Protecting Sensitive Data: Cyber Insurance for Real Estate Businesses

The process of selling and purchasing real estate can be arduous enough.  Think about all of the highly sensitive and personal data that gets revealed and transferred – financial statements, tax returns, Social Security numbers, and more.

Then think of the bonanza a cyber criminal would reap from tapping into that cornucopia of information.  Cyber insurance quickly becomes a vital component of the real estate business’ arsenal.

According to insurance industry sources, cyber liability insurance helps real estate agents, commercial landlords, and other real estate professionals pay for expenses associated with data breaches.  If a cybersecurity breach would occur, a cyber liability policy could provide coverage for:

  • Notifying clients or customers about the breach.
  • Good-faith advertising or public relations campaigns to restore reputation.
  • Credit monitoring services for affected clients.
  • Cyber extortion demands.
  • Attorney’s fees.
  • Court costs.
  • Settlements or judgments.

Real estate businesses regularly handle sensitive customer data and perform sizeable transactions.  Should any of this electronically transmitted data get stolen or otherwise compromised, customers are immediately placed at risk of theft – including identity theft – and could file suit against the real estate business.

There is absolutely no reason to remain open to such exposure.  Contact the team of professionals at The Reschini Group for information on how we can fashion a cyber liability package for your organization.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Networking Works: Claims Advantages of an Independent Agent

A common adage goes like this: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  And that holds true, most of the time.

But the best results happen when you twist that saying around just a bit, to read: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”  Any customer who works with an independent insurance agency can vouch for the truth of that statement.

An independent agent serves as an additional person at bat for you – an advocate, who can cover the middle ground between the customer and a national insurance provider.  The independent agent gets closer to the source of claims.  Can do the legwork, brainwork, and homework necessary to secure the best, most fair settlement.  The independent agent can truly serve as the agent – the representative – of the customer.

In one real-life example, a piece of equipment at a customer’s facility caught fire and was ruled a total loss.  After the claim had been submitted to the national carrier, that carrier said it was only responsible for about half of the claim’s value based on its adjustment.  The Reschini Group, along with the insured, worked diligently to find a true market value for the equipment– after which the national carrier agreed to cover the full cost of the claim.

On a similar claim, Reschini was onsite during a thorough initial inspection and second subrogation inspection as a representative of its insured.  The Reschini team helped facilitate the process from day one through claims payment, and still represents its insured in recovery of the equipment.  Through this process, the Reschini team helped the insured understand what was happening at each step, managing expectations in clear language that provided another layer of assurance and assistance.

You may know the names of the bigger national insurance providers, but an independent insurance agency knows you.  And that can make a world of difference when thousands of dollars are on the line.

Contact the team of professionals at the Reschini Group for more information on how we can help protect your organization.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Clear and Credible: Developing a Benefits Communication Program

Employee benefits represent roughly a third of the typical individual’s total compensation package, so it’s in everyone’s interest that the terms, guidelines, and options inherent in those benefits are communicated clearly and with credibility.

That’s the rationale for developing a well-crafted, consistently executed benefits communication program. Achieving this can take time and careful planning. Here are some tips and best practices to streamline the path to success:

  • Know what benefits your organization provides and how they work.
  • Ask how your employees feel about your benefits program.
  • Keep employees and beneficiaries informed of changes to their benefits, and explain confusing terms and features of the plans.
  • Develop a communication plan, including a timeline, budget, and list of resources or employees to be involved.
  • Decide what type of communication will be most appropriate for relaying messages to employees.
  • Sell your communication plan to your manager by defining the benefits associated with the elimination of employee confusion about their benefits.
  • Set measurable objectives for how much money and time your communication plan will save.
  • Prioritize compliance with government regulations and clarification of complicated issues, procedures, and terms.
  • Prepare the communication plan to fit corporate objectives and employee needs.
  • Target segments of employees who would benefit most from specific features of a benefit by sending tailored communications.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your communication plan through employee surveys, and revise as warranted.

The time and resources devoted to researching, building, and following through on a solid benefits communication plan can prevent confusion, delays, lost productivity, and even impact bottom-line financial results. It is well worth the effort, and can yield important returns to your organization.

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group has more information on this subject, and is ready to help your business develop an effective benefits communication plan.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

A State of Mind: Reinforcing a Safety Culture

Every organization has a culture, whether it realizes that fact or not.  The way people view themselves, each other, what is expected of them, what may be important or not – all represent factors that build into that culture.

Attitudes and behaviors surrounding safety fit into that mix, and in ways that can hit the bottom line.

According to OSHA, an established safety culture can reduce an organization’s injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.  Regarding safety, OSHA provides the following statistics:

  • Employers pay nearly $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone, which comes straight out of corporate profits.
  • Injuries and illnesses increase workers’ compensation and retraining costs.
  • Lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies approximately $63 billion annually.

A stronger safety culture can help alleviate many of those avoidable costs.  But how does a culture take root and begin to become part of the organization’s DNA?

