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Protect your business from data theft

By Tamala Whitaker

Protect your business from data theft

Protect the sensitive data entrusted to your business.

Most businesses, large or small, are aware of the threats to their data security, whether from viruses, hackers or their own internal employees. Although the direct cost associated with responding to a breach can be staggering, a recent study found that the biggest financial consequence to organizations that experience a data breach is actually lost business.

The Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study showed that the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased from $217 to $221, a new record high. The total average cost that organizations paid increased from $6.53 million to $7.01 million.

The top causes of data breaches have remained the same for several years: criminal and malicious attacks that take time to detect and contain.

Consider these simple practices to help protect your sensitive data:

  • Keep sensitive data out of unauthorized reach – Put away files to keep sensitive information away from bystanders and other prying eyes at the office or in public areas where you may be working. Be alert to who could be looking at your computer screen or work materials. Don’t leave sensitive data unattended, even for a short time. Use an anti-glare privacy filter to limit others’ view of your computer screen.
  • Lock up sensitive data – Lock cabinets, file rooms or other areas that store files containing private data about customers, clients, patients, accounts and employees. Require employees to lock their computer screens when they leave their desks.
  • Restrict access to data – Allow access only to those who have a need to know sensitive information, whether physical or electronic. Put written procedures in place defining who has access to restricted information.
  • Determine what information is necessary – Collect and keep only the data that is absolutely necessary to conduct business. Collecting excessive personal information, such as Social Security numbers you do not need, can be more of a liability than an asset.

And for dealing with technology:

  • Limit the use of portable technology – Restrict the transfer of sensitive information from on-premises computers to portable devices, such as cell phones, laptops and USB flash drives. If it is necessary to put confidential data on these devices, make sure information is encrypted and password-protected.
  • Use password protection and encryption – Always encrypt sensitive information. Inexpensive or even free encryption technologies are readily available.
  • Install anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewalls – Run all systems with the …read more

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Check your vehicles for safety recalls

By Sherri Smith

Check your vehicles for safety recalls

You can find out whether your car is subject to a recall.

You could be driving a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall and not even realize it. I know how easy it is, because it happened to me. I was able to discover this vital information, and I hope my story can help you.

Recently, I purchased a car from a family member. No one in my family realized the serious airbag recall on this type of vehicle…not even the owner. It turns out at least 34 million vehicles by many different makers have been recalled, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While some of the affected vehicles have been repaired, many have not, including the compact car I purchased.

While manufacturers are required to notify registered owners of recalled vehicles, some owners can be missed. If you are not the original owner, you may not receive a recall notice. If you have your vehicle serviced by a shop not affiliated with a dealership, your mechanic may not be fully aware of which models are under recall.

The VIN is the key to determining whether a recall applies. Fortunately, the NHTSA makes it easy for consumers to search for recalls. Visit its website, Recall Search By VIN and type in the Vehicle Identification Number for your vehicle. The number is displayed on a metal plate on the dashboard of your car, visible through the front windshield on the driver’s side. It also is stamped on the door frame of the driver’s side and printed on your title or registration card.

After I discovered the recall on my newly purchased vehicle, I checked for recalls on all of our family’s vehicles. Every car insured on our auto policy had a recall of some kind. Every vehicle!

While it’s disappointing to discover this information, at least now I can take steps to get the vehicles repaired as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that this airbag recall is extensive, and some manufacturers have experienced delays in getting replacement parts.

Make safety a priority. Check your VIN for recall information, and contact your dealer or mechanic to have your vehicle repaired.

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Why we love life … and you should, too

By Cincinnati Life

Why we love life … and you should, too

Life insurance offers loved ones peace of mind.

Buying life insurance is one of the most selfless things a person can do in his or her lifetime. Life insurance allows families to continue living without the additional mental and emotional strain of financial difficulties after the loss of a loved one.

Think back to the last time you heard of a person unexpectedly dying. Did he or she have a family? Were the children taken care of? Was life a struggle? Hopefully, you are picturing an experience where the family was able to grieve their personal loss without worrying about final expenses or even the family expenses moving forward.

LIMRA, a leading insurance and financial services trade organization, found that the three biggest reasons for owning life insurance are to:

  • help cover burial expenses
  • replace lost income
  • pay off the mortgage

Notice that none of these expenses truly benefit the deceased individual. After death, he or she is no longer responsible for paying for a funeral, bringing home a paycheck, paying off the mortgage, helping with college tuition, buying groceries and dealing with numerous other household expenses. Securing life insurance will never directly result in a payoff for the individual who is insured.

The payoff is in knowing that the ones you leave behind will not have to panic over finances.

Buying life insurance provides peace of mind and has the potential to secure a family financially for years into the future. It is a way to be present in a loved one’s mind and life long after you’re gone.

