Recent News

Super Bowl - Have Fun But Be Careful

If you are celebrating the Super Bowl at a restaurant or sports bar, we’d like you to be safe. Remember to plan ahead for safe transportation if you are planning to drink.  Be careful with your credit card information, as with all the activities, identity theft rings are working to steal your information, and finally, with lots of people in one location, it is important that you know where the exits are.

Enjoy the game and be safe.

Small Business - Regulatory Issues

To keep your business compliant in 2019, here are ten regulatory issues to watch out for:

  • Sexual Harassment Prevention - EEOC is expected to continue heightened enforcement of sexual discrimination claims this year as a results of the #MeToo movement.  
  • Paid Leave - Additional states and cities are expected to join more than 40 states and local jurisdictions that enacted paid leave laws, including sick days as well as paid family leave laws.
  • Federal Support for Retirement Savings -Department of Labor and Treasury propose regulations to ease the burdens small businesses face in offering retirement savings plans, as a result of President Trump’s executive order.  
  • Faster Payments and the GIG Economy -GIG workers might see immediate payments as implementation of technology enables faster payments for all workers gains further transaction this year.
  • Privacy/security -Cyber security continues to be a critical issue.  Employers are encouraged to conduct security and privacy employee training.  Emphasis should be on securing all data as well as implement shredding, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Form W-4 Changes -An updated W-4 form is expected to include extensive changes based on the 2017 tax reform law.  States are also expected to modify their own withholding processes based on the federal changes.
  • State Health Care Reform -States are expected to determine how they will support Affordable Care Health Insurance in response to the removal of the federal individual mandate penalty.  
  • IRS Enforcement of Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) -IRS to mail 226J letters with preliminary calculations for ESR Payments. 
  • Impactful rulemaking from the Department of Labor -Labor Department is releasing its revised overtime regulations.  The agency will update and define regular rate of pay which includes payroll, human resources, and benefits.
  • National Labor Relations Board to set Joint Employer Standard through Rulemaking - Board is ready to release its final rule defining joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.

As we find out more about these watches, we will provide you with additional information and what you have to do to protect your small business owner.

Source: Property/Casualty 360

Corporations Top Concerns

According to a recent survey conducted by Allianz in their annual Risk Barometer, the top perils to corporations are cyber incidents along with business interruption events.  In addition, workforce skill shortages and legislative/regulatory changes rank as key concerns.

Business interruption, via a cyber incident, is the biggest cause of economic loss.  

To protect your business, cyber liability and business interruption insurance should be required products in your business insurance portfolio.

Five Homeowner's Resolutions for 2019

To assist you in protecting your home in 2019, here are five tips to help prevent a claim.

  • Know where your shut-off value is.  Make sure that everyone in the household knows where it is and how to shut it off.
  • Check your washer/dryer.  Worn hoses and built up lint filters are key factors to water and fire damage. Replace worn hoses, and clean out your lint filter not only in the machine but also at the venting outside.
  • Go green. Plant trees to help cool your home in the summer and provide a buffer in the winter.
  • Consider umbrella insurance.  Reinforce your safety net by adding an extra layer of protection for your home, auto and other primary liability coverages with a personal umbrella policy.
  • Cut down on hoarding.  One of the chief causes of fires is accumulated newspapers, clothing and other flammable items.  Take the time to clean out the clutter from your closets, basement, and attic.

Start 2019 by implementing these tips and add another layer of protection to your home.

Source: Property Casualty 360

Prepare Your Business for 2019

It is a fact that 25% of small businesses never reopen after a catastrophe.  Here is a simple checklist to start 2019 with a good disaster-prep program:

  • Purchase Appropriate Insurance Coverage – property, business interruption, and liability insurance.
  • Back up your data daily.  Use online services such as Carbonite that keeps your essential files secure in an offsite location.
  • Invest in safety equipment – First aid kits, defibrillators, flashlights and other equipment to keep your employees safe until help arrives.
  • Practice safety drills – Knowing what to do in an emergency can save lives.
  • Make a plan and circulate it – Escape routes, phone trees, contact numbers, special preparation for disabled employees and an agreed-upon meeting place for all employees.

Start 2019 with safety as a number one priority for your business and your employees.

New Year's Safety Tips

With New Year’s Eve approaching, here are a few things to consider as you get ready to party: 

  • Plan a ride in advance – whether it be public transportation, ridesharing service, or carpool.
  • Car thefts are the second most active holiday for theft.  Be sure your car is locked and don’t leave it overnight.
  • Plan for your guests’ safety – hire a driver to provide people a way home, arrange ridesharing, or a designated driver.
  • Be careful if using fireworks or firearms.
  • Make a plan for your kids – set a reasonable curfew, encourage them to stay in one location rather than hopping from party to party.
  • Protect your pets from the sounds of fireworks by playing music, using an Adaptil calming collar, ear plugs, medication, or by bringing an outside dog inside to a quiet room.

