Prepare for Cyber Threats before They Happen

Cyber security events are on the rise. From malware to ransomware, businesses are at greater risk than ever from cyber attacks. Is your company protected?

Proper security requires a well-informed team, tight security protocols, and the right insurance. Here’s an overview of what you should know to be prepared for cyber threats to your operations.

Small business does not mean “small target”: Owners of small to midsized businesses (SMBs) often assume they’re under the radar of cyber hackers. In fact, SMBs are the target of 43% of cyber attacks. You may not have billions in profits to drain, but you have essential information hackers seek (such as health records), access through your network to reach larger companies, and files that are so key to your business you’d be willing to pay a ransom to get them back.

Ransomware has increased 300%: In this form of cyber terrorism, attackers hijack data and demand payment to unlock it. In 2016, an average of 4,000 ransomware attacks occurred each day. This is a 300% increase over 2015. As more and more businesses rely almost solely on digital files and processes, this form of cyber attack continues to grow.

Cyber attackers getting craftier: Business owners must stay one step ahead of cyber attacks. This is no easy task, since techniques are becoming more targeted and more cunning. One example, which is growing in leaps and bounds, is “spear-phishing,” defined by Google as “the fraudulent practice of sending emails ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information.” An employee who opens this type of email opens your whole system (and those of your networks) to the attacker.

Cyber security requires a multifaceted approach: To safeguard your business against cyber attacks, you must shore up your defenses on all fronts. This includes:

  • Networking equipment
  • Desktop protection
  • Privacy programs
  • Data security
  • Employee security training
  • Business continuity
  • Data recovery
  • Cyber insurance

Cyber attacks can kill companies: The average cost of recovery from a cyber attack for SMBs is $36,000; even more frightening is that more than half of small to midsized businesses close their doors within six months of a cyber security event. The final cost includes more than just the cash outlay; it may damage your reputation, making it almost impossible to come back from the attack. It’s essential to have cyber insurance in place to assist you in recovering from the security breach and all that it entails.

Cyber insurance includes:

  • Privacy liability – In case you fail to protect sensitive personal or corporate information.
  • Payment card loss – In case you fail to properly manage payment card data.
  • Data breach – If your data is breached, you will incur costs to retain legal services, notify those affected, and provide those people with credit monitoring services.

Don’t wait until an attack has occurred to take steps to protect your business. Consult with your insurance provider to establish the best policy to guard your business against this growing threat.

Product Recall Costs Can Sink Your Company

Product recalls can cost a company millions of dollars, and liability suits resulting from harm to consumers can rack up millions more in settlements. So, what’s a business owner to do? Answer: Avoid these situations. Take the following measures to minimize problems with your products and steer clear of recalls and lawsuits.

Check the details. What are the industry code standards for your product? Be sure to examine every aspect, including color, texture, and size. Ensure your product’s specs meet the exact requirements for production.

Check with suppliers. Will your products include parts or materials from suppliers? Most do. If so, make sure the supplier will be able to provide exactly what you need. Create formal legal agreements. Include expectations of the supplier and consequences if these are not met. Conduct quality audits of plants that are supplying your materials.

Check quality control. It’s essential to have a quality control system in place. Inspect materials to ensure they’re up to par. If you’re handling a high volume of product, you may need a sampling plan as part of this system.

Check your system. Conduct a mock recall once a year. This will ensure your quality control system works. Tracing your products verifies that communication channels and distribution systems are functioning properly.

Check your coverage. Even with these precautions in place, it’s important to have insurance. Product recall insurance can help cover the costs of the recall and, most important, assist in reestablishing your reputation. Consult with your provider to determine what coverage is appropriate for your business.

Your Collection Deserves to Be Protected

A vintage New Yorker cartoon pictures a character surrounded by his collections. The caption reads: “Possessions are part of the self.”

If you’re a collector of something – and many of us are – you’ll relate to the cartoon character. Whether it’s a prized art collection, Beatles memorabilia, or antique teapots, it means something to you, and it should be protected.

Many collectors underestimate the value of their collections, and while no one wants to consider the impact of a break-in, flood, or fire on their valuables, they should. Do consider insuring your collection before you’re faced with a disaster. To any serious collector, the alternative is just unthinkable.

Homeowners insurance: The assumption many collectors make is that homeowners insurance covers these items. However, this policy is typically limited in coverage and has maximums that are probably insufficient to cover your collection. To ensure proper coverage, consider adding an endorsement to your homeowner’s policy, or purchasing a separate floater policy that offers the right amount of coverage. Of course, this means knowing what your collection is worth. Even if you know what you paid for an item, its value in today’s market may be quite different. And that means getting a current appraisal.

Appraisal tips: To have your collection appraised, follow these steps.

  • Make a list of items.
  • Gather as much information as you can, including purchase receipts, restoration records, and other relevant details.
  • Let the appraiser know the purpose of the appraisal.
  • Avoid using an appraiser who also buys and sells the types of items you want appraised. It may constitute a conflict of interest.
  • You do, however, want an experienced appraiser. Get references from dealers, museums, and organizations such as the International Society of Appraisers.
  • Get a detailed, itemized report. This will provide the documentation you need in the event you need to file a claim.

Summer’s Ending but Summer ‘Toys’ Still Need Protection

Summer is a time for toys! Warmer weather means afternoons on the water and evenings cruising in your convertible. Summer invites everyone to pull out classic cars, jet skis, or speedboats.

