Cyber Insurance is a must have for any small business

Cyber Insurance is a must have for any small business
Cyber crime is the fastest growing crime in the United States and 60% are perpetrated against small businesses. Small businesses who have been hit often do not have the proper insurance coverage and a high percentage end up closing their doors after an attack. Many owners don’t fully understand what these attacks are, or the costs associated with them. Any small business needs to have cyber insurance coverage.
Malware or Ransomware attacks are the most common. Malware destroys information or makes it impossible to access. This kind of attack suspends your ability to do business. You can lose clients from the inability to access accounts and spend thousands of dollars to get your system back up and running. Ransomware attacks occur when a hacker encrypts or steals the personal information you have on file. This could include the client’s social security number, credit card or banking information, etc. The hackers demand payment in order to “unlock” your system and may threaten to publicly release the client’s information. When these attacks happen, you’re obligated to notify all clients that were affected, hire an IT investigator to find where the leak came from and how to secure your information in the future, and pay local, state and federal fines. Many states, including Colorado, have enacted strict laws on how your business is required to protect others information.
Hackers are not the only way a cyber crime can happen. Ex-employees can steal and distribute company data. Current employees can be tricked into breaking procedure or doing non-work-related tasks at the office. It can also be as simple as misplacing a flash drive or leaving your laptop in the booth at a restaurant.
A Cyber Insurance policy is two-fold in coverage. The 1st party liability coverage includes notification to those clients affected, the cost of a computer forensic expert, man hours involved in contacting the clients by phone or mail. Extortion costs, media liability and public relation costs can be included. Business interruption coverage is available to keep your business afloat while your doors are closed. The 3rd liability coverage helps with the cost of litigation if you find yourself in a lawsuit.
Cyber insurance is available with most carriers, and coverage limits can vary to your specific needs. Call us today to discuss your cyber exposure and insurance needs.

Auto Insurance Premiums-How to Save Money

Below are some suggestions from Centennial State Insurance Agency.

There are ways for you to lower your insurance premium without lowering limits and protection.
First, what are your deductibles? Do you have an older vehicle where the deductible you are carrying is equal to greater than the value of the vehicle? If this is the case, you may not get anything from the insurance company if the vehicle is damaged or totaled. Can you raise your deductible? Can you afford more out of pocket if the vehicle is damaged? If so raising your deductible will lower your premium.
Policy discounts:
Are you getting all the discounts that you qualify for? Some of the more common ones that can impact your rate:
Good Student discount: Your teen driver will need a GPA of 3.0 or better but an important discount.
Defensive Driving discount: Most companies will offer this to teens drivers that have completed a certified class, and some will offer it to older drivers.
Multi Policy discount: Companies will offer a discount to both the home and auto for placing both lines of business with them You can a discount from 10% to 20% on both your home and auto by doing this.
Telematics: This is a new program being offered by insurance companies. You plug a device into your car for 90 days and they track your driving habits (speed, braking, time of day driving to name a few). At the end of the 90 days they evaluate the date and offer an additional discount. We have seen these range between 5% and 20%.
Annual miles driven: It is important to give the accurate miles you drive a vehicle. Companies will offer lower rates for fewer miles driven. They will often verify the miles each year so be accurate.
Pay plans: Companies will give you a discount for paying your premium in full. They will also give discounts on monthly pay plans if you set it up on EFT or credit cards with some companies
Give us a call at Centennial State Insurance to review your insurance policies and coverages. We will make sure you have the right coverages for the right premium.
303-838-0554 or on the web at centennialstateins.com.

Colorado Auto Insurance rates

Colorado insureds have seen their auto insurance rates increase significantly over the last 3 years and unfortunately, we are going to see it for at least the next 2 to 3 years.

What are the main reasons behind these rate increases? First, it has been the 5-year long cycle of catastrophic hail storms. Colorado saw the largest storm in state history in 2017, estimated at $2.3 billion. In addition to this storm, there has been several others that are in the top ten in dollar amounts of damage. Not only have these storms been in the Denver front range but we have seen damaging hail storms in Woodland Park, Jefferson, Bailey and Conifer. As result of these storms, Colorado is now the second leading filer of hail related claims in the country, behind Texas.

