Harden Your Cyber Defenses Immediately!

In a March 21, 2022 statement, President Joe Biden cautioned businesses in the private sector to harden their cyber defenses, reiterating earlier warnings related to potential cyberattacks against U.S. organizations by Russia.

“I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners,” Biden said. “It’s part of Russia’s playbook. Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors.”

While there is no evidence of an imminent attack tied to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Biden’s top cybersecurity officer Anne Neuberger noted that the everyday cyber risks businesses face and the potential for Russia-led cyberattacks call for urgency.

“There is no evidence of any specific cyberattack that we’re anticipating for,” Neuberger said. “There is some preparatory activity that we’re seeing, and that is what we shared in a classified context with companies who we thought might be affected.”

While declining to offer more detail on the type of preparatory actions seen by threat intelligence researchers, Neuberger said officials are focused on patching known vulnerabilities at all firms that make attacks far easier for attackers than they need to be.

To further assist private sector companies in strengthening their defenses, the Biden Administration issued a fact sheet with specific guidance on protective measures. Specific recommended actions for private sector organizations include:

  • Mandating the use of multifactor authentication on systems
  • Deploying modern security tools that continuously look for and mitigate threats
  • Working with cybersecurity professionals to ensure that organizational systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities
  • Changing passwords across networks so previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors
  • Backing up data and creating offline backups
  • Having emergency plans in place and ensuring those plans are practiced regularly so the business can respond quickly following a cyberattack
  • Encrypting data
  • Educating employees on common cyberattack strategies and encouraging them to report suspicious activity (e.g., slow or poorly behaving laptops)
  • Establishing relationships with local FBI field offices or Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) regional offices

The Coronavirus Pandemic is More Than a Health Crisis

Presented by: Matthew A. Clayson

 

The coronavirus pandemic is more than a public health crisis. It’s an economic wrecking ball. Since the first reported cases in early 2020, COVID-19 has induced both a global recession and a record setting recovery. It contributed to the highest U.S. unemployment rate since the Great Depression, causing businesses to falter and families to face financial hardship.

Stocks have experienced a wild ride. The pandemic initially wiped out more than $11 trillion of wealth, but Wall Street quickly stabilized as lockdowns lifted and vaccines were introduced, hitting an all-time high in January 2022. But investors now fear a new threat: the surge in “Covid inflation” caused largely by ongoing supply chain disruptions. Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, it’s not yet clear how long it may take for households hit hardest by the pandemic to get back on their feet financially, but we do know from past experience with economic crises that there are steps families can take today to potentially restore their financial wellness faster.

Those steps include:

Staying calm

If you contribute to a retirement plan or invest in a brokerage account, your future account balance depends on what you do right now. So, avoid making moves based on emotion rather than rational planning.

If you already have a retirement savings program under way, with asset allocation appropriate to your risk profile and long-term goals, you probably want to continue following your plan. Guidance from a trusted financial professional is can also be key.

Paying off credit cards

When the COVID-19 crisis is over and you’re back at work, you’ll need to begin paying down any debt you incurred, which includes credit card bills and retirement account loans.

One way to rid yourself of debt faster is to use any tax refunds you receive to that end. Bonuses and annual raises from your employer may be in short supply this year, but as the economy recovers and your compensation (hopefully) climbs, you may also be able to use that extra income to pare down debt.

More immediately, explore opportunities to trim waste from your budget—including unused gym memberships, premium cell phone plans, dinners out, etc.—and direct those savings to reduce the amount you owe.

Start by paying off the debt that costs you the most. Generally, that means credit cards balances. Many charge interest of 18% or higher, which makes it difficult to dig out and limits your ability to fund other financial goals.

Repaying your retirement account loans

If you took advantage of government leniency and tapped into your retirement savings to help make ends meet, you should also do everything you can to make yourself whole.

Considering a refi

If you’re strapped for cash, you might also consider refinancing your loans to lower your monthly payments.

For example, it might make sense to refinance your mortgage loan if you plan to remain in your home for at least five more years. Depending on your financial picture, however, it could be wise to refi if you can lower your interest rate by even 1 percent, especially if helps you to eliminate paying private mortgage insurance because the equity in your home has reached 20 percent. Be aware, however, that if you turn the clock back on the term of your loan, say, starting it over at 30 years, you will likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan, despite the lower monthly payment.

