When it comes to hackers stealing confidential client information, most people think of their primary targets as mega-corporations; banks, credit card providers, online retailers, and so forth. (American Express, MasterCard, and Sony come to mind.)
However, more than half of small and midsize businesses have experienced at least one data breach in the past year, according to a recent nationwide study by the Ponemon Institute. What’s more, only 33% of surveyed companies suffering breaches notified affected individuals that their personal information was ever at risk – despite laws in 46 states that require such notification.
The primary causes of these breaches were employee or contractor error, lost or stolen laptops or smart phones, and procedural mistakes, according to the study commissioned by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co.
The survey also found that:
- Nearly nine in 10 respondents (85%) shared their customer and employee records with third parties by providing billing, payroll, employee benefits, web-hosting, or other information technology services.
- Seven in 10 respondents (70%) said that data breaches are more likely to occur if they outsourced data.
- Despite this outsourcing exposure, more than three in five businesses surveyed (62%) did not require third parties to cover costs associated with a data breach in their contracts.
“Smaller companies are targeted by data thieves, but they often don’t know how to respond when sensitive information they keep on customers and employees is lost or stolen,” warns Hartford Steam Boiler Vice President Eric Cernak. “Failing to act in a timely and effective way can harm the reputation of businesses and even risk legal penalties in many states.”
For professional advice on helping you minimize the growing financial and legal threats to your business from data breaches, please feel free to get in touch with our agency at any time.
Basic health interventions can help your business lower short-term disability rates, while reducing your employees’ time away from work. That’s the bottom line of a nationwide study of 118,000 employees by CIGNA, a major health services company.
CIGNA found that these measures, combined with predictive analytics, cut disability rates by 15% among employees at high risk of suffering disability within in the next 12 months. (The study defined “high risk” as a 10% or greater probability of becoming disabled during this period).
“By identifying workers at high risk of future short-term disability and providing individualized intervention that includes coaching, incentives, and other outreach, our study shows that the onset of disability absence can be reduced measurably, benefiting employers and employees alike,” says Dr. Robert N. Anfield, chief medical officer for CIGNA’s Disability business. Future studies will deal with the impact of intervention on the length of short-term disability, return-to-work rates, and total medical costs.
The company’s Absence Prediction and Prevention program establishes an intervention, led by a nurse/health advocate, that provides:
- Early identification of workers at high risk for future short-term disability.
- Proactive outreach to these employees.
- Clinical Assessment.
- A range of disability absence prevention strategies.
By proactively identifying employees who might be having health problems before their condition worsens and they need to leave work, you can help workers stay healthy and potentially prevent or lessen the impact of injuries or illness – which translates into lower absenteeism, higher productivity, and a healthier bottom line.
It makes sense to develop an absence prevention program that emphasizes preventive health safety training. As always, we stand ready to offer our advice.
Of all Homeowners insurance losses, those from water damage are among the most common. Many people often don’t consider the potential risks in their own homes until it’s too late.
To minimize hazards that can cause water damage claims, we’d like to recommend these steps:
- Check for leaks. Periodically inspect the area around the refrigerator, washer, dishwasher, water heater, sinks, and toilets for drips, puddles, and discolored, warped, or soft flooring.
- Pay attention to your water bill. Monthly fluctuations could indicate a leak.
- Periodically check your water pressure. Water losses often occur due to excessive water pressure. Buy a pressure gauge at your local hardware store, and hook it up to a hose bib. If it’s above 65 psi, install a water pressure regulator.
- Before you go on vacation, take precautions. If temperatures in your area could dip below freezing, make sure that any exposed pipes are insulated, turn off the water supply to individual fixtures, and turn your furnace to low so that the pipes will stay warm enough to avoid bursting.
If you need to file a claim, follow these guidelines:
- Stop the source of the water by turning off the water main.
- Call your insurance company immediately. Most companies have staff 24/7 to help you set appointments with contractors who can dry out your house. Your insurer will also send an adjuster to assess the damage.
- Don’t start any major repair efforts until the adjuster has been to your home!
- Determine what was lost and document it. Even if things were ruined, don’t throw them away. Keep pieces of the damaged floor or ceiling, along with any valuable personal property, such as electronics or furniture. At a minimum, take photos or video of the damage.
