Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why Microsoft Has Made The Need For Cyber Liability Insurance So Urgent

cyber-liability insurance-resized-600.jpgEarlier this month Microsoft ended its support of Windows XP. What this means for its users is that they will no longer be provided with security updates. The result is that anyone still using this system becomes vulnerable to cyber attacks. Given what has recently transpired with Target and other retailers experiencing breaches in their systems, we all recognize that this is certainly serious business. More important, however, is the large numbers of companies, educational facilities, hospitals, medical and other professional establishments, retailers and restaurants as well as financial service firms still using this operating system. These organizations now face serious potential consequences unless they upgrade to systems that still receive support.

In addition, another way to ensure that sensitive information is protected is to have the right cyber liability insurance in place. That way, should a breach occur, you have some protection against potential losses.

Why should you consider purchasing cyber liability insurance?

First, the insurance protection, while necessary, is only one of the benefits being offered with this coverage. Additional benefits include: acknowledgement of the exposures, resources to assist in pre-loss planning as well as strategies to avoid losses altogether.

The bottom line is that if you handle any sensitive data such as credit card information, social security numbers and other personal identification numbers, medical information as well as financial and/or banking information, there is no doubt that you absolutely need to have this coverage in place. If your company is using laptops, mobile devices or other portable media, such coverage is no longer optional.

Some of the coverages offered in a cyber liability policy are:
• Legal & Forensic Services
• Crisis Management & Public Relations
• Notification Expenses
• Good Faith Advertising Expenses
• Services For Impacted Individuals (credit management, help lines, etc.)
• Per Claim Deductibles From $1,000-$2,500 and with limits of $10,000 to $100,000.

Keep in mind that the number of data breach incidents is on the rise and the regulatory requirements which need to be met when each occurs can be very significant in terms of the fines imposed by regulatory authorities. We urge you to discuss this coverage with your insurance agent to give you the confidence that you are operating a business that can continue to enjoy the reputation you have built over time, demonstrate to your customers how you value their business, and restore loss of consumer confidence should a loss ensue.

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

What You Can Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

carbon-footprintWhen I first heard this term my challenge was primarily to understand what the term “carbon footprint” meant. In doing my research I found many definitions, but the simplest one was the following: an estimate of the carbon dioxide I produce while living my life. I didn’t realize that my carbon footprint was the way I behaved at home, at work, and while driving in my car. It led me to think of how I might consider modifying my behavior.

• I really dislike throwing out food. It cost so much money, but now I found out that food waste causes the production of greenhouse gases so harmful to the environment.

• Everyone knows that maintaining their vehicle in good working order helps us to get maximum gas mileage. Now I know that the way I drive can also affect my gas mileage. Lately I am making a conscious effort to avoid intermittent acceleration coupled with excessive breaking. I am also trying harder than ever to maintain the speed limit to avoid paying extra for the already outrageous gas prices I am paying at the pump.

• Planes, trains and automobiles—-my preferred method of travel is by plane. I have limited vacation and need to get where I am going very quickly most of the time. Getting somewhere by train doesn’t usually occur to me, but the electric power used by trains certainly is less polluting than car or plane emissions. On my next trip, I will consider the use of a train, especially for shorter trips to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Who knows, I might really wind up enjoying the ride. I will certainly appreciate not having to get to the airport hours before my plane is due to take off. This will enable me to sit back and read a book rather than having off color conversations with other drivers on the road.

And these are only a fraction of the many ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprints and help save the environment all at the same time! Next time you renew your homeowners policy, find out if you are entitled to any credit for living greener. If not, well at least you can be confident you are doing something to save the planet.

Karen Skoler, CPCU

Aggressive Motorists

aggresWe have all seen the driver who weaves in and out on the highway only to wind up in the very same traffic jam that we do down the road. The fact is that all their rushing didn’t really get them any further along on his trip and his erratic behavior only served to unnerve all the other drivers on the road and cause potential accidents.

A recent article in an insurance periodical indicated that some of the reasons for this behavior may be increasingly congested roads, pothole repairs, over cautious drivers and stressed out motorists.

The NY State Police Department developed six steps to deal with aggressive operators as follows:
1. Always keep your cool and avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver
2. Keep your distance and don’t try to follow them
3. Avoid passing this operator
4. Allow the aggressive driver to pass you. Get out of their way the moment you are safely able to change lanes
5. Do not engage with a hostile driver. Even if he or she is tailgating you, maintain the posted speed and don’t try and communicate with this operator
6. Once you are able to safely report the incident, pull over and dial 911 from your cell so as to alert the local authorities of the danger to other drivers on the road.