Find out if your plans are adequate to secure your family’s future. Start by contacting your attorney and your independent insurance agent, who can review your insurance plan and help you get the life insurance you need.

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8 items for your autumn home project list

By Laura Lewis

8 items for your autumn home project list

Cleaning your gutters can help protect your house from damage.

Steps you take this fall to maintain your home can keep you warm this winter and protect your property from loss.

As you take advantage of fall weather to work on projects around your home, pay special attention to these potential trouble spots:

  • Clean out your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters first by hand to get rid of the large particles, and then with a scraping tool and water hose before cold weather arrives. This helps to prevent overflows and ice damming. Ice dams are caused when snow melts on a heated part of the roof, then refreezes on a colder portion of the roof. This creates a dam and allows water to back up under the shingles, causing damage to insulation and interior ceilings or walls. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has more information about preventing ice dams.
  • Make sure downspouts properly guide the water away from the home. Direct downspouts at least 6 feet from the foundation.
  • Use door sweeps and caulk to block drafty areas of the home from the winter cold. Common areas for these are recess lighting areas, electrical outlets, door frames and windows.
  • Have your furnace and chimney checked and cleaned annually. Change your furnace filter regularly; every three months is typical.
  • Vacuum out your air ducts. Every few years, the air ducts should be vacuumed to help make sure that heated air passes through with no obstacles.
  • Remove screens and put up storm windows. Add weatherstripping to seal out cold air, increasing your furnace’s efficiency.
  • Reverse the circulation of your ceiling fans. As you fire up the furnace for the heating season, reverse your ceiling fan blades to rotate clockwise, creating an updraft that forces warm air down into the room. This can provide additional energy savings.
  • Winterize your pipes. Adding insulation now can help prevent pipes from freezing later and causing breaks and water damage.

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Life insurance: Finding the perfect fit

By Cincinnati Life

Life insurance: Finding the perfect fit

Every circumstance is different, and life insurance is available to meet a variety of needs.

Each life insurance applicant has unique circumstances that require different solutions. The life and disability insurance needs for a 25‑year-old single professional differs from those of a 35-year-old professional with a young family.

Before purchasing life insurance, you will want to consider cost, coverage, duration and health exams to find the perfect fit. New applicants also might have some uncertainty about the process. No one is better situated to review these issues than your local independent life insurance agent.

When considering your life insurance needs, think about the fact that one in three households would have trouble paying immediate living expenses with the loss of the primary wage earner. This can occur with either an unexpected death or disability.

Your agent can answer questions about life and disability insurance and allay your concerns about the purchasing process.

One common misconception is the cost of a life insurance policy. According to the 2016 Insurance Barometer Study, when people were asked about the cost of a $250,000 term life policy for a healthy 30‑year-old, the median estimate was more than twice the actual cost. Your agent can provide information about availability of term life insurance policies that allow you to purchase adequate amounts of protection for a relatively low premium or universal life policies that provide cash value in addition to a death benefit. These are just two of the many life insurance products available.

When you meet with your agent, you can rely on an experienced insurance professional to perform a needs analysis to determine the appropriate product for your situation. Numerous policies are available to provide a wide range of benefits, time frames, and options, no matter your stage of life.

Your agent can provide information on what to expect from a paramedical exam, should one be necessary, and other information you will be asked to provide. The exam may be performed at your home or place of employment.

Whatever your circumstance, a solution is available to protect you and your loved ones.

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Make sure your insurance keeps up with your business

By Wayne Pinney

Make sure your insurance keeps up with your business

While insuring your business machinery is important, business interruption and extra expense coverage is just as vital to your business success.

A business owner doesn’t have to understand every detail of a machine or a process to benefit from it. How many drivers understand what is going on under the hood? How many machine operators are able to repair the machine? Insurance coverage can be the same way.

Just as you rely on a qualified technician to properly evaluate, maintain or repair a complex piece of equipment, you rely on your independent agent to evaluate your insurance needs and guide you in obtaining the necessary coverages, including business interruption and extra expense coverage.

For example, consider essential equipment you use every day to operate your business. The equipment does not have to be involved in actual manufacturing or assembly of a product to be vital to your operation; it could be equipment used to provide services, facilitate communication or manipulate critical data.

To be successful, you must invest considerable time, effort and expense to evaluate costs of operating and maintaining the equipment. Unless you make that investment before you buy, you could be in for unpleasant surprises. And you’re not home free once the equipment is installed and contributing to your business’s success. You need to know how the machinery – or its failure – could affect your bottom line.

Similarly, you don’t want to guess about the production value of equipment when you establish insurance limits and deductibles needed to recover from a covered equipment failure.