Insulating yourself for next time

No one knows yet when the COVID-19 crisis with its variants will end, but we can safely assume it will not be the last financial crisis we face.

As you take steps to restore your financial well-being today, don’t forget to insulate your finances for tomorrow.

If you don’t already have one, start putting money away for an emergency fund to pay the bills during bouts with unemployment, or when unexpected expenses crop up such as home repairs and medical bills. Having savings set aside prevents you from having to rely on credit cards or drain your retirement account in a pinch.

Most financial professionals suggest setting aside at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a liquid, interest-bearing account.

You should also review your insurance coverage to be sure that your family is protected no matter what. Beyond basic health insurance, you may wish to consider life insurance to protect your loved ones in the event that you should pass away prematurely, and disability income insurance to help replace a portion of your income if you should become injured or too ill to work.

Finally, review your investment portfolio carefully to be sure it’s still on course to meet your financial goals.

You may have discovered, as investors often do during market volatility, that your appetite for risk is not what you once thought. By working closely with a trusted financial professional, you can potentially reallocate your assets as needed to create a portfolio that is diversified enough to help you ride out future storms, but not so conservative that you sacrifice potential growth.

The coronavirus has threatened our health care system and economy like never before, leaving millions of American families struggling to pay the bills. As we continue to practice safe social distancing and make medical progress to combat COVID-19, it helps to know that there are steps we can take today to put our financial house back in order as quickly as possible.

Matt Clayson is a registered representative of and offers securities and investments services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC(www.sipc.org). Supervisory Address: 101 Federal Street, Suite 800, Boston, MA 02110. 617.439.4389. CRN202502-1735773

 

2022 Set to be “Hangover” Year From 2021’s Cyber Epidemic

Natural disasters and supply chain disruption—already a challenge for the broader insurance industry—are poised to become more of a problem for the cyber sector in 2022, Experian predicted. Charitable organizations and individuals will likely see an uptick in phishing attempts designed to provoke emotional responses in times of stress. Post-disaster donation scams have already cropped up and won’t abate any time soon.

“Thieves will impersonate legitimate vendors selling scarce items in high demand—be they masks, personal protective equipment, oxygen or other critical items,” the firm warned. The prediction ties in with another: the fact that individuals’ susceptibility to scams puts both corporations and consumer pocketbooks at risk.

“Remote or hybrid work and the IT [information technology] infrastructure required to support these constantly shifting patterns—both in the corporate office and in the home—mean vulnerabilities that emerged last year will only become more acute in the one to come,” the firm commented.

Experian highlighted online gambling as a greater source of attacks in the coming year. With many states legalizing the practice in recent years, cybercriminals have already begun placing their bets that online gamblers and the platforms themselves will fall for phishing scams.

“While cyberattacks on fantasy sports sites aren’t unheard of, expect them to become much more common as more people get involved with this activity…hackers [will] use this as a means to break into digital wallets, especially during times when bitcoin is soaring in value,” Experian said.

The firm said that increased reliance on digital assets would introduce more vulnerabilities in 2022. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) experienced significant hype in 2021, and “where value—or perceived value—goes, thieves and bad actors will follow.”

“As cryptocurrencies and NFTs become more commonplace and are increasingly accepted as legitimate parts of our financial and technological landscape, both will become targets for attack,” Experian said. “The combination of a cryptocurrency transaction with distributed ledger technology make NFTs uniquely positioned for multiple points of vulnerability.”

Experian predicted pathways to further disruption on the national stage as hackers become more “brazen” about targeting critical infrastructure. Infrastructure improvements have been a key goal for the federal government in 2021, one that comes with massive new budgets cybercriminals won’t be able to resist.

“The sums are so large, and their distribution involves so many institutions and processes—from the Treasury to vendors, to banks, to individual contractors—that hackers will be probing for weaknesses in the money supply chain,” said Experian. State-sponsored hackers will also likely seek further disruption of electrical grids, energy firms and manufacturers.

“Businesses must increase their focus and move past simply catching up to the ‘new normal’ in how they operate,” said Michael Bruemmer, global vice president of Experian Data Breach Resolution. “Cybercriminals have honed in on pandemic disruptions this past year, so security professionals need to shore up security protocols and have data breach response plans in place—especially for ransomware—should a breach occur.”

