Archive | December 2014

Cyber Attacks: Protecting Your Small Business from Data Theft

Recently cyber-attacks were back in the news, and a failed attempt to remove data from a White House computer proves NO ONE is exempt from this risk. While the attempt wasn’t successful thanks to mitigation efforts, the attack should serve as a reminder to all small businesses that they face risks of similar attacks from data thieves, and they may not have the same level of mitigation systems in place.

In addition to a hacker getting into your system, data theft can occur if an employee’s computer is stolen, or if an unauthorized person is able to access a computer in your office. It could even be a disgruntled employee who carries out data theft. Any business that collects and stores sensitive information from customers, including credit card information, contact information, credit information, social security numbers, medical information, etc. is at risk for data theft.

Here are a few tips to reduce your risks for cyber-attacks and data theft of sensitive customer information:

  • Change the passwords you and your employees use to log into your technology systems on a regular basis
  • Avoid emailing sensitive information, but if you do, use a secured email service
  • Have employees lock their computer screens when they step away from their desks
  • Avoid having unescorted/unsupervised visitors walking through your office
  • Don’t open strange email attachments or click unusual links in emails, especially from an unknown sender as they may be scams
  • Have a written technology policy in place so that all of your employees understand the expectations and rules guiding how your business handles sensitive data

Loss of electronic data is not covered under most commercial theft policies because it is not a tangible asset, and most general liability policies also exclude coverage for your costs to notify customers of potential data theft, pay for the costs of investigating the loss or the costs of potential fines, penalties or lawsuits that result from a failure to protect the data. A cyber liability policy can provide your business with coverage that will help you cover several costs, including the expenses to inform your customers and regulatory authorities about the possible exposure of data.

To protect your small business from these exposures, consider a cyber-liability policy. Your Insurance Agent can help you identify the risks your business faces from data theft, and can help you identify a policy to cover those exposures.

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Holiday Parking Lot Safety Tips

Malls and shopping centers will be jammed this holiday season. Unpredictable traffic patterns and preoccupied drivers cause thousands of parking lot mishaps that cost consumers millions of dollars each year. Parking lot safety is especially important during the holidays. Consumers should be particularly cautious about where they park because parking lots are also prime territory for thieves, pickpockets, carjackers and vandals.

Surprisingly, many parking-lot mishaps do not involve two drivers —but rather the result of improper backing into parked vehicles. That increases the likelihood of hit-and-run incidents and the chance that you will be left to pick up the tab. Simple caution is the only real cure to avoid being a victim of parking lot accidents or crime.

Parking lot safety tips for holiday shoppers:

  • Watch for cars cutting diagonally across lots; drive slowly and use your turn signal.
  • When backing out of a parking spot, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time and motorists who speed through lanes.
  • Beware when mailing those holiday greeting cards. Post office parking lots have the highest incidence of accidents due to frequent customer turnover.
  • Don’t park between spots, especially in busy lots. You may gain only retribution from angry fellow shoppers.
  • During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from other car doors or shopping carts and the likelihood of vandalism; but avoid secluded areas, especially at night.
  • Park in well-lit areas. If the lot is inadequately lit, complain to management. Retailers and parking-lot owners can be and have been held liable for personal injury in these cases.
  • Ask mall security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.
  • Always roll up your car windows and lock your car doors.
  • Always have your keys ready when approaching your car and check the back seat and under the car before getting in.
  • Put all shopping bags in your trunk. Do not keep them in the front or back seat where they are visible to thieves.
  • Put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
  • Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent. Liability coverage will protect you if you hit another motorist, collision will cover the damage to your car, and comprehensive will insure you for damage by vandals or theft of your vehicle.

Got Houseguests? Get the Right Coverage!

The holiday season usually promotes gathering under one roof and celebrating as family and friends. The increased volume in one’s home can create property liability issues one would not normally think about.

In the midst of the festive and hectic holiday atmosphere, it is easy to forget the serious responsibility involved with hosting guests. In many states, individuals can be held liable in cases where a guest is injured in an accident at your house. Hosts have been held responsible for medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work, and even wrongful death. We recommend that you review your homeowners, renter’s or comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy and ensure you have adequate liability coverage if sued and found liable for the actions of a guest your home. Most risks cannot be eliminated entirely. But planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a guest (or two or three!) is the best defense.

Liability Coverage Tips:

  • Limit guests to only those you know. Friends of friends (or family) may be bring unexpected risks.
  • Make sure maintenance items are tended to. You may know about your carpet snags and loose stairs, but they can cause unnecessary injuries to your unknowing guests.
  • The family dog may love you unconditionally, but bringing a new guest in may turn Fido into a Grinch. Make sure your guests are pet-wise and don’t be afraid to kennel your pet put him out if he seems uneasy with your guests.
  • In case of bad weather, make sure to de-ice steps and walkways for your guests.
  • If hosting a holiday party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to provide them protection if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank at their home.
  • Purchasing a personal “umbrella” liability policy—that can provide $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit offered by a standard homeowners or renters policy—may be a prudent move. This type of coverage can cost as little as $125 a year.
  • Review your insurance policy with your insurance agent before your guests arrive to make sure they (and you) stay protected.