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Monthly Archives

November 2017

Ten Loss Control Tips to Keep Your Work Laptop Safe

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

The growing trend of staying competitive by using the mobility and freedom provided by technology can often be a double-edged sword. Although taking your show on the road to off-site business meetings is a lot more efficient and easier when everything you need to make an eye-catching presentation is right there on the laptop, the mobility of technology does open the door to losses from theft.

Here are some simple loss prevention practices that employees can adopt to ensure their laptop stays safe and secure at and away from their worksite:

    • Carry the laptop in a case that doesn’t standout or scream expensive technology with logos or emblems. The idea is that only the carrier knows the case contains a computer. To bystanders, the case could be full of useless papers or files.
    • When traveling, use the hotel safe to store your computer. Never leave an unattended computer in a hotel room. Hotels usually warn customers that they aren’t responsible for valuables left inside rooms. And, don’t think that a locked room door is a sufficient safeguard. Maid services routinely leave rooms wide open as they’re being cleaned, meaning a passer could easily swipe your computer while the maid is busy cleaning the bathroom.
    • Never leave a laptop on the seats or otherwise in plain view in a vehicle, even a locked vehicle. Trunks are also a highly-targeted area for thieves, as many assume this is where most people will try to secure their valuables. Whenever possible, take the computer with you or leave it in a more secure locked location.
    • Make sure that your laptop will be secure during breaks if you’re at an off-site meeting. Ask if the various entrances and exits will be locked during breaks and then observe to make sure the room is indeed secure before leaving your laptop. If any question, then carry your laptop with you.
    • Avoid checking your laptop as luggage during flights. There’s too much opportunity for it to be stolen or damaged. Remove the laptop from its carrying case and give it to the guard before you go through the airport security metal detectors.
    • Write down the serial number, make, and model of your laptop and keep this information separate from your laptop.
    • Even in your own office, you need to make sure that you store your laptop in a secure location when you aren’t using it, take lunch, or need to run to another area of the building. A good rule is to lock up your computer if you can’t directly see it from your location.
    • Of course, the physical computer isn’t the only loss you can suffer. Keep a regular data backup schedule to prevent lost data due to equipment failure. It’s also prudent to minimize how much intellectual property or proprietary data is stored in the hard drive.
    • Have a password system (preferably two-tiers) or a data encryption feature to protect your data.
    • Lastly, you might consider asking your employer to arm your laptop with a tracking device as a last line of defense. Tracking devices for computers operate much like a LoJack system does on your car. Once the software is installed on the computer, it will run in the background without you even knowing it’s there. Meanwhile, the program routinely reports the IP address your computer is using and who logged into it to the security company. In the event you report your laptop stolen, the security company can remotely change how frequently the above information is fed to them. Unbeknownst to the thief, the security company is tracking his/her location every time the computer goes onli

Tips to Combat Email Phishing Attacks

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

As many as one in five office workers fall prey to phishing incidents, but 14 percent of office workers don’t recognize phishing attacks. Learn more about phishing and how to combat attacks on your personal or company email.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam that cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive information. It often occurs via email. The cybercriminal will send you an email that looks official but actually includes spyware, malware or other malicious software. When you open the link or download the file from the email, the criminals can access confidential information like bank account information, your social security number and other data. In many cases, you never know that your information has been compromised.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email

Phishing emails are designed to look authoritative so that you will open them and give the cybercriminal access to your computer. While these emails often look like they’re from a real company, you can usually recognize them via five signs.

    • Sender Address

      Before opening any email, look at the sender’s address. It may look similar to the official company’s address but could be slightly off. For example, it may use dot-net instead of dot-com or include a small spelling error like micrsoft or mircosoft.

    • Graphics

      Cybercriminals do a great job of imitating the graphics of popular companies. However, the logo, colors or design may be slightly off in a small way.

    • Spelling and Grammar Errors

      Most companies and organizations employ a team of copywriters who write professional content that’s typically error-free. Emails with spelling or grammar errors, are possibly phishing schemes.

    • Links

      Email links are a cybercriminal’s primary phishing tool. You can hover your mouse over any links and verify that it matches the address of the email’s sender, a sign that the link is safe.

    • Threats

      Cybercriminals use threats and fear to manipulate consumers. They may say that you will lose money, face criminal charges or suffer another devastating consequence if you don’t open the email. In most cases, these threats are meant to incite fear and get you to comply with their complicit wishes.

Steps That Protect Your Email

You can’t prevent cybercriminals from targeting you. However, you can take steps to protect yourself.