© 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

There’s More to Life Insurance Than Most People Think. A Lot More

Of course, everyone generally understands that a life insurance policy helps provide protection for loved ones should you pass away. But, depending on how you plan it out, life insurance can specifically help with financial situations arising out of:

  • Family growth
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • End of life

Beyond being an asset in all phases of life, life insurance also can help with specific areas like:

  • Retirement
  • Taxes
  • Gifting
  • Estate planning
  • Business

Life insurance 101

To fully appreciate the range of life insurance capabilities, it’s important to learn about the different types of policies available. It’s also important to understand how to shop for insurance and consider what policy may be right for your circumstances and goals.

Types of life Insurance

  • Term insurance tends to be the most affordable and, consequently, the most basic type of life insurance policy available. It provides death benefit coverage for a specific period of time, often 10, 20 or years.
  • Permanent insurance , by contrast — including whole life, universal, and variable — offers coverage for a lifetime.
    Since many people start with term insurance, it’s important to understand its basics and how it can be built upon or combined with other types of insurance.

At the same time, since needs and resources change over time, it’s important to be familiar with the features of permanent insurance.

Life insurance and protecting loved ones

Life insurance protection is generally recognized as an important part of financial wellness. Yet, only about 52 percent of Americans own any, according to a recent study by the insurance research group LIMRA.1 And, even then, the amount of life insurance they have may not be enough.

Life insurance at different ages

There are also questions about the right time to get life insurance. Does is pay off to purchase a policy when you are younger, when it will likely cost less, or wait until you obviously need it? Answers can vary, but the question should be considered.

Life insurance and occupation

Many people own group coverage life insurance through their employer or other organization. In fact, 29 percent of American consumers overall own group coverage, according to LIMRA’s research.1 But oftentimes, such coverage may not be enough.

Life insurance and retirement

Beyond protection for your loved ones, some types of life insurance, particularly whole life insurance, can provide a way to accumulate a source of funds. Those funds may help you address some of the financial risks during retirement, such as market volatility or could be used to provide supplemental retirement income.

Life insurance and taxes

Whole life insurance and other types of permanent insurance offer tax advantages, like tax-deferred growth and tax-deferred distributions. Also, death benefit proceeds are generally tax free.

Life insurance and estate planning

Proceeds from whole life insurance and other types of policies have long been used to help heirs deal with costs and taxes that can apply to inherited property and assets. They also avoid the expenses and delays of probate and are not part of any public record. But, as the estate size grows, there can be pitfalls.

Conclusion and help

Yes, life insurance comes in many forms and can have many uses. Depending on your circumstances, the choices can get challenging and confusing. Many people opt to consult with a financial professional who can help them make informed decisions. Please contact us with any questions or for a complementary review of your current coverage and overall needs.

 

CRN202409-921090

Cyber Risks and Liabilities

Ransomware Considerations for Board Members

Organizations of all sizes and sectors are facing increased cybersecurity risks. Specifically, ransomware attacks-which leverage malware to compromise a victim’s data and demand them to make a large payment to recover it-have quickly become a rising threat across industry lines. In fact, recent research found that these types of attacks have surged by 150% in the past year alone, with the average amount paid by victims jumping by over 300%. Such attacks have also become more sophisticated over the years as cybercriminals have developed a wide range of different ransomware-use techniques.

In light of these advancing cyber concerns, it’s important for board members to be actively involved in developing and promoting effective workplace cybersecurity measures, especially as it pertains to ransomware attacks. By involving senior leadership in such initiatives, organizations can foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and bolster their preparedness against cyber threats. The company can utilize data management and security solutions (probably provided by a company similar to Cyral) to safeguard sensitive data and incorporate additional measures for the data excess. For instance, they could limit the data access based on a few attributes such as employee’s device security, job role, salary, and location along with assessing the data sensitivity. The whole process can ensure that the employee could not neglect the cybersecurity measures.

In addition, financial institutions such as banks and investment firms can suffer heavy losses as a result of cyber-attacks. Therefore, it might be necessary for them to have proper online security solutions (you can visit https://www.radware.com/solutions/financial/ for more information) that can prevent such attacks. That said, here are five key questions that board members should discuss to help their organizations stay resilient against ransomware attacks.

How can our organization better detect ransomware threats?

Before a ransomware attack can occur, a cybercriminal has to gain access to their target’s network, systems or data. Once a cybercriminal gains this access, an extended length of time-also known as “dwell time”-typically passes before the ransomware is deployed and the attack actually begins.

