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Monthly Archives

March 2017

How Points, Tickets and Traffic School Affects Your Auto Policy

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

So the police pulled you over and you got a speeding ticket? Don’t despair. Along with the chunk of change you’re required to send the state or city, you might be eligible to take a traffic class that will keep the points off your record — and your Auto premiums from rising.

In 41 states, the DMV transfers these points to your driving record. Insurance companies generally check this record when you take out or renew an Auto policy, change coverage, or drop or add cars and/or drivers.

Garner a few points and your premium will increase at renewal, especially if you have more than one violation in three years. For instance, according to Insurance.com, a speeding ticket will raise your premium by 11% to13%.

To keep your record clean and avoid a surcharge if you’re cited for a minor violation, you might be able to complete an in-person or online traffic course. Laws, deadlines, and limitations vary by state. Most states also allow drivers who have accumulated points to have them removed by taking a safe driving class.

If you have a clean driving record and go to traffic school, most insurance companies will offer a 5% to 15% discount on Liability and Collision coverage when you renew your policy.

As a rule, taking a driver safety class will either remove points from your record for minor violations or give you a discount, but not both. There might be some variations, depending on state laws and insurance company. For example, only drivers over age 25 might be eligible for the discount, or all drivers of the insured vehicle must take the course to qualify.

For more information, just give us a call.

Paperless Paper Trails: Establishing a chain of evidence in cybersecurity cases

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

In old procedural shows like Dragnet, early episodes of Law & Order, Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I., they always talk about the paper trail. This is the chain of signed documents and verified contracts and letters and memo that, on TV at least, usually lead us right from the first clue all the way to the guy who committed the crime. Paper trails can also be used to frame an innocent third party or prove one’s innocence, showing that someone was “nowhere near the scene of the crime” at the time of the arson.

In cyber-crime, the chain of evidence, the paperless paper trail, is actually much easier to track than the kind that’s actually printed and written on sheets of paper. Here are a few things not everyone knows about how evidence is tracked from computer to computer:

  • Documents and programs can be traced back to their computer of origin

Every time you send off a .doc file, your computer leaves an impression on it as sure as the signature imprint left on a bullet by a registered firearm. If you post a photo to the internet of yourself at a crime scene, law enforcement can download the picture and trace it back to your computer. A GOP lawmaker actually got busted for libelous emails some years back when the emails were traced back to his wife’s computer.

  • Word documents save every single revision

If you type a word and then backspace over it, the Word file will remember you doing that. This has actually been brought up in some pretty high profile cases. For instance, the Invasion of Iraq.

  • Deleted files leave clues behind

Even if you manage to delete every trace of evidence regarding your cyber-crime, the computer may still show a log of what was deleted, when, and by whom. Combined with a little bit of conventional detective work, this can make it quite easy to figure out what was going on.

You can get rid of a paper trail by shredding it and burning the scraps. Paperless paper trails are a little trickier. If you’ve sent any compromising documents out into the web from your computer, then it’s too late. The evidence is already out there, and zapping your computer with a magnet and smashing it to bits isn’t going to do you any good. With the right cyber-sleuth on the case, a single photo from a hacker’s phone can be as good as a signed confession.

Slow Internet Issues Could Be Serious

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

You pay premium prices for business class Internet, and it winds up leaking through the Ethernet like honey off of a spoon. In 2016, you need high speed Internet in order to run a successful business, so getting it back up to speed when it starts to slow down is a top priority. Here’s a quick troubleshooting guide to help you determine whether you can apply a quick fix, or if you might need to make a phone call:

Boosting Your Wifi Signal

The issue might not be your Internet connection, but your Wifi signal. It doesn’t matter how fast your web connection is when you’re too far away from your Wifi router or it’s putting out a weak signal. Plug directly into your Internet with a wired connection. If it runs fine, you may simply need to buy a more powerful router, switch to wired connections, or rearrange your office space so that your router can reach everyone who needs it.

Someone’s Doing Some Heavy Downloading

Let your employees know that business-class internet doesn’t mean “Go ahead and do all your bit torrenting at the office from now on.” Downloading twenty eight movies at once while uploading fifteen others is going to slow you down.

Do a Security Check

Your network may be infected with a worm. More so than most viruses and malware, worms can really drag your connection down to a crawl. A network scan will be able to help you root out the intruder if this is the case.

See if Someone is Stealing Your Wifi

Places of business are an easy target for Wifi thieves. You can check your router device list to see if someone is connecting without permission. If so, you can change the password, and/or switch your security settings to WPA2-AES.

