Cyber Security Coverage in the Age of Ransomware

Cyber Security Coverage in the Age of Ransomware

In July 2020, we all saw the ramifications of a well-performed hack. Twitter experienced the most catastrophic security breach in their company’s history. Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, and other high-profile Twitter users were all among the hacked users.

This hack caused Twitter to shut down all verified blue-checked accounts. In just a few short hours, this breach of security cost Twitter users more than $118,000 and the company even more in their reputation.

With most business and social interactions moving toward technology-centered avenues, this can be troubling for most business owners. What will your company do if this happens to you? Did the global pandemic and stay-at-home orders make you more vulnerable to potential cyber-attacks? How can you protect yourself and your company? Let’s explore!

Consider Investing in Cyber Insurance 

Cyber insurance covers the expense incurred due to a data breach, virus, or other cyber-attacks and fraud. It can also cover legal claims that come from a security breach. As companies utilize cloud software, personal computers and laptops, and other technology-based means to store their sensitive data, their risk for a security breach grows exponentially.

The Identity Theft Resource Center claims that in 2018 businesses experienced 571 breaches in security, which exposed 415 million employee and customer records. 

When you do experience a breach as a company, federal law requires you to perform an extensive list of to-dos. If you have cyber insurance coverage, however, your carrier will take that responsibility on.

How Has Your Business Become More Vulnerable?

As businesses moved to a new work-from-home model, cyberattacks increased. With most company communication done through e-mail, Slack, and other online platforms, the risk of a breach increases. This could cause a company to experience massive monetary loss as well as reputation damage. 

What are the signs that you may be at risk of experiencing a cyber attack?

  • You are receiving requests for transactions, like direct deposits or electronic fund transfers
  • Unsolicited communications are coming through from unknown companies or people
  • Links within the email do not match—check links by rolling your cursor over the link to see if the two match with the content and the email address!
  • Requests with a high sense of urgency, asking you to complete documentation immediately
  • Requests for usernames, passwords, and other personal details like banking information

What can you do to help mitigate this risk?

  • Limit your use of large email attachments and programs that put pressure on your company’s bandwidth ecosystems
  • Do not forward emails with attachments that contain highly restricted or company confidential information to personal accounts
  • Avoid reading, talking about, or leaving confidential information in unsecured work-from-home areas
  • Log-off of your work device when you’re not using it
  • Shred sensitive documents
  • Restart your computer regularly

These tips along with the added security of cyber insurance should prepare your business for potential cybersecurity breaches. Learn more about how cyber insurance can help your company today. Contact us at Benchmark to see how we can partner!

If you want to hear more about cyber security from our team, be sure to check out the Webinar linked for more information. 

Cyber Security Coverage in the Age of Ransomware

cyber liability

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

Executive protection is a necessary investment for companies to survive. This important balance sheet protection tool can be the difference between survival or peril in today’s litigious environment. 

As you look to protect your business from executive risk, it’s important to understand the different types of risk associated with it. Executive protection is broken down into different categories.

Here’s a breakdown of what Executive Protection covers.

Employee Practices

Employment practices can mean numerous things: wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments. 

Within the main categories listed above, there are many subcategories that have proven to be a risk. For example, an employee could file an EPLI for emotional negligence. 

There are many factors that are increasing liability risk for 2021. With most offices returning to in-person work environments, the risk runs even greater. 

COVID-19

COVID brings another element to potential ELPI claims. Some of the potential situations that could occur with returning to the office or adopting a hybrid model include: 

  • An employee feels emotional neglect for having a hard transition to in-person work after working from home for a year.
  • Employees might feel that higher-ups have conducted the health and safety aspect of COVID-19 at a lower standard.
  • An employee refuses to follow new guidelines and regulations stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • An employee returns to the office and contracts COVID-19 from a co-worker.

These examples only begin to predict what could happen in the future. 

Fiduciary 

Based on the law passed in 1974, there are regulations that businesses must have as baseline coverage for all employees. If these basic guidelines are neglected, then there’s a liability risk. Some examples of failing to meet guidelines might include: 

  • Improper enrollment or terminations
  • Resulting in lost or incorrect benefits
  • Errors in counseling when administering health or welfare plans
  • Resulting in lost or incorrect benefits
  • Giving poor or negligent advice on investing employees’ retirement plans
  • Making risky investments in a defined benefit pension plan
  • Wrongful denial or improper change in benefits
  • Imprudent selection of and/or monitoring or third-party service providers

There are other terminologies that are thrown around in the workplace, like Errors and Omissions (E&O) that follow similar guidelines. 

Media

Media liability coverage protects the insured against claims arising out of the gathering and communication of information and is critical to any media organization. The variety of claims being asserted against the media, and the size of jury verdicts against media organizations, are constantly on the increase. 