  • Install spam filters and virus scans.
  • Learn to recognize phishing emails.
  • Only open email links from verified and trusted sources.
  • Delete any emails that look suspicious.
  • Train coworkers and associates to recognize phishing threats.
  • Purchase cyber insurance that protects you if you are a victim of phishing.

You can’t stop cybercriminals from targeting your email, but you can use these tips to protect yourself and your data.

10 Holiday Meal Kitchen Safety Tips

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

It’s your turn to host the family holiday meal, and you’re prepared with the menu, table decorations and updated homeowners insurance. Is your kitchen safe? Consider 10 kitchen safety tips for your holiday meal.

    • Handle Raw Meat Properly

      Raw meats can spread salmonella and other bacteria if they’re handled improperly. Thaw meats in the refrigerator, never rinse raw meat, use separate cutting boards and knives for meats, and cook meats thoroughly.

    • Greasy Range Hood

      Accumulated grease on range hood can start a fire. Clean the hood thoroughly, and check the filter to make sure it’s clean, too.

    • Dirty Sponges, Dishcloths and Kitchen Towels

      Sponges, dishcloths and towels can harbor bacteria that can spread throughout your kitchen as you wipe spills and messes. Disinfect wet sponges for one minute in the microwave. Remember to replace used sponges, dishcloths and towels often, too. As an alternative, spray surfaces with sanitizing spray and wipe with paper towels.

    • Poor Refrigerator Storage Habits

      Holiday meals include all your favorite dishes. Keep the food safe and prevent bacteria growth when you:

      • Place raw meats in a sealed container.
      • Store raw fruits and vegetables in a plastic bag or container.
      • Immediately wipe up spills.
      • Refrigerate prepared foods as soon as possible.
      • Refrigerate leftovers within four hours of cooking.
    • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

      Gas ranges and ovens can emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible gas that can make you sick. Hire a professional to clean and inspect your range and oven to ensure they work properly and safely.

    • Overloaded Circuits

      Faulty wiring accounts for 33 percent of all residential fires according to the U.S. Fire Administration. When you must plug multiple appliances into your electrical outlets, use power strips. If possible, unplug the appliances you don’t need.

    • No Fire Extinguisher

      Your kitchen fire extinguisher can prevent the spread of a fire and protect your family. Buy a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, and be sure you know how to use it.

    • Unattended Food

      While cooking, you may get distracted with a conversation, cleaning or other duties. Unattended food or oil can start a fire, so stay focused as you cook.

    • Unwashed Hands

      Your aunt arrives and immediately volunteers to prep the dinner salad. Be sure she washes her hands first, and insist on proper handwashing for all your kitchen helpers.

    • Tripping Hazards

      Keep your floors and walkways clear to avoid tripping. As guests arrive, they should place their bags and other items in a designated spot away from the kitchen

Your holiday celebration can be a safe and fun event when you follow these 10 kitchen safety tips.

Nine Reasons Why Employees Need A Vacation

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

At the end of the year, many companies encourage employees to take accrued vacation time. While you may be tempted to forfeit your earned days off, vacations are important for nine reasons.

    • Improve Productivity

      You might think that working longer hours make you more productive, but longer work hours actually decrease your productivity. Take a break and reboot. You’ll return to your job refreshed and ready to tackle your workload.

    • Enhance Decision-Making Skills

      When you’re overworked and tired, your brain gets fuzzy, and you may make poor decisions. Spend time relaxing as you enhance your decision-making skills at work.

    • Recover Creativity

      Your job may depend on your creativity, but your brain needs breaks to function at its creative capacity. While you recharge and focus on non-work activities, you may be surprised at all your new ideas.

    • Bolster Physical Health

      Overwork can affect your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness. It can also contribute to obesity and heart disease. While your health insurance covers medical care, add regular vacations to your wellness routine. They can bolster your overall physical health.

    • Reduce Stress Levels

      Stress affects nearly every part of your physical, mental and emotional health. It also prevents you from doing your best work on the job. On a vacation, you can unwind, relax and leave work behind as you refresh your brain, body and emotions.

    • Support Mental Health

      Long hours at work can increase depression, anxiety and loneliness. Take a vacation and surround yourself with activities and people you love. Your vacation can decrease depression and support your mental health.

    • Boost Energy

      It’s easy to feel sluggish, unmotivated and disengaged when you spend every day in the same way. Planning and anticipating a vacation temporarily boosts your energy, and that energy and excitement stays with you after you return to the daily grind.

    • Expand Your Perspective

      Every day, you’re surrounded by the same people, activities and tasks. Step away and experience new things. Whether you visit an exotic location, sit on your deck with a book or explore your hometown, your vacation will expand your outlook and perspective on life and on the job.

