Summer is Here… Is Your Insurance Ready?
The temperature is rising and the sun is shining. However, before putting your boat in the water, or getting your motorcycle out of storage, contact your insurance advisor to review coverage. Ensure that you and your family are protected for the increased risks that come with outdoor and summer activities!
ATV Insurance (Covers UTVs, 3-wheelers & 4-wheelers)
It’s no secret ATVs can be fast and fun. However, they can be very dangerous, especially when young, inexperienced riders hit the trails.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not covered by standard automobile insurance policies but you may be partially covered by your homeowners policy. If your ATV is involved in an accident, you could be financially responsible for the rider’s medical bills and other damages, as well as repairs to your ATV.
Some questions to ask your agent:
- Are there age restrictions on who may operate the ATV?
- Does my policy cover friends or family who are operating the ATV?
- Is there a discount for taking an operator safety course or for riding with a helmet?
Boat and Personal Watercraft Insurance
Many Ohio residents make the mistake of believing their boat, and their liability for injuries to others while operating their boat, are covered by their homeowners or renters policy. While there are limited situations where damage to your boat might be covered by your homeowners policy, you would be best served to speak with an Insurance Advisor about your coverage needs if you own a boat.
Personal watercraft (PWC) coverage (often referred to as Boat Insurance) may cover the following:
- Bodily injury to yourself, another rider, or a swimmer injured in your path (this is arguably the most important coverage because the damage amount is unknown, but can be significant if someone is seriously injured... work with your Insurance Advisor to make certain you have enough liability coverage)
- Property damage to items such as docks, other PWCs or boats
- Guest passenger liability
- Medical payments
- Theft of your boat
Additionally, most policies include water sports liability coverage, which provides protection when you engage in sporting activities such as waterskiing, knee boarding or tubing.
In the state of Ohio, flood insurance is a relatively simple policy: It only provides coverage for losses resulting from a flood. Many Ohioans believe coverage for losses caused by flood are covered under their homeowners, renters, or condo insurance policies… unfortunately, they’re not. Losses caused by a flood are customarily excluded on these policies.
Luckily, flood insurance is available in Ohio. The state is divided into floodplains (essentially, how likely a certain area is to flood), and those areas more prone to flood are likely to purchase flood insurance. However, the Ohio Insurance Institute estimates that only 10% of the structures in Ohio’s floodplains are protected by flood insurance.
If you determine you need flood insurance, here are some options:
- Coverage for homeowners to protect their house and their personal property.
- Coverage for renters so they can protect their personal property
- Condominium unit owners can purchase coverage to protect their condo and their contents (but check your condo contract, your association might already have purchased flood coverage).
Flood insurance is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program so there are standard restrictions and guidelines when it comes to purchasing a policy. Make sure you talk to an experienced insurance agent that can help you purchase the policy that's best for you.
Golf Cart Insurance
Golf carts are a popular recreational vehicle both on and off the golf course. Coverage for personally-owned golf carts under the homeowners and auto policies is typically only provided by endorsement.
Golf carts that are regularly used off premises may require a separate policy, or may be added to your personal auto policy as a recreational vehicle. Be sure to discuss your coverage options with an experienced insurance advisor.
Some questions to ask your agent:
- Are golf carts permitted on public roads if this is their primary use?
- Are they required to be registered?
- Are there age restrictions on who may operate the golf cart?
Insuring your motorcycle in Ohio is simple: Make sure you’re protected before you hit the road.
The coverage on a motorcycle policy is very similar to that provided by your auto policy. There are six distinct coverage options. Some are required by law in Ohio, others can be at your discretion (for the most part).
In some cases, you may qualify for additional discounts. Ask your agent about the different discounts available on your policy.
Let your insurance company know you have a pool, since it will increase your liability risk. Also, be sure to ask if your homeowners policy specifies any safety guidelines that you are required to follow, such as a fence or locked gate.
An insurance company can deny coverage or cancel your policy if you do not follow the safety guidelines, or do not inform the company when you install a pool. Check with your insurance agent for rates and safety guidelines before installing one.
Rentals carry their own set of insurance risks and exposures.
