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Monthly Archives

December 2017

How To Protect Your New Smart TV From Hackers

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

The brand new Smart TV you receive for the holidays adds value to your home entertainment system. Connect it to the internet and use a remote control, smartphone or tablet to watch movies and videos, post photos to social media sites, and access apps such as Netflix and Skype. Despite its smart features, your Smart TV can be hacked. Take steps to protect your new Smart TV from hackers.

How are Smart TVs Hacked?

While technology manufactures work tirelessly to patch potential security problems in smartphone and computer technology, Smart TV manufacturers haven’t been as vigilant. Hackers can gain access to your Smart TV via an unsecure internet connection or application source codes. They can then perform several malicious or invasive tasks.

  • Steal your credit card information or identity.
  • Access your passwords.
  • Utilize voice recognition software for data-mining purposes.
  • Use your browsing history to send you targeted ads or instant advertising messages.
  • Turn the camera on and spy on your or your possessions.
  • Take over social media apps and post questionable, offensive or inappropriate content on your behalf.
  • Access and modify files.

How to Prevent Hackers

You can take several steps to deter hackers and protect your Smart TV.

  • Update firmware and patches regularly.
  • Utilize the firewalls on your Smart TV and network router.
  • Perform regular malware scans.
  • Check for data-mining language in your TV’s manual, features or settings. Turn off or disable any data sharing permissions if possible.
  • Separate your device networks. Use one for your Smart TV and another for other devices so a hacker can’t access all your internet-connected devices.
  • Exercise caution when browsing the internet. Consider reserving your TV for entertainment purposes, and use your secure smartphone or computer to browse the internet, perform online banking tasks or shop.
  • Inspect instant messages that pop up on your TV screen. Only open messages from reputable and reliable sources.
  • Cover the camera. A piece of tape or paper prevents a third party from accessing the TV’s camera and spying on you and your family.
  • Disconnect the internet. When your Smart TV is not in use, disconnect it from the internet so hackers cannot access the device.
  • Discuss ways you can secure your specific Smart TV with its manufacturer.
  • Purchase cyber insurance. It can protect you if your preventative efforts fail and a hacker uses your personal information, data or TV for unlawful purposes.

You can protect your new Smart TV from hackers when you take these preventative measures. They protect your personal information, secure your new device and protect you and your family.

Give The Gift Of Life Insurance This Holiday

By Life and Health | No Comments
This year’s hottest holiday gifts include technology, travel and aromatherapy. While these items provide temporary enjoyment, why not give a gift that lasts a lifetime and beyond?

Consider the gift of life insurance this holiday as you care for your loved ones.

Provide for Your Family

Life insurance provides financial support for survivors after the policy holder dies. They can use the death benefit to cover daily living expenses, pay for college or repay debt. Purchase a policy for yourself, your spouse or a loved one, and secure your family’s future.

Honor a Loved One

Your loved one may feel especially fond of a specific charity, university or other organization. Name that organization as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, and your loved one’s memory lives on after their death.

Support a Loved One

If a loved one or friend can’t afford life insurance, purchase a policy for them. Or buy a new policy for yourself and name someone you love as your beneficiary. In this way, you support a loved one.

Take Advantage of Lower Rates

When you purchase life insurance while you’re young, you pay lower premiums. Now’s the best time to buy a life insurance policy for you or your loved one.

Plan Your Estate

You can use a life insurance policy as part of your or a loved one’s estate planning strategy. Life insurance payouts are not subject to taxes unless the policy accrues interest, making it an ideal addition to an estate.

Which Type of Life Insurance Should you Give?

Choose from several life insurance options. Examples include:

Whole: Accrue cash value that you can borrow from to pay almost any expense with this permanent policy that’s in effect until you die.

Universal: Change the death benefit or cash value as needed while you own this permanent life insurance policy.

Term: Gain coverage for a certain number of years normally with no annual health exam.

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

Analyze the recipient’s age, health and financial needs as you choose the right life insurance policy for your loved one. Healthy adults can pay as little as $10 per month for term life insurance. Whole life insurance policies cost more than term life policies but provide longer coverage.

