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According to Javelin’s 2020 Identify Fraud Study, Americans lost $16.9 billion due to identity fraud. Concerned? Consumer research conducted by Chubb reveals that while the majority of Americans are concerned about being impacted by a cyber breach, only a small percentage are actually taking the right steps to protect themselves and their families.  What are the right steps?

FIRST: gaining access to quality protection from personal cyber risks should no longer be viewed as a “nice to have” form of asset protection. Meanwhile, many well-known insurance carriers provide scant protection for the wide range of cyber risks that exist. Fortunately, a select group of insurance carriers provide enhanced cyber protection solutions that meet the broader security needs of financially successful individuals and families. Following is a summary of some of the solutions that are available through insurance carriers that offer premier protection programs.


Chubb

Chubb’s Masterpiece Cyber Protection policy includes these key benefits:

  • Complimentary access to specialists who can help you resolve identity theft.
  • If a fraud occurs, our partner vendor will monitor public records databases to make sure you stay protected.
  • Discounted access to a security firm providing one-on-one assistance to securing your networks.
  • Coverage to replace or repair your impacted electronic data property or content.
  • Coverage for allegations of unintentional online libel, slander, and invasion of privacy.
  • Cyber Extortion Coverage, which protects against cyberattacks, threats to release personal information, cause failure to personal computer network, or restricted access to personal data, up to a $25,000 limit.
  • Cyber Financial Loss Coverage for stolen account funds, fraudulent charges, lost salary while resolving your claim, and attorney fees, up to a $250,000 limit.
  • Cyber Personal Protection, including cyberbullying, cyber breach of privacy, and cyber disruption, up to a $250,000 limit.

To avoid a cyber breach, I encourage all insurance consumers to examine and implement these valuable insights from Chubb:  “6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Hackers”


AIG

Family CyberEdge from AIG Private Client Group helps policyholders stay ahead of potential online threats while facilitating recovery should a covered loss arise. Coverage can be customized, and highlights include:

  • Data restoration: You can be reimbursed for costs incurred from data restoration expenses after a cyber attack on you or your family’s personal computer system, including wireless and mobile devices.
  • Cyber extortion: This coverage reimburses money paid by you or a family member to terminate a cyber extortion threat against you or a family member. It also provides access to an expert cyber consultant to assist if a criminal demands ransom in exchange for your data.
  • Crisis management and reputation restoration: If cyber extortion or a similar cyber attack affects your reputation or that of a family member, we can reimburse the cost of hiring a professional crisis management firm.
  • Cyberbullying expenses: If you or a family member is a victim of cyberbullying, we can cover the cost of related professional service expenses tied to managing and/or recovering from the incidents.
  • Identity monitoring: Coverage includes monitoring services for up to two family members per household, provided by identity monitoring service provider CyberScout. You don’t have to have a claim to benefit from this added layer of protection.
  • Cyber Assistance Services: Stay ahead of sophisticated, quickly evolving threats by taking advantage of supplemental services offered by best-in-class cyber security specialists. Expert advice is just a call or click away.

Additionally, AIG provides policyholders access to two cyber security specialists:

CyberScout — policyholders in the U.S. are eligible to access a menu of complimentary identity theft protection services.

K2 Intelligence — For those whose cyber concerns go beyond basic identity protection, K2 Intelligence offers additional services at reduced rates for AIG policyholders.


Berkley One

Berkley One offers a cyber endorsement to their homeowners policy to cover certain expenses related to online extortion, social engineering, cyber bullying, identity theft, system compromise and internet clean-up. Coverage applies on an account basis with limit options between $15,000 and $100,000. A $250 deductible applies. 

Additionally, Berkley One distinguishes itself by providing LifeStages® Resources, helping consumers learn how to minimize risk and protect personal information. From direct one-to-one support with fraud specialists to written documentation and assessment tools, LifeStages offers consumers valuable resources to combat identity thieves.  Check out these two valuable resources:

Ask the Expert Knowledge Center: Become more informed and educated on the topic of identity theft and privacy-related concerns with educational content that includes news articles, best practices, tip sheets, videos and more.

ID RiskCompass: This interactive assessment tool gauges your risk propensity based on responses to a series of questions. Each response is accompanied by privacy tips and best practices for securing personal information.


PURE Insurance

PURE Insurance, a member of the Tokio Marine Group, offers PURE Starling as an optional endorsement that members can add to a homeowners policy. It provides coverage for losses caused by fraud and cyber crime, while also providing access to recovery resources after a covered loss. 