    • Invest in Your Family

      You may work long hours in part to provide for your family, but work can actually interfere with your family life. On vacation, you reconnect with your loved ones. Spend time enjoying each other as you remember one of the reasons you work.

Instead of avoiding vacation, see it as a chance to improve your job performance and your quality of life in nine ways. You’ll be glad you took your well-deserved vacation time this year.

Seven Tips To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Claim

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

After a severe hail storm or vehicle accident, your insurance company totals your car. The settlement amount they offer is fairly low, though. Use seven tips to negotiate your auto insurance claim.

  • Prove the Vehicle’s Worth

    If you can prove that your vehicle is worth more than the insurance company offers, you may get more money. Examples of acceptable proof include:

    • The vehicle’s purchase price if you bought it recently
    • Recent photos that show your vehicle in pristine condition
    • Receipts for recent upgrades such as new tires, a security system or a paint job

    While it will take time for you to assemble this proof and submit it to the insurance company, the extra cash could make the effort worthwhile.

  • Ask for Financial Sources

    The insurance company should provide you with a detailed report of the figures they used to determine your settlement amount. Ask them to provide sources for their numbers, too. You can use those sources to verify the insurance settlement or run your own comparison.

  • Find a Comparable Vehicle

    Most states require auto insurance companies to provide a fair settlement. It allows you to purchase a comparable vehicle to the one that’s totaled. You can do your own search for a comparable vehicle if you don’t think the insurance company has offered a fair settlement.

    Search online and in person to find a local vehicle that’s the same make, model, year, mileage, options and condition as your totaled vehicle. Share your findings with the insurance company, and they may accept this proof and give you more money.

  • Ask if you can Keep the Car

    Sometimes, a totaled car is still drivable. If that’s the case, the insurance company may allow you to keep and drive the car. However, you may need to pay a salvage fee and drop comprehensive coverage.

  • Remain Calm

    After an accident, you may feel stressed and upset as you navigate the insurance claim and adjust to life without your vehicle. Try to remain calm, however, as you state your case and show that you are confident in your facts and serious about your desire to get a larger settlement.

  • Contact the State Insurance Commissioner

    Your state’s Insurance Commissioner protects citizens like you. Appeal to the office if your settlement amount truly is low and your negotiation efforts are unsuccessful.

  • Give it a Try

    You may doubt that your efforts to negotiate will succeed. It’s always a good idea to try. You may surprise yourself and succeed!

Sometimes, you can get more money for your vehicle after it’s totaled. These seven tips can help you successfully negotiate a new settlement.

What Insurance Is Right for Occasionally Used Employee Vehicles?

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Jillian owns a small office supply store, and she sometimes asks her employees to make customer deliveries in their personal vehicles. She wonders if she needs to purchase a commercial auto insurance policy to cover any accidents or other related claims. Two questions help Jillian address this risk and determine what type of insurance is best for her needs, and they can help you, too, if you’re in a similar situation.

    • What type of work tasks is the vehicle used to perform?

      A commercial auto insurance policy is the best choice if personal vehicles are used by employees to:

      • Make deliveries
      • Visit client locations
      • Transport clients or employees
      • Travel to or between work or remote locations
      • Transport tools or equipment that are essential for employment
      • Transport goods or people for a fee

      If your employees perform any of these tasks and need to file an insurance claim, their personal auto insurance policy may deny the claim. Their personal policy could also be cancelled, leaving them without this valuable coverage.

 

    • Does the employee have personal auto insurance?

      A personal auto insurance policy is designed primarily for personal use. However, a personal policy may also include a special business-use designation. It may also cover occasional business use if the insured vehicle is a private passenger car or van.

      Inspect your employees’ personal auto insurance policies to ensure it will cover an accident that occurs if the vehicle is used for business purposes. Otherwise, you or your employee will hold financial responsibility, which is quite costly and a huge risk.

After you answer these two questions, you will know if you need commercial auto insurance or if your employees’ personal auto policies will suffice. If you discover that you need a commercial auto insurance policy, be sure it covers your needs and includes:

  • An affordable deductible – you don’t want to compromise your company because your deductible is too high.
  • Adequate coverage for any type of accident, including minor fender benders and serious crashes that cause bodily injury and property damage.
  • Access to a rental vehicle – if you use a vehicle regularly for work-related tasks, your policy should include a rental vehicle you can use while your vehicle is being repaired.
  • Coverage for legal expenses – protect your company when you purchase auto insurance that covers legal expenses related to an auto insurance claim.