Also, keep in mind that life insurance premiums must be paid regularly or the policy could lapse. Be sure you or the recipient can maintain payments.

Life insurance provides peace of mind and financial resources after death. Consider giving the gift of life insurance to your loved ones this holiday. For assistance buying the right policy for your needs, talk to your insurance agent.

Limit Liability When Serving Alcohol At Your Company Holiday Party

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Company holiday parties give your employees the chance to relax, network and have fun. You could be liable for your employees’ drinking, though. Learn more about your liability and ways to protect yourself as you prepare for your holiday party.

Check Your Company Insurance Policy

The majority of states have liquor liability laws that apply to anyone who serves alcohol. If one of your employees drinks too much and gropes another employee or causes a car accident after the party, you could be sued. Check your company’s general liability policy and employment practices liability insurance policy with third-party coverage to ensure you have adequate liability coverage.

Ask Employees to Review the Employee Manual

The company’s employee manual should include details about employee behavior at company events. It includes their responsibility to behave properly and any penalties for over-imbibing. As employees RSVP to the party, ask them to review the policy.

Serve Food

Unique appetizers, hearty entrees or a dessert bar can distract employees from drinking. Plus, eating before drinking reduces the effects of alcohol.

Focus on Fun and Games

Instead of prioritizing drinking, plan fun and games. Hire an entertainer,  host a karaoke or dance-off challenge, or perform team-building activities. When the main focus of the party is fun, your employees won’t have time to drink all night.

Be an Example

If you plan to drink at the party, limit yourself to one beer, cocktail or glass of wine. Ask other managers and the party’s planner committee to be examples of moderation, too.

Provide a Cash Bar

Employees are more likely to drink too much if they don’t have to pay. You can cover the food, entertainment and non-alcoholic beverages, but let them buy their own alcoholic drinks.

Offer Non-Alcoholic Options

Include several interesting non-alcoholic beverage options on your menu. They’re fun to drink and encourage sobriety.

Hire Trained Bartenders

Trained bartenders can recognize when a person has reached their limit. They also will card interns or any employees who looks underage, which reduces a big alcohol-related liability.

Use a Drink Ticket System

Limit access to alcohol when you give employees a set number of drink tickets. When they reach their limit, they can’t order any more drinks.

Close the Bar

An limitless open bar invites overindulgence. Open the bar a short time then close it for the night as you protect employees from drinking too much.

Pay Cab Fare

Ensure employees arrive home safely when you pay cab fare. You can even call cabs for employees.

Before your holiday party, discuss your liability insurance coverage with your insurance agent. Be sure you’re covered as you prepare to have fun.

Details To Consider During Your Year-End Business Insurance Check-Up

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Your business performs a year-end financial analysis, but when was the last time you updated your insurance policies? Insurance protects your company from liability, natural disasters and cyber threats. Make an appointment now to check, change or update your coverage as you prepare for a successful new year.

Purchase the Right Policies for your Business

Your insurance policies will cover the common risks your business faces. They also protect all aspects of your company, from product conception to customer service. Verify that you have the correct policies for your needs. Several business insurance policies available for purchase include:

  • General Liability
  • Property
  • Business Owner’s Policy
  • Business Interruption
  • Commercial Auto
  • Professional Liability
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Directors and Officers
  • Data Breach
  • Health, Life and Disability

Look Ahead to the New Year

Maybe you want to expand the products you sell, hire more employees or move to online-only sales in the new year. These changes affect your insurance needs, so be sure your insurance policies accommodate your plans.

Insure Growing Assets

The equipment, inventory or other assets you own may appreciate in value. Additionally, you may have purchased machinery, technology and other items recently. If your insurance policies don’t reflect this appreciation or these added assets, you may not receive an adequate payout if you must file a claim. Update your insurance coverage to address your growing assets.

Catch Mistakes

Your annual insurance review can catch mistakes on your insurance policies. You may discover that you’ve overpaid for coverage or purchased coverage you no longer need. With your insurance agent’s help, you catch any coverage mistakes and ensure you only purchase the insurance you need and will use.

Ask for Discounts

While you need to ensure you have adequate insurance coverage, you also want to save money. Ask your insurance agent about possible discounts that make insurance coverage more affordable for your business.

