled hacker. The hacker has accessed your customers’ names and contact information–and worse–your employees’ social security numbers. On top of that, your website is disabled so that you can’t take orders or collect the payments you need to stay in business.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have cyber liability insurance right about now?

Insurance that protects you in case of a cyber attack may seem like something only large corporations would ever need, or could ever afford. But believe it or not, cyber liability insurance makes lots of sense for small companies as well. Here’s why:

 

1. It’s more affordable than you think.

Policies with premiums can be as low as $2,000 a year, though it can go up from there.  You can get coverage as high as $30 million and deductibles as low as $10,000, depending on your needs and what you’re willing to pay. Cyber liability insurance is still a fairly new concept, so there’s a lot of variation among policies, and a lot of room for negotiation.

 

2. It can cover more than you think.

Many policies offer “first party” coverage–that is, they will pay you for things like business interruption, the cost of notifying customers of a breach, and even the expense of hiring a public relations firm to repair any damage done to your image as a result of a cyber attack. Having this cash available in the event of a crippling hack can keep the lights on till you’re able to resume your normal cash flow. A good policy can even cover any regulatory fines or penalties you might incur because of a data breach.

Business interruption coverage can be especially important for a small business,  which may not be as diversified as a larger one, or have the same financial resources. “If a larger company has one line of business shut down by a data breach, it may be able to depend on its other lines for revenue. A smaller company may only have one line of business.

 

3. You probably don’t have a risk management team.

Big corporations have entire departments devoted to analyzing the risks the company could face and helping set policies and procedures to protect against them. You don’t–but a good insurance carrier can perform a similar function.

There are a couple of ways insurance can bridge that gap.  An insurer might work with a small company to make sure a firewall is in place to protect your network, and make sure you have social media policies that reduce risk. Your insurer may well be willing to help with these areas because the better protected you are, the less likely you are to have a breach that could result in aclaim.

4. Even if you don’t host your data yourself, you’re still responsible.

Is your website and any of your data hosted or stored in the cloud? Take a good look at your contracts: You’re still legally responsible. There’s a significant risk. You can’t fully control how a cloud provider handles your data but an insurance policy can protect you if your cloud provider screws up.

5. Your general policy won’t cover you.

Typically, a general liability policy specifically excludes losses incurred because of the Internet. So a good cyber liability policy can pick up where your general policy leaves off.

Make sure your cyber policy covers laptops and mobile devices as well, to give yourself coverage in as many situations as you can. Work with your broker to integrate cyber liability with your general policy and employment liability policy. You want to give yourself the most seamless coverage possible.

02Sep 2014

adult-17315_1280Life Insurance is a simple answer to a very difficult question: How will my family manage fincially when I die?  It’s a subjet no one really wants to think about.  But if someone depends on you financially, it’s one you cannot avoid.

There are many types of life insurance, but for all of them the bottom line is he same:  They pay cash to your family after you die, allowing loved ones to remain financially secure.  Life insurance payments can be used to cover daily living expenses, mortgage payments, utstanding loans, college tuition and other essential expenses,  And, importantly, the death-benefit proceeds of a life insurance policy are almost never subject to federal income taxes.

If you’ve worked hard to establish a solid financial framework for your family – investments, home equity, a savings plan, retirement accounts – life insurance is the foundation upon which all of it rests.  It can guard against the need for your loved ones to make drastic changes to future plans when you die.  Certain types of life insurance even have a built-in cash accumulation feature that can help you reach savings goals.

Most Americans need life insurance, and many who already have it may need to update their coverage.

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

The most important part of buying life insurance is determining how much you need.  Since everyone’s financial circumstances and goals are different, there is no rule of thumb to tell you how much to buy.

But do you really need $250,000, $500,000, $1 million or more?  Sounds like a lot of money, but imagine if one of those amounts had to pay for a funeral, retire credit card balances and other debts, and support your loved ones for years to come.  Would it be enough?  How would you know?

To start, estimate what your family members would need after you’re gone to meet immediate, ongoing, and future financial obligations.  Then, add up the resources your surviving family members could draw on to support themselves.  These would include things like a spouse’s income, accumulated savings, life insurance you may already own, etc.  The difference between the two is your need for additional life insurance.

WHAT KIND SHOULD YOU BUY?

The most basic feature of a life insurance policy is the death benefit; the lump-sum payment your benefeciaries would receive if you were to die.  It’s the core reason to own life insurance-but not the only one.  Some types of life insurance offer other features that can play an important role in your financial strategy, such as the ability to accumulate cash value that gorws over time.

