Tips for Safe Spring Driving

As flowers bloom, drivers often think the worst of their driving worries have melted away, but spring driving comes with its own unique set of risks. Heavy spring showers, potholes, increased wildlife activity and pedestrian traffic are just a few of the risks spring drivers need to watch out for. Knowing the following tips for safe spring driving can help prevent accidents.

  • Winter weather often creates large potholes that can be difficult to see. Keep a safe following distance in case the driver in front of you reacts. Try not to swerve to avoid potholes, but brake gently before and navigate them with caution.
  • Rain mixed with even a little bit of oil on the road can create dangerous conditions. Increase your following distance, turn your headlights on and drive slowly during heavy spring rains.
  • Animal activity increases during the spring. If you see an animal on the road, slow down or prepare to stop. Be on high alert at dusk and in rural areas where animals are most active.
  • Warm weather means more people will be out walking and biking. Slow down in your neighborhood and pay extra attention to crosswalks and other high-traffic areas.
  • Cold weather and harsh conditions can wear your tires and deflate them. Check the treads on your tires to ensure you have proper traction and check for proper inflation.
  • Months of snow, ice and salt can wear down your wipers, making it difficult to see in spring storms. Clean your wiper blades with wiper fluid and wash the windshield. If your wipers are still leaving patterns on the glass, it’s time to buy a new set.

Abiding by safe driving tips can help you and others stay safe on the road while driving during the spring months. For additional questions about safe driving during the spring months, contact Cleary Insurance, Inc.

Personal Cyber Coverage Explained

Today’s society has grown increasingly digital in nature, with many individuals leveraging smart devices within their daily lives. Although this technology can offer various benefits, it can also make individuals more susceptible to cybercrime. Such incidents have steadily become more common and costly. In fact, the FBI reported receiving more than 800,000 complaints regarding cybercrimes in the past year, totaling $4.2 billion in overall expenses.

These findings emphasize how critical it is for individuals to safeguard themselves and their families from cyber events. That’s where personal cyber insurance can help. Typically offered as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, this form of coverage can provide financial protection for losses resulting from a range of cyber incidents-including fraud, identity theft and data breaches. Keep reading to learn more about the growing need for this coverage and the key types of personal cyber insurance available.

The Growing Need for Personal Cyber Coverage

Technology has continued to advance in the past decade, playing a larger role in how individuals live, work, and entertain. A variety of online platforms have given individuals the ability to stream content, communicate with others, shop for goods and make electronic payments at the click of a button. Additionally, smart devices have allowed individuals to upgrade a number of household appliances (e.g., thermostats, fridges, doorbells, and security systems). Altogether, this technology has contributed to the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to any devices that connect or send information to the internet. Looking ahead, insurance experts anticipate that the average household will possess as many as 50 IoT-capable gadgets by 2023.

While these devices certainly offer several advantages, increased technology utilization also comes with greater cyber vulnerabilities. As technology advances, so do the tactics of cybercriminals-resulting in more frequent and severe cyber events. Individuals may think that they are ok shopping online as they may have installed what they believe to be the best vpn for firefox or they might have added extra security measures to their home network. However, cyber crimes can still occur even with these measures in place. Here are some of the most common cyber incident scenarios that individuals and their families may encounter:

  • Bank fraud-This form of fraud entails a cybercriminal gaining unauthorized access to an individual’s electronic bank credentials, allowing them to transfer and steal funds from the individual’s account. According to a recent report from NortonLifeLock, cybercriminals steal over $170 billion each year via bank fraud.
  • Identity theft-Such theft refers to a cybercriminal accessing an individual’s personal information (e.g., Social Security number or credit card number) and using it to commit fraud or other crimes under the individual’s name. The Federal Trade Commission confirmed that nearly 1.4 million complaints related to identity theft were filed last year, up 113% from the previous year.
  • Data loss-In the event that an individual’s device gets infected with a virus or other malicious software (also called malware), they face the risk of losing any valuable data stored on that device. Viruses and malware can come from numerous avenues, including harmful websites, dangerous email attachments or infected USB flash drives-thus making data loss a major threat.
  • Extortion-Ransomware incidents have contributed to a substantial rise in cyber extortion over the last few years. These incidents stem from a cybercriminal using malware to compromise an individual’s device (and any data stored on it) and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for restoration. In some cases, the cybercriminal may even threaten to publicly share the individual’s data if they don’t receive payment. According to cybersecurity experts, ransomware incidents have increased 500% since 2018, with the average ransom payment totaling over $300,000.
  • Cyberbullying-While social media platforms allow individuals to connect with others, these platforms can also, unfortunately, be used for negative purposes, such as cyberbullying. This type of bullying includes refers to harassment, threats or other intimidating language that occurs via electronic means. Although anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying, kids and teenagers are particularly vulnerable. The latest data from Pew Research revealed that 59% of teens have experienced cyberbullying.

Considering these risks, it’s clear that individuals can’t afford to ignore cybercrime. In addition to implementing effective cybersecurity practices (e.g., using trusted devices, browsing secure websites, conducting software updates, backing up data, creating unique passwords and knowing how to identify potential scams), having adequate insurance in place is crucial. By investing in personal cyber coverage, individuals can properly protect themselves and their families amid cyber-related losses.

Types of Personal Cyber Coverage

Personal cyber insurance varies between insurers. However, there are a number of key coverage offerings available:

  • Online fraud coverage-This coverage can offer reimbursement for financial losses that may result from the various types of online fraud, such as phishing scams, identity theft or unauthorized banking.
  • Online shopping coverage-Such coverage can help pay for the cost of any goods that were purchased online but arrived damaged upon delivery or didn’t get delivered whatsoever.
  • Identity recovery coverage-This coverage can provide reimbursement for the expenses associated with recovering from an identity theft incident (e.g., rectifying records with banks or other authorities, hiring a consultant to assist with credit restoration and taking unpaid time off from work to recover from the incident).
  • Data restoration coverage-Such coverage can help compensate the cost of having an IT specialist recover a device and restore any data stored on it if the device gets infected with a virus or malware.
  • Data breach coverage-This coverage can offer reimbursement for the necessary notification and recovery services in the event that private, nonbusiness data entrusted to the policyholder becomes lost, stolen or published.
  • Cyber extortion coverage-Such coverage can help pay for the expenses associated with responding to a ransomware event (e.g., consulting an IT specialist to mitigate the extortion attempt and restoring compromised devices or data).
  • Cyberbullying coverage-This coverage can provide reimbursement for the costs that come with recovering from a cyberbullying incident resulting in unlawful harassment or defamation of character. These costs may include psychological counseling services, legal advice, temporary relocation expenses and social media monitoring software. This coverage can also offer protection if an individual or their child faces engages in cyberbullying and faces subsequent legal action from the victim.

Because personal cyber insurance is still a relatively new type of coverage, it is usually only available as an add-on to an existing homeowners policy. Further, certain insurers only provide this coverage as an endorsement for high-value homeowners policies. Yet, some insurers may offer standalone personal cyber coverage. Moving forward, insurance experts expect the personal cyber coverage market to continue growing, allowing for more widely available policy options. In any case, individuals should consult trusted insurance professionals to discuss their specific coverage capabilities.

For further risk management resources and insurance solutions, contact us today.

 

Leaving Home

As fall approaches, many will be sending their child off to live at school. When a child moves out of the home, it can be both exciting and heartbreaking. As one phase of life is ending, another wonderful one begins. However, the danger lurking within the parents’ home and auto insurance, as well as within certain privacy laws, can often be overlooked. Both home and auto policies have limitations that can leave a family vulnerable in terms of its financial wellbeing,  and privacy laws can leave parents in the dark about their child’s physical wellbeing.

If a child is moving out to live with friends, they have, in effect, set up their own household. If a lease is present, it is clear that there is now a separate residence, even if the child is renting a unit owned by the parent.

If a child is in college, they are typically considered part of the household. However, if during college they rent an apartment outside of the dorm system, then they have created a separate household (for insurance purposes).