Second, is the increasing cost in bodily injury claims. These are claims that result from an injury in an auto accident. The one area we can all relate to that impacts these claims is the rapidly increasing cost of health care in the United States. In addition to this, the increase in litigation and legal expenses that come with these types of claims. These expenses are passed on to all of us.

Third, the increase in the population and the total miles driven in Colorado has led to an increase in the number of accidents. We have also seen an increase in the number of new vehicles being purchased. These vehicles come with all the innovative technology and the fancy bells and whistles we all love. Unfortunately, with this comes an increase in repair cost for these vehicles. Bumpers repaired on a 2006 for $500 – $1000 is going to be $1000 – $2000 for a 2017 vehicle. We are also seeing windshields in the $1000’s that were $200 – $500 to replace in the past. This is a result of the innovative technology in these windshields.

What can you do to help keep your increases down?

Make sure you are getting all the discounts you qualify for: Multi car, multi policy ( auto-home),and good student, if you have a teen driver. Companies such as Safeco, Travelers and Progressive are offering telematics programs. This is where you plug a device into your vehicle for 90 days. At the end of this time they can increase the discount based on the tracked driving habits. Companies also offer discounts for different pay plans, pay in full, EFT or credit card.

What can Centennial State Insurance do for you.

We will first make sure that you are properly insured in the event of a catastrophic hail storm or if you or a family member are involved in an accident. We want to make sure that you have the coverages to take care of your auto or home and that you have liability coverage to help protect your assets.
After reviewing your coverages and deciding on what is needed we will shop you with several different companies to make sure the rate matches the coverages. As an independent agency we have choices on the companies we can place you with.

Give us a call at Centennial State Insurance Agency to have us review your insurance needs and coverages. 303-838-0554, centennialstateins.com

Preparing for Wildfire Evacuation

Preparing for Wildfire Evacuation

Last week we talked about some things you can do long before the danger of wildfire hits your area. This week we have some tips for preparing for a potential evacuation and what to do after a wildfire. It is very important to make sure your insurance is at the correct coverage amounts before a wildfire hits your area. Once an area has an active wildfire you can not make any changes to your coverages or issue a new policy.

Evacuation Prep

Being evacuated from your home is scary and is often comes with little notice. The best thing you can do, is prepare for fire season, which will help an evacuation go as smooth as possible.

Start by preparing an evacuation bag

In the bag you want to include:

  • Irreplaceable items, such as family heirlooms, one of a kind items, and family pictures. An alternative to packing up framed pictures is to keep digital copies of all your pictures on a flash drive and packing the flash drive (don’t forget to update the flash drive every year).
  • ID’s, licenses, passports, social security cards and other valuable documents.
  • Keep a backup sets of keys in the bag so you aren’t floundering to find them.
  • Have a list of important phone numbers, such as your bank, insurance company, doctor and emergency contacts. Some people prefer to pack copies of their insurance or other policies but having the policy numbers would be enough information.
  • Important logins and passwords will allow you to access any accounts on the fly.

Prepare a list of items you use on a daily basis

Having a list of items that can’t be prepacked will help you grab these important items faster and reduce the number of forgotten items. The list should include things like:

  • Laptop or tablet and phone or computer chargers
  • Medicine, glasses/contact and toiletries
  • A few days of clothes
  • Water and snacks
  • Money and credit cards
  • Keep the evacuation bag in a secure, but easily accessible area of your home

Have a plan for your pets.

There are window stickers you can purchase that will notify firefighters of how many animals you have in your home if you are not able to take them with you, or if you are not home at the time of the fire.

  • Place crates and carriers where they are easy to grab, and practice loading your pets into the carriers, so they are comfortable with the process.
  • Know how much room you have in your vehicle for your evacuation bag and pet carriers and plan accordingly.
  • If you have livestock and horses, you may not have time to load them in trailers and evacuate them with you. Have a plan for these animals. There are organizations that help with animal evacuation, contact them and see how they can help.