Business interruption and extra expense insurance coverage is calculated based on the language in your insurance contract and in accordance with accounting principles. It also takes into consideration many aspects of your operating profits and expenses that may not be obvious from a cursory review of production numbers.

Business interruption coverage is just as important to your business as the machine itself – maybe more important. It’s not uncommon for the business interruption portion of a covered machinery and equipment loss to dwarf the loss associated with physical repair of the equipment.

Your local independent agent, who is familiar with your business and the provisions of your insurance contracts, can be a source for essential information and guidance. Consider inviting him or her into any conversation you may have about protecting your business from loss. You will be glad you did.

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Move and store your paintings with care

By Doug Eisele

Move and store your paintings with care
Part 3 of 3 –

How you frame, store, move and maintain your fine art paintings can make a big difference in how long they last. Proper attention to these details assure that your family can enjoy your artwork far into the future.

FRAMES

Ideally a painting should be held in the frame with metal offset clips attached to the frame with screws. Brass mending plates can be bent and adjusted to place light pressure on the back of the stretcher or strainer. Sometimes nails are used to frame paintings, but nails can rust, fall out or protrude through the canvas. Ask the framer or conservator to pad the rabbet (the part of the frame that touches the face of the painting) with felt or another suitable material to protect the image.

STORAGE

Paintings should never be stored in damp areas such as basements, nor should they be left in attics where temperatures can greatly fluctuate. Ideally paintings should be hung on a wall even when in storage, but they may be stored vertically with stiff boards protecting the front and back of each painting.

MOVING

Move paintings as little as possible. Whenever paintings are handled, they are at increased risk of damage. If you must move a painting, be sure that your path from location to location is clear so that you do not have to maneuver around furniture or obstacles. Lift larger works with one hand on the bottom and one on the side to keep the piece steady. Smaller works may be carried by holding each side. Unless a painting has flaking paint, it should be carried vertically just as it was hanging on the wall. Any wires that may be loose and hit the back of the painting should be secured and all hardware should be inspected before the painting is re-hung. Take care that the painting does not rest on the stretchers as this can leave marks and indentations.

Do not lift the painting using the top of the frame or stretcher; these areas can break under the weight of the whole painting. If the painting is too large for one person to lift properly, have a second person help lift and carry it. If the painting is to be set on the floor or leaned against a wall, elevate it slightly on small padded blocks.

MAINTENANCE

Paintings should be inspected every six months in order to identify any problems before they become severe. Paintings …read more

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Quiz: Play it safe on the playground

By Cincinnati Insurance

Quiz: Play it safe on the playground

Playtime is important! Make sure it’s safe time.

Educators, pediatricians and parents agree – an outdoor playground is a valuable experience for children. In a modern world of screen time and sedentary activities, outdoor play may be more important than ever. But playgrounds are not without risk. Whether at school, in the park, or in the backyard, take care to keep them both fun and safe.

Take our five-question quiz to test your knowledge of playground safety.

Time limit: 0

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0 of 5 questions completed

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Are you properly insuring your other structures?

By William Maples

Are you properly insuring your other structures?

A pool house or other structures on your property could have considerable value. Review your policy to make sure you are covered.

There’s more to your homeowner policy than just coverage for the house you live in. It also provides coverage for other structures on your property.

These may include all structures and buildings not sharing a foundation with your house. Most insurance policies provide 10 percent coverage for other structures. For example, if you insure your home for $200,000 an additional limit of $20,000 applies to all other structures. Remember that if you have a total loss, you don’t receive $20,000 for each structure, but $20,000 total for damage to all other structures. A large detached garage by itself can exceed this amount in many cases.

So how do you know you have appropriate coverage?

If you have detached structures on your land, it is best to consult with your local independent insurance agent to discuss options. A pool house, large barn, garage with living space, fence, freestanding deck and stable may fall into different categories, and your agent can help make sure you have the correct coverage to protect you in the event of a total loss.

While the chances of losing all your other structures at one time are small, you want to secure enough coverage to protect your investments. You may need more than the 10 percent standard coverage for appurtenant structures.

Also consider that many different types of structures could qualify for coverage on your policy, and it’s important to select the correct category based on usage. Your agent can advise you on the information you will need to provide to obtain the coverage that’s right for your situation.

A good example is a barn. Barns can be built in many different ways from a variety of materials. By providing accurate information on usage and construction, you can be assured that your property is protected.

If your other structure is being rented, is used for a business or was not reported, you are most likely not adequately insured. Your agent has the expertise to guide you.

Finally, don’t forget to assess how much insurance protection you need for personal property housed in your other structures. For example, a home woodshop in your barn could have valuable equipment you’ll want to protect. Ask your agent for advice.

The best way to look at it is to think of insuring your other freestanding structures the …read more

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