Addressing these issues will help secure the financial wellbeing and peace of mind for both the parents and the child.

Renters Insurance

While a person at this stage may not own much in the way of personal property, they still have much to lose. Along with personal property such as clothing and furniture, a Renters Policy (HO4) also provides liability protection. For example:

  • While attending a cookout, a Frisbee flies off-course and lands at a person’s feet.  They pick it up to toss it back to the thrower and when they do, the Frisbee misses and slashes someone’s eye. The injured party or their insurance company (health or disability) may come after the person who threw the Frisbee for compensation.
  • While in an apartment, the renter starts a fire which causes significant damage. The roommates, neighbors and landlord may pursue the individual for compensation.

In addition, many leases hold the renter liable and not the landlord. Therefore, if a guest visiting the individual slips, falls, and is injured, for example, the renter can be the responsible party.

For those starting out on a bright career path, they may live in a state where future wages can be garnished. If this is the case, without renters insurance, the liabilities described above could cancel out much of the financial benefits of the bright career.

If parents or a trust financially support the renter, the injured parties might try to get to the parental or trust assets. Renters coverage will place a barrier between the parental assets that can hopefully pay for any liabilities and if there is a trust in play, the trust should be named as an Additional Insured on the renters policy.

Auto Insurance

In Massachusetts, once a child is no longer a resident of the parents’ home, they are no longer covered by the parents’ policy while driving vehicles not owned by their parents.  If the child drives a rental car or a friend’s car, their financial wellbeing is at risk because they have no personal protection.  In this situation, a Named Non-Owned Auto policy in the name of the child would be appropriate. A Named Non-Owned Auto policy is simply an auto policy without an auto listed and therefore has no Comprehensive and Collision coverage. If the child is driving a car provided by the parents, an alternative would be to retitle the car in the child’s name.

If the child is using a parent’s auto for work purposes such as delivery or Uber, it is critical to report this to the insurance carrier. Unreported commercial use can reduce the limits of protection to Massachusetts Statutory limits such as reducing Bodily Injury of Others from $250,000/$250,000 to $20,000/$40,000.

If the child takes the car out of the state, that must be reported as well to preserve the Comprehensive coverage for glass, theft, and vandalism.

 Privacy

Once a person turns eighteen, a parent loses the right to know personal information about their child without the child’s permission. If a child is hospitalized, the hospital is not allowed to reach out to the parents or even share the child’s status with the parents. When a child turns eighteen, parents may wish to discuss with their attorney about obtaining a Health Care Proxy and a Durable Power of Attorney.

Summary

When a child is making their way out of their parents’ home, it can be a dangerous period for the financial wellbeing of both the parents and the child. Insurance agents (and a lawyer), the parents, and the individual leaving home should work closely with one another to make sure everyone is protected appropriately.

Left unaddressed, the financial and emotional ramifications of inadequate coverage and planning can be devastating. Education and communication go a long way in this area, and the good news is that the solutions are not expensive.

 

 

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Summer is finally here, and it’s a perfect time to catch up on home maintenance tasks, both inside and outside of the house. Putting in a little elbow grease now goes a long way toward future house upkeep–making that well-deserved rest even more enjoyable.

These summer maintenance tips will help keep your home looking great for all seasons:

  • Wash your windows. Wash all interior and exterior windows to let in light and maximize visibility.
  • Inspect your home for faulty lights or electrical connections. If necessary, hire a professional electrician (comparable to Electrician in Atlanta, GA) to repair the electrical issues you’re experiencing.
  • Check your windows for leaks. Re-caulk the seals on all doors and windows. This practice can increase your home’s energy efficiency.
  • Clean your dryer vent and exhaust duct. Remove any clogged lint and dust from your dryer vent. Doing so can help prevent house fires.
  • Power wash any siding or brick. Get rid of any dust, dirt, or mold that makes your home’s exterior look dirty.
  • Repair and repaint your home’s exterior features. Fix any chipped, cracked, or faded exterior paint by hiring companies like Rhino Shield to protect your home from further damage from the elements.
  • Clean your outdoor grill. Thoroughly clean your grill to make it ready for summer barbecuing.
  • Get your roof inspected. Make sure your roof lasts as long as possible by having it checked for loose shingles or other damages and when you need roof repairs consider thoroughly checking through any required repairs with a qualified professional.
  • Care for your greenery. Inspect your plants and landscaping. Get rid of weeds, overgrowth, or dead plants. Freshen up areas by adding new plants where wanted.
  • Clean your drains and downspouts. Clean any debris from your home’s downspouts. Check if there is any need for drain servicing for which you would need to get help from a plumbing company like Valley Service (https://valleyservice.net/fargo-services/plumbing).
  • Inspect your deck or porch. Check outdoor spaces for any necessary upkeep-such as applying sealant or stain, or fixing loose boards.

