Keep Hackers at Bay With Cyber Insurance

Does your business use information technology (IT)? These days, it would be unusual if it didn’t. Email, website services, data storage, and other technologies likely keep your business functioning. Your company’s success is dependent on technology, and that’s why it’s important to protect it with cyber liability insurance.

What does cyber liability insurance cover? This policy will extend beyond your typical business owners policy. The types of risks covered include data loss, interruption of business, identity theft, cyber extortion, and reputation recovery.

Experts say the risks of cyber liability losses are actually greater than your risk of other types of fraud or theft, and there are big costs associated with these risks, such as:

Liability – IT-related incidents may leave your business liable for customer costs.

System recovery – Besides the lost data, your business may be unable to operate for a time while systems are down, resulting in profit loss.

Notification expenses – Letting customers know about security breaches can be costly.

Fines – If customer data is leaked, government regulations may require you to pay penalties for failing to protect their information.

Class action lawsuits – This is usually of concern to larger companies, but depending on your industry, even smaller companies may be at risk.

In fact, the majority of costs associated with cyber crime are information loss and business disruption/loss of productivity. These two combined make up 79% of the external costs businesses face as a result of cyber crime.

So is your business protected? Computer hacking attacks happen to companies of every size. Recent occurrences include those against retail giant Target, but there are many examples of loss of important data in small and medium-sized companies. For example, your employee’s laptop may be stolen and confidential information compromised. Or your cell phone (and all the important data it contains) may be lost or stolen.

To protect yourself, you’ll need a cyber liability insurance policy customized to fit your particular needs. Review your IT practices, decide where you’re vulnerable, and get the appropriate coverage in place. The costs will vary depending on the location of your business, its size, and the limits and deductibles in place for each area of coverage.

You also will want to:

  • use up-to-date security software;
  • obtain services from a security vendor;
  • back up data to an offsite location;
  • make use of cloud services; and
  • make your data privacy policy known to employees and customers.

Why should this interest them? Your customers (and your employees) are likely as concerned as you are about cyber information breaches. If you can assure them you are taking precautions, and show them you are investing to protect their information, you can build their trust and gain their loyalty. Ensure your business is effectively covered in the event of a cyber problem. Consult with a security software company and your insurance professional. Security can go a long way toward protecting your confidential data, but if a cyber disaster strikes, a strong cyber liability insurance policy could potentially save your business.

Check Insurance Rates When Siting Your Business

You live in the land of opportunity. You can open a business anywhere. So what factors should you consider?

If you’re contemplating an investment property, it’s important to bear in mind the cost of insurance. Premiums vary greatly by location, and this budget item can have a big influence on your bottom line.

If you have some flexibility as to the area you choose, you may want to consider aiming for more affordable parts of the country.

Do your research and you’ll find that some areas have low average property insurance quotes while others have the highest average quotes in the country. Rates even vary from city to city, so ensure you drill down in the area you’re considering.

What affects these property insurance quotes? Geographic location is a big factor. Your target area, for example, may be prone to hurricanes or tornados. If a region is more likely to see natural disasters, the rates will generally be higher.

Another influence is local construction costs. The cheaper it would be to rebuild your property if it’s destroyed, the lower the insurance quote will be. Each area may have its own local insurance requirements, which can also affect pricing.

With these factors in mind, you are able to better plan the location of your investment. However, it’s also important to weigh other factors that may impact your property search, including access to appropriate transportation; tax rates; the skilled labor pool; and, depending on your business, proximity to your customer base.

Do You Need Landlord Insurance?

Increasing numbers of homeowners are considering turning a second home into an investment property by renting it out. If you’re thinking about this alternative, depending on the type of rental you’re considering, you may need landlord insurance.

If you are planning to rent all or part of your primary residence for a short time (a week or less), you may not need a landlord policy. Often your homeowners policy will cover this situation. However, check with your insurance advisor to see if any additional endorsements are required.

If you want to start a bed & breakfast in your primary residence, you are then considered a business and will need a business insurance policy.

But when you decide to make a second home into an investment property to rent to tenants over the long term, you have become a landlord, and you will need landlord insurance. The policy may be customized to suit your needs and will provide the additional protection you will need as a landlord.

Options typically include:

  • Standard structure protection. The home, any other structures on the property, and any owned items on the premises, such as appliances, are covered.
  • Liability. As a landlord, you will need greater liability coverage to protect against claims for injuries on the property.
  • Fair rental value coverage. This option reimburses you in the event of a disaster where tenants can no longer live in the home and aren’t paying rent. Your loss of rental income is covered while the home is being repaired or rebuilt.
  • Some companies offer extra coverage options such as lock replacement and emergency repair service.

Because landlord policies provide the higher coverage you need, they typically cost about 25% more than a standard homeowners policy. However, discounts such as multipolicy and new/renovated home discounts may be available. Contact your insurance advisor for the option that’s best for you.

How to Protect Your Possessions While They’re in Storage

Have stuff you need to store? You’re not alone. According to the Self Storage Association, 10% of American households currently rent some type of storage unit. And many of them overlook a very important factor in storing their possessions. Insurance. Here are some important questions to ask:

Does the storage facility offer coverage?