Other things you can do to prepare include:

  • Make your home accessible to firefighters. Clear extra cars, ATVs, boats, campers and any other large objects from your driveway and around your house so that fire trucks can get close and turn around.
  • Move flammable objects like paint cans and ammunition to a shed or detached garage.
  • Take the extra measure of moving high value jewelry, paintings, heirlooms or other irreplaceable items to off site storage units or safety deposit boxes during fire season so you don’t have to worry about these investments.
  • Speak with neighbors, good friends and family members about your evacuation plans. Where do you plan to go if evacuated for a few days? What if it turns into a few weeks? Do they have your phone numbers to contact you if needed?
  • Sign up for your county’s Code Red program so that you will be contacted in the case of an evacuation, and make sure you have other county services phone numbers for emergencies.

It is a great idea to practice an evacuation, especially if you have children and pets. Set a time to pretend that the call comes in and that you have 15 minutes to vacate the premises. Grab your evacuation bag, children and pets. Set a rendezvous point if you have multiple drivers and vehicles. This is a great exercise to realize how fast an evacuation can happen and to see what areas you may need additional preparation for.

After the Danger has Passed

The fire danger is gone, and because of your preparation your family was safe. You can now return to your home. Upon returning home it is important to walk around your property. Depending on how close the fire came to your home, there may be areas that smolder for days. Be diligent and watch for any signs of fire. Check your home inside and out for signs of fire or smoke damage. You should also check for signs of theft or missing items from the home. If you have any doubts about damage or theft, call your insurance agent to discuss a course of action.

After a wildfire, there is an increased chance of mud slides, earth movement and water damage. Because the vegetation has burned off, the ground becomes unstable. Most insurance policies exclude coverage for flood and earth movement. It is important to be aware of these restrictions and mitigate the possibility of damage to your property.

Written by: Centennial State Insurance Agency, Bailey

Prepare for wildfire

Many across the state of Colorado are concerned with fire danger, and with good cause. This year’s fire season is already in full swing with several fires across the state. Being prepared for these life changing events can help make the process smoother.

Prepare your property

There are many measures you can take before a fire. Mitigating trees on your property can reduce the risk of your home being a total loss. Remove trees close to the home, and thin trees on the property. Make sure that trees are trimmed and remove dead trees. Widen your driveway and create a turnaround area for fire trucks. The best steps you can take is to contact a mitigation company or your local fire department and have them come out to the home to make suggestions.

You need to also clear brush 30 feet around your home. Rake pine needles, keep grass and weeds cut short to lower their fuel potential, remove any dead brush from under decks and take steps to close of the holes that allow dead brush to get under decks. Move any other fuel sources (gas cans, propane tanks, etc) away from the home. If you have a wood pile, make sure the pile is stored a safe distance from your home. Keep your gutters, chimney and roof clear of needles and leaves.

There are steps to make your home more fire resistant. Metal, clay or a non-combustible roofing material lowers your risk of the home catching fire from wind-blown embers, or crowning tree fires. You can also look into a less combustible siding material like brick, masonry, stone or hardboard. Next time you replace your deck, look into trek or composite decking material. Upgrade your windows to double or triple pane, limit the number of windows and size of the windows that open to your largest area of vegetation.

Update your insurance

It is a great idea to contact your insurance agent to talk about your individual risks and if you are insured adequately. Our lives change over time, and we don’t always remember to tell our insurance agents about the new floor we put in the home. It is best to do this before a fire starts. Once there is an active wildfire you can not change or issue an insurance policy, until the fire is over.

The first thing you want to go over with your insurance agent will be your dwelling value. Make sure that your agent knows about any upgrades you have made to the home. Have you added an addition, or renovated the kitchen? Did you replace the roof or siding on the home? The details of your home may have changed since you originally bought the house. You need to make sure your insurance policy reflects these changes, and that your dwelling coverage will adequately replace the current condition of the home. Most insurance agents will use a replacement cost guide to input the information about your home and get an estimate of the cost to rebuild. Also, make sure you have enough coverage for detached structures such as sheds, barns or garages. Most policies have some coverage for detached structures built into the policy, but it is important to ensure that you have enough.

