National Insurance Awareness Day

National Insurance Awareness Day

Insurance can be a complicated matter and many people do not pay much attention to it until they need it.  This is why it is important that you have the proper knowledge and awareness of your insurance prior to needing it. Damage, Illness, or even death can occur at any moment in life. For this reason, you will want to make sure that you and your loved ones are insured. Insurance Awareness Day reminds you to take time and talk to your insurance agent about all of your policies to ensure that you are properly informed.

 

History of Insurance

Insurance has been around far longer than most people think. Insurance’s birth year was around 3000 B.C. when the Chinese introduced it by spreading out their goods upon several ships to avoid major loss if an accident were to happen. In 1666 A.D., Nicholas Barbon created the first insurance company after a massive fire broke out in London. Then, in the 1850s along came health insurance. After that, in 1897, car insurance was introduced. Fast forward to present day and now almost anything you can think of can be insured. Although the basic principles are the same, insurance has come a long way since 3000 B.C.

Actions

The best way to participate in Insurance Awareness Day is by talking to an insurance agent that can review various policies for you and your family. And remember, always stay informed.

 

The Importance of Insurance Awareness Day

Life comes at you fast and if you are not insured this could make the matter even worse. Insurance offers security for both you and your loved ones and can it be crucial to have in times of need. The importance of this day is to make sure that not only you are covered, but your loved ones as well. Even though it may seem like a hassle, it will surely pay off in the future.

Preparing for the 2019 Hurricane Season

HOME MATTERS

The Importance of Being Prepared

Hurricane season lasts from June through November, when storms with heavy rains and catastrophic winds can severely damage or destroy homes in low-lying coastal areas. There is no time like the present to work together to create emergency kits: one for use if you need to evacuate your home and one for use if you get trapped in your home for several days.

Here are some suggestions on what to do before, during and after a storm.

BEFORE:

  • Refill prescriptions, fill up your car’s gas tank and withdraw a week’s worth of cash
  • Store valuable papers and items in waterproof bags
  • Cover windows and secure any outdoor items
  • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately

DURING:

  • Tune into a battery-operated radio or TV and follow instructions
  • Seek shelter in an interior room away from windows, such as a closet

AFTER:

  • Stay inside until an “all-clear” is issued. If you have evacuated, don’t return until the area is re-opened
  • When inspecting your home, wear sturdy shoes and clothing for protection
  • Allow only those trained to turn off damaged utilities and appliances
  • Use only bottles water until tap water is determined safe
  • Contact your agent promptly to report damages. Be patient, as delays are likely.

To download a printable version of the information provided please click the link below:

Home Matters – Preparing for a Hurricane

Boating Safety Tips

Head Out to Sea without Injury

Water sports, relaxing in the sun and splashing in the water are great ways to make memories with family and friends. Sea lovers must be careful near the marina and dock, though, to assure that their getaways are safe ones. If you are hitting the open waters this season, don’t forget these safety tips!

Docking Tips:

  • Use forward and reverse at an idle speed when docking and moving your boat near the marina.
  • Have bumpers, mooring lines and boat hooks ready before docking.
  • Keep all body parts in the boat until you have come to a complete stop.
  • Tie the line that holds the boat against the wind first when docking.

General Boating Precautions:

  • Dock at a marina that has standpipes, fire extinguishers, good lighting, surveillance cameras and security measures in place.
  • Always wear personal flotation devices when on the water, especially those that cannot swim and children.
  • Do not swim near a marina since boaters cannot see you when they are trying to dock.
  • Wear non-slip shoes on the boat and dock.
  • Keep your boat in good condition with all equipment meeting safety standards established in your area.
  • Assure that the marina has the proper power voltage for your boat.
  • Add fuel to portable tanks on the dock only; never on the deck of your boat.

    Safety First

    To avoid a potential fire onboard, inspect fuel hoses and containers on a regular basis to prevent the escaping vapors from going into bilges. Also, check the wiring and all appliances on deck for damage frequently.

    As a safety precaution, keep fire extinguishers on deck and fit smoke detectors to the cabin.

National Life Insurance Day

The Basics of Life Insurance

If you are married, it’s important for both spouses to have a life insurance policy. If both people bring in an income, a death can be a difficult financial loss. Also, if a stay-at-home parent should pass away, expenses such as childcare and other domestic items can create financial hardship, too.