Most do offer some type of coverage, but ask what damages will be covered (such as floods or fire.) Also be sure to check limits and the type of reimbursement offered. (Is it actual cash value or replacement cost?)

Does my homeowners policy cover my items in storage? Check with your insurance professional on the terms of your policy. Some will cover items stored off your premises, but ensure you check the limits. Damage from mold, mildew, and animals often isn’t covered.

Will I be storing particularly valuable items? If so, you may need to add a floater to your policy to cover items beyond the limits of your coverage. You may also want to consider specialized storage for them, such as a safety deposit box.

Does the facility include the following?

  • Proper security: Fencing, 24-hour video surveillance, fire and flood procedures.
  • Climate control: Protection against extreme temperatures, dampness, and precipitation.
  • Thorough maintenance: Well-kept facility and grounds and a pest extermination contract.
  • Insurance: Your current policy may provide the protection you need, or you can purchase additional coverage from the storage facility.

Traveler’s Stomach Is No Joke: Be Prepared

No one wants their holiday to be interrupted by food poisoning. And even the best restaurants and cruise ships can suffer from lax food handling or a bad shipment of shellfish. You or a family member may well experience the effects.

Fortunately, most food-borne illnesses are short-lived and easily treated. But some cases of food poisoning, like salmonella, are more serious and can have a lasting impact if not treated promptly. Only expert medical attention and prescriptions will alleviate the symptoms and kill the bad bacteria in your system.

So if you do become sick, the best solution is to head immediately to the nearest medical facility. A word to the wise: Be sure to take your passport, as some facilities won’t treat you without documentation.

Before you go, check your travel insurance policy. A robust policy will reimburse you for medical expenses abroad and for losses incurred if you become so ill you have to cut your trip short. Many travel policies also offer 24-hour access to a medical helpline if you fall ill abroad.

To help ensure you receive reimbursement when you come home, keep receipts for all treatments and prescriptions, and consider photographing any unsafe or unsanitary conditions that may have caused your illness.

Also before you leave, tell your physician where you’re traveling, because you may need vaccinations. And ask if there’s something to take at the first sign of stomach discomfort; he or she may prescribe an antibiotic to carry with you just in case.

A recent article in marketwatch.com listed the top 10 “bucket list” travel destinations for Americans. The big five are Australia, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, and Mediterranean cruises. Most of Marketwatch’s destinations seem unlikely places to catch a stomach bug, but wherever you go, food poisoning is always a possibility.

Purchasing good travel insurance before you leave will give you peace of mind.

CI Coverage Can Help Avoid Medical Bankruptcy

Illnesses can strike at any age. Whether you have a family history of a disease or are healthy, critical illness (CI) coverage is one of the best protections you can have against economic calamity. CI coverage applies to life-threatening illnesses or events, and can help you and your family when you really need it.

CI coverage is a long-term insurance product that provides a layer of protection not offered by your health or life insurance; it provides a lump sum if you are diagnosed with any of the medical problems listed in the policy.

CI coverage can help bridge the financial gap between what your health insurer pays on your medical bills and your copayments. It also provides a cushion if you lose income due to your illness. Younger individuals, in particular, can have the security that mortgage payments will be paid and the family protected in a life-altering crisis.

The critical illnesses may include Alzheimer’s, stroke, cancer, heart attack, and even organ transplants. However, the coverage-and the diseases covered-varies from insurer to insurer. Your insurance professional will help you select the policy that is best for you, but you should carefully read the policies you’re considering.

Remember that you won’t have coverage for any illness or accident not listed in the policy. If, for example, you break your hip, you may suffer an extended disability, but it’s likely not considered a critical illness.

That said, long-term disability insurance would kick in here, where a critical illness policy may not.

Life Changes May Require Insurance Changes

We all face life changes: We get married; we buy homes; we have children; they go to college; we retire. Of course, these are happy occasions. But sometimes our life changes aren’t happy: We lose jobs; we lose loved ones; we get divorced.

When the unforeseeable occurs, there are many things to consider, and life insurance may not be top of mind – but it is, and should be, an important consideration.

Job loss

For example, if you lose your job, your employer-provided life insurance policy may no longer be in effect, and you’ll want to consider alternatives. Fortunately, life insurance can be purchased without going through your employer – and rates can be very reasonable, depending on your age and health. (In fact, it’s a good idea to have a supplemental policy anyway, in case this happens.)

Divorce

Take another example: negotiating a divorce settlement. You’ll need to specify who will own any life insurance policies you and your spouse have as a couple. If you have children you both may be required to maintain individual policies with the children as beneficiaries. A spouse who was dependent on the other spouse’s income may now need an independent life insurance policy.

Should you scale back?

Similarly, how long any life insurance policy should be maintained depends on the goal of the policy. If it’s meant to ensure that your children will be provided for when they reach a certain age, you might consider scaling back – but then it may be important that they be self-supporting and can also afford to pay for your end-of life expenses when needed.

These are only some of many life insurance issues that can arise as a result of life changes. It’s important, when life changes happen, to discuss your personal situation and your goals with your advisor who can help you make important life insurance decisions.