In warmer states these can be year-round vehicles, but if you use them infrequently in winter, it’s easy to overlook the need for insurance during the off season. Many vehicle owners are unaware of the requirements as well as the options available for boats and summer cars. Here’s the scoop:

Boat insurance: Small watercraft such as canoes and kayaks are typically covered under your personal property through your homeowners insurance. But larger motorized water vehicles such as wave runners, yachts, and speedboats require a separate policy. Boat insurance typically covers bodily injury and medical payments. And while you may not need this coverage after you dock for the season, boat insurance also covers property damage and theft. This is crucial for protecting your boat in storage, so don’t terminate that policy when Labor Day rolls around.

Summer car insurance: If you know you won’t be driving a car once summer has ended, you may be eligible for a reduced rate while your vehicle is in storage. Don’t cancel your insurance entirely; you’ll want to maintain basic coverage, as your vehicle remains at risk for damage when in storage. In fact, this may be required by law in some areas. Ask your insurance agent about reducing collision or comprehensive coverage, but be sure to maintain coverage for damage due to storm, fire, or theft.

Are You Ready for Medicare Open Enrollment?

Early fall is the time to meet with your Medicare insurance adviser. If you are a Medicare recipient, “open enrollment” from October 15 to December 7, 2017, lets you switch plans in some cases. Use this time to ensure you have the best plan for your health considerations.

Perhaps you have purchased original Medicare only because your out-of-pocket costs are minimal. If your health profile has changed, you may have higher copays and other out-of-pocket costs, and you may want to consider a supplemental plan.

If you currently have a supplemental plan, take time to meet with your insurance adviser to make sure your doctor is working with your current plan or to determine if it’s time to change your supplemental insurance, especially if new health issues have recently arisen. Other recent changes such as a marriage or a divorce may also affect your plans and should be mentioned.

Shopping Medicare supplements involves many options. A Medicare Advantage plan or any traditional Medicare with a Medigap plan offers a number of choices. Your insurance agent can help you make the best decision, as he or she understands your medical and prescription needs better than an anonymous online or telephone contact.

If you are turning 65 in the near future, you will become Medicare eligible. Don’t wait until that deadline to review supplemental plans. As insurance agents become busy at the end of the year, call soon to ensure your adviser has ample time to review your health care choices and confirm that your doctors remain in your plan.

‘Dual Coverage’ Reduces Your Dental Costs

If you have your own dental coverage as well as coverage under a spouse’s or parent’s plan, you have what insurers call “dual coverage” or “dual dental.” And this is a good thing, as it can help reduce out-of-pocket dental costs. However, it can be somewhat complicated.

Your “primary” plan. Your primary plan could be your private dental coverage or dental coverage provided by your employer. It’s the one that pays as if no other coverage is in place; if you do have dual coverage, your primary is the plan that pays first.

Your “secondary” plan. The other dental insurance – your secondary plan – usually will not pay until it confirms the amount paid by the primary, and then may pay all or part of the remaining amount.

Coordinating benefits. Most plans have a “coordination of benefits” clause that indicates which plan pays first, and spells out any special rules regarding payment. If one plan does not contain this clause, that plan is usually the primary.

When both plans contain a coordination of benefits clause, whichever one covers you directly is the primary. This could be your employer’s plan or Medicare, for example. In your secondary plan, you’re usually the dependent, as you would be on your spouse’s employer plan.

Dual plan doesn’t mean twice the benefits. Most insurers coordinate the benefits of both plans to reimburse you up to 100%. But your dual dental plans will not reimburse for you more than 100% of your costs. If, for example, each plan provides for two dental cleanings a year, you can’t double the cleaning benefit to get four. And if your secondary plan has “carve-outs,” such as a “non-duplication-of-benefits” clause, you may still have some out-of-pocket expenses. How the state requires insurers to coordinate benefits may also affect your payment.

Dental insurance plans vary, and as mentioned, it’s complicated. Contact your insurance agent to have your options explained.

Discuss the ‘4 Ws’ with Your Beneficiaries

The purpose of life insurance is to provide for your loved ones after you die – but for that to happen, your loved ones need to be aware you have life insurance.

This seems obvious, but in fact, many people don’t discuss their policies with their beneficiaries, perhaps because they’re uncomfortable with discussing death with their spouse and/or children.

But even if you believe you have time later to talk about it, tackle the subject as soon as possible, and ensure your loved ones know the “who, what, when, and where” of your policy.

The 4 Ws

That includes the name and address of the insurance company that holds it, as well as the policy number, what it covers, the amount and date it was issued, and whom to contact in the event of your death, plus where to find your insurance records.

Without this information, your loved ones may not even realize this source of financial security exists, and won’t obtain the money you intended them to have. Your goal in buying life insurance – ensuring you protect those you will leave behind – would have failed.

Life insurance companies do try to contact your beneficiaries, but if they’ve moved to another state, and/or changed their names, phone numbers, or email addresses, the company may not be able to locate them and will likely abandon the search.

Keep records

The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends you keep copies of your life insurance records in two separate places, so should you lose one copy, another one will still be available.

One copy of your life insurance policy information should be stored at home with your other important papers; the other, in a safe deposit box or lawyer’s office.

Talk to your loved ones today. Tell them you have life insurance and that they are beneficiaries. They (and you) will be glad you did.