There are two basic types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance. The type of life insurance policy that best suits you will depend on your unique needs.

Option #1: Term Life Insurance

Just as its name implies, term life insurance covers you for a specific period of time, or term, that you choose. Since it offers a death benefit but no cash value, term life insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your beneficiaries for a specified period of time.

Renewal term life insurance can be renewed at the end of the term, at the option of the policyholder and without evidence of insurability, for a limited number of successive terms. It can also be converted, or exchanged for a permanent insurance policy, without evidence of insurability down the road. It’s important to note that rates generally increase along with the insured’s age.

Option #2: Whole Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance is any form of life insurance other than term. Examples are whole life, universal life and variable life. These policies combine term life insurance with a long-term, tax-sheltered savings plan.

Whole life is the most basic type of permanent life insurance. It provides coverage that lasts a lifetime and also builds up a cash value that you can borrow against, withdraw or use to pay future premiums.

A life insurance policy with a cash value is ideal for those who have a lifetime need for insurance protection, prefer stable premiums over the life of the policy, want a policy that allows them to build tax-deferred values, and value the high degree of coverage the policy affords. While rates for a whole life insurance policy remain stable over the life of the policy, premiums are initially more costly than for term insurance.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

To find the right amount of coverage, it’s important to weigh your dependents’ current lifestyle and spending needs against their future sources of income and assets. We can help you figure out how much your family will need to replace this lost income over this length of time should something happen to you. Call us today at (850) 770-7047 to learn more.

National Flood Insurance Changing

Government Announces Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is expected to unveil significant changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on March 25, 2019. The changes, which alter the way homeowners are charged for flood risks, could go into effect as early as April 1, 2020.

These changes represent some of the most significant reforms to the NFIP—a program that has gone largely unchanged since the 1970s. While the reforms are expected to help communities better plan for extreme weather, they could increase premiums for homeowners in high-risk areas.

An Overview of the Changes

The most significant change to the NFIP relates to how risk is calculated for insurance buyers. Historically, flood insurance prices are set based on whether or not a home is inside the 100-year floodplain. That will all change when the government rolls out its pricing changes—changes FEMA is dubbing Risk Rating 2.0.

Under the Risk Rating 2.0 initiative, premiums will be tied to the actual flood risks facing individual homes. FEMA will leverage private-sector data to assess flood threats per home and set prices accordingly.

In addition, FEMA will incorporate the cost of rebuilding a structure into its insurance rates. What’s more, the new system will take into account a wide range of variables, including the potential impact of different types of flooding and a home’s distance to a coast or river.

FEMA has said that, following these changes, homeowners will see insurance rates that more accurately reflect their potential flood exposures. This means that properties with the highest risks will pay the most, which is important when you consider that flood claims often outpace premiums, burdening the NFIP with $30 billion of total debt in 2017.

With the changes, 5 million policyholders under the NFIP will likely see rate changes. While some individuals may have lower rates, those with homes in risky areas are likely to see higher insurance costs and diminished property values.

FEMA has said they are evaluating ways to minimize the financial burdens of the new system, including phasing in the program to help transition policyholders. In addition, Congress has already set limits on how much FEMA can increase premiums.

Ways to Keep Your Identity Safe

Stories of the struggle of those falling victim to identity theft dot the news headlines regularly. In addition to
taking sensible precautions, what can you do to protect yourself? Consider identity theft insurance.

What is Identity Theft Insurance?

Identity theft insurance can be purchased as a stand-alone policy or added as endorsement to your existing homeowners or automobile insurance coverage.
Though identity theft insurance does not protect against the cost of the actual theft, it is a relatively inexpensive insurance option that reimburses for the cost
of reclaiming your identity. This includes the following:

  • Phone call charges, photocopying costs and postage fees
  • Salary loss due to uncompensated time off from work
  • Legal fees

Additionally, you’ll gain access to a fraud specialist who can assist you in restoring your good name and protecting your identity. This service accompanies reimbursement for expenses associated with credit restoration, as noted above.