With this in mind, organizations that are able to detect potential ransomware threats during dwell time rather than at the onset of an attack can stop such incidents before they even start. The following measures can help board members ensure the earliest possible detection of ransomware concerns within their organizations:

  • Keep updated records of all workplace technology to understand where ransomware threats could arise.
  • Equip all workplace technology with antivirus and malware detection software. Update this software regularly.
  • Have critical technology, systems and data consistently monitored for suspicious activity. Make sure the employees in charge of these monitoring procedures are properly trained to do so.
  • Establish thresholds for when employees should notify senior leadership of ransomware threats.
  • Provide all employees with clear ransomware reporting protocols.

What can our organization do to minimize the damages in the event of a ransomware attack?

When ransomware attacks occur, it’s vital for impacted organizations to do everything they can to limit the damages. In particular, board members should prioritize these procedures:

  • Keep data encrypted. This practice will make it significantly harder for cybercriminals to compromise data during a ransomware attack.
  • Restrict employee access to workplace technology, systems and data. Only allow access on an as-needed basis.
  • Require employees to use proper credentials and multifactor authentication when accessing workplace technology, systems and data.
  • Consider keeping different workplace networks separated to prevent cybercriminals from gaining full access after attacking a single network.

Does our organization have an effective cyber incident response plan in place?

Cyber incident response plans are one of the best tools for helping organizations react appropriately and mitigate losses amid cyberattacks. Board members should work closely with workplace leaders across departments to develop sufficient cyber incident response plans for their organizations. Generally speaking, an effective cyber incident response plan should outline:

  • Who is part of the cyber incident response team (e.g., board members, department leaders, IT professionals, legal experts and HR specialists)
  • What roles and responsibilities each member of the cyber incident response team must uphold during an attack
  • What the organization’s key functions are and how these operations will continue throughout an attack
  • How any critical workplace decisions will be made during an attack
  • When and how stakeholders should be informed of an attack (e.g., employees, customers, shareholders and suppliers)
  • What federal, state and local regulations the organization must follow when responding to an attack (e.g., incident reporting protocols)
  • When and how the organization should seek assistance from additional parties to help recover from an attack (e.g., law enforcement and insurance professionals)
  • Take note that cyber incident response plans should be evaluated and updated regularly to ensure effectiveness. Various activities can be implemented to assess cyber incident response plans-including tabletop exercises and penetration testing.

Does our organization’s cyber incident response plan adequately address ransomware attacks?

Cyber incident response plans should address a wide range of possible attack circumstances. That being said, it’s important for board members to ensure that ransomware attack scenarios are properly accounted for within their cyber incident response plans.

Specifically, board members must determine whether or not their organizations will make ransom payments to cybercriminals-particularly when the compromised data is sensitive in nature or critical to operations. Keep in mind that cybersecurity experts typically advise against complying with ransom demands, seeing as there is a chance that cybercriminals could take the ransom money and not recover the compromised data or leverage it in future attacks.

Further, board members must ensure their organizations are prepared for the lengthy recovery process that often accompanies ransomware attacks. In some cases, it can take several weeks or months to recover compromised data. During this time, board members must have plans for keeping their organizations functional and minimizing reputational damages.

Are all data backup protocols within our organization sufficient in protecting against ransomware threats?

Backing up important data with the help of reputable firms that offer managed IT services in Lincoln (or elsewhere) can help organizations maintain access to key files and information during cyber incidents. Poor data backup protocols can easily be exploited by cybercriminals, subsequently resulting in ransomware attacks. As a result, board members should ensure their organizations follow these data backup security procedures:

  • Conduct data backups on a routine schedule. Consider backing up critical data more frequently.
  • Store data backups offline and in a separate location from other workplace systems and networks.
  • Only allow trusted and qualified employees to perform data backups.

For more risk management guidance, contact us today.

Business Interruption Insurance 101: During the Pandemic and Beyond

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have gotten used to a “new normal.” But with new waves of the virus surging and wide-spread distribution of a vaccine still to come, small businesses need to know how to manage their risks.

We’ve shared the top questions you need to ask your insurance broker during the worsening pandemic. We also know that one of the biggest questions on business owners’ minds is about business interruption.

If your business has to shut down during the latest wave of the pandemic, do you know if you’re covered by your insurance policy? Even if you have business interruption insurance, you probably are not covered.

Read on to learn what business interruption insurance is, what it covers, and whether the pandemic will have any long-term effect on these policies moving forward.