Seasonal checkups are important for every house’s upkeep. Contact Cleary Insurance, Inc. for more home maintenance information.

This Old House, Needs Some Updates

 

Staring at the same four walls for the past year may have triggered you to start thinking about making some changes. Many of us have taken the opportunity to tackle home projects this past year. In 2020, Farmers Insurance surveyed homeowners and found that 62% of those polled are planning renovation or maintenance on their homes. Of those planning renovations, only 28% said they understand their homeowner’s policy. If you have already completed or are thinking about making changes, here are a few insurance considerations.

  1. Additions
    • Your home insurance provides coverage for the home as it stands today. Increasing square footage, adding a garage or pool increase the value of your home beyond your coverage limits.
  2. Improvements
    • The most common, and costly, improvements are made when updating bathrooms or kitchens. Upgraded finishes such as countertops, cabinets and fixtures may leave a gap in coverage. This is especially important for condo unit-owners. As a unit-owner you may be responsible for any improvements made after the purchase.
  3. Faulty Work
    • Your policy most likely wont supply coverage for faulty work. For instance, if you update your electrical system and down the road it leads to a fire, there may be coverage for damage caused by the fire, but the cost to correct and replace the electrical components would be out of pocket.
    • When choosing a contractor, always request to see their certificate of insurance. Contractors should have coverage for liability, property, and workers compensation. In the event they do not have adequate insurance, you may want to consider a different contractor. If a contractor causes damage to your home, their insurance should be the primary option for recovery.

In summary, its important to ensure you have adequate coverage in place and are clear on the risks that come with home improvement. If you are planning or recently completed a renovation, please contact us to ensure your new investment is adequately protected!

Stop Leaks Before It’s Too Late

Fire might be a homeowner’s greatest fear, but some insurance company will tell you that water is the far more common cause of property damage, even if you don’t live in an area subject to flooding. And it can come from many sources: A failing water heater, a burst pipe, a broken supply line under your sink, a clogged toilet, or even a split hose connected to your washing machine.

Just as it’s essential to have a smoke detector in each of your home’s bedrooms and common areas, you’d be wise to install leak detectors in places where water damage could start: The laundry room, water heater closet, the bathroom, under your kitchen sink, and so on. Most plumbers are able to install leak detectors and if you don’t already know a reliable plumber, simply search ‘plumber near La Cañada Flintridge‘ or wherever you live. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and if you do notice a leak somewhere in your home, it’s vital that you get it fixed as soon as possible. Leaks need to be treated with urgency no matter where they come from or how they are caused. There are quite a lot of emergency plumbing services that could help you in this regard. This leak should be treated as soon as possible as dampness or waterlogging can result in mold growth. Although mold isn’t always visible, it can still seriously harm your home and health. You would then be required to look for mold damage restoration services that can help in clearing the mold and restoring the water damage.

Water shut-off devices are installed by a plumber directly onto your water line, a flow-based water leak detection device monitors the flow of water throughout your home. If an unusual activity or flow of water is detected – probably caused by a leak somewhere in your plumbing or pipes – the device will alert you first and then shut off your water supply to help minimize damage.

Many insurance companies also offer a break on your home insurance if you install water leak detection systems. A one-time investment can end up paying for itself over time.

Time For Spring Home Maintenance?