One approach comes in tying safety behaviors to incentives and compensation.  Reward employees who err on the side of safety over speed.  It’s important to distinguish between reward and recognition, however, meaning that you don’t want employees doing something only because they know they’ll get something in return.  It must become routine behavior because of the deeper benefits – namely, that they and their co-workers can return home after every shift safe and whole.

A strong safety culture inspires people to look out for one another and point out unsafe situations or behaviors.  Establishing and reinforcing this level of mutual consideration, protection, and sense of responsibility leads to a culture where an organization can achieve its business goals because its people care about the team.

The Insurance professionals at The Reschini Group can help identify a roadmap to help your organization build and promote a safety culture that alleviates the cost of injuries and illnesses, but more importantly, keeps your people safe and productive.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Staying Safe: Five Tips to Greater Cybersecurity

 

Cybersecurity practices remain a key focus for both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).   An article* in Forbes magazine summarizes five best practices cited by these organizations to mitigate the risk of cyber attacks:

 

  1. Governance

FINRA has found that although Boards of Directors are actively focused on cybersecurity, during their regulatory exams up to two-thirds of companies were found to have deficiencies or weaknesses in their policies and procedures.  Cybersecurity policies need to be specific and articulate the procedures necessary for implementation.

 

  1. Risk Assessment 

Risk assessment should be an ongoing process as opposed to a single point in time. Companies should gather and evaluate indicators of potential risks on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. They should also look to what’s happening at other organizations and other industries, both to gain best practices ideas and to help thwart attackers’ plans.

 

  1. Cybersecurity Training

Because employees represent the biggest risk, training needs to be conducted regularly and be varied, both in method (such as in-person, email, blogs) and with different topics (such as passwords or visitor access).  Show employees what good cyber behavior looks like so they may bring those practices home with them to protect their families and personal systems, as well.

 

  1. Access Management

While the SEC watches how organizations conduct reviews of access rights periodically, it is estimated that about half either do not follow policies and procedures for terminating access rights, or inadvertently provide unauthorized system access to users contrary to established policy.  Best practice is for any remote access to a core network to be protected by two-factor authentication.

 

  1. Vendor Management

Risk from vendors needs to be addressed and constantly vetted and assessed.  One idea calls for the business to obtain permission before bringing on any new vendor that handles, touches, or stores data. To make it easier, create a list of pre-approved vendors.

The team of professionals at The Reschini Group can help assess your cybersecurity exposures and offer comprehensive insurance solutions to transfer cyber risk and protect your company.  Contact us to learn more.

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/joannabelbey/2017/06/30/how-to-avoid-cyberattacks-5-best-practices-from-sec-and-finra/#56ae09df1a16


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

 

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Make No Mistake: Best EPLI Coverage Gained as a Standalone Policy

You can’t be kind of pregnant.  You can’t be kind of deceased.  With some of life’s developments, you really don’t have a choice.  It’s all or nothing.

But in others, the choice remains open – yet, it might be best to go all-in anyway.  Such is the advice of professionals when it comes to Employment Practices Liability Insurance, or EPLI.

The International Risk Management Institute defines EPLI as: “A type of liability insurance covering wrongful acts arising from the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under such policies include: wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. In addition, the policies cover claims from a variety of other types of inappropriate workplace conduct, including (but not limited to) employment-related: defamation, invasion of privacy, failure to promote, deprivation of a career opportunity, and negligent evaluation. The policies cover directors and officers, management personnel, and employees as insureds.”

Coverage can be issued through an addendum to a General Liability policy or as a separate endorsement.  EPLI also typically carries a warranty covering whether the policyholder is aware of any workplace issues related to harassment, discrimination, or any of the other issues cited in the definition above.

EPLI issued as a full standalone policy remains the preferred method, since the policy is designed to provide a more robust coverage with separate limits from the General Liability form.  Regardless of how you purchase it, having EPLI coverage is highly recommended.

There are some instances where it’s smart to go all-in, even when you have the option to take a smaller, easier course.  But don’t be fooled.  Be smart.  Be covered fully.  EPLI is one of those instances.

Contact the team of professionals at the Reschini Group for more information on how an EPLI policy can help protect your organization.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Clearing the Air: The Value of Smoking Cessation Programs

Many employers may not realize the full cost that employee smoking incurs to their company. Smokers are much more likely to develop serious chronic medical conditions, visit the doctor more often, be absent from work with an illness, or have a short- or long-term disability—all of which are very costly to an employer’s health plan and productivity.

In fact, smokers cost private employers in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared to nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University. Of that amount, $3,077 comes from smoking breaks, since smokers, on average, take approximately five breaks a day compared to the three breaks reserved for most workers. Excess health care expenses account for $2,056, and the remaining costs are due to increased absenteeism and lost productivity.  Implementing a smoking cessation program and incorporating benefits into your health plan can lower the number of employees who smoke and dramatically affect your bottom line now and in the future.

Studies have shown that employees are much more likely to quit when smoking cessation resources are included as paid benefits in their health plan. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that smoking cessation therapy is the most cost-effective health benefit that employers can offer.