Usually, standard personal auto policies don’t provide coverage for damage to a rented motor home. While liability coverage for personal use might be provided, considering the size of a motor home and the potential damage they can cause, the liability limits on your personal auto policy may be not be enough.
Car rental companies offer optional insurance coverage called a collision damage to protect you from financial responsibility should the vehicle be stolen or damaged while under your control. Personal liability, bodily injury, and property damage would still be covered under your personal auto policy.
Whether you’re leaving home for a weekend getaway or a long road trip, understanding what is covered by your homeowners or rental policy while you’re gone is important. Typically, your homeowners insurance will follow you, protecting you even while you’re not at home.
Contact your agent or insurance company to find out what’s covered under your policy.
One of the most important policies that will cover many of your summer activities is an Umbrella Insurance policy.
Umbrella policies are typically available in increments of $1 million, and are designed to provide coverage over and above that which is provided by other liability policies, such as home and auto insurance. And since the cost of an Umbrella policy can be as little as $150 to $200 per year, these policies are often referred to as ‘the most bang for your buck.’ Umbrella Insurance is a type of liability insurance, similar to the liability coverage provided by your homeowners, renters or condo insurance, rental dwelling, or the liability coverage provided by your auto insurance.
There are numerous types of situations and summer activities where an Umbrella policy could help cover the high price tag associated with a bad claim. Check with your agent to determine what coverages will be under your homeowners policy and consider adding an umbrella insurance policy to provide additional coverage.
Results of the WannaCry Ransomware and Why Cyber Insurance is a Must-Have for Your Business
What is WannaCry?
WannaCry ransomware rapidly spread to universities, hospitals, and business across 150 countries in just a few short days in what’s offered referred to as the largest global cyber attack in history. Many were left trying to determine if they should pay the ransom to regain access to their own files, or rely on their backups to avoid giving in to the attackers.
Users were locked out of their computers by exploiting a vulnerability by exploiting a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows. Then, it demanded money for those who wanted to regain control of their data. Once one computer was infected, it could spread to every computer in that network within seconds.
Ransomware — A Growing Trend
A sophisticated piece of malicious software, or malware, that blocks the victim’s access to his or her flies, ransomware is a growing trend in recent years. It infects desktop or laptop computers, sometimes locking up the machine, but more often encrypting data and files, rendering them unusable. Then an ominous message from the attacker pops up, demanding a ransom be paid in order to unlock the computer or decrypt the data. Cyber criminals are even capable of reaching computers through programs such as Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Silverlight.
Creators of ransomware are constantly embedding advertising, shopping, and other highly trafficked online networks with their software, which seeks out browser vulnerabilities and infects computers when end-users click on activating links. Additionally, spam emails that contain an attachment including ransomware will be used.
An urgent ransom note comes next, intended to scare the victim into paying-up, or else. As a result, the victim is left with a decision to either pay the extortionist, or lose valuable files forever.
How Can Individuals and Small Businesses Protect Their Data?
There is no guarantee in preventing a cyber attack in today’s technology driven world. Every organization is vulnerable.
However, organizations should take precautions to protect their data, including:
- Make sure you have backups. Your backups should be on a separate source or a cloud storage service, as any servers, hard drives or other backup sources connected to a network will probably be infected, too. At least one backup should also be stored in a different physical location.
- Keep browsers, plug-ins and operating systems up-to-date. When you see the update requests, make sure you do as they say. You can also purchase an additional layer of protection with anti-virus software programs.
- Urge everyone to be extremely cautious with spam. Never download unknown files or click on unknown links.
Implications of Ransomware for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Conceivably, every business and consumer using the internet is a potential target for ransomware perpetrators, though small and medium-sized businesses have become particularly easy marks. Large companies typically have IT departments and robust cybersecurity programs, while small and medium-sized businesses have become particularly easy marks.
Small businesses may not be able to afford to pay a large ransom to restore files. If the files are not restored, small businesses may be faced with purchasing all new computers, programs, and more.
What about the business interruption or downtime that a business suffers while the files are locked? Even if a business pays the ransom and the files are restored, do you trust that those files haven’t been tampered with?
A cyber liability insurance policy would be vital to the survival of the business in these cases.