In Conclusion

Sutton’s Law asserts that when diagnosing a problem, one should first consider the obvious. It is named after the bank robber Willie Sutton, who replied to a reporter’s inquiry as to why he robbed banks by responding “because that’s where the money is.” For the same reason, cyber criminals are increasingly targeting and gaining access to the assets of financially successful individuals and families. Fortunately, the insurance carriers focused on meeting the protection needs of that segment offer high-quality personal cyber protection solutions.

If the above solutions are of interest, I can provide introductions to independent insurance specialists who can provide access to comprehensive protection solutions from each of the referenced carriers.

portrait of woman photographing with smart phone

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you think I’m being an alarmist, I get it. Meanwhile, I just finished one of the most alarming articles I’ve ever read. In my lifetime

The title: “I’m a 37-Year-Old Mom & I Spent Seven Days Online as an 11-Year-Old Girl. Here’s What I Learned.”  ONLY read this article if you require VERY graphic evidence detailing how child predators are trolling the internet in search of sexual encounters with children.   

If you’d like to spare yourself the very disturbing details and learn what can be done to better protect your children, the article explains there is a smart way to keep kids safer online, and I strongly encourage all parents to review their service here.

Bark https://www.bark.us/ provides an affordable, award-winning dashboard that monitors text messages, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns (including cyberbullying and indications of self-harm) to provide parents the essential oversight to better protect their children.

As with any risk, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!  As it concerns the safety of your children, PLEASE take the time to explore the ounce of protection that can better protect your children.

Thos CookOne of the world’s oldest tour companies, Thomas Cook, abruptly announced it was going out of business yesterday. While not quite “fake news”, the advice provided by a travel expert on NBC Evening News during their report on this story can best be characterized as “glib news”.

In this NBC report, consumers are advised to seek travel insurance “when you have elaborate travel plans…. a tour, cruise, a safari – something bigger”.  Hmmm…

Whether my travel plans are elaborate or are not, the ability to return home is always a big priority for me. I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of travelers left stranded by Thomas Cook without transportation or lodging viewed their trip as sufficiently “elaborate” to merit the purchase of trip insurance …..that could have enabled them to secure alternate transportation home.

Regardless of whether your travel plans meet the subjective criterion of “elaborate”, strongly consider travel insurance for ANY trip that requires you to rely on others for transportation, lodging and the ability to return home.

Understanding it is difficult to navigate the many different insurance programs that are available, I recommend consumers visit InsureMyTrip to examine the wide range of different insurance programs. Even for trips that are not elaborate.  

Can’t we just…

wwnfProbably because I was in New York City on Sept 12, 2001 and not the day before , my most vivid memories of the terror attacks of 9/11/2001 are actually the result of my experiences the following day. This is not just my convenient memory; my recollections are indelible and many.

On September 12, EVERYONE was kind to each other. EVERYONE cared about their fellow man. EVERYONE, as in no matter race or religion, or especially political beliefs. No matter the circumstance. We ALL acted like we actually cared about each other. Never had I thought I’d see such widespread kindness to strangers…in NYC!  I am told this occurred all over our great country.  You may recall this sentiment lasted for …… weeks.

Each year we memorialize the memory of those lost on 9/11. Sadly, however, it seems we fail to recall how we all acted towards our fellow Americans on the days that followed. Arguably, the only good outcome that arose from 9/11 is the same outcome that occurred 6 decades prior: we demonstrated as a people the spirit of the axiom “United we stand, divided we fall”.  Just as our forefathers had shown on 12/8/1941.

And then, gradually, the spirit of unity stopped. Why is it that the closeness we felt towards ALL fellow citizens just faded away? Part of the explanation may be that our news gathering and now social media habits have caused us to refocus on all of the small stuff that divides us. Digesting only content that appeals to our eyeballs and egos, while numbing our brains and hardening our hearts.

On this day each year I try to shift my focus not only to remember the tragic events of 9/11, but to recall the kindness and caring EACH of us demonstrated towards our fellow citizens starting on 9/12.  The REAL American ideals that we, intuitively, as a people, collectively demonstrated to the rest of the world during those days.  Among them:  indivisible. 

Can’t we all just…. try to honor the memory of those we lost on 9/11 by demonstrating the spirit of unity and humanity during the days and weeks that followed?  Who knows how long it could last….