With today’s technology it is a great idea to use your smart phone and take photos or videos of your personal property. Walk around your house, shed and garage. Document what is on your shelves, dressers, safes, drawers, closets and jewelry boxes. This not only helps to prove the type of item you had, but will also help you remember what you had in the junk drawer.

Most insurance companies have a built in limit for jewelry, fine arts, guns and collectibles. Consider the value of these items and talk to your agent about the built in limits and is scheduling these items would benefit you. When you schedule these items they are covered for the appraised value.

Many people are not aware that motorized vehicles are not covered on a homeowners policy. If you have a classic car, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, trailer, or motorized boat in your garage or barn, they will not be covered by the homeowners policy. Make sure that you have them covered under their own policy with at least comprehensive coverage on them.

Next week, we will have some tips on preparation for evacuation, and what to do during and after a fire.

Written by: Centennial State Insurance Agency, Bailey

Why You Need Cyber Insurance

Cyber breaches to large companies like Equifax and HBO or ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya have been in the news a lot recently. Cyber threats are a growing industry, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every year due to hacking. Small businesses are the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks, with 60% of them closing within 6 months of an attack. Most small businesses don’t believe they are at risk, or are unaware that cyber insurance is available at a reasonable cost.

There are several different ways your business can be susceptible to online attacks. Attacks that focus on your computer system and software, such as Ransomware and Malware are the most common. Hackers use human or technical weaknesses to access your computer system. With a ransomware attack, the hackers will encrypt your businesses data and demand a ransom to unlock it.  A Malware attack destroys the information, limiting your access and ability to do business. Attacks can also include web-based attacks where hackers access websites, payment devices, cloud storage and social media accounts, posting private information or restricting clients from being able to access your site.

Your risk online is not limited to hackers. Every business has a human element that can put sensitive information at risk. Ex-employees can steal and distribute company data. Current employees can be tricked into breaking procedure or doing non-work tasks at the office that put their computer at risk. Or you could simply leave your work laptop in the booth next to you after an office lunch or have a flash drive drop out of your purse while you were searching for keys.

Most cyber insurance policies are two-fold and provide coverage for 1st party and 3rd party liability. The 1st party liability coverage includes notification coverage to those clients effected by the breach. This cost can be very high, and can include paying computer forensic experts who verify which clients have been affected. It can also include the cost and man hours it takes to call, mail and contact all the people effected. Extortion costs, media liability and public relation costs can also be included. Business Interruption coverage is also available to keep your business afloat while your doors are closed. 3rd party liability coverage helps with the cost of litigation that may arise from a data breach, theft or denial of access to your information.

Cyber insurance is affordable and available through most carriers. Many of our companies offer packages where you can pick what coverages you want. Call us today to discuss your cyber exposure and insurance needs!

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and why should I purchase it?

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and why should I purchase it?

 

Uninsured motorist insurance covers medical injuries to you and the people in your car if you are struck by someone who does not have insurance. The second part of the coverage “Underinsured” comes in to play when the person who hit you has lower limits of coverage than the injuries you have sustained in the accident. There are many drivers who opt to carry the State Minimum of 25,000/50,000/15,000. The first number is the maximum their policy will pay, per person, for personal injury, 25,000 doesn’t go very far these days when it comes to medical costs. Also, most don’t realize that uninsured motorist insurance also covers you if you are struck as a pedestrian walking across the street or riding your bike.

The cost of uninsured motorist coverage is affordable and protects you and the people who ride in your car. Not everyone we offer a ride to has health insurance coverage. If you carpool or are helping deliver a car full of kids to a soccer game, it is always wise to make sure that your auto insurance policy has not only uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, but that the limits of uninsured motorist coverage match your currently liability limits.

Additionally, if you no longer carry full coverage on your vehicle (comprehensive and collision coverage), you can purchase Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage. If you sustain damage to your vehicle, if you are hit by an uninsured motorist, you can still have the damage to your car repaired. There are deductible options available with Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) and the premiums are usually quite favorable.