Call Your Provider

Call your provider and ask there are any issues in your area. It may simply be a temporary issue that they are already hard at work rectifying. And if that doesn’t work…

Start Shopping Around for a New Provider

Your provider might just not be up to the task of providing you with top-notch business grade Internet. If there are competing ISP’s in your area, don’t hesitate to get some quotes and compare download speeds. Brand loyalty is all well and good, but you don’t owe it to an ISP that isn’t providing.

Can Robotics Be Hacked?

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

If you can plug it into a wall, you can hack it. The question is not so much whether or not industrial robotics and so on can be hacked, but under what circumstances, and whether or not it’s a serious threat.

Something worth acknowledging up front is that hacking is a crime of opportunity. It’s rare that a victim of hacking or cyber-crime is specifically targeted. Certain high-profile organizations and people are, of course, at a greater risk, but not so much because they are being targeted by single, brilliant cyber-crooks. Rather, a high-profile individual or company is at risk because a lot more people are attempting to hack them. It can take one person a hundred years to guess your password, but it might take a thousand people only a weekend.

Hackers are looking for vulnerabilities anywhere they can find them. They’re not picky. If they can’t hack into a bank account, then they’ll use some bots and algorithms to try credit card numbers. If you work with robotics in your business, you’re not a target because of your robotics, you’re a target because a hacker thinks your security is weak.

If your robot is hacked, then what’s the worst that can happen?

In sci-fi movies, we see hacked robots rob banks on behalf of their new masters or, at the very least, they put cars together all wrong. The reality is far less exciting.

It’s possible for a hacker to bring production to a halt by cracking into a robotics system, but a robotic arm built to attach car doors is not going to be reprogrammed to pickpocket factory workers. Rather, the robot provides a means of cracking into whatever network it’s attached to. It could be a webcam or a tablet or USB drive. All the hacker cares about is that it’s an opening to load viruses, spyware, etc. Anything that’s connected to your network can be used to attack anything else that’s connected to your network.

Again, hacking is a crime of opportunity. This means that if you have decent security measures in place, then you’re going to be a low-priority target for a hacker. Hackers are not usually spending all week, or even a full hour, trying to crack into any given system. They’ll try for a few minutes, and then move on. Just having security measures in place at all makes hackers reluctant to bother with you.

Don’t Void Your Warranty…

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

It can be tricky to know what will and what won’t void the warranty on your phone, your PC, your tablet or your laptop. You probably have a manual laying around somewhere that can lay this out in more detail, but feel free to rely on this as a quick FAQ on some of the more common questions on what will and won’t void a warranty on an electronic device:

DIY Repairs

Some do-it-yourself repairs will void your warranty, some won’t. As a general rule, repairing cosmetic damage almost never voids your warranty. If you have to replace the screen on your phone, for instance, then your warranty will remain valid as long as you let them know that you’ve replaced your own screen. Replacing the entire shell casing, on the other hand, might be a bit of an issue, but luckily, your warranty probably means that you can go have your casing replaced for free.

Rooting Your Phone

If you take a ROOTed phone in for repairs, they’re going to tell you to hit the bricks. Here’s the good news: you can just unROOT your phone. There’s an app called Universal Unroot that can do the job for you quick and easy.

This applies to a lot of mods and hacks for your phone or tablet: they’re reversible. You may be able to bring your phone in for repairs by simply restoring it to factory conditions and collecting on your warranty.

Customizing a Desktop or Laptop Computer

Even though they’re built as all-in-one units, if you have a Mac, you’re probably going to wind up adding more RAM to it. It varies from brand to brand, model to model, but most sellers and manufacturers will honor the warranty even if you’ve added some bells and whistles to its hardware within certain limitations.

Cosmetic Modding

A general rule of thumb for cosmetic modding of a phone or a PC is: If you need more than a screwdriver to crack the casing open, then you’re probably voiding your warranty. They sell stickers and decals specifically for cosmetic modding of your devices, and you can go ahead and put your PC in a custom case, but once you’re peeling open the parts that weren’t meant to be exposed, you’re doing potential damage that will definitely void your warranty.

We’ve provided some general guidelines here, but some companies are more or less strict than others. When in doubt, shoot them a quick email and see what’s covered.

Motorcycle Insurance Basics

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

You’re one with the road when you ride your motorcycle. However, you need to ensure your ride and your assets are protected if you ever cause or are in an accident. Know the basics of motorcycle insurance as you purchase this valuable protection.