Remember that a minor situation can quickly escalate into a violent act or serious accident as has been shown recently in many instances around the country.

Don’t try to be a hero! Stay safe and just get out of the way!

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

INSURANCE: Where is The Expertise Involved in Buying Over the Internet?

insuranceonlineThe other day I was talking with some young people and asking how they went about making purchases. The answer was unanimous in that they all said they started and ended with the internet and didn’t know how people ever lived without it!

Ok, I get it. Having lived in a plugged in society all their lives, they really can’t conceive of doing things any other way. My thoughts, however, ran to this, “where is the expertise involved in buying over the internet?” Where are the consultants if you want to ask questions or find out more information or just consider other alternatives?

For example, insurance! Like everyone else, I too worship going on the internet to shop and always looking for the fastest and easiest way to get things done. However, in my opinion, shopping for insurance is completely different.

If someone wants to ensure that their family, assets, property and/or their business is being properly protected, than I can see no other way but to consult with your insurance agent or broker. After all, that is the actual function of an insurance professional. Having someone to consult with can really make a huge difference when deciding on what assets and property to appropriately protect.

Even more important is a “good night’s sleep” just knowing that if you have an auto accident you will be able to repair or replace your vehicle and provide injured people with compensation that doesn’t come out of your own pocket. Should you become the object of a law suit, it’s knowing that your insurance company will provide you with an adequate defense offering you peace of mind. If you become disabled, if you meet an untimely demise, if you need health insurance, if you are interested in estate/elder care planning, your agent can assist you or, at the very least, point you in the right direction to obtain assistance with these decisions.

Do you really want to depend on technology to make your important decisions or should you contact and an insurance professional who is trained to assist you in getting the right answers for all your insurance concerns? I leave this decision in your hands!

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Studying Abroad – Is Insurance Needed?

International_SignsWhile watching the news this morning I was attracted to a commercial for St. John’s University advertising their campuses in Paris & Rome. This led me to think about all the college students I knew who were either spending a semester studying abroad or contemplating doing so.

This got me to thinking so I checked out the statistics(1) and found that there are thousands of colleges and universities all over the country offering hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to study abroad annually. Add to this the thousands of secondary schools, which also encourage enrollment in foreign travel opportunities and there is a tremendous need to consider a Foreign Package policy to address the needs of U.S. citizens studying abroad. Recently a carrier actually designed an Educator’s International Policy to address these exposures such as:
• Evacuation from a foreign country in the event of a medical emergency, political takeover, military coup, etc.
• Loss or theft of personal documents such as credit cards, driver’s license, passport, etc.
• Someone in a foreign country serves an education institution with a lawsuit.
All these are realistic scenarios which can happen whether or not insurance is in force. With insurance, however, there is expert assistance available to help manage responses to such events. If you are someone who can benefit from this product, be sure to contact your agent today so that he or she can tell you more about what is available in this product.
(1) National Center For Education Statistics – US Department of Education

– Karen Skoler, CPCU

Does Your Business Insurance Cover You Abroad?

Freight BusinessYesterday, one of our local commercial clients called to ask if his commercial insurance would cover him and his employees abroad. This is an excellent question, and one which we felt certainly should be addressed to a wider audience. Most of the time, clients just assume that their insurance will protect them everywhere in the world and why not? The why not is because legal systems elsewhere in the world don’t necessarily imitate the laws in our country. In addition, not all countries are as litigious as the United States and, therefore, their insurance knowledge and requirements may differ widely from ours. The short response is that if a lawsuit is brought against your company here in the U.S. your insurance will most likely respond. However, if any lawsuit against your company is brought outside the U.S., Canada and the Virgin Islands, (and any other territories specifically listed in your policy) there may be a need for Foreign Liability coverage. Such a policy would afford insurance coverage and protection for risks associated with doing business outside the U.S. Such questions of responsibility concerning the injury, death or illness of employees working, living or traveling outside the U.S. are contemplated by a Foreign Liability policy.The need for emergency evacuation, coverage for products sold overseas, auto coverage for those driving in other countries are all addressed in this policy.