Over winter houses are subjected to all types of bad weather and poor conditions during the cold dark months. There are many things that you as a homeowner might want to consider attending to once the warmer seasons come back around. Whilst there might be some tasks such as inspecting the roof or painting the exterior of your home, which could be done with possible assistance with tools potentially found on websites similar to platformsandladders.com/rolling-ladders/ or equipment that might be found in local handyman stores. Here is a list of places where you the homeowner can get started in preparing your house for the summer.

You may want to start with simple spring cleaning tasks:

  • Change and/or service your furnace filters, HVAC, smoke and CO detector batteries – now is also a good time to see whether you need to get more heating oil ordered from somewhere like https://www.bondedoil.com/ after the winter months
  • Deep-clean your oven, dishwasher, coffee maker and outdoor grill, as well as drapes, upholstery, cabinets, floors, vents and baseboards
  • Clean your mudroom, garage and outbuildings, and, in the process, inventory items that need replacing
  • Look at any roofing or water related problems that you might have, and get it repaired by professionals similar to the professional Florida Southern Roofing services in Sarasota, FL (or wherever you might reside)

You can always fall back on the internet to provide you the right information in regards to this domain. Check out the Chubb Insurance brochures: How to Prepare your Home and Garden for Spring and Summer infographic or their Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tasks for more ideas and tips. Also, it’s important to remember there are common household cleaning products you should never mix, such as bleach and ammonia or bleach and rubbing alcohol. Learn more.

Then tackle more involved home maintenance inventory projects.

We can all use a little help keeping track of the home maintenance projects we need to do, and now there’s software and technology that can help.

With the HomeZada app, you can manage your home and projects, keep a digital inventory of your photos, receipts, and documents, create a home maintenance schedule program, and manage remodeling projects. HomeZada generally charges $60/year, but Chubb PRS clients are eligible for a rate of $45/year. Click here to get HomeZada now.

Stay safe in the process.

Cleary Insurance wants to make sure you and your family stay safe and healthy. Only handle projects yourself that you feel you’re truly qualified to do. You may be better off leaving projects with electrical components or those at heights, for example, to professionals who have the right equipment and skillset.

While You Are Away, Cybercriminals Will Prey

Travel seems to be on everyone’s calendar this winter. If that’s the case for you, safety and security are likely uppermost on your minds today. So great is the concern that 72% of U.S. travelers said they would pay more for their vacation if they could ensure greater security, according to a recent survey by Travelzoo. What travelers may not realize is that cybercrime is now as much a threat, if not more, than conventional dangers.

Whatever your travel plans, you should be aware of the following safety and security issues:

A Safe-Travel Cyber Checklist

Don’t discuss travel plans on social media.  Social media is great for keeping family and friends informed about your travels, but sharing can backfire if cybercriminals find out when you are away and burgle your home. Do not post travel dates or itineraries, and warn your children not to share their own or your travel plans — and never to reveal when no one is home.

Be wary of public Wi-Fi. You should always use secure connections when going online in public places. If you have to use an unsecured connection, never check bank balances, login to credit card or other accounts, or share important personal information. This information can easily be stolen over an unsecure network. Also, turn off Bluetooth and other connectivity features when in a public area, as these features can be just as vulnerable as Wi-Fi.

Be careful getting cash and making payments. Be cautious of where you make payments or get cash, since these are the key access points for identity theft among cybercriminals. Using ATMs at a bank branch is safer than using standalone ATMs, and using a credit card for merchandise purchases is safer than using a debit card, which provides direct access to a bank account. You should be sure that your liability policy has identity theft coverage.

Turn off home computers. Many people leave their computers on as a matter of habit, but always-on computers are more susceptible to hacking.

Back up all data. Storing all sensitive files in a secure facility on the cloud is recommended, as is backing up data onto a removable storage device that can be kept in a home safe.

Change passwords. If you are taking an iPhone on your trip, we suggest you change your Apple ID password to something long and difficult to hack. Also remove credit card information associated with your Apple account and turn on the lock-screen passcode. That way, if your phone is lost or stolen, little information can be accessed. Also turn on the “Find My Phone” feature, which can help you find a misplaced or stolen device and the information stored on it.