For more information, give us a call at any time.
You pull into the grocery store parking lot to pick up a few snacks, and park. As you head for the door, you push a button on your keyless remote to lock it. You don’t hear that faint chirp, but you’re in a hurry. Fifteen minutes later, you discover that your car is gone. Welcome to the world of 21st-century auto theft!
On the surface, things appear to be improving. Vehicle thefts fell 3.3% nationwide in 2011 (the most recent data) for the eighth straight year. However, auto theft still costs the nation an estimated $5.8 billion a year, thanks to streetwise thugs who feed chop shops and supply lucrative international black markets. These days, car thieves are becoming smarter, more tech-savvy, and harder than ever to stop.
Anyone can go to a home-improvement store and buy a $20 device that jams the remote keyless entry transmitter on a vehicle. If you aren’t paying attention, you walk away from your vehicle, press the button on the remote, and assume that it locks. However, a thief might be two cars over in the parking lot, punching a button to block the signal. The vehicle doesn’t lock, and the thief can take your laptop, portable GPS, or whatever else is inside. With enough time, he can even steal the vehicle!
To guard against jammers, pay attention to your surroundings and make sure your car doors do indeed lock when you press the button. Listen for the click or chirp, or look for the quick flash of lights that confirmations locking on most cars. If the vehicle doesn’t lock, try again. However, if locking doesn’t work on the second attempt – or if you see someone lurking nearby – move your car to a different spot.
An ounce of prevention..
Wrap-up or “Wrap” Construction insurance can provide a highly effective tool to reduce costs and avoid headaches in insuring large, complex projects and the workers building them.
Wrap policies usually offer superior coverage, higher policy limits and greater contract certainty than traditional Commercial General Liability, Workers Compensation, and (often) Builders Risk insurance written for individual subcontractors and types of risk. What’s more, Wrap coverage can minimize potential cross-litigation on construction projects.
Although they’ve been available for decades, these policies have become widespread in recent years, due to the skyrocketing costs of raw materials, financing, and litigation. There are two types of Wrap coverage; owner-controlled insurance policies (OCIP), and contractor-controlled insurance policies (CCIP). Either variety allows the owner to spread the risk among different parties, while providing a seamless insurance safety net for every company and individual involved – which can translate into profit, based on loss experienced over the life of the policy.
Because of their extensive coverage, Wrap policies are usually more expensive than other types of Construction insurance for the owner or primary contractor, who will pass on the extra cost among the general contractors and sub-contractors on the project. This is a small price to pay considering the peace of mind that comes from having all coverages and insured parties protected under a single policy.
Because of their complexity, insurance companies often tailor Wrap policies for each project, writing them on a customized (“manuscript”) basis. Our agency’s professionals would be happy to work with you and your insurer in creating coverage that’s comprehensive and cost-effective. That’s what we’re here for.
More and more businesses are offering workers quality legal services as a voluntary employee benefit, according to a nationwide survey of more than 300 human resource and benefits professionals. The study, sponsored by MetLife, found that the top reasons for the popularity of these services were improved employee satisfaction (69%) higher retention and loyalty (44%), and the ability to compete with other companies’ benefit programs (32%).
A majority of survey respondents cited these benefits of Group Legal plans:
- Helping employees achieve peace of mind when dealing with legal issues.
- Reducing employees’ levels of stress.
- Lowering the cost of legal services.
- Minimizing workplace time in dealing with personal issues.
- Providing quality legal services (57%).
More than 90% of survey respondents found that legal plans are easier, or as easy, to administer than other voluntary benefits plans. These programs also have high persistency rates for both employers and employees.
Says Bill Brooks, CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans, “This is a benefit that spans the generations and suits a diverse workforce because there’s a broad range of situations where an attorney can help.
Legal assistance at a cost of less than some attorneys may bill per hour can be an effective way to generate employee loyalty.” There’s a clear need for this coverage: According to the American Bar Association, 71% of people encounter a legal problem every year.
Will preparation and estate planning are the most frequently offered services under Group Legal plans, followed by family matters, home purchases and sales, and credit problems, among others.
If you’d like to add a comprehensive, cost-effective Group Legal plan to your voluntary Employee Benefits portfolio, please free to get in touch with the professionals at our agency. As always, we’re here to help!