Identity Protection Suggestions:

  • Carry only the necessary amount of personal information in your purse or wallet.
  • Shield yourself when using an ATM or making a credit card purchase.
  • Do not throw credit card or ATM receipts away in public trash receptacles.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly by checking statements to make sure that all documented transactions are justified. If you suspect a problem, contact the company or bank immediately.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from all of the three major credit bureaus. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each. This document outlines where you live, accounts opened in your name, how you pay your bills and more. Inspect these documents closely to uncover any indiscretions or activities that you did not authorize.
  • Create passwords that do not use easily obtainable information on your accounts and credit cards.
  • Never give out your personal information to parties you do not know.
  • Make sure you are giving your information over encrypted websites only. If the information is not required don’t give it.
  • Look for secure websites before giving your information. They will have a lock symbol in the search bar and a “s” after “http” which denotes the site is secure.
  • Websites that offer multi-factor authentication provide an extra layer of protection for it’s users. This means instead of just inputting  your username and password they will normally call, text, or email you in addition to prove you are who you say you are.
  • Always verify the sender of an email before you click on link or attachments.

Contact us at (850) 770-7047 to learn more about identity theft insurance and how we can help you protect your good name.

Common Exposures for Restaurants

Those who run restaurants are often some of the most passionate business owners, investing time and money to deliver a high-quality experience to their customers. However, the hospitality industry can be unforgiving, and it’s a constant challenge for owners to deliver exceptional food and service while maintaining profitability.

These challenges are magnified when you consider that risks related to property damage, equipment breakdowns, crime and liquor liability must also be addressed. The list below provides an overview of these restaurant industry risks and more—helping you identify potential blind spots in your risk management and insurance programs.


  • Property exposures in restaurants are substantial and can come from many sources, including equipment failures, food spoilage, natural disasters, customers, employees and other third parties. When discussing property exposures, fire and water damage are of particular concern, and restaurants face an elevated level of risk due to things like open flames, the wide use of combustible items (e.g., tables, chairs and linens), complex HVAC systems, sewer backups and appliances connected to water lines (e.g., dishwashers).
  • Restaurants depend on functioning equipment to service their customers effectively. In the face of an equipment breakdown (e.g., refrigeration unit leaks and cooking appliance malfunctions), restaurants can experience business interruptions or even prolonged closures. What’s more, equipment breakdowns can even lead to major property damage should an appliance leak or start a fire, compounding the cost for your business.
  • Crime can be a challenge for restaurant owners, especially because their operations often have a steady amount of cash flowing in and out. To make matters worse, thieves can strike at any time, leaving owners to recoup any lost funds or equipment. In this day and age, thieves (including your employees) do not need direct access to cash to steal from you—merchandise, supplies and securities are all fair game. What’s more, the location of a restaurant as well as its hours of operation can have a significant impact on its level of crime risk.
  • As a restaurant owner, you are responsible for property that may not be covered by traditional insurance. Inland marine coverage can fill these gaps in commercial property protection. Without an inland marine policy, property that’s unique or valuable, in transit, in your temporary care, stored at fixed (but movable) locations or used to transfer information represent major exposures. Specifically for restaurateurs, inland marine insurance can provide much needed protection for accounts receivable, computer equipment, data and records, food transported to various locations and food trucks.
  • Premises liability exposures at restaurants can directly affect patron safety and, when injuries occur at your business, you could be held responsible. Accidents related to slips, trips and falls; burns and scalds; and cuts are common and a major source of concern. Something as simple as a hot plate, a spilled drink or an uneven surface can lead to costly insurance claims following an accident.
  • Food safety is an important consideration for restaurant owners and a primary source of food and product liability. The potential for food poisoning, contamination, spoilage and allergic reactions is ever present, making continued customer safety a challenge. In the event that one of your customers becomes ill due to your food or accidently ingests a foreign object found in one of your menu items, your restaurant could face legal ramifications and suffer irreversible reputational damage.
  • Lawsuits related to liquor liability are filed each day, and it’s increasingly common for victims and their families to file suits against restaurants for their role in serving a customer who is then involved in an alcohol-related accident. Making matters worse, all it takes is a single liquor liability claim to put your entire business at risk. Liquor liability exposures for restaurant owners can stem from selling liquor to underage individuals, overserving patrons and non-compliance with applicable legislation.
  • Continuity is critical in business, and there are few things more important than continuous revenue and cash flow, particularly for small to medium-sized organizations. In fact, just one brief business interruption can be incredibly costly for an organization, often leading to serious reputational damages or long-term closures. Common interruptions for restaurants can include natural disasters, fires, food recalls, cyber events, staff shortages and supplier issues.
  • Restaurants are a common target for cyber criminals, as these businesses often process a high volume of credit and debit card information. In addition, employees who are improperly trained on computer and data safety could put your organization at risk to ransomware, viruses, phishing scams and malware. Compounding your exposures, many restaurants offer guest Wi-Fi that, if improperly secured, can put you and your guests at risk of an attack.
  • Depending on the services your restaurant offers, employees may be required to operate a vehicle on behalf of your business, creating automobile exposures in the process. While important for daily operations, the improper use of a vehicle can lead to potential accidents and major insurance claims. What’s more, if you allow employees to use their own vehicles for work, standard auto policies are often not enough. Additionally, providing valet parking can also create unforeseen challenges should a customer’s vehicle get damaged.
  • On-the-job accidents at restaurants can lead to costly workers’ compensation claims. Complicating matters, there are a number of risks to account for, including cuts and burns; slips, trips and falls; ergonomic-related hazards; workplace violence; and drive-thru exposures. Things like improper lifting techniques, poor knife safety and inadequate training can all cause your employees to suffer an injury on the job—disrupting your business and negatively impacting your bottom line.

