Cyber Risks for Remote Workers

With COVID-19 came a myriad of changes, both professionally and personally.  Time will tell what the “new normal” will look like, but the ability to work remotely has never been more pronounced.  With remote working comes challenges to businesses, specifically Cyber Threats.  The reality is at-home networks do not have the security protections in place that a business typically does. 

Here are a few things you and your staff can do to protect your remote workers:

1. Have a remote worker policy in force

2. Only connect to the internet through secure networks

3. Only click on links, open attachments and download software from trusted sources

4. Use strong passwords

5. Ensure your network, software and applications are up-to-date

6. Don’t respond to requests for information from unknown sources

7. Use multi-factor authentication in lieu of passwords

8. Make sure your IT department, whether in-house or outsourced, is aware of the new remote layout, so they can be prepared for additional phone calls.

The bad actors are delighted to have more daily online activity.  Don’t be the individual or organization to let them in on the party. 

 

The State of the Insurance Industry during COVID-19

As many states begin to announce plans to reopen the local economy, the residual impact of COVID-19 still remains. The insurance industry has taken steps to provide relief for policyholders that have been impacted as a result of “shelter-in-place” orders.

While the hot button topic as of late is Business Income or Business Interruption and whether coverage would apply, there are a number of positive steps the insurance industry has taken to aid those affected by COVID-19.

Most insurance companies have continued to offer to delay cancellations as a result of non-payment of premium. In addition, many are offering premium credits on personal auto policies for the months of March, April, and even May in some cases. These are essentially refunds of 15% – 25% depending on the carrier – due to a drastic decrease in driving habits.  

Vacancy clauses on many commercial policies have been waived as well given the decreased capacity due to employees working from home.  We have even seen similar premium refunds offered on small business policies with certain carriers.

Health carriers have taken steps to eliminate deductibles for COVID-19 cases and have increased payments to cover Coronavirus testing.

We continue to monitor industry and carrier actions closely as they evolve.

Employee Theft? No way…right?

Every employer – whether a corporation, a small business, or a non-profit – provides a level of trust to employees, a belief they have the company’s best interest at heart.  However, as we know, that is not always the case. Sometimes, the only interest an employee has in mind is their own.

In just the past 2 months, we have had four clients experience Employee Dishonesty claims.  These claims range from $25,000 to $300,000. Each situation is unique in details but similar in execution.  The entity trusted an employee to do what is right with the company’s best interests in mind and, in turn, the employee slowly siphoned money undetected for personal gain. 

While Employee Dishonesty coverage would help to protect and replace theft of funds, there are important policies and procedures to have in place to avoid it in the first place:

1. Ensure no one employee has sole access to financial accounts

2. Make sure your financial books are audited by a CPA annually (or more)

3. Be sure to review the audit with a management team or board of directors

4. Be sure to reconcile bank accounts with deposits or withdrawals

5. Require two signatures on checks

6. Require employees or officers take annual vacations of at least five consecutive days.

It can happen to you.  The question is, will you simply allow it to happen or take steps to avoid it?

 

Oh Deer!

Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting in your family room, gazing outside at deer in the backyard.  Suddenly, the deer turns towards the house and takes off running. It crashes through your bay window and is now inside your house frantically trying to escape.  Unfortunately, in its chaotic state, the deer tears up much of the interior of the house. 

Hard to believe?

Well, this really happened to a homeowner in Ohio.  And to the surprise, and dismay of the homeowner, the insurance carrier denied the claim, stating “deer was not a ‘covered peril’ on the policy.”

What is a ‘covered peril’ you ask?  A peril is a cause of the loss.  Whether it’s covered or not depends on the contract form the policy is written on. 

If it is a ‘named peril’ policy, the insurance company will only cover a loss specifically named in the policy (see deer claim above).  If it’s a special form policy, all risks are covered unless specifically excluded.  It turns out the homeowner in this situation with the deer was only covered by a named peril policy, thus leaving an expensive void in coverage.

This example highlights the importance of understanding the difference between a ‘named peril’ policy and a ‘named exclusions’ policy as coverage can be greatly impacted.  Review your homeowners insurance to make sure you have the broadest form available to you so you are not left like a deer in headlights.

Read the article here: https://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/deer-trashes-home-insurance-wont-pay-for-ruined-items

An 85 Year Journey

This year, our agency celebrates its 85th year in business.  That spans 8 decades and 3 generations.  As the youngest of the third generation, I have only recently come to fully appreciate what an achievement it is.  In an age when most start-ups fizzle out within a few months and personal interaction is a thing of the past, our family-owned business turns 85.

