Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Case For Cyber Liability Insurance


Banks and financial institutions are not the only one who need to think about Cyber Liability Insurance. Insurance agencies, insurance companies, accounting firms, mortgage companies, tax consultants, doctors offices, dental offices, and anyone else who gathers personal information from their clientele are just a few of the numerous businesses that need to consider this coverage. Why do you ask?

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Criminals have become very sophisticated at hacking into the most protected of systems and breaching many of the “full proof” precautions put in place by experienced IT professionals claiming that their software can fend off any security breach. However, everyday, we hear reports of huge companies suffering such losses and having to offer credit monitoring to all their customers to say nothing of the loss to their reputation for having been the recipient of such a breach.

What about professionals who carry their laptops with them and wind up leaving them on planes, trains, boats? What about all the information contained on such devices? Anyone can just break in to the computer and find out anything they want to know about someone and steal their identity.

In a time of rising layoffs, sensitive information stored on computers is at risk from employees who, fearing loss of their job, want to get back at their employers by stealing sensitive information stored on the computer.

All of us know the guy or gal in the office who likes to gamble. When they run out of funds, the information stored in the office computer can assist them in continuing with their addiction.

Cyber Liability Insurance is a comprehensive coverage which can cover many of the exposures attributable to the losses described above. Some of the provisions found in a comprehensive Cyber Liability policy are: Network Security, Data Breach, Media Content, Crisis Management, Credit Monitoring, Regulatory Notification, Privacy Liability, Business Income, and Privacy Notification Expense, to name but a few.

If you have a website you definitely need this coverage and if you store any personal information at all on your computer system or in a cloud, Cyber coverage is not a luxury it is a necessity! When in doubt check it out, call us for a consultation regarding your risk of suffering a Cyber loss.

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message From President Heidi Fox

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This is the time of year when many of us are counting our blessings and feeling very thankful for those special people in our lives. For me, I feel thankful for those people in my life and especially for those who no longer are in my life; however, still have a huge impact on my daily living. The most extraordinary individual for me is the founder of Petschauer Insurance, my dad, John Petschauer. We at Petschauer Insurance loved calling him, JP. I am so grateful for the legacy that he passed to me which was always to be honest and maintain integrity. His wisdom helps to build a very strong and solid foundation at Petschauer Insurance. He always said “you are only as successful as your staff behind you”. And he is so right! Now that I reflect on his legacy, I realize, little did JP know he was always state of the art with a consistent philosophy about always maintaining his level of excellence in all of his relationships.
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As I sit here writing this blog, I find myself embracing the philosophies he always professed. So, this blog is dedicated to my staff… “Team Petschauer”, as I lovingly call them. I want to thank you all for the dedication and commitment you demonstrate in being the best insurance professionals. You always go above and beyond for our clients as well as for each other. And, if you are a client of the amazing Petschauer Insurance Agency, then trust and feel confident that my team has your back as well. They are always there for you. Like JP, it is clear you all want to be successful in both your personal and business relationships. You have each others back and the prevailing feeling I get is that we are an amazing team!

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My hope is that all agency owners (actually ALL business owners) appreciate their team because your success is only as good as the team you have surrounding you. I have come to learn that every effort I make to provide my team with the tools, education, experience and professional atmosphere serves only to build on the success of my firm. During this time of thanksgiving I feel most appreciative to the team that surrounds me.

I invite you to read our blogs and join us on Facebook where we regularly post about our anniversaries, team building outings, and individual staff members. Our Social Media Department is run in house and solely supported by Team Petschauer. Many staff members spend their own personal time researching and thinking of creative ways to share their knowledge with our clients because they are committed to learning and growing and wanting our clients to be informed. My team is always on time for work and ready to start their day with enthusiasm! They are like “First Responders”. You saw their dedication during the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. Our office may have been closed; however, my staff was leading our Disaster Recovery Plan from where ever they could. My staff is always positive, offering suggestions and taking leadership in all aspects of our office life together. They all have truly embraced our professional development philosophy to be independent insurance professionals. Even during this time of stress they have an amazing gift to find a moment to get together and laugh which builds a bond that helps them (and myself) regroup so we can stay focused and positive to get the claims processed and our jobs done.