According to data released by the Libel Defense Resource Center, the median jury award against media organizations in 1990 was $500,000; in 1997, it was $2.3 million. 

Cyber and Tech

Cyberwarfare is not just for meddling in elections and extorting multinational corporations. Companies of all sizes and types can fall victim to enterprising hackers and cyber extortionists. The question all companies must ask themselves is not “what is my data worth to someone else?” but “what is my data worth to me?” Of course, well-crafted IT protections are a crucial first line of defense, but if the protections fail, could your company shoulder the cost of an uncovered claim or ransom payment?

Cyber insurance coverage is likely broader, less expensive, and more crucial to your business than you would think. 

Trade Credit

Another fancy term is trade credit. This can basically be broken down to the idea that trade credit protects manufacturers, traders, and service providers against losses from non-payment of commercial trade debt due to bankruptcy, insolvency, or very late payments.

Intellectual Property

IP insurance covers companies for the legal costs associated with pursuing infringement or theft of IP. It also covers legal defense costs for policyholders accused of IP infringement or theft. There are two basic types of IP insurance:

Infringement Defense: Covers policyholders for infringement claims brought against them.

Abatement Enforcement: Gives the insured the financial resources to enforce their IP rights and pursue infringement claims.

In today’s increasingly perilous and litigious business environment, every company faces risk. It is unfortunate that any of your company’s many constituents—including employees, investors, customers, suppliers, competitors, government agencies, and creditors—pose a financial risk to your business. Any one of them, however, could sue your company or target it for criminal activity.

As you look to protect your business from these potential threats, enlist the help of an insurance mentor. At Benchmark, we invest in our clients’ protection and we aim to ensure your business remains risk-free. Reach out to us today to start a conversation about your business’ risk!

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

Do You Need an Employee Manual Review? (Yes!)

Do You Need an Employee Manual Review? (Yes!)

What Is an Employee Manual Review?

An employee manual is not only a resource for employees but also for an employer as well. An employee manual is a book or online PDF containing employees’ and employers’ guidelines to reference for all job-related information.

Although an employee handbook is given and reviewed once a new hire is onboarded, the document should be reviewed at least annually. 

This is generally a large document, as it will cover topics including: 

  • Equal Opportunity Guidelines
  • Company Culture
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) and Holiday Time
  • Job Expectations
  • A Company Mission Statement
  • Company Policies
  • Work Performance Expectations
  • Who to Contact if an Issue Arises

Surprisingly, employee handbooks are not required by law. They are, however, very helpful and highly recommended.

Most HR representatives consider the employer’s handbook as an active document. This means that throughout the year when policies and employment laws change, notes can be added and reviewed.

It is important to note that creating and maintaining employee manuals within California is much more difficult than in other states as policies and guidelines are constantly being adjusted. It’s almost impossible to keep up, which is why adding notes and using the employee handbook as an active document is a helpful practice to follow.

Why Review?

Most HR representatives consider the employer’s handbook as an active document. This means that throughout the year when policies and general guidelines change, notes can be added and reviewed. Again, an employee handbook is most helpful when acting as an active document because the handbook will stay perfectly to date without annual revisions. 

As an employer, it can be helpful to see the employee handbook as a resource, not just another box to check off the list. It can be a helpful tool because there is a high level of information to keep track of. If an employee gets called to jury duty, for example, do they receive paid time off? Check the employee handbook.

What to Avoid

If you have an employee handbook from a past business, don’t copy and paste this document for another business. This doesn’t work for many reasons. Each company has a unique set of guidelines that apply to its employee handbook.

Ideally, an employee handbook should be written by an HR consultant or professional, or an employment attorney. Although there are tools that can help employers build a handbook, it’s more consistent to collaborate with a professional. 

As a new hire is onboarded, there are many documents that can get lost in emails. One suggestion as an employer is to review the handbook in-person—open it and highlight some of the main topics. Consider creating an infographic with the top 10 ideas and questions that employees might have as a reference.

Do you have questions about our program development and options available? Our team is ready to answer your questions and provide you with information about insurance and building a beneficial partnership with us. Call Benchmark today at 800-283-0622 or send us a message.

Thursday August 19 2021

 

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does my business need inland marine coverage?

From the name, it might seem that Inland Marine insurance is only required for businesses who ship goods over bodies of water but in fact, that is not the case.  Since the great fire of London in 1666, inland marine insurance has grown from its original purpose of covering all goods and property in transport across bodies of water to simply mean coverage of commercial properties in any form of transit.

In fact, inland marine insurance does not even cover boating transportation. Boating transport is covered under ocean marine insurance. Inland marine covers damage to business property while in transport, or while in your care, custody, or control during transport.

Inland marine policies became known as “floaters” since the property covered was originally floating on water. However, now the coverage is applied to all property in transport.