  • Increase your deductible.
  • Install a security system with cameras.
  • Develop and implement a safety training program.
  • Strengthen your computer network.
  • Improve fraud awareness.
  • Reduce operational risks.
  • Purchase all your insurance from one company.
  • Pay annually or quarterly rather than monthly.
  • Remain a loyal customer.

Insurance protects your business, so take time this month to perform an update. Verify that you have the right coverage for your needs now and into the future.

CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE SAVES DOLLARS AND MAKES SENSE

By Employment Resources | No Comments

For some people, the preventive care options provided by traditional health insurance plans are not a benefit they want or can afford. Instead, a health insurance policy that covers them only in the case of a catastrophic event, such as a car accident or emergency surgery, is much more appealing and affordable. For these people, catastrophic coverage (also called major medical) offers the perfect balance between reasonable coverage and cost.

What is Catastrophic Coverage?

Catastrophic coverage is generally sought out by individuals who do not anticipate needing full health coverage benefits but who do want the security of coverage in the event of an unexpected, emergency need.

Catastrophic health insurance often has a high deductible and low monthly premium, making it ideal for adults in their 20s who are without group coverage and adults between the ages of 50 and 65 who are primarily concerned with financial losses associated with heart attacks, accidents, and other serious illnesses. They are generally healthy, take few or no prescription medications, and would rather pay out-of-pocket for the occasional office visit to save on their monthly insurance premiums.

Deductibles

Catastrophic plans typically cover only major hospital and medical expenses above a certain deductible. The insured is responsible for paying the entire deductible, together with follow up doctor visits and any prescription drugs. Deductibles typically start at $2,500 and can be much higher-the higher the deductible, the less expensive the monthly premiums. If your treatment costs do not exceed your deductible, the insurer will pay nothing.

Limits

Most catastrophic health plans have lifetime maximum benefits payments. Once the expenses of your treatments have reached the amount of your cap, the insurance company will not pay for additional medical expenses and the policy will be voided.

Considerations

Before you buy a catastrophic health plan, consider:

How much of a deductible can you afford?

How extensive do you want your coverage to be?

Do you need prescription medicines?

Can you afford to pay for your own doctor’s office visits?

Do you have any pre-existing conditions?

Do you get sick often?

Minimizing Workplace Injury Risks

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Although the costs of work-related injuries sustained by employees are usually covered by Workers Compensation coverage, there is no coverage for hidden costs to the business the employee works for. Most plans cover medical expenses and lost wages of the injured employee. However, increased overtime expenditures, reduced efficiency and the expense of training replacements are not covered. These costs can greatly affect a smaller business.

Injuries that are sustained in the workplace or in vehicles owned by the business are not limited to occupations that are known to be dangerous. For the majority of cases reported, the main three causes of workplace injuries are falls on level ground, bodily reaction and overexertion. Injuries sustained from pushing, excessive lifting, pulling, carrying a heavy object, throwing things or trying to hold a heavy object are all activities that lead to overexertion injuries.

These types of injuries can seriously affect workers in any environment. It’s important for employers in every industry to be aware of these risks to avoid paying for costly preventable injuries to employees. It’s essential to train employees to recognize hazards, report unsafe conditions and to be aware of what the consequences of injuries are. Employers should encourage employees to actively contribute to a safer working environment by reporting unsafe conditions and making suggestions for changes to correct problems.

Any accident, first aid incident or near miss should be reported to employers. After receiving reports, employers should investigate the incidents thoroughly. If possible, the investigation employers carry out should take place immediately. Both hourly employees and management professionals should be involved in the investigation process.

The purpose of investigations is to identify the cause of the incident without blaming anyone. The overall goal should be to improve the situation and make the workplace a safer environment for everyone.

A team should be formed that can review incidents from past years and the current year to identify patterns. In addition to this, the team should be able to identify the problems. Hospitals, police departments and fire departments should be conferred with each year for assistance in identifying risks and forming plans for emergencies. Loss of power, accidents, explosions, fires and violence are all issues that each business must address.