Other strategies offered through an employer health plan and in the workplace to help promote smoking cessation include:

  • Establish smoke-free policies throughout your workplace
  • Incentive programs for employees who quit and stay smoke-free
  • Flexible spending program to reimburse smoking cessation counseling and 
prescription drugs (if your plan does not cover these items)
  • On-site counseling options (or counseling referrals)
  • Employee communications for education, promoting your program, and 
encouragement for those quitting
  • Participating in special events, such as the Great American Smokeout
  • Health risk assessments to identify employee smokers
  • Develop other creative ways to offer personal support and encouragement in 
the workplace for employees who are quitting
  • Consider including spouses and dependents in your smoking cessation 
benefits

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a smoking cessation Program for your particular situation.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

It CAN Happen To You: Cybersecurity Claims Impacting All Levels of Business

The market for cybersecurity coverage remains competitive, and more business owners have decided to invest in insurance policies to protect from hackers and malware.  That’s the good news.

But the risk still outweighs the precautions taken, according to insurance industry watchers – and that’s the bad news.  Not enough clients are adopting the coverage, especially when proof continues to pile up that no organization is safe from a cyber event.

A 2019 Cyber Readiness Report from specialty provider Hiscox found that 53% of U.S. businesses reported a cyber attack in the previous 12 months, from 38% the previous year.  In all, 45% of those companies experienced three or more attacks in the past year.  Yet 27% of firms have no plans to adopt cyber insurance, according to the report.

Considering the potentially devastating cost of recovering from a cyber attack, that statistic becomes especially alarming.  According to McAfee’s 2018 Economic Impact of Cybercrime Report, the global cost of cybercrimes is estimated to be between $445 billion and $600 billion.  But less than 20% of all businesses have purchased cyber insurance.  That rate continues to increase, but not nearly to the degree to guard against harm to the level of exposure that remains.

Adopting a line of thinking that “It won’t happen to me” may be the biggest mistake of all, according to industry experts.  Business owners who only think of cyber attacks in terms of data breaches miss the other risks that exist, including extortion and business interruption – all of which represent serious and costly issues that need to be addressed through coverage.

The team at The Reschini Group can help put together the best package of cyber protection coverage for your business, regardless of size, scope, or industry.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

‘Truthiness’ Isn’t Enough: Understanding Policy Warrants

Late-night host Stephen Colbert coined a term years ago to characterize the shiftiness of politicians concerning statements of dubious honesty and integrity.  Colbert called such examples instances of “truthiness” – statements that approximated the truth, but still left enough wiggle room for the person to escape blame or responsibility.

When it comes to securing insurance coverage, though, “truthiness” just won’t cut it.  Policy warrant statements make sure of that.

Warrants essentially establish that when a person or organization signs an application, he or she guarantees that information contained in the application is indeed truthful.  On occasion, such warrants put into a policy can later be used to decline losses if the insurer feels that the insured was not truthful in the application.

The International Risk Management Institute defines a warrant as “a statement of fact given to an insurer by the insured concerning the insured risk which, if untrue, will void the policy.”

The temptation to skirt uncomfortable facts or to gloss over or minimize the actual details of a less-than-ideal situation can be strong.  But taking that step in order to secure a more advantageous rate or terms of coverage upfront can – and most likely will – surely backfire, should the moment arrive when a claim is filed and investigated.

Miguel de Cervantes, in his classic novel from the 17th Century, “Don Quixote,” may have put it best four centuries ago when he wrote: “The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”  In other words, the truth always comes out.  Best to tell it right at the start, even when dealing with something as ordinary as applying for an insurance policy.

The team at The Reschini Group can help put together the best package of coverage based on whatever your specific situation entails.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

All Well and Good: Fashioning an Effective Wellness Program

A wellness program assists employees and family members in making voluntary behavior changes that reduce their health risks and enhance their individual productivity. Studies have shown that employees are more likely to perform well when they are in optimal health. The following are benefits of implementing a wellness program:

  • Lower health care costs, due to a healthier workforce and improved disease management
  • Enhanced recruiting by attracting the most talented workers
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Improved on-the-job time utilization, decision making and productivity
  • Improved employee morale
  • Reduction in turnover

Because wellness programs must comply with state and federal law, legal review should precede a program’s introduction to employees.

The Wellness Council of America identifies these best practices for a successful workplace wellness program:

  1. Create committed and aligned leadership. A commitment from the top is key to the success of any wellness initiative, including commitment of adequate funding.
  2. Foster collaboration in support of wellness. Wellness teams should include a variety of people from all levels of your company.
  3. Collect meaningful data that will drive your health initiatives and wellness strategy. This may involve conducting a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments, and claims analysis.
  4. Craft an operating plan. An annual operating plan is important for your program’s success and should include a mission statement along with specific, measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives.
  5. Choose appropriate health initiatives that support the whole employee. The health initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data, and support your goals and objectives.
  6. Create a supportive environment, policies and practices. A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity and rewards.
  7. Conduct evaluations, communicate, celebrate and iterate. This allows you to celebrate goals achieved and to discontinue or change ineffective initiatives.

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a Wellness Program for your particular situation.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.