Cyber Liability Insurance
Cyber Liability Insurance typically reimburses the costs you incur in the event of a data or information breach. There are many variations among policies and premium costs for cyber security insurance, but two distinct risk categories can be determined: first-party and third-party liability.
First-party liability is where you or your business’ private information is breached. This could look like a virus or malware damaging internal IT systems or tax records being exposed.
Third-party liability is when the private information of your clients is breached such as a hack into the Netflix user database where account information is compromised.
Types of cyber coverage to consider when fighting against ransomware:
- Cyber Threats or Extortion: reimbursement for payment resulting from a threat to prevent access to your computer system, introduce a virus to your system, reveal your confidential information, or damage your brand or reputation by posting false comments on social media sites.
- System Damage: costs you incur to retrieve, restore or replace any of your computer programs that are lost or damaged.
- Business Interruption: replacement of your lost income resulting from a computer system outage because of a cyber attack.
- Regulatory Actions or Investigations: coverage for costs, expenses, fines and penalties as a result of a regulatory investigation arising out of an actual or suspected breach.
The level of coverage your business needs is based on your individual operations and can vary depending on your range of exposure. It’s important to work with an Insurance Advisor that can identify your areas of risk, and customize a policy to fit your unique situation.
We can help you recover from a data breach.
Businesses are operating in an environment where it’s not a matter of IF a data breach will occur, it’s only a matter of when. The two most important questions you need to answer as a business owner are:
- Will I know how to respond when a breach occurs?
- Will my business survive the devastating consequences of a data breach?
We understand the negative effects a data breach can have on your organization and we’ve seen first-hand how it impacts clients. We also know which insurance companies provide the broadest insurance coverage to help you recover after a breach occurs.
But we don’t stop there.
The best place to begin is with your own internal operations, the security measures you have in place, and the controls implemented to avert a data breach. Contact us to begin working on a policy.
Is There Insurance Specifically for Landscape Contractors?
Is there insurance in Ohio that can be tailored to the unique needs of your small landscaping business? The answer is yes.
You're busy--you're a business owner in the middle of your high season, and the jobs are stacking up. Let us give you some peace of mind by making sure you're covered to take each of those jobs, allowing you to focus on providing your clients with the best service.
Landscapers Insurance: Why Now?
Earlier in 2017, Ohio legislature made changes to a few key laws that resulted in more stringent requirements on insurance that must be held by landscaping companies. These new laws require landscape businesses to have policies more comprehensive policy than ever before. There are only a few insurers in the state that currently offer the kind of coverage these laws require. An independent insurance agent can help you find coverage gaps and cover them appropriately in accordance with this new law.
What Insurance Does my Landscaping Company Need?
It is valuable to consider a number of different kinds of insurance policies when picking the best combination of coverage for your landscaping insurance business. Each type of policy has some specialized coverage that will be useful in a particular situation. The three main types of landscaping insurance are:
- Commercial General Liability Insurance
- Commercial Auto Insurance
- Contractors Equipment Insurance
The coverage provided by these three types of insurance are valuable to consider if you are a landscaper, arborist, lawn irrigation contractor, landscape designer, landscape architect, or landscape general contractor.
Commercial General Liability Insurance
This is the key type of landscape contractors insurance that every landscaper must have. It protects you against potential lawsuits that have the potential of shutting your business down.
General liability claims come up more often than you would expect. For example, from a real-life situation, an employee of a local contracting firm was mowing a client’s property and accidentally sprayed a shower of gravel into the parking lot, hitting and damaging multiple cars. Liability insurance covered the cost of damages.
Whether or not lawsuits filed against you are warranted, they can take time, money, and reputation away from you. By getting a landscape liability policy before an incident like this happens to your business, you can rest easy knowing you will be covered.
Commercial Auto Insurance
If you have a vehicle that you use for your business, it should be covered under a commercial auto insurance plan. So should any trailers or trucks used to transport equipment or employees. A variety of different commercial auto insurance plans are available in Ohio, but policies can generally include at-fault accident insurance, vandalization coverage, physical damage coverage for an accident that was not your fault, bodily injury coverage for your employees or yourself if anyone is involved in a crash, and/or coverage for a stolen automobile.