Some of the areas of coverage frequently included in an inland marine policy include fire, lightning, windstorm, flood, earthquake, landslide, theft, collision, derailment, overturn of the transporting vehicle, and bridge collapse.

Bailees and those companies which work off-site, or move products typically need commercial inland marine insurance coverage.  For example, if you are in the construction business you may want to round out your coverage with inland marine coverage to ensure that equipment in transit is covered.  Additionally, those business owners in the renewable energy or R&D space can use inland marine coverage to protect communication towers, solar, wind, and other renewable energy equipment.

Take the following case story for example as it highlights a business that was frequently transporting goods as bailees from one destination to another.

“Colaprico Collectibles” is a multinational auction house that handles the goods of high-end estates around the world.  In late 2017 while in transit from Russia to the US the truck carrying highly valued goods was damaged in a collision on its way to the auction house in NYC.  While the majority of the goods were undamaged, 3 large pieces were partially damaged.  Without the specific coverage provided by their inland marine coverage, they or their consignees could have lost large sums of money.  With inland marine coverage, their claim was handled and both parties were made whole.  The coverage itself was a drop in the bucket compared to the value of the goods that were damaged and they were appreciative that their coverage was well-planned and specific to their unique industry and needs.

Some of the additional areas of coverage in the inland marine insurance space include the following.  While this overview gives a glimpse into the types of industries and risks that are covered by inland marine, this coverage is less regulated and therefore, can cover a wider variety of risks than many other more highly regulated areas of insurance.

  • Shipping Motor truck cargo Rolling stock Warehouse and logistics
  • Agriculture and landscaping
 Computer 
Electronic
 Entertainment
 Flooring
 Medical
 Party and special event
 Sales and rental dealers
  • Collectibles Exhibitions Fine arts Musical instruments Patterns and dies Signs Vending machines

 

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cyber security coverage in the age of ransomware

A cyber attack incident will occur every 11 seconds in 2021… Ensure you’re covered

Cyber attacks are on the rise in 2021.  According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a cyber attack will occur every 11 seconds in 2021, nearly twice the rate in 2019.  With that being said, it’s important to ensure your business is covered in case a cyber attack does occur, with cyber liability coverage. 

Who needs cyber liability insurance?

While some general liability and professional liability policies include some basic cyber liability coverage, some additional coverage may be needed. Businesses that store personally identifiable information (PII) for both employees and customers should have additional coverage. 

Cyber breaches can occur in a multitude of ways. They can be executed through phishing emails, viruses, ransomware, or other malicious attempts to corrupt your data. The best way to begin protecting your data is to establish internal safeguards. This includes strong passwords, monitoring electronic device access, and access to different software tools. 

What exactly does cyber liability insurance cover?

There are a few types of coverage within a cyber liability policy. First-party coverage and third-party coverage to help ensure you’re covered for whatever comes your way.

First-party coverage includes coverage for immediate expenses related to the cyber breach. These expenses typically include:

  • The cost of notifying employees and the public
  • Marketing and public relations response that protect the company’s reputation
  • Extortion money
  • Repairing the damage to software and hardware
  • The cost of business interruption and missed income while operations are suspended
  • Other ancillary costs

On the other hand, third-party coverage helps a company defend against lawsuits and legal claims. There are a few lawsuits that can occur. Privacy lawsuits are covered under this coverage in case you have breached the privacy of customers and employees.

Regulatory body fines are covered, as well as media liability claims (copyright infringement, libel, or slander). Lastly, breach of contract and negligence claims are covered with third-party coverage.

While it’s important to understand what is covered with cyber liability insurance, it’s also important to understand what’s not covered.

It’s important to understand what all of your insurance coverage does not cover. As when you look to ensure you are protected, you can see where your vulnerabilities may lie. Some common exclusions from cyber liability insurance include:

  • Bodily injury and property damage claims: Any claims of bodily injury or property damage will not be included in your cyber liability insurance policy. However, a general liability policy will cover these claims.
  • Criminal activity: Cyber liability insurance policies do not cover fraud, robbery, employee theft, and other crimes. However commercial crime insurance will cover these claims.
  • Social engineering: A cyber liability insurance policy will not cover when employees are tricked into transferring company funds. This can be an additional add-on with some cyber liability plans.
  • Loss of property: When an employee loses a piece of property, like a phone or computer, cyber liability will not cover the cost. However, a commercial property insurance policy will. 

Like many businesses, you likely utilize computers, and other electronic devices to send, receive, and store electronic data. Data is one of your most valuable assets. It’s important to ensure that you protect that data and the cost of losing it when you can. Contact Roger today to see how you can protect your cyber assets today.

 

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commercial claims – what you need to know

No one wants to go through a commercial insurance claim.