The journey of most businesses is a rollercoaster of highs and lows, expansion and contraction, ebbs and flows.  Ours has been no different. 

My grandfather began building our company one policy at a time out of the basement of his Cleveland home.  His mindset was simple: help the people he cared about protect the things important to them.  He believed if he acted in the client’s best interest and cared for them like family, his company would flourish.

My grandfather would always say, “The most important aspect of our profession is client service.”  Those words are the foundation our company has been built on.

My Dad took over after my grandfather became ill and, through hard work and a number of acquisitions, he expanded the agency, adding a team around him to help strengthen that foundation.

I often reflect about the journey of our business and how much work and sacrifice went into getting us to this point.  I think about how fortunate my brother and I are to have been blessed with an opportunity to continue its legacy.  I think about the 4th generation.  I think about my grandfather’s vision and how important those words are – now maybe more than ever.

As we celebrate this year, what I am most proud of is we have never lost focus on what is most valuable: our clients.

Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the iconic holiday movie, Christmas Vacation.  Last year I was jokingly asked whether any of the craziness that ensued would be covered under a homeowners policy.  While there are too many variables to say for sure, I found myself watching the movie through the eyes of an insurance agent and risk manager…

As Clark’s road rage leads his vehicle – with a large uprooted tree on top – under a semi-truck and careening off the road and into the air, I wondered if his personal auto insurance was paid up?

As Cousin Eddie empties his RV’s waste container into the neighborhood sewer system, eventually causing an explosion, I wondered if this could be considered a Back-up of Sewer & Drains claim?

As Clark’s determination to have the largest and brightest Christmas light display in the neighborhood causes an eventually power surge, I wondered if Clark realized what a dangerous fire threat excessive temporary wiring can create?  Hindsight is always 20/20, I guess.

As Cousin Eddie kidnaps Clark’s boss after the lack of a holiday bonus, I wondered if Frank Shirley’s homeowners policy was endorsed with Kidnap & Ransom coverage?

As Uncle Lewis lights his cigar and tosses his match into the drain, I wondered if the insurance carrier would try to subrogate against Uncle Lewis’s or even Cousin Eddie’s insurance policy?  Eddie seems like a guy who prioritizes insurance protection, right? 

As you prepare for and celebrate the holidays, take a minute to consider the potential impact of decisions this year… but may all of us have the Christmas spirit of Clark Griswold!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Remote Workers Can be Big Cyber Risk for Small Business

security risk of remote workers

Many small businesses are allowing some of their employees to work remotely or from home. There are many Pros and Cons to this practice. Some Pros include increased opportunity for employers to attract talent and reduced work-related expenses for employees. Some Cons are the suspicion of lack of productivity and risk of distraction. A new Con to remote workers is that they present an increased risk of cyber attacks to the company.

Remote workers may not only be at home, but also in public access points like coffee shops or airports. When they log into the wifi at these locations they may not realize they are on public platforms where their computer can be accessed by anyone in the room.

While allowing some employees to work remotely can have benefits to the company as a whole, the fact remains that most small business owners have not implemented the necessary “remote work policies” or training processes to protect their companies. The Small Business Administration has gathered a list of best practices for remote work.

Consider adopting policies like using strong passwords that are changed on a regular basis. Another critical practice is to make backup copies of important company data and information. This backup should live offline and offsite. Implementing this practice can protect the company from a ransomware attack. And consistently educate your staff on cyberthreats and security. Make sure they know they are accountable for keeping their computers and data safe no matter where they are. Working remotely does not have to put a company at risk if you take the necessary measures to mitigate a cyber risk.

Life Can Happen.

Life Insurance

As Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM) wraps up, it provides one last opportunity to stress the importance of Life insurance, and maybe more specifically, planning.  

When it comes down to it, life insurance is simply both short and long-term planning.  Determining the right policy for your individual situation can help you plan, not only for the unexpected and unforeseen of today, but the long-term goals of tomorrow.

Have a family?  You need life insurance.  

Have a mortgage?  You need life insurance.

Have retirement goals?  You need life insurance.  

Have estate-tax concerns?  You need life insurance.

Have aging parents?  You need life insurance.

Have a business?  You need life insurance.

There is a great non-profit organization called Life Happens (lifehappens.org) which operates as an educational and informational resource for those considering life insurance.  Whether you are a single individual, in a marriage, have kids, retired, or own a business, this site, like the life agents on our team, can help explain the benefit of life insurance for each situation.

Remember, only 62% of individuals have life insurance but 100% need it.

Interested in learning more?  Get a quick and easy life quote now.