What is business interruption insurance?

Business interruption insurance is a policy that helps businesses recoup income lost when operations are halted due to direct physical loss or damage. While not usually sold as a stand alone coverage, business interruption insurance is often included as an add-on to a comprehensive business owner’s policy or a commercial property insurance policy.

Looking for commercial insurance? Speak with a Cleary Insurance representative to make sure your business’s unique challenges and risks are covered.

What events are covered?

Business interruption insurance applies after covered events that result in physical damage to business property, thereby preventing operations from running as usual. Examples of covered events include:

  • Fire
  • Natural disasters, like tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Wind
  • Lightning
  • Vandalism or damage from riots

However, not all catastrophes are covered by business interruption insurance. Exceptions include:

  • Floods and earthquakes. These are typically covered under a separate policy.
  • Policies have exclusions for losses due to viruses or communicable diseases, as these do not cause direct physical damage.

What types of losses are covered?

Business interruption insurance typically covers the following expenses:

  • Operating expenses, including mortgage, rent, or lease payments
  • Moving to a temporary location & reasonable expenses to keep the business operating
  • Payroll
  • Taxes
  • Loan payments
  • Profits that would have been earned, based on documented pre-loss earnings. If you can’t prove you would have earned that income, you cannot submit a claim against it.
  • Replacing machinery and retraining employees

Please also note that claims are only paid out if the insured business actually sustains a loss as result of the business interruption.

How long does coverage last?

Business interruption insurance coverage lasts until the end of the business interruption period, as specified in your policy. The standard policy limits the restoration period to 30 days, but this can often be extended up to 1 year by endorsement.

How much does business interruption insurance cost?

Business interruption insurance average cost varies based on factors like:

  • Industry
  • Number of employees
  • Amount of coverage
  • Prior claims
  • Location

When calculating the cost for your business, keep in mind that business interruption insurance premiums are tax-deductible.

How much coverage do you need?

We recommend that you choose a coverage limit appropriate for your business, based on factors like how long it would take your business to resume operations following a loss.

Work back from the worst-case scenario – how long would it take you to repair the physical damage, get new equipment, and retrain staff? Keep in mind that if your costs exceed your coverage limit, you will have to pay out of pocket for extra expenses.

At Cleary Insurance, we work with business owners to help them get the right amount of coverage based on their specific business risks, earnings, and projections. If you’re unsure what that looks like for your business, we can help.

Protect Your Business in a Worsening Pandemic: 3 Things You Need to Know

Over the past year, COVID-19 has totally transformed the way that businesses operate. We’ve weathered the initial storm of uncertainty and ushered in a new normal for risk management. But as the pandemic might continue to evolve in 2021, many small business owners may face high losses and uncertainty about their company’s progress. As a resolution, online businesses could employ solutions that can improve their sales by implementing better marketing strategies. An efficient and well-maintained website (with the help of agencies like https://www.expedition.co/use-cases/enterprise) along with effective marketing techniques could do wonders for a business going through a rough patch. Business owners need to understand what can help their venture and implement it efficiently.

Additionally, SEO services could be a stepping stone to achieving new leads and improving sales. However, these companies might still be unsure of the implications for their insurance policies, which can help them to get out of dire situations inflicted by the pandemic.

You probably have a lot of questions. Are you covered? What happens if you’re not?

To help you navigate this unprecedented landscape, we’re sharing the top three things business owners need to know right now to protect their business.

3 things you need to know about business insurance during the pandemic

1. Know That You May Not Be Covered

Don’t assume that your current insurance policy covers all of the possible scenarios that you’re facing today. Some disasters, namely pandemics, are not covered by business interruption insurance. (Learn why this is actually a good thing for policy holders.)

Other types of risks might be newly relevant for your business. Even if there are policies that can cover them, you may not have opted to purchase those policies when they were less likely to affect you. Keep reading for our recommendations on which policies to ask your provider about.

2. Know the Three Levels of Risk Mitigation

Even during the best of times, operating a business means taking on risk. Running a business during a global pandemic comes with even more risk. Your insurance provider’s job is to help you assess those risks and mitigate them.