Whatever the situation, it is never fun to have to file an insurance claim.  Necessarily, something has gone wrong.  But knowing what to expect and having a team who works with you to support and advocate for you is all the difference.

Depending on the type of loss your business experiences, the duties and responsibilities required by you in a claim can be numerous. It is important to remember that your broker-agent can assist you throughout the claims process. In many cases your broker-agent will be your first point of contact when filing an insurance claim. Whether you contact your broker-agent or the insurance company directly when filing a claim, you are required under the insurance contract to report all claims in a timely manner. This allows the insurance company to process the claim and conduct its investigation as quickly as possible.

Since commercial claims tend to be more complex, it is important for the company to assess the claim quickly in order to mitigate any situation that may have the potential for increased loss. This is especially crucial in liability claims, as there can be high dollar amounts at stake. When claims are not controlled early in the claims process, litigation from third parties can arise. Litigation can be expensive and often ends in a judgment much higher than if an experienced claim representative had handled the claim from the beginning. This is why it is necessary to turn all claims over to your broker-agent or insurance company as soon as you are made aware of the claim. Trying to handle the claim yourself violates your duties under the insurance contract and can be costly to you in the long run.

Most business owners are aware that claims loss experience is reflected in the rating formula and directly affects premium costs. By following the duties outlined in your contract regarding claims, you are a partner with your insurance company in helping to keep claims costs to a minimum, which in turn helps keep your premium costs down.

The better your claims experience, the greater modification allowed to lower your premium. When you first receive your policy, contact your broker-agent to discuss all the duties and responsibilities required by you under the contract.

Deductible

The deductible on a commercial policy is the part of the loss that you pay up-front before your insurance company pays a claim. Based on the amount of the deductible as stated in your policy, the insurance company will pay up to the limits of the policy when a claim is covered after you have provided the deductible payment. The type of deductible utilized in a commercial policy is referred to as an “absolute dollar amount.” The higher the absolute dollar amount (deductible), the lower your premium.

Loss Control

One of the most effective ways to decrease the frequency and potential severity of claims is through loss prevention and control. Most commercial insurance companies have their own loss prevention departments; however, some insurers rely upon contracted loss prevention services. Usually, loss control services are built into higher risk, higher premium accounts as a part of the entire package of insurance. If you are a small business owner, you can still benefit from proven loss control methods. Based on your type of business exposure, your broker-agent can offer suggestions on how to best control the loss exposures common to your business. The broker-agent along with your account underwriter, claims representative, and loss control representative can create an entire program of loss prevention that includes specific modifications and procedures to follow that can help create a safer workplace. These programs can even include an employee safety program that incorporates awards and suggestions. Getting your employees involved in loss control makes good business sense. Creating a safe work environment benefits everyone. When proven loss control methods are implemented, the public and workers are better protected, and your premium costs go down as your loss experience

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does your coverage match your business size?

The types and amount of insurance that you need for your small business are based on several factors. Primarily:  the number of employees, your total sales and annual revenue, your industry (some industries have a higher need for insurance), the State in which you live, and of course your tolerance for risk.

Home-based businesses

These days many businesses are home-based.  Traditionally, however, a home-based business was defined as one with no full time employees and revenues under .5 million dollars.

Just because the business is small, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be insured.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), more than half of American businesses are home-based. Homeowners insurance alone will not necessarily cover your home-based business against business property loss or liability.

Small businesses

Do you know all of your employees by name? Does your business make less than 5 million dollars annually?  Some insurers consider businesses with 50 or fewer employees to be small businesses. The SBA defines a small business concern as one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field.

A common small business policy—called a BOP, for “Business Owners Policy”—is usually available only for businesses with fewer than 100 employees and revenues of up to about $5 million or less. While you can purchase customized insurance to cover your specific type of business, insurers offer standardized small business policies that enable you to affordably protect your company against the most common risks.

Medium-sized businesses

If your small business is growing and thriving, you may have graduated into a medium-sized company. Again, definitions of business sizes vary, but if your company has between 50 and 1,000 employees with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion, you can seek insurance as a medium-sized business. Insurers have special policies designed specifically for this segment that may combine property and liability coverage. If your medium-sized business owns especially expensive equipment or has locations in more than one state, you may also want to seek special customized policies.

Large businesses

Large businesses have at least 500 employees; revenue requirements are dependent on the type of business.

Large, complex businesses have multi-million dollar risks, and commercial insurance is customized to meet a company’s specific needs. Large companies even have employees dedicated to analyzing the potential causes of accidents or loss, recommending and implementing preventive measures, and devising plans to minimize costs and damage should a loss occur, including the purchase of insurance and managing claims. This practice is known as risk management. If you run a small business, you generally have to act as your own risk manager. Sometimes a small business will hire a risk management consultant. If you’re unsure, ask an insurance professional to help assess the risk for businesses of all sizes.

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