 

privacy-798250Many financially successful individuals and families I meet with become uncomfortable whenever I address this topic.  Such discomfort likely stems from the recognition that time and convenience has caused lapses in adhering to the best practices they have agreed will enhance their security.  Though I don’t want to be a fear monger, I remind the clients I serve that bad things can and do happen to good people who drop their guard. Knowing how to safeguard your private information is not valuable unless you consistently take the necessary precautions. My team and I work with specialists offering insurance protection from cyber intrusions, and more importantly a range of services to enhance your personal privacy.

Those interested in learning more about the risks families face keeping their personal information private can review this great article –  Could cyber risk break the bank, or contact for an introduction to an expert who can perform a thorough review of the cyber security solution and providers that are available.

Image result for burst pipeAlthough these three words are borrowed from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” , they capture the heartbroken sentiments many homeowners experience after a failure in their internal plumbing system has caused water to flow throughout their home. Sometimes for many hours or days.  

Just how common are losses like this?  Research from the Insurance Information Institute reveals that losses caused by the errant flow of water from inside a home are the second leading cause of loss to homes, trailing only damage caused by wind and hail.  Water damage claims are not only a frequent cause of loss, but the amount of damage to your home and personal possession is usually extensive. Very extensive. 

As an independent agent and personal risk adviser I have years of experience helping homeowners to evaluate and implement cost efficient and highly effective solutions that greatly reduce this risk.  Any who wish to research the many issues and different solutions that are available can study this great article published by International Risk Management Institute.

For those who would instead prefer an introduction to a great risk adviser who has the experience to recommend the right solutions to keep the water in your home where it belongs — in your plumbing system — I’d be happy to provide an introduction to a highly qualified adviser in your area.

 

Earth-crying (1)If Mother Nature was trying to send us a message in 2017, it reminds me of the adage “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.  Mountains ravaged by wildfires weaponized into a tsunami of mud, boulders, and fallen trees offers this clear message: we’d be wise to heed the lessons of the past and prepare for a continued increase in weather related catastrophes.

According to this this alarming report by Associated Press News, the U.S. experienced a series of unprecedented weather events in 2017.  Below are some of the “highlights” cited in the AP report :

  • Total cost for weather disasters in the United States was a record $306 billion
  • Three of the five most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history hit last year:
    • Harvey caused massive flooding in Texas: $125 billion
    • Maria’s damage in Puerto Rico: $90 billion
    • Irma’s damage, mainly in Florida: $50 billion
  • Western wildfires caused $18 billion in damage. According to NOAA, this total is three times the U.S. wildfire record.
  • NOAA also reported 2017 was the third hottest year in U.S. records for the Lower 48 states — a full 2.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
  • This was the third straight year that all 50 states had above average temperatures for the year.
  • Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Mexico — had their warmest year ever.

Rather than using this post to debate the possible causes for such disturbing weather trends, I instead urge readers to ask this important question:

“IF my home and belongings are ravaged by a catastrophic weather event, will my insurance coverage provide the level of protection I want to rely on?”

With so much to lose, I encourage readers to sit down with an insurance professional who specializes in helping those they serve by crafting a protection program that “starts with the end in mind”.  I work with specialists in all 50 states and internationally, and would be happy to provide an introduction to a personal risk advisor who can help you to prepare now for a possible catastrophe tomorrow.

KnownsNot knowing the right questions to ask about your insurance protection is among the key reasons far too many consumers hear the dreaded words “you’re not covered” at the worse possible time — after a personal property or liability insurance loss.

Not knowing what we don’t know is a dangerous and common cognitive bias that contributes to many regrettable decisions. Discerning between the knowns, unknowns, and known unknowns can be confusing, as memorialized in this explanation by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The KNOWNS

Following are just a few examples of the questions many consumers know to ask about their insurance protection:

  1. Can you lower my premiums?
  2. How much liability insurance do I really need?
  3. Am I “fully covered”?
  4. What is my deductible?

Questions like these are all valid and worthy of answers. Meanwhile, relying on prior experience, advertising campaigns or glib “how to buy” articles in the media prevents consumers from getting far more important answers to the many questions they don’t know to ask.

The UNKNOWNS

Consumers who want their insurance program to protect their assets from a wide range of threats need clear answers to many more questions than they know to ask. These questions are the “unknowns”. For example, consumers should press for clear answers to these questions:

  1. In addition to the risks I am covered for, what are the risks I am not currently insured for?
  2. Are there any coverage gaps, policy exclusions or forms of coverage that have not been not offered that are exposing my assets to uncovered property or liability losses?
  3. How does the claims settlement process differ among insurance carriers?
  4. Are there effective strategies to control the cost of coverage without requiring me to sacrifice important protection?
  5. What services are available to help prevent or reduce the risk of loss?
  6. What can I do now to ensure the best outcome in the event of a large property or liability loss?