Of course, given our global economy, every company should examine their need for a Foreign Liability. If you are unsure as to whether or not your insurance program properly protects you in other countries, we strongly suggest that you discuss this with your agent without delay.

The Difference Between Life Insurance And Long Term Care

inflation_chart_500x357In order to understand the need for Long Term Care (LTC)Insurance, it is helpful to understand what Long term care involves and how differently men and women might think about this subject.

Long Term Care is necessary when an individual needs assistance with two or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL). These activities include, but are not limited to, bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. Nursing/Rehabilitation Centers do offer this type of care, but some individuals would prefer to remain at home. Some LTC policies allows a person the benefit of being helped with such activities in the comfort of their own home or in a skilled nursing setting . There is, however, some debate on the necessity for Long Term Care insurance as we have learned that men and women view the need for this coverage very differently. Below is a typical excerpt from a conversation between an aging couple.

EMILY: We need to think about the purchase of LTC Insurance; I’m almost 65 years old and will most likely need daily assistance in the future. I see that some of my friends already need such assistance.

JOHN: Long Term Care Insurance!!! What is this insurance ? I’ve never heard of that one! I have Life Insurance. Why do we need yet another type of insurance?

EMILY: It’s been around for a lot of years. It’s just like you to tune out to facts you don’t want to know about! Your Life insurance will help me with expenses after you die! LTC insurance will help pay for our continuing care while you and I are alive.

JOHN: Do you mean I will have to pay you to care for me? I Thought it was a given that you would care for me if and when I’m unable to do things for myself.

EMILY: No Silly, but what if I die before you… what if I’m not physically able to care for you…what about my care after you die…?

JOHN: What about our kids…? They will care for us.

EMILY: I would never dream of that! That would only make them despise us. Time spent caring for us means time away from their jobs, their homes and their own families. Also, it would mean a loss of income if they had to take off time from their jobs. Before you know it we’ll have real family problems!

JOHN: Okay, we know that you will outlive me, so my life insurance will take care of you after I’m gone.

EMILY: So $50,000.00 will be enough to cover all my expenses for the rest of my life? What will I use to pay for the expenses if I need long term care?

JOHN: And why not? That’s more -than- enough for you.

EMILY: In my family the women live well into their eighties. For how long can $50,000.00keep me going? Don’t forget that we still have a bit remaining on the mortgage, monthly utility bills will still be due, and by that time, who knows what they would cost? What do you imagine Long Term Care will cost at that time, whether it is in our house or in a facility?

VOICE OF REASON IN JOHN’S HEAD: Aren’t women supposed to make decisions based on emotions rather that reasoning? She sure put a lot of reasoning into this!

EMILY: You know this is something we need to look into. How can we get more information on LTC? Maybe our Life Insurance Agent has more information. Who knows, perhaps there’s some sort of rider that can be added to our existing policies.

JOHN: EM, I have to give you credit, you do put forth a strong argument, and you seem to have given this quite a lot of thought. Maybe Long Term Care Insurance is worth taking a look at.

– Narima Prashad

How News Stories Can Affect Our Insurance Premiums

malaysia-planeWe have all been struck dumb by the loss of flight MH 370 and the 239 passengers on board. As if the loss of life and property weren’t enough to produce extreme emotional reactions in us all, those of us in the insurance industry are aghast at what this might cost in terms of our already overburdened insurance markets.

Hurricanes, floods, windstorms, harsh weather all contribute statistically to the recent rise in insurance costs, but current events, such as this one, also affect our industry. This is the second major Asian airline to be involved in an incident in less than a year. An Asian flight July of 2013 was landing in a California airport when it was involved in a runway accident which killed three people.

These occurrences, together with the ever present threat of terrorism, 9/11, the Boston Marathon Bombing and other events throughout the world certainly make underwriters sit up and take notice when considering their exposure to risk when underwriting an event.

Insurance information sources indicate that Allianz was the lead insurer for the missing Malaysian flight. Although they are only one of many, including reinsurance companies, rumor has it that they are looking at a payment of approximately $100 million for the plane and its passengers under aviation policies in effect at the time of the loss.

Occurrences such as these, including the missing aircraft, make a strong argument for the continuation of Terrorism coverage in the United States.

So, the next time you get an increase on your renewal, keep in mind that we are all affected by what goes on here as well as abroad.
– Karen Skoler, CPCU