TERM INSURANCE

Term life insurance provides protection for a sepcific period of time – the “term” – and is designed for temporary circumstances.  It makes the most sense when your need for coverage will disappear at some point, such as when your children graduate from college or when debt is paid off.  The most common term policies provide coverage for 20 years, but they can run the gamut from one-year policies to terms of 30 years or even longer.  Typically, term insurance offers the greatest amount of coverage for the lowest initial premium and is a good choice for young families on a tight budget.

PERMANENT INSURANCE

Permanent insurance offers lifelong protection, and you can accumulate cash value on a tax-deffered basis.  This cash account can be used for a variety or purposes, from helping you out of a tight financial spot, to provide funds to take advantage of an opportunity to supplementing your retirement income.  The downside? Initial premiums are considerably higher than what you would pay for a term policy with the same face amount.  Permanent insurance falls into four categories.

Whole Life is the simplest and most common option.  Premiums remain the same for life, and the death benefit and rate of return on your cash value are guaranteed.

Variable Life, you can seek potentially better returns by allocating your fixed premiums among investment sub-accounts, typically comprised pf stocks and bonds.

Universal Life offers the flexibility of varying the amount of your premium payments.  It also offers the certaintly of guaranteed minimum death benefit as long as your premiums are sufficient to sustain it.  If you do not maintain those minimum premiums, your death benefit can be reduced.

Variable Universal Life premium payments are alos adjustable, subject to the minimum needed to keep the policy in force, and you can allocate them among investment sub-accounts that offer varying degrees of riskand reward.

02Sep 2014

cell phone insuranceThe figures are staggering: 113 cell phones are lost or stolen EVERY MINUTE in the United States and $7 million worth of mobile devices are lost or stolen daily around the globe.

Aside from the hassle of replacing the phone and setting up a new service, it’s even more important to think about your exposure to identity theft and a thief’…s access to sensitive information – including, for example, passwords to your online banking! Here are basic security tips (based on FCC recommendations) to help avoid a loss!

LOCK IT.

Make sure you set up a security password to restrict access to the keypad. That will at least slow the thief down from accessing your information. You may also want to consider making your lock screen show an alternative phone number and/or alternative email (not your home number or primary email) so if the phone is lost it can be returned to you. NEVER put your home address on that screen or attach or print it on your phone in any way.

BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.

If you feel you need your phone handy at all times…keep it in your pocket or purse. Leaving it out on a table sets you up to forget it or for a thief to grab it and disappear. Remember too, if you are walking down the street holding the phone, using ear buds…you are a prime target (not only for theft, but also for assault.) Never leave your phone visible in your car; it’s too inviting to thieves and can leave you with a smashed window along with a stolen phone!
DOWNLOAD ANTI-THEFT/LOCATOR SOFTWARE.

There are a number of apps you can download that will allow you to track your GPS-enabled cell phone from any computer, to lock it remotely, and to remotely erase your private data – including contact lists, texts, photos, emails, your browser history and any user accounts. Some even have the ability to emit a loud siren (to help you find it, or possibly dissuade a thief from keeping it!) The apps range in cost from FREE to low annual subscription fees.

KNOW YOUR PHONE’S SERIAL NUMBER.

The serial number is called an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or MEID number. It’s on the bottom of your battery, but rather than opening up your phone, there are other ways to find it. For example, depending on your phone model and provider, simply dial * and your 15 digit IMEI will appear. If that doesn’t work on your particular phone/service, here’s a link to a list of other ways to access the information: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-the-IMEI-Number-on-a-Mobile-Phone

Some service providers will disable your phone for you (not all) but you MUST have your phone make, model, and IMEI for that to occur.

OK, but what do you do if you think your phone has been stolen?

First, do what you can to confirm you haven’t simply misplaced it. Call your number and listen for the ring, or use your location app (if installed.)
If you confirm it has been stolen, activate your anti-theft software immediately.
Report the loss to your mobile carrier and disable the number. (Keep a record of the date and time you called and the name of the person you spoke with along with any pertinent information.)
Report the loss to the police and file a report.
Change all login passwords/codes that might be accessible from your phone (e.g. online banking, social media accounts, access to company servers, etc.) immediately!

If you are concerned about identity theft, we recommend that you contact us 508-699-7511 to determine if you have identity theft coverage on your homeowner insurance policy