The Cyber Security Blueprint for Small Business Owners

The Cyber Security Blueprint for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you understand the risks associated with operating a business—you took them on when you decided to go out on your own. But while you may have considered theft or even liabilities within your office space, the threat of cyber attacks is a real one that is often overlooked. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your business from these malicious threats. While having the right business insurance in place is a critical part of this process, there are other preventative measures to consider as well that will help you shield your business from potential cyber attacks.

Understanding the Threat of Cyberattacks

Sadly but unexpectedly, cyberattacks are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s digital age, posing significant risks to small businesses. Criminals are constantly evolving their tactics and techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in business systems, and often break in using common techniques like malware, phishing scams, ransomware, and social engineering. Unfortunately, these attacks can lead to huge problems—including data breaches, financial losses, and damage to your business’s reputation.

It’s essential to recognize that no business is immune to cyber threats—even small businesses are often targeted due to their limited resources and lack of robust cybersecurity measures. 

Best Practice Basics for Preventing Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity is an ongoing battle, but there are best practices you can implement to prevent cyberattacks and safeguard your small business. 

1. Build Strong Passwords. 

First and foremost, it’s crucial to develop a strong password policy. Encourage your employees to create unique, complex passwords and change them regularly. Consider offering your team a password manager to securely store and manage all your passwords.

2. Use Multi-Factor Authenication. 

Another essential practice is to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). This adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more forms of identification before gaining access to sensitive information or systems. By utilizing MFA, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your business data.

3. Back up Data. 

Regularly backing up your data is also critical. This ensures that even if your systems are compromised, you can restore your information from a secure backup. Store these backups offline or in a secure cloud environment to prevent them from being compromised in the event of an attack.

4. Always do the Update.

Additionally, it’s important to keep all software and applications up-to-date. Software updates often include patches for vulnerabilities, so regularly installing these updates is crucial to maintaining a secure system

5. Focus on Education. 

Lastly, educate your employees about cybersecurity best practices through regular training sessions. This includes raising awareness about phishing scams, social engineering techniques, and the importance of not clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.

By following these best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect your small business from potential damage. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing process, so staying informed and proactive is key to ensuring the safety of your business in today’s digital landscape.

Using Cyber Insurance to Protect Your Business

While implementing strong cybersecurity measures among your team is crucial, having the right insurance coverage is equally important to fully protect yourself from digital crime. Cyber insurance plays a vital role in protecting your business from the financial losses that can result from a cyberattack, by providing coverage for various expenses associated with a cyber incident, such as forensic investigations, data recovery, legal fees, public relations efforts, and even potential lawsuits from affected customers. In the unfortunate event of a cyberattack, these expenses can quickly add up and have a severe impact on your business’s bottom line. 

Having cyber insurance gives you the peace of mind that, in the face of a cyber incident, your business has financial protection, and helps you recover more quickly from the financial burden associated with recovering from a cyberattack. Additionally, cyber insurance often includes coverage for cyber extortion, where cybercriminals hold your data hostage or threaten to release it unless a ransom is paid. This coverage can be crucial in navigating such situations and protecting your business from significant financial losses.

It’s essential to consult with an experienced insurance agent who specializes in cyber insurance to ensure that you have the right coverage for your business’s specific needs. At Penny Insurance, our experienced brokers have the experitnce to help you understand the scope of coverage and assist in tailoring a policy that aligns with your risk profile and budget. And getting started is simple: just reach out to us to set up a free consultation with our team.

Licensing in Multiple States (and why it’s important)

For the millions of U.S. workers who hold some sort of occupational license (43 million as of 2018, to be more precise) understanding licensing in multiple states can mean the difference between being limited to your own area, and having the freedom to accept work beyond your own state lines.

What is Occupational Licensing?

Occupational licensing is a legal requirement for certification or proof of knowledge in a certain field or industry. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, who operate the National Occupational Licensing Database, one in every four jobs in the United States requires some sort of occupational license. Those jobs include, but are in no way limited to, teachers, doctors, nurses, electricians, contractors, architects, therapists, cosmetologists, animal trainers and many more. There are also additional licensing requirements for certain products sold, such as alcohol or tobacco, so it’s important that you know what is required from you before you run into any problems down the road.

The most important thing to realize about occupational licensing, however, is that the credential isn’t merely an indication that someone has a certain degree of knowledge or experience in that field; rather, it’s a permission for that person to work in that field—and a prohibition of someone working in the industry who does not have the appropriate license.

When do I need an occupational license?

Knowing if you need an occupational license for your career path can be tricky, as it is not only determined by industry, but also—in many cases— by state. Therefore, licensing requirements for a private investigator in Florida may be far different than those for one in Oregon—and some states may not require a license in a field at all.
In order to find out if your industry requires an occupational license, a bit of online research may be necessary. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career One Stop, which allows you to search by career field and state to determine what licensing requirements you may face.

Should I have licensing in multiple states?

Because licensing can vary from state to state, if you plan to pursue a career that crosses state lines, you absolutely should ensure that you are covered in whatever areas you plan to work on. That may mean additional testing or licensing fees, but in the end, if something happens, you’ll be glad you have it in place.

What is reciprocity, and how does that affect my license?

=Reciprocity is the concept that one state’s license is recognized as valid by other states, eliminating the need for multi-state licenses. With the growth of licensing requirements over the past decades, many states have begun to increase their involvement in reciprocal licensing privileges to increase workforce options and ease of use for licensed workers. If you think reciprocity may apply to your license, research your occupation and your state to find out what other states offer this benefit.

Whatever your business needs,  Penny Insurance has the experience to guide you every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

Implications of COVID-19 Business Owners Insurance Policies

Implications of COVID-19 Business Owners Insurance Policies

With the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to affect the daily lives of those around the world and those in our local economy, it is imperative to know the implications of coronavirus on insurance policies for businesses.

For business owners, the ever-shifting economy has caused a heightened concern for employee safety, risks of revenue loss, and increased liability risks. Navigating the state laws and regulations for businesses can be challenging, but our experienced agents at Penny Insurance are here to help. We have the knowledge and expertise to assist businesses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas with everything from General Liability Insurance, Employment Practices Liability Insurance, Business Auto Insurance and more.

During this time of crisis, reviewing your current policies in Employment Practices Liability Insurance, Excess Liability Insurance, and Business Auto