When assessing risk, think about bucketing them into three categories:

  1. Risks from third parties: Movers, cleaners, meeting planners, and many other vendors all expose your business to risk. Make sure that they have proper insurance, and in many instances, name your company as “additionally insured” on their
  2. Risks that don’t require coverage: You might be surprised to hear an insurance provider tell you not to get a policy, but we believe that businesses should only pay for the coverage they need. Take a closer look at these three policies to see if they’re necessary for your company or not.
  3. Risks that require coverage: This is the bulk of risk inherent in doing business. But think beyond simple liability insurance. Consider other exposures, such as mistakes (errors and omissions) and an umbrella policy to better cover all your liabilities. More on this below.

3. How Can I Get Covered?

Take these questions to your insurance broker and find out if you’re covered. If your current policy doesn’t cover you, they can help you identify the best way to mitigate your risk.

Business Interruption Insurance

If your business needs to shut down at any point during the pandemic, you need to know what is and isn’t covered by your insurance policies.

  • Do you have business interruption insurance?
  • If you do, do you know what is included? Keep in mind that you most likely will not be covered for pandemic-related losses. For a refresher on what is typically covered by these policies, check out our recent blog on business interruption insurance 101.

If you don’t have business interruption insurance, consider getting it. Fires and floods are much more likely to happen than another pandemic, so it’s wise to be prepared for these more commonplace disasters.

General Liability

When you originally set up your general liability policies, your business’s operations likely looked very different than they do today. We recommend taking another look at your business liability insurance to ensure it covers the risks you’re experiencing today. Every business has liability depending on the type of work, number of employees and size of the company. For instance, a small contractor business can have issues like employee on-site injury, employee compensation, third-party property damage, equipment theft and damage, etc. To cover these problems, a company can get contractor insurance to cover such liabilities through page or similar websites.

  • Do your general liability and workers compensation policies cover employees when they’re working from their homes or don’t have a project at the moment?
  • Are you taking on any extra cybersecurity risks when your employees are conducting business online, on their home wifi networks?

Health Claims

The pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, so your employees’ health should be top of mind. Take a closer look at your health insurance policies and make sure to address the following questions:

  • Do you have short term / long term disability insurance? Does it adequately cover your employees’ welfare? Does it reduce risks and costs for the business?
  • If your employees test positive for COVID-19 and need to take sick leave, is that covered under your current policy?
  • If COVID-related leave is not covered, what sort of risks will you be taking on? What will it cost you? Are you at risk for lawsuits?

Errors and Omissions

Errors and omissions policies are a type of professional liability insurance that protects your business against lawsuits for negligence or mistakes in client work. With employees working from home instead of the office, many of the oversights against mistakes may be harder to administer. It’s best to take the extra step and mitigate this risk.

  • Do you have an errors and omissions policy?
  • Does it cover you when employees are working remotely?
  • What kind of mistakes are covered? What is unique to your business?

Umbrella Policy

Commercial umbrella insurance policies supplement your other liability coverage. If you go over your coverage limit, your umbrella insurance policy will kick in to make up the difference. Having this extra layer of coverage can protect you from large lawsuits or scenarios where multiple claims exhaust your base policy’s limits.

  • Do you have an umbrella policy?
  • What is included in the umbrella policy? What is excluded?
  • What is your umbrella limit? Are you carrying the right amount of coverage?

Cleary Insurance is committed to helping small businesses identify, offload, and mitigate risks. If you’d like to speak with a representative, we can help you find exactly the right level of commercial insurance coverage for your business needs during the pandemic and beyond.

Protecting Your Valuable Articles

It is beginning to look a lot like…

Diamonds, art, and shiny new golf clubs! We hope you had a safe and happy holiday season.  Post-holiday season is a great time to consider coverage for your shiny new ring, a beautiful new piece of artwork, your new DSLR camera, Callaway golf clubs, or Steinway grand piano.  Whatever your loved one gifted you this season, what would you do if an item was lost, stolen, or broken?  Look to your homeowner’s insurance, right?

Yes! BUT you might not get what you expect.  Most standard home policies have a special limit of $1,500 on valuable personal property and do not include coverage if lost or broken. When a stone falls out of your significant other’s ring, or when your new DSLR camera gets broken you may not have adequate coverage.

No need to fear, Cleary is here!

We suggest insuring these items separately to avoid unexpected replacement expenses and a whole bunch of headaches.  Scheduling your valuable items provides coverage for mysterious disappearance and breakage that you cannot find on a standard home insurance policy. The value of your items will be settled on a pre-determined limit so you will know what to expect which helps to ensure a hassle-free claims experience!  Not to mention you will also save your deductible!  Let us help you purchase peace of mind today and give us a call!