 

What is 5G?

Following Hurricane Micheal, Verizon announced that Panama City would become the first city in Florida to receive a 5G network. Panama City will join the super exclusive list which includes only four other cities: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Indianapolis, and Houston. But what exactly does 5G mean? Click the link below to learn more about 5G and how this $25 million dollar investment could make your connection speed faster than ever.

What is a 5G Network?

 

 

Surf Safe: Tricks to Recognize Spam Emails

Click on the image below to enlarge.

Top 10 Threats to Small Businesses

Optimism is the fuel that drives the entrepreneurial spirit, so it isn’t surprising that most small business owners consider themselves optimists. Too much optimism, however, can get a small business owner into trouble. A business plan built solely on the “best case scenario” is like a house of cards, one gust of wind—or fire or wrongful termination lawsuit—and the entire business can come crashing down. That’s why smart business owners temper their innate optimism with a healthy dose of reality. In other words, they learn to manage risk.

The first step in implementing a comprehensive risk management plan is identifying potential risks. To help you get started, we have provided a list of the top 10 threats facing small business owners. As you read through the list, consider the unique risks facing your business and ask yourself whether those risks are being managed effectively:

  1. Protecting your Property

Property holdings are often a small business owner’s largest asset. Therefore, for the long-term security of your small business, it is vital that you evaluate potential threats to your property and develop a plan to manage those threats. Begin by taking a complete inventory of all your assets to determine how a loss might affect your business and how much coverage you need. Property coverage can come in many forms to suit your specific needs, but a typical policy will provide the replacement cost value for your building and the actual cash value for your business property.

You have a lot weighing on your budget already, but don’t make the mistake of planning for the “best case scenario” when it comes to your property coverage. Leaving your small business underinsured is a risk too great to take.

  1. Business Interruption

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster such as a fire or flood. Is your business prepared to weather the storm if disaster strikes? If a fire causes the  facility to be temporarily unusable, what would you do? Ideally, you would move to a temporary location while your permanent place of business is being repaired, but traditional Property Insurance does not cover this move or the loss of income while the permanent business location is being repaired. Ill-prepared businesses are often forced to completely shut down operations during repair, which can do irreparable damage to their brand and leave employees without work for extended periods of time. To mitigate this risk, consider adding Business Interruption coverage to your Property Insurance policy. This invaluable, though often overlooked, coverage safeguards your business by covering operating expenses and lost income while the permanent business location is being repaired. This will allow you to maintain payroll and, if needed, reallocate current employees to help with the cleanup effort.

  1. Liability Losses

No matter how well you plan, running a small business can be fraught with unexpected surprises—the only way to completely avoid liability is to shutter your business. Smart business owners do the next best thing: protect their assets by carrying adequate Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance coverage. CGL policies provide coverage for claims of bodily injury or other physical injury, personal injury (libel or slander), advertising injury and property damage as a result of your products, premises or operations. A CGL policy with adequate coverage limits enables you to continue normal operations while dealing with real or fraudulent claims of negligence or wrongdoing, and also provides coverage for the cost of defending and settling claims.