Register for the Smart Traveler program. The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/ is a free service that allows citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy. Enrollment enables embassies to reach travelers in an emergency, as well as help family and friends contact the travelers.

Protect the home while away.  If you will be gone for any period of time you should take the following steps to protect their homes from cybercriminals:

  • Alert the home alarm provider so they will know the house is vacant; ask their alarm company if they offer an encryption tool for their home security system to make it less vulnerable to hackers.
  • Disconnect the garage door opener and lock it manually to protect from criminals who can crack the electronic code.
  • Unplug any devices or appliances connected to the internet.

 

“Prepare & Prevent, Don’t Repair & Repent”

Presented by: Jonathan Hall

When was the last time you checked your smoke alarm? How about your fire extinguisher? Where will you and your family meet when you need to evacuate? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you are not alone. September is National Preparedness month and it’s important for all of us to take a moment to ensure what we value is safe. The best way to protect yourself is to prevent a loss from occurring.

Did you know that the US Fire Administration found in 2017 that every 24 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation? In addition, a home fire occurs every 88 seconds and half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Taking steps to prepare and prevent will save your life and your property. My family and I went through our own fire safety and prevention planning this month. We found two malfunctioning fire alarms and a fire extinguisher that expired four years ago!

“Prepared, Not Scared”

The thought of needing to rely on an emergency kit or plan seems frightening, but not something I prioritize in my daily life. Having an emergency plan for any type of disaster will ensure you and your family are prepared in the case of a fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or any other potential disaster.  Creating an emergency kit to keep in your home and in your car takes moments vs. what it could save you in the event it wasn’t accessible when you needed it most.
You can also create your own custom emergency plan for any weather related scenario by visiting: Connect with Weather. Ready.gov/September provides a vast amount of information on what you’ll need to plan for in the event of an emergency. They also have several characters and fun activities if you’re creating a plan with kids. I feel better prepared in the event something does happen. As Gandhi said “the future depends on what we do in the present.”

 

References

https://www.ready.gov/

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/

http://www.connectwithweather.com/create-your-plan

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/smoke_alarms.html

 

 

Why This New Year’s Resolution Should Be the First One You Complete

Each year, as many as 60 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular is saving money, yet it’s also one of most common resolutions to fail.1 As you look ahead to the rest of the year, we’ll show you what could be the difference-maker to keep your finances in check.

Must-Do Resolution: Evaluate your Homeowner’s Insurance

Your home is one of your largest assets, and not protecting it properly could be financially devastating. So if you’re looking to safeguard your finances over the long-term, here are a few things to look for in your homeowner’s insurance policy:

  1. Does it pay actual cash value or replacement value?
    If your policy pays actual cash value for a loss, you’ll receive enough money to pay what the home or item was worth when you bought it, with depreciation factored in. If you want to replace your home with items of the same quality, you’ll need a policy that pays replacement value.
  2. Are your home improvements reflected?
    If you’ve made recent improvements to your home, such as updating the kitchen or adding a bonus room, make sure those are reflected in your policy. That way, if your home is damaged or destroyed, you’ll be able to replace that new addition too.
  3. Does it cover temporary housing?
    If you experience a loss and are unable to live in your home while it’s being repaired or rebuilt, you’ll need a place to stay. Make sure your policy covers a temporary residence in your neighborhood or school district, and other out-of-pocket living expenses.
  4. Does it cover special losses, like floods or hurricane damage?
    Did you know that water damage makes up 45% of all interior property damage, happening more often than fire or burglary2? In the wake of wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, you may look back and wish you’d been more prepared. Now is the time to make sure you’re covered for whatever Mother Nature sends your way. Take an inventory of your home, assemble a disaster preparedness kit, and talk to your agent about the types of coverage you need.

Want additional tips for in sticking with your financial wellness resolutions? Check out this article.

 

1 https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html

2 https://www.chubb.com/us-en/individuals-families/water/