Preventing Frozen Pipes for Business

Cold temperatures can reach areas of your facility that you seldom visit or cannot see, such as:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Closets
  • Enclosed spaces (e.g., attics, lofts, roof spaces)
  • Warehouses
  • Isolated storage areas

Strategies to Help Prevent Frozen Pipes

Some prevention strategies to consider:

  • Properly insulate and/or provide approved heat tracing for water-filled pipes located in exterior walls or unheated spaces.
  • Drain any piping that is not required during the winter months.
  • Maintain a minimum temperature of 40° F (4.4° C) in building areas with processes susceptible to freezing, wet-pipe sprinkler systems, fire pump houses and dry-pipe valve enclosures.
  • Ensure that anti-freeze sprinkler systems have sufficient concentration (appropriate specific gravity readings) of antifreeze to withstand freezing weather.
  • Inspect dry systems to help ensure air settings are correct, air maintenance systems are in good operating condition, and any pipe closets are well insulated. If any heat tape or heating systems are being used, ensure that they are UL-listed for this specific purpose and are in good operating condition. Dry-pipe sprinkler systems low points and auxiliary drains should be opened and drained of any water or condensation.
  • Any branch lines on wet sprinkler systems exposed or subject to extreme cold weather should be insulated and heat traced. Electric heat tracing products should be UL-listed for this specific purpose.
  • Fire pump test headers should be checked to ensure they have been properly drained.
  • Fire pump and dry-pipe sprinkler system equipment rooms should be checked routinely to ensure the heaters are in good operating condition.
  • The use of low temperature supervision can help to ensure rooms are being properly heated.

 

https://www.travelers.com/resources/facilities-management/preventing-frozen-pipes-for-businesses

Tips for Workers’ Compensation Policyholders During COVID-19

Presented by: Acadia Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to adjust or reduce their operations.  Workers may have transitioned to working from home, having reduced hours, have been furloughed – some with or without pay, or have been laid off.

With this upheaval, it is important to maintain accurate payroll records to ensure you are charged appropriate premium for your Workers’ Compensation coverage. Workers’ Compensation policies are audited at the end of each policy term, and premiums will be adjusted based on your employee payroll and type of work performed over the course of the year.

In particular, make sure your records account for the following:

  • Any changes in payroll, including a reduction in staff or reduction in hours
  • If you have furloughed employees with pay during the business disruption, make sure to keep separate payroll records for these employees for the time they continue to be paid and are not working for you. Furloughed payroll will have a reduced or zero rate when used in the calculation of Workers’ Compensation premium, depending on state Workers’ Compensation rules.
  • If you have furloughed workers within the state of Massachusetts, Massachusetts has the additional requirement below:
    An employer who is making payments to paid furloughed workers must provide to their workers’ compensation carrier, within the later of 60 days of approval date of this rule or 25 days after the employer begins making payments to paid furloughed workers, a list of all paid furloughed employees, which shall also include the employee’s normal workers’ compensation classification, weekly wage, furloughed date, and anticipated date of return to work.

Tips for a Change in Operations
Many businesses are not able to run their typical operations because of states’ response to COVID-19 and, instead of closing, they may adapt their operations so they can maintain a flow of income. Other businesses have changed their operations to help respond to the pandemic by providing essential products. For example, many distillers have adjusted their operations to not only distill spirits but also to manufacture hand sanitizer to help with the shortage. If your business has had a material change in operations during COVID-19:

  • Contact your insurance agent to see if this change in operations could impact your how your Workers’ Compensation policy is priced.
  • Note changes in roles of your employees as part of your payroll reporting as they may be assigned to a different class code. Are employees engaging in work that is materially different from their prior role?

Maintain Workers’ Compensation Coverage
If you’ve had to make the difficult decision to lay off all employees during this time, it is important to maintain Workers’ Compensation coverage so you are protected when your business resumes operations. Maintaining accurate payroll records will ensure your premiums reflect your reduced business operations and staff during this period. More importantly, if you cancel your policy, you may find purchasing a new policy difficult or more costly when you resume operations as insurance carriers evaluate new customers on several factors, including whether the business has had continuous prior coverage in place.

Your insurance agent is an important professional resource who can help ensure your insurance keeps up with your business during this disruptive time. For more resources about managing your business during COVID-19, visit Acadia’s dedicated resource page https://www.acadiainsurance.com/coronavirus-covid-19/