Types of Motorcycles Covered

Standard motorcycles are covered by a motorcycle insurance policy. However, you can also use your policy to insure your specialty bike, including:

  • Scooter
  • Moped
  • Cruiser
  • Touring and sport-touring bike
  • Vintage bike
  • Motocross bike
  • Street or sports bike
  • Limited-production and custom bike
  • Off-road/dual-purpose bike
  • ATV

Types of Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Unlike auto insurance, motorcycle insurance is not mandatory in every state. However, replacing your bike or paying for someone’s medical expenses after an accident can wipe out your financial assets.

A standard motorcycle insurance policy protects your assets and includes several essential coverage types.

  • Bodily injury – Pay medical bills for anyone who’s injured after an accident you cause.
  • Property damage liability – Cover expenses caused when your motorcycle crashes into someone’s personal property.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist – Pay for property damages, injury bills, lost wages and other expenses after a collision with a driver who does not have insurance or adequate insurance coverage.

Additionally, you may purchase several optional coverages, such as:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – This no-fault insurance covers the medical expenses of your passenger or pedestrians after an at-fault accident.
  • Medical payments – Pay for your medical treatment after an at-fault or no-fault accident.
  • Comprehensive – Replace your lost or stolen motorcycle or repair a damaged bike after vandalism, a natural disaster or other non-accidental incident.
  • Collision – Repair your damaged bike and replace damaged riding apparel and helmets after a collision.
  • Optional equipment – Replace customizations you make to your bike.
  • Accessory – Receive up to $30,000 based on the actual cash value (original value minus depreciation) of your bike’s customized parts and equipment.
  • Towing and labor – Receive a payout if you’re stranded, need a tow or break down. It also covers labor costs associated with a flat tire, dead battery, low fuel or fluids or lost key.
  • Trip interruption – Cover mechanical breakdowns and receive cash for lodging, food and transportation if you file a claim while you’re on a long distance ride.

Motorcycle Insurance Costs

Your motorcycle insurance policy cost depends on your policy’s deductible and the type and amount of coverage you purchase. Factor in your riding habits and personal preferences, too. You may want increased coverage if your bike is expensive, you ride highly-populated areas or you’re an inexperienced motorcyclist.

Motorcycle insurance gives you peace of mind and protects your asset

Insurance for your Techy Home

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

If you want to insure a mansion or a priceless art collection, don’t be surprised if a certified thermographer shows up at your door, infrared camera in hand.

Thermal imaging cameras are among the latest high-tech tools Homeowners insurers are using to help stem losses before they become catastrophes, saving policyholders from heartbreak and companies millions in damage claims.

One major insurance company is using thermal imaging cameras for its high-value homes, letting inspectors “see” hidden hot or cool spots. A hot reading might indicate a fire hazard from an electrical malfunction, while a cool reading could come from a leak. In one case, the camera detected a cool spot in a ceiling due to a leak caused by a faulty 37-cent clip in an upstairs ice maker. If the ceiling had collapsed, it would have caused $125,000 in damage.

High-tech devices aren’t limited to the high-end market. One insurer offers an online risk-assessment tool that its Homeowners clients can use to find the risks for flooding, wildfire and storm surge, based on their address. This company also provides its clients inexpensive alarms that can detect potential water leaks before they can cause extensive, and expensive, damage.

Insurance companies are exploring new technologies. One insurer has patented a data recorder that can be installed in building to analyze potential causes of damage or destruction. Another company has filed a patent for a system that would use spectroscopy to identify chemical changes caused by wildfires and other natural disasters. If such a change were detected and confirmed, the company could speed up the claims process.

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

In a recreational vehicle, you and your family can explore the United States, enjoy a vacation or retire in style. Since your RV is both a home and an auto, you’ll need recreational vehicle insurance. It protects your investment and assets and gives you peace of mind.

Why Buy Recreational Vehicle Insurance

Whether you drive a large motorhome or pull a pop-up, your recreational vehicle is an investment you want to protect. Insurance won’t prevent an accident, but it will cover repairs if your RV is damaged.

You also want to be insured if you’re in an accident or cause property damage as you navigate your RV. Insurance reduces your liability and can protect your assets.

For your protection, consider these coverage options.

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Medical payments
  • Collision damage
  • Towing and labor costs
  • Vehicle rental costs
  • Personal possession coverage

Benefits of Recreational Vehicle Insurance Coverage

While some homeowners and auto insurance policies cover RVs, consider a policy that’s specific to your recreational vehicle. Specialized coverage is designed for RV owners like you and offers numerous options.