Like Jillian, you may ask employees to drive their personal vehicles occasionally. Most likely, you will benefit from a commercial auto insurance policy. Your insurance company can customize a commercial auto insurance policy that fits your driving habits and needs. Discover more details today as you get the coverage that’s right for you.

Liability Insurance Options For Your Home-based Business

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Your home-based business gives you flexibility and fulfillment. However, you’re responsible for any damages you cause and any accidents that occur because of your business activities. Without the right liability insurance, you risk losing your business, home and personal assets. Evaluate your liability insurance options as you protect yourself.

Examples of Home-Based Business Liabilities

Every day, you face general and professional liabilities your standard personal home insurance policy will not cover. Consider five scenarios.

  • Accidents – A client trips down your stairs after her catering consultation and injures her ankle. Your homeowners insurance policy will not cover treatment for those injuries.
  • Data – As an financial planner, you store sensitive information on your home computer that’s compromised by a hacker. Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance policy will not compensate you for any lost data or resulting damages.
  • Damage you cause – You accidentally break an expensive antique vase while leaving a client’s home, or someone trips over your computer bag as you work at a local coffee shop. Your homeowners insurance will not cover your financial liability.
  • Libel or Slander – A blog post you write contains inaccuracies about a local business leader, and she sues you for libel, or you share confidential information about a client at a networking event and are sued for slander. Any related expenses are your responsibility.
  • Economic damage – The business report you write for a local company contains inaccuracies that cause the company economic damage. You are responsible for all associated financial costs.
  • Negligence – You forget to include peanuts on your homemade cookie labels, and a customer has an allergic reaction. You could be sued and may have to pay any related expenses.

Home-Based Business Liability Insurance Options

To ensure your have the right liability coverage, first consider details about your home-based business. Its size, type, location and unique liability risk are all factors that determine which type and how much liability insurance coverage you need.

You are now ready to consider your liability insurance options.

  • Homeowners Insurance Endorsement

Add an endorsement or rider to your existing homeowners insurance policy to cover your business assets. It typically provides $2,500 to $5,000 in coverage and generally costs less than $100 per year.

  • Home Office Business Policy

Gain business liability coverage with a home office business insurance policy. It features protection against lawsuits from injuries, covers loss of records, and includes personal liability coverage.

  • Business Owners Policy

A comprehensive Business Owners Policy or BOP covers numerous liabilities, including business data, on-premises and off-premises liability, and personal and advertising injury.

Protect your business, home and personal assets with the right liability insurance. Discuss your specific business with your insurance agent today as you ensure you have adequate coverage.

Protecting Your Logging Equipment

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Most businesses carry some type of commercial insurance that’s designed to cover their equipment. However, what you may not realize is that commercial insurance is not always helpful when it comes to covering all of your bills. If you own a logging business, you’ve likely spent a significant portion of your budget on logging equipment. Without logging equipment insurance, you may find yourself to be at a financial loss should something happen to it.

Everyone’s Risks Are Different 

Often, logging equipment has to be left unattended during a project. It may face elements like unexpected weather or criminal activity, no matter how well secured it is. It may even face danger from your employees if they make a mistake when using it. It’s important to remember that all areas have different levels of risk. Let’s say you complete work in a relatively stable area.

There isn’t a lot of crime, there aren’t a lot of major weather events, and things generally go smoothly from day to do. This may limit your chances of logging equipment destruction, but it won’t eliminate those chances altogether. Let’s say some teenagers get together one night, and decide to cause a little havoc. Their night out may seem like harmless fun to them, but the damages could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. If you have to replace any of the equipment, you’re looking at even higher charges. Insurance is thankfully available to keep your financial holdings intact, so you don’t have to dip into company profits to get everything fixed.

Coverage Is Different 

Your policy is likely long and full of words that you don’t always understand completely. If an animal somehow damages your logging equipment, is this covered under your current insurance policy? If an operator uses the equipment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is this covered? Should your logging equipment fail to work one day due to water damage, can you call your insurance for help?

Normally, there are clauses and exceptions to your insurance that you’ll never learn about until it’s too late. Getting additional logging insurance equipment may go a long way in ensuring that you have a blanket policy that can cover whatever may happen to your expensive equipment.

Your Money Is Important 

Most people forget that insurance is an extension of their savings account. It’s designed to limit your liability when it comes to paying out for new equipment. Chances are, your business absolutely cannot live without the equipment that you currently have. Unless you have a never-ending supply of equipment just waiting to be used, you really need to find a way to protect your money.