Contractors Equipment Insurance
When you store your equipment at your facility, it is covered by your commercial property insurance policy. However, realistically, your facilities are not where your equipment will spend all--or even most--of its time.
In order to protect your equipment when it is away from its storage facility, contractors equipment insurance is a must. Let's say you left a mower at a client's property overnight, and return the next morning to find it stolen. If you had a contractors equipment insurance policy, you would be covered. If you were planning on relying on your commercial property insurance policy, you would be out of luck.
There's no reason to let a lawsuit, stolen equipment, or accident put your business in jeopardy. Give yourself peace of mind and get the right kind of contractors insurance today.
Why do I need Landscaping Insurance in Ohio?
The Ohio landscaping industry laws have changed the kind of landscape insurance you must carry if you're a pesticide business servicing in Ohio. These changes have been introduced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. This could make your current business insurance not comply with the new laws. If you're a landscaper or if you have a pesticide license, you may need to change your policy.
Your policy must now include coverage of “the properties under the care, custody, and control of the pesticide application business as it relates to the application of pesticides, including but not limited to the damage to the actual properties the pesticide business is treating or working on…” To learn more about this please see the article below:
Who Needs Landscaping Insurance?
Landscaping insurance may include general liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, contractors equipment insurance, and/or employer's liability coverage. You must protect yourself from potential lawsuits caused by accidents that cause property damage or personal injury. The types of businesses that need this kind of insurance include:
- Landscape designers
- Tree trimmers
- Lawn irrigation contractors
- General landscapers
- Landscape architects
Currently, only a handful of insurance companies in Ohio offer this kind of coverage. The required amount of liability coverage you need for property in your care, custody, or control is $300,000.
Who can cover my business under the new laws?
The new Ohio landscape insurance laws starts to become complex with the general liability policies that will no longer cover you properly. It is not easy to get coverage that will allow you to make claims on damage done to the properties you are working on. You need coverage that is basically a warranty on your work. It would need to cover you if you make a mistake on a client’s property or project.
Only a handful of insurance companies in Ohio offer this kind of coverage. The required amount of liability coverage you need for property in your care, custody, or control is $300,000. To figure out how you can change your current coverage to ensure you comply, we recommend you speak with an independent insurance agent who will guide you through the process to get you the right coverage.
Consequences of not having landscape insurance
What could happen if I don't follow the new guidelines? Here are the three things that could happen:
- If you’re found to be non-compliant with the new liability guidelines, your license is immediately suspended.
- If you find yourself needing to make a claim, only to find out that you didn’t have the coverage you needed, your license is immediately suspended.
- If your insurance agent provided you with a Certificate of Insurance showing that you had the coverage, when you didn’t, your license would still be suspended.
This could be a challenging new situation for many small businesses in Ohio. Our goal is to make it easy for you to get the proper coverage. But we also realize that each landscaping company needs different direction to fall into compliance. To get started on your customized solution, contact one of our licensed, independent advisors, or request a proposal for landscape insurance below and we will get to work for you!
Data Breach Insurance: 9 Questions to Ask Your Ohio Insurance Agency
As we've recognized in other blogs; data breach insurance is important coverage to look at if you own a business. There are many cyber threats to your data, and your customers’ data in the world.
We've put together nine questions that you can take to your insurance agent to get the coverage you need. An independent agent will be able to help you through the complex cyber insurance landscape. They can also ensure that you only get the insurance you really need with no unnecessary extras. Below are the nine most essential questions to get answered:
1. Does the insurer understand my industry and its regulations?
A good place to start is to ask about the various insurance companies they offer. How much they know about your industry. Ask how many other businesses they cover in your field. Knowing you're with an insurer that knows your specific risks can be a big comfort as you move forward.
2. What all is covered by this policy?
Since data breach insurance can cover a wide assortment of cyber attacks, you need to know what your policy covers. Find out in detail what that is and what you will be reimbursed for. If anything is unclear, make sure to have your agent explain it in depth.