 Uncovering the KNOWN UNKNOWNS

Although there are MANY more questions to accompany those shown above, I believe there is one question ALL consumers should first examine:

Who is responsible to know the right questions I need answered to help me reduce the risk of experiencing an uncovered loss?  

Independent insurance agents who serve their clients as personal risk advisors know the unknowns, and can provide insightful answers to the many important questions few consumers know to ask. Consumers need the assistance of an independent agent who functions as a de-facto risk-coach, and not simply an insurance company promoting a “better deal” on an insurance policy.

Where to find one?

To learn whether you are working with an insurance agent who is truly focused on helping you make well informed decisions to properly manage your risks, here’s a good question to ask that person:

“Are there other questions I have not asked that can help  you better assess my exposure to uncovered losses?” 

The answer you receive to this question can help you determine if the person whose job it is to help you understand and manage your risks is even focused on meeting that objective.  For those who wish to speak with an independent insurance agent who provides their clients clear answers to the important questions they don’t know to ask I’d be happy to provide an introduction.

 

Broke

It is likely old news to most insurance consumers that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA is plagued with challenges.

Challenges as in problems. Many. Big. Problems.  This excellent New York Times article provides a sobering analysis of those problems.

 

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM: As illustrated by the excellent chart below, although many policyholders feel their flood insurance premiums are already too high, the costs to pay all claims occurring in years with catastrophic flooding events GREATLY exceed the total premiums received over many years combined. The NFIP is not exactly a good business model.

SOLUTIONS ARE AVAILABLE: Consumers should be aware there are a number of private insurance carriers that provide alternative and/or supplemental coverage solutions to the National Flood Insurance Program. These private carriers can often provide expanded protection, cost improvements, and sometimes a combination of improved coverage and a lower cost.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: To evaluate private placement flood insurance solutions, insurance consumers should contact an independent insurance agent that represents multiple carriers.  As with all forms of insurance, coverage terms and conditions vary among carriers, and established independent insurance agents are often able to help consumers explore multiple coverage solutions from different insurance carriers. I can help consumers  in need of such assistance by providing a recommendation to local agencies located throughout the United States offering great expertise and market access.

As always, let the buyer BeAware!

flood chart

auto-insurance-price-increase-imageThe rising cost of auto insurance is a source of frustration for most of us.  Many I speak with want to know how insurance companies determine the premiums they charge, and why those costs are rising.

Insurance companies use actuarial science to analyze a lot of data to help them assess the probability of a future loss and the projected claims costs for any given policyholder. Before setting the rates, regulators in each state require carriers to document how the factors being used directly correlate to the rates the carrier seeks to charge. Whether consumers agree with the factors or not, most I speak with understand the more common factors used by carriers to determine the cost of auto insurance, including:

o   Age, gender, and marital status

o   Where you live, and how many miles you drive to and from work

o   Your credit rating

o   Your driving record and claim history

Meanwhile, analyzing prior claims results to determine the cost to offset future losses is not always reliable. When forecasts prove inaccurate and the cost to pay all claims outpace the premiums collected, carriers must document the reasons to support their request for increased rates when filing their new rates with state regulators.  Insurance carriers have experienced a number of factors that have contributed to more frequent claims and a higher cost to settle many claims, leading to higher auto insurance premiums for many consumers. Following are those factors:

o   More miles driven. Vehicle miles traveled increased by 3.5% in 2015, the largest annual increase in nearly 25 years, and an additional growth of 3.1% occurred in 2016.

o   More drivers driving. The number of people employed has increased significantly. Simply put, more cars and drivers on the road leads to a higher probability of accidents.

o   Increase in accident severity. The average cost per paid bodily injury claim increased 32.1% from 2005 to 2013, and medical costs are on the rise.

o   Increase in auto repair costs. The U.S. set a new car sales record in 2015, and new cars have more advanced technology and are more expensive to repair.

o   Increase in traffic fatalities:  deaths on the roadways increased 8% in 2015 to the highest level since 2005.

Should you wish further information on this topic, this excellent article and video by Central Insurance Companies is especially insightful: What’s driving my auto rates?

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