RV Claims Experts

      – Talk to an RV expert when you file a claim.

Full Replacement Cost Coverage

      – Replace your RV if it’s stolen or totaled.

Coverage for Personal Belongings

      – Cover your RV’s contents, including appliances and personal belongings.

Emergency Expenses Allowance

      – Pay for lodging, food and travel you may need after you file a claim.

Service Call Allowance

      – Pay an RV repair expert to visit your location and diagnose your RV repair needs.

Hitch Coverage

      – Replace your entire hitch assembly, including the attachment to your truck or tow vehicle.

Coverage for Permanent Attachments

      – Replace awnings, antennas and other permanent RV attachments.

Storage Option

      – Pay a lower insurance premium when your RV is in storage.

Full-Time Coverage

    – Enjoy coverage similar to a homeowners insurance policy and pay any RV association charges if you live in your RV.

Talk to your insurance agent about these and other coverage options as you purchase a customized policy that meets your unique needs.

Recreational Vehicle Insurance Costs

The cost of your RV insurance depends on the type of RV you own, how frequently you use it, where you drive and where you store it. You may also qualify for discounts if you bundle other insurance coverage, join an RV club or take a defensive driving course. Your insurance agent can discuss your specific needs and prepare a customized policy that meets your needs and budget.

When you’re ready to buy recreational vehicle insurance, find an agency that specializes in RV coverage. They understand your specific needs and will provide the right policy for your needs.

Maintaining Security with Employee Emails

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

How can you oversee your employees’ use of company e-mails without violating their privacy?

According to a recent nationwide survey, more than 40% of businesses monitor their workers’ e-mails. If you’re one of these companies, a disgruntled employee might well sue you for invasion of privacy (the number of privacy lawsuits has skyrocketed by 3,000% during the past decade).

The best way to protect yourself against this risk is to create a written policy warning employees that you might be monitoring their use of e-mail. Bear in mind that because your business owns the e-mail system – software, network access, and computers – you have the legal right to oversee workers for misusing it to violate company policy or break the law.

The first step in implementing this policy is to have all employees sign a disclaimer that acknowledges the company’s right to monitor their e-mail. You can do this when an employee is hired, at contract renewal, or at a company meeting – and don’t forget to circulate any updates to the policy throughout the company. Apply e-mail monitoring as uniformly as possible, because singling out an individual without a clear reason to do so could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit. Finally, be sure to have your attorney review the policy.

A comprehensive e-mail policy can:

  1. Provide an effective defense against invasion of privacy litigation
  2. Educate your employees on the proper use of e-mail – which should go far to reduce potential problems from misusing the system

If you’d like to learn more about how to balance protecting the integrity of your company’s e-mail system with your employees’ right to privacy, please get in touch with us. As always, we’re here to help.

Liability in Adult Day Care

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Peace of mind is never more important than it is when you’re responsible for the safety of other people. Carrying expensive cargo by truck can be tense, transporting priceless art or delivering luxury cars can be scary, but when your job is to ensure the well-being of your fellow human beings, it can be downright nerve wracking. It’s not just that you really need to be on your game when driving, feeding or providing care for your customers, it’s the fact that you need to keep on your toes for every single thing that might go wrong, whether it’s your fault or not, while these people are under your supervision.

Adult day care is one such field where you have to contend not only with the risks that come with the service you provide, but the risks relating to the people you are caring for. Adult day care insurance has to be able to protect you not just from issues relating to your service, but issues relating to poor health, old age and so on. Adults who need day care tend to be dealing with various issues relating to their mental and physical health, and you’re going to need to take that into account when settling on a liability insurance policy for your company.

One way to pay a little less on your adult day care professional liability insurance is to make sure that you have more than enough staff on hand to handle any emergency that may come up. Keeping registered nurses on the payroll, even if they cost a little more than hiring just anybody and giving them on-the-job training, will bring risk down, which means a lower cost to insure your day care company, and more importantly, it means happier, healthier customers.

Keeping your facilities up-to-date can have a tremendous impact, as well. By making sure you have handrails in the bathrooms, for instance, as well as medical equipment on hand, you’re creating a safer environment for the people in your care.

Insurance is about managing risk, but it’s also about managing headaches. Anything that you can do that brings you peace of mind, a sense of security in your day to day affairs, is something that is likely to bring your insurance costs down. The better you treat your customers, the more up-to-date your facilities, the better off you and your customers both will be.