Logging is a dangerous industry, even when your days seem to go off like clockwork. Even the most experienced of employees may have an off day, and even the most boring of neighborhoods may see more mischief than you think. Getting logging equipment insurance can save you from having to make difficult decisions about your business. It can be your best chance at saving your business from bankruptcy.

If you think that you may not have enough coverage, you may want to talk to your insurance company. They can answer more questions about common scenarios, but they can also bring up more circumstances you may not have considered. Insurance is all about calculating odds. If you’re in business long enough, you’re likely to experience a number of different events. The best thing you can do is to prepare for them as well as you can.

Auto Parts Manufacturers Importers General Liability Insurance

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

What is General Liability Insurance? 

General liability insurance covers claims that arise when you or one of your employees injures a client or bystander or damages their property. Your employees manufacture and import non-critical auto parts. This means that they’re expected to handle auto parts, assemble them as needed, and ship them off when finished to customers. At any point in that cycle, your employees are susceptible to mistakes. No one is perfect. When mistakes and accidents happen, you’ll need general liability insurance to cover the costs.

Why is General Liability Insurance Necessary? 

General liability insurance is necessary for several reasons. Many employers won’t work with you unless you can show that you have adequate levels of insurance. They frequently check to make sure that you have general liability insurance to ensure that the project isn’t stopped or threatened when one of your employees injures a client or damages property.

General liability insurance will save you money in the long-run. Yes, you’ll have to pay a premium, but that’s much better than having to shell out thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in extreme circumstances. You never know when the next accident is going to happen, and you can’t prevent all incidents. Plan ahead and make sure you have general liability insurance.

What Other Types of Insurance Should You Consider? 

Most Non-critical auto parts manufacturers importers general liability program insurance policies cover claims that involve bodily or personal injury and/or property damage. There are many other types of insurance that you should consider before you open your business. Workers’ compensation is mandatory in most states. Workers’ compensation covers claims that arise when an employee is injured at work and while the employee is within the course and scope of his/her employment. Without it, you could be ordered to pay for medical expenses and lost wages for your employees out of pocket.

Any company that manufactures products should have a products liability insurance program in place. This will protect the manufacturer if one of their products is to blame for an injury or loss to property. You should also think about getting property and equipment insurance. Chances are, you have expensive pieces of machinery that you need to keep up and running. Property and equipment insurance will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing an insurance company has your back if one of your machines stops working.

If you own company vehicles, especially if you transport goods to clients, then you need automobile coverage. Without you, you’ll have to foot the bill when one of your employees is involved in a car accident at work. Many large insurance companies now offer group plans that combine different forms of insurance. Speak with an insurance representative and determine what will be included in your general liability insurance package.

ENJOY YOUR LIFE: THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

By Life and Health | No Comments

Although you might not be aware of it, there are far-reaching benefits to positive thinking that can improve your health and help you with stress management. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that the personality traits of optimism and pessimism can have a direct impact on your well-being.

The good news is that, even if you are a pessimist by nature, you can take steps to improve positive thinking techniques in your life, and reap the resulting health and well-being benefits. Health Benefits of Positive Thinking. Over time, researchers have explored the effects of optimistic thinking on health, and have found many correlations between well being and positive thought processes. These include:

  • Longer life span
  • Better resistance to the common cold
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Reduced rates of cardiovascular disease
  • Improved coping skills during times of stress and hardship
  • Better physical and psychological well-being

Get on the Road to Positive Thought Processes. 

There are some simple steps to take to move away from negative thinking, and create a new habit of positive self-talk. Monitor yourself: During the day, stop and take note of your thoughts. If thoughts are mainly negative, make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on things.

Be open to good humor: Give yourself permission to be happy, to smile, and to laugh, even when the chips are down. Seek humor in everyday events.

Lead a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy diet and exercise at least three times per week. Eating right and exercising both have positive effects on mood and stress management.

Surround yourself with people who focus on the positive: Choose to spend time with family and friends who are cheerful, supportive, and offer helpful feedback. Avoid spending time with negative people who have a “glass half empty” attitude.

Practice positive self talk:
 Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, and never tell yourself something that you would not say to another person. If a negative thought enters your mind, try to think about it rationally, and follow up with positive affirmations about yourself and your circumstances.

Practice Every Day! 

If you have had a past tendency to have a negative outlook on life, don’t despair. While you may not become an optimist overnight, with everyday practice, you will begin to replace negativity with productive, positive thoughts.

You may find that you become, not only less critical of yourself, but more accepting of the world around you. As your general attitude improves, you will begin to reap the physical and emotional benefits of a positive outlook on life!