Drills for these situations should be planned and implemented. It’s important to ensure that employees are properly trained to face any situation. They should also know the emergency and disaster plans thoroughly. Some businesses may also want to provide CPR and first aid training from the Red Cross for their employees. If this is the case, there should be at least one person who is responsible for keeping first aid kits stocked and accessible. To learn more about risks in an individual workplace and how to obtain protection, contact an agent.

‘IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!’ – PROTECT YOUR OUTDOOR WORKERS

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

The nation’s record-breaking “polar vortex” cold snap last month reinforces the need for businesses to reduce the risk of injuries or accidents to employees working out of doors under winter conditions. The human body has a core temperature of 98.6°F. Unconsciousness can occur at 86°F, and death below 73°F. Symptoms of a dangerous temperature decrease include persistent and severe shivering, fatigue, lack of co-ordination, drowsiness or apathy, hallucinations, resistance to help, and skin that turns blue before becoming pale and dry.

Employees working outdoors in extremely cold weather face two major health problems: frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite freezes and crystallizes the fluids in body tissues and cellular spaces, which causes blood clotting and reduces the flow of oxygen to affected areas and deeper tissues. Hypothermia develops when the body can no longer maintain its core temperature and attempts to reduce heat loss by shutting down blood flow to the skin, arms and legs, as well as shivering to increase internal heat.

To help protect your outdoor workers against these risks, make sure that they:

dress warmly and carry extra dry clothing if they’re likely to get wet stay dry (wet skin freezes quickly)

drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration

work during the warmest part of the day, as much as possible

avoid sitting still outdoors for long periods and take regular breaks from the cold

don’t touch metal or wear metal jewelry outdoors – metal conducts cold, increasing the risk of frostbite

avoid cigarettes, alcohol, and too much coffee or caffeinated beverages. Smoking decreases circulation, while alcohol increases the rate of body cooling; caffeine also lowers circulation, its diuretic effect speeds dehydration, and its stimulant effect can hasten hypothermia)

For more information, feel free to get in touch with our agency.

Five Overtime Dangers And Solutions

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Holiday, seasonal or regular overtime allows your company to handle increased sales demands or cover employee absences. While you may enjoy the extra money, long work hours affect workplace safety. Know five common overtime dangers and their solutions as you remain safe at work

Health Problems

Working 10 hours or more a day can increase your non-fatal heart attack risk by 60 percent. Long work hours may also increase workplace injuries and cause health problems such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased alcohol and tobacco consumption
  • Stress
  • Mental health problems
  • Obesity
  • Depression

Address potential health risks when you take care of your physical health. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and perform regular self-care.

Personal Problems

A Cornell University study found that three in 10 employees who work more than 60 hours a week experience severe family conflicts, including divorce. Personal problems at home can affect your concentration, attendance and productivity on the job.

Relieve personal problems when you leave your work at work and focus on your loved ones when you’re at home. Your employer may also offer professional counseling that addresses any ongoing challenges caused by overtime.

Workplace Safety Risks

Numerous studies link overtime with an increase in workplace accidents that could be caused by fatigue, performance impairment, low morale and decreased attention span. These safety risks can occur after a single or several long work days.

Carefully follow safety procedures, and encourage your co-workers to do the same. If you feel fatigued, stressed or distracted, talk to your employer since safety always comes first.

Low Moral

Poor morale affects 31 percent of employees who work more than 10 hours of overtime a week. When you don’t want to be at work, your attention wanes and you may make unsafe or costly mistakes.

Prioritize self-care as you improve your morale. Try to avoid negative conversations about work, too. A healthy work-life balance also helps you stay motivated to appreciate your job and do your best.

High Turnover Rates

Companies with high overtime rates also experience high turnover rates as employees decide that long work long hours are not worth the monetary rewards. Companies then must hire and train new employees who require time to learn workplace safety protocols.

While you can’t control the turnover rate, you can advocate for safety at all times. Encourage veteran and novice employees to follow all safety protocols, too.

Overtime may be mandatory at your workplace, so be aware of the dangers and the solutions that help you ensure safety. Ask your employer about the company’s wellness and mental health programs, too, that help you and your co-workers achieve balance and maintain safety as you work long hours.