3. What are the reporting requirements?
Often cyber liability insurance policies require you to report an incident within a specific amount of time to get your claim approved. It can take time to discover the extent of a cyber breach. Therefore you need to report incidents as soon as you are made aware of them. Make sure your policy has a reasonable window of time in which you must make the claim.
4. What compliance obligations are required?
Many policies will require ongoing audits to maintain your current coverage. This can be complex, so be sure you understand and maintain your obligations to ensure there are no questions when a claim is audited. Also, make sure your insurance agent helps you determine what obligations are reasonable within a policy.
5. How will a breach impact my premium?
Just like car insurance, premium rates for cyber insurance can go up once you've filed a claim. Talk to your agent about this and know whether it's worth making a claim on a small breach if it will increase your premiums. Determining where this line is early on will make you more confident in what to do when certain breaches occur.
6. Does this policy cover full “third-party” damages?
These are the costs acquired by your customers due to a breach that they hold you accountable for. Examine what your policy offers with your agent to help you determine what kind of third-party coverage is best for you.
7. Does this policy have coverage for fines and penalties?
Sometimes fines and penalties are occurred by the government when a data breach happens. Understand what circumstances this falls under and see if you need special coverage if your business is at risk.
8. Will this policy cover data breaches on unencrypted devices?
If your business uses unencrypted devices, it's important to find out if the policy covers cyber attacks on them. Some policies can exclude breaches on them. Often there may be some rule in place that will require you to prove whether or not a device was encrypted at the time of the breach.
9. Is there anything else I need to know?
Ask if there is anything else you need to know before you sign yourself on to a policy. It's the job of your agent to make sure you have all of the information.
Am I Overpaying my Ohio Life Insurance Company?
The best way to insure that most important people in your life is by makeusre that you are protected with life insurance. Life insurance is a smart choice for most individuals who have dependents or loved ones that would be financially-impacted if you passed away unexpectedly. If you have children it can ensure that their college expenses are paid for, or your partner has income to live on for a year while they put their life back together. In other words, it's hard to deny the benefits of life insurance coverage.
Even with bering covered, we have found people are still asking themselves, "How much life insurance should I get?", “Am I overpaying?” or “What can you do to lower your premiums?”
3 Tips to Avoid Overpaying Life Insurance in Ohio
We have compiled a few practical basics that affect your rates and that's worth looking at to see if what you're paying is reasonable.
Maintain a good driving record
Yes, your driving record does affect not only your car insurance rates but also your life insurance premiums. Life insurance companies focus on calculating risk. Rememeber that anything in your life that raises your risk will raise your premium. Like most, if you're planning ahead to get the most affordable life insurance, you must be smart about your lifestyle choices. Not only is your driving record a factor, your credit history is also considered when life insurance companies work up your cost of coverage. Take a look at your overall risk profile and see if there are any areas in which you can improve.
Maintain good health and healthy habits
Similar to health insurance, life insurance risk factors include the level of health you maintain. Insurers spend a lot of time trying to get this risk factor right. You will have to get a medical exam as part of getting life insurance, and this exam looks for a variety of factors such as obesity, mental health, high cholesterol, your family’s health history etc. Of course, many of these health risks are out of your hands, but there are some that you do have control over. One example is smoking. If you're a smoker, one of the main ways in which you can lower your premiums for life insurance is by quitting your smoking habit.
Avoid unnecessary or out of date riders
If you aren’t sure, a rider is something you add on to your policy to provide additional benefits. One example of this is a disability rider that allows you to collect regular income from the insurance company if you become totally disabled and cannot work. Certain riders are very good to have, but others may not be necessary and are worth looking over again. Some riders may also be out of date or no longer necessary because of changes to the basic policy, or to your life circumstances.
To see where you are with your life insurance expwnses, check in with your life insurance advisor to go over your current policy, and to be sure you stay updated on any changes. It's always good to make it a habit to have these periodical meetings and you will feel more reassured.
Choosing the right insurance company is very important. Brand/Neer/Frantz/Stallsmith Insurance is dedicated to putting our clients first and this starts by providing you with the information that's meaningful for you. We have put together a useful guide that tells you what you need to know about life insurance. Download the comprehensive free ebook about Life Insurance below. If you have any questions, please contact us directly!