From the bottom of my heart I say “Thank you Team Petschauer!” And to dad, John Petschauer, I say thank you for leaving me such an amazing legacy. I am so grateful to each and every one of you and I dedicate this blog to your professional commitment and dedication to our firm. I wish Team Petschauer, their families and all our clients a very blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.

-Heidi Fox

What To Consider When Choosing A Contractor

Recently the Independent Insurance Agents Association of NY came out with a series of interesting tips regarding the choice of a contractor. This was in response to the destruction resulting from Hurricane Sandy and the snowstorm that followed the week after. The article was helpful and informative, however, in reviewing their suggestions, it struck me that these basic guidelines should be followed whenever you consider hiring a contractor to do any sort of work on your home or business.

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1.) Make sure that your contractor is licensed. For example, home improvement contractors working in the 5 boros of New York City and its surrounding counties must be licensed by the county or the town or city where the work is to be done.

2.) Make sure that your contractor is insured with general liability, workers’ compensation and excess liability. To be sure of this, always ask for a certificate of insurance. You might also want to be named as an additional insured on his policies. The certificate must identify the insurance carriers (should be “A” rated) the dates the policies are active, as well as the limits of liability. No contractor should be insured for less than a million dollars in today’s litigious society.

3.) During times when contractors are in high demand, such as after a hurricane for example, it is in your best interest to obtain two estimates for the work to be done so that you have some idea as to whether or not the costs are in line.

4.) It is best to hire local contractors for several reasons: their reputations are important to them as there is always the “word of mouth factor” which can either make or break any business and they can usually be found if anything goes wrong.

5.) Beware of contractors who insist that you pay for the work in cash and insist on payment in advance. A portion of the money may be payable in advance to allow contractors to obtain the supplies needed to do the work, but no reputable contractor will insist that the payment be in cash.

6.) Always insist that the price of construction materials be part of the estimate. You may find that price increases after a major storm are due to the simple law of “supply and demand” as well as having to obtain supplies from further away. However, it is illegal to gouge and make profit resulting from the misfortune of others. A licensed contractor must list supply costs as part of his estimate for the purposes of being able to determine if the charges are reasonable.

Especially, at this time, an unscrupulous contractor may claim to have the approval of FEMA. Be advised that FEMA doesn’t approve or disapprove any contractor.

-Karen Skoler, CPCU

Be Aware, of Long Term Care

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When I was in my early 50’s, my mother became extremely disoriented and could no longer live alone in her house. The woman who I had never thought of as “old” suddenly needed more care than my sister and I could give her. After much angst, the decision was made to introduce her to residence in an assisted living facility and, for my mother, it was truly the ‘way back’ to civilization. In her own house, my mother had become very non-verbal, didn’t get dressed and rarely even got out of bed most days. After only one week in an assisted living facility she was participating in everything they had to offer and thoroughly engaged socially with the other residents. My mother didn’t have long term care, but she had enough money to keep her in that facility for eight years until she died in 2009 at the age of 94. She was fortunate and I got the message loud and clear. I ran right out and applied for long term care for both my husband and myself

Fast forward to 2011, when my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and, after 9 years of caring for him as his health continued to deteriorate, I was forced to look at my options for the coming year. Yes, he and I had applied for long term care, but his health precluded him from being accepted by any company selling the product. As for me, I was issued a policy and obtained a 20% discount because we had applied together.

Because my husband didn’t qualify for this coverage I am now paying $3,350 per month to keep him safe and warm in an assisted living facility. This is what it costs if you are forced to pay privately. Yes, there is always Medicaid,
however, few facilities even entertain residents whose sole means of payment is via Medicaid. In addition, for Medicaid eligibility there is a 5 year look back and extensive rules governing what assets you are allowed to keep. Truly a nightmare for someone in the midst of a family crisis.