Follow these tips for a safe evening.  Happy New Year!

Holiday Safety Tips #3: Last Minute Shopping

Here are some safety tips to follow when you are shopping at the holidays:

  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
  • Dress casually and comfortably. 
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. 
  • Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. 
  • Always carry your Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use. 
  • Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. 
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. 
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. 
  • Keep cash in your front pocket. 
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. 
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. 
  • Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. 
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. 
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

Follow these tips for a safe shopping experience.

Holiday Safety Tips #2: Hazardous Toys

If you are giving toys this season, here are ten toys that WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm) suggest you avoid:

  • Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets– battery acid leakage and not for use in a crib
  • NERF – Vortex VTX  Praxis Blaster– causes eyes or face damage , choking hazard
  • Black Panther Slash Claw – choking hazard, eye and facial injuries
  • Power Rangers  Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade –  blunt force and eye injuries
  • Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll – chocking injuries
  • Zoo Jamz Xylophone – potential for ingestion and choking injuries
  • Nici Wonderland Doll – Miniclara, the Ballerina – chocking injuries 
  • Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket – eye, face and other impact injuries
  • Cutting Fruit – puncture and blunt force injuries
  • Chien A Promener Pull Along Dog – entanglement and strangulation injuries.

So be careful to read for the appropriate age group and potential warnings.

 Source: WATCH – World Against Toys Causing Harm

Fireplace Holiday Preparation

With the holidays, we want to feature our fireplaces with holiday decorations.  Here are a few tips to keep your safe this holiday season.

It is essential that you have your fireplace professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep at least once a year If it is wood-burning.

Once you’ve assured that you can operate your fireplace safely, there are other things you need to do to eliminate hazards:

  • Be sure your home has working smoke alarms on every level.
  • Get an alarm that alerts you if carbon dioxide poisoning becomes a threat.
  • Dispose of ashes with great care and assurance that an unexpected fire will not start due to hot ashes.
  • Only burn seasoned firewood, meaning wood that is low in moisture.

Some tips specifically for the holidays include:

  • Don’t place wrapped packages or gift boxes near the fireplace because they are highly combustible. Keep all combustible materials at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, and portable heaters.
  • There are additives in wrapping paper which makes it burn at extremely high temperatures; don’t burn wrapping paper in your fireplace.
  • Do not discard garbage in your fireplace, including wrapping paper and boxes.
  • Keep an operable fire extinguisher nearby not only for possible fireplace mishaps but also in case your Christmas tree combusts.
  • Never dispose of a Christmas tree by burning it in your fireplace. The wood of the Christmas tree has not been properly dried or seasoned and is not safe to burn.

Cyber Monday is Here

Cyber Monday is expected to set new online records with a 17.5% increase from last year or $7.7 billion in sales.   If you are one of the millions shopping online, here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Shop from a secure computer since phones and computers can be compromised – use antivirus software and keep your operating system and internet-facing apps up to the latest version
  • Shop using a secure connection – make sure the urls you are using are HTTPS which assists in keeping you safe.
  • Search for deals on retailers sites, not on search engines – rather than use a browser to find your favorite stores, go directly to them.
  • Use trusted vendors – you can be redirected to fakes and open to scammers
  • Don’t fall for “too-good-to-be-true deals – you might get these offers from emails, text messages, pop browsers and social media (especially social media)
  • Plan ahead and don’t be rushed – one tip to follow is to look for an extra “.cc” at the end of a url attached to a trusted website.  Again, go directly to the vendor.
  • Review credit-card and bank statements regularly during the shopping session – we can’t guarantee that a transaction doesn’t match your purchase.  If you see a discrepancy, contact your bank or card issuer
  • Don’t use debit cards online – use a credit card.  If using a debit card, use the prepaid kind with a set spending limit.
  • Use unique passwords and logon information for every site you visit – use different passwords on different sites – why if a hacker gets your password, it can be used on other websites.
  • If you’re shopping from a tablet or smartphone on Cyber Monday, use a trusted vendor’s app, not a web browser – since browsers don’t show the url of a vendor, make sure you go directly to the vendor.
  • Never install software on your mobile device from a website link or code – always use “official” store such as Apple’s iTunes App Store or Google Play store.

Follow these tips and have a safe Cyber Monday.

Source: Tom’s Guide