  1. Key Person Losses

Many small businesses are built around the talents and expertise of a few individuals. If an employee crucial to the functioning of your business departs unexpectedly due to death or injury, would day-to-day operations continue as usual or would disorder and uncertainty ensue? Would you be able to maintain your current level of performance and current revenue stream? How would you cover for the financial loss of the employee or pay for a temporary replacement during his or her recovery? Key Person Insurance can help you answer these questions with confidence. This coverage is designed to provide financial stability in a time of stress and uncertainty, allowing you to keep your business moving forward without missing a beat.

  1. Injuries to Employees

Small business owners, especially those with less than 10 employees, often struggle with understanding their employee health and safety obligations. Just like their larger counterparts, small businesses have the same responsibility to indemnify workers who are injured or become ill during the course of their employment. Many businesses do not realize the full effect workplace accidents have on their organization. Beyond initial treatment costs and lost production time, on-the-job injuries have an impact on insurance premiums, which can increase your costs for years to come. Thankfully, by managing exposures and promoting safety, it is possible to control workers’ compensation premiums. Having the proper pre- and post-accident procedures in place can drastically reduce the severity of a workers’ compensation claim, and implementing a comprehensive safety program can reduce the accident rate. Together, these two steps can produce tremendous long-term savings.

  1. Managing Electronic Data and Computer Resources

Small businesses often lack a formal IT department or even rudimentary internet security measures, which leaves them vulnerable to unscrupulous cybercriminals searching for an easy target. With an estimated liability of more than $200 per compromised record—multiplied by hundreds or thousands of customer records—the cost of a single data breach incident can be devastating for a small business. If your business stores customer records electronically, it is crucial that you have robust security measures in place. In addition to taking preventative measure to reduce Internet-based exposures, specialized technology coverage, such as Cyber Liability Insurance, can help protect your business against damage from cyber attacks, data breaches and other Internet-based exposures.

  1. Environmental Exposures

Think of a business with significant environmental exposures. What comes to mind? Most people think of a large manufacturing, mining or petroleum operation, but these are not the only industries at risk for environmental liability losses. It is important to perform a comprehensive risk analysis to determine your own level of exposure. Keep in mind that because most commercial insurance policies contain pollution exclusions, unless you carry Environmental Insurance, you may be uninsured against significant environmental loss exposures.

  1. Employment Practices

From the moment you begin the pre-hiring process until the final goodbyes at the exit interview, you are at risk for a lawsuit. In fact, three out of five employers will be sued by a prospective, current or former employee while they are in business. Although many lawsuits are groundless, defending against them is costly and time-consuming. Your business should take a hard look at whether it can afford to defend itself against accusations of wrongful employment practices. If not, there is an insurance solution called Employment Practices Liability that will protect your company against wrongful termination, discrimination (e.g., age, sex, race, disability) or sexual harassment lawsuits.

  1. Contracts

When first starting out, many new business owners simply don’t have the time or expertise to adequately evaluate each clause in everything they’re signing. This oversight, however, can create major problems down the road. In many cases, small businesses become saddled with large additional risks, accepted via risk transfer from savvy suppliers or customers. While it’s tempting to shave costs by skimping on legal fees, making sure your business isn’t accepting additional and unnecessary risk can save you a lot of money over the long haul, both in legal costs and in insurance coverages.

  1. Manage Your Supply Chain

Do you rely on one or more third-party suppliers to produce certain components used in your products? If you do, a disaster that interrupts your supplier’s regular business operations could have a crippling effect on your production abilities. Although you should always try to minimize potential liability through contingency planning and other risk management techniques, as supply chains grow across the globe, sometimes there is little you can do about the exposures faced by your suppliers. In a perfect world you could simply avoid doing business with companies that present numerous risks or that are unwilling to conform to your standards, but pricing constraints and niche markets limit the number of potential suppliers to choose from. Supply chain insurance is meant to cover losses you incur as a result of an interruption to your supply chain. Such coverage allows you to work confidently with suppliers who face exposures beyond your control.

Insurance is a key component of any comprehensive risk management plan, but successful risk management also involves prevention, training and contingency planning. Contact Peoples First Insurance Services, LLC at (850) 770-7047 to learn more about the tools and resources we can offer to help you manage risks, control workers’ compensation costs, advance safety and boost employee morale.