At a time when the family is in an emergency situation due to the rapidly declining health of a loved one, the last thing they want to contend with is extensive paperwork, numerous rules and regulations and worrying about how they will be able to pay for the care their loved one so desperately needs.

Why not speak to a knowledgeable insurance agent today regarding how to go about obtaining this valuable coverage? It certainly pays to be prepared prior to a calamity than be to find oneself ineligible in the midst of disaster. It is said that “if you have your health you have everything.” Yes, including the ability to qualify for long term care insurance! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by applying for this invaluable coverage today.

 

Pets Alive Catsino Night

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On Saturday November 17th, Petschauer Insurance will be sponsoring the Pets Alive Catsino Night! The event will be held from 6pm to 10pm at Sky View Rehabilitation and Healthcare located at 1280 Albany Post Road, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520. Tickets are 75$ for each person, so come out and help support one of the most helpful organization towards rescuing animals in the country

Donations For Rockaway Victims of Hurricane Sandy

food-clothing-for-rockawaysSo many have suffered losses due to Hurricane Sandy. You’ve all seen the news reports showing the destruction and our hearts go out to all the victims. Petschauer Insurance strongly believes in helping our community. Therefore, as of today, our office will be a drop off center for anyone who would like to donate food, clothing, blankets, and other essential items. Donated items will be brought to St. Frances de Sales Church in the Rockaways for distribution to those in need.
If you would like to donate anything, please visit our office at 66-10 Forest Avenue. Together, we can overcome this disaster!

What Does Your Condo/Coop Agreement Say About Insurance?

condo-coop-agreementEvery six months several childhood friends of mine get-together in one central location to catch up on our lives and who we want to be when we grow up! Often it simply becomes a time to share stories about recent life changes.

At our most recent get-together Sharon shared about the new condo she had purchased in North Carolina and all the upgrades she had chosen. Darlene told of the coop she recently bought in NYC in a landmark building, and Mary complained about how inconvenienced she was during her recent apartment renovation when she replaced her kitchen, two bathrooms and all the doors in her apartment. As I sat listening to the conversation, I couldn’t help but think about a recent article I had read in the Insurance Advocate. The writer, a well known expert witness in cases which involve insurance company disputes over policy coverages, discussed how differently the same loss could be treated based upon responsibility written into the agreement governing replacement of real property. Basically, the article talked about who is responsible for replacing real property in a cooperative or condominium unit when there is damage resulting from a covered loss. The answer isn’t always simple, but it is important.

The first thing a unit owner must always do is review the insurance requirements governing the replacement of real property. Real property is that which is differentiated from personal property and comes under the heading of additions & alterations coverage.
There are three different approaches to the treatment of who is responsible for the replacement of such property and what type of insurance a unit owner must purchase to be adequately protected in case of loss:

is most common where the unit owner must insure everything from the walls in. This includes any cabinetry in the kitchen and bathroom, any appliances, plumbing fixtures, decorative improvements like crown moulding and oak doors-any betterments to the unit made by the unit owner after purchase.

is where the association must insure the additions that were part of the structure when it was originally sold. This doesn’t include any additions, alterations, improvements and/or betterments made by the unit owner subsequent to the purchase.

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is somewhat similar to Original Specifications except that it is even better in that includes any improvements and/or upgrades made by the unit owner in addition to that which was part of the Original Specifications.

Clearly, from this information, all three of my friends would have completely different responsibilities should their abodes catch fire and be destroyed. I wanted to run home immediately and find out what my own agreement said about my exposure should my apartment go up in flames, but home was two days and a plane ride away, so I had to live with the suspense of not knowing until I arrived home and confirmed that my cooperative apartment was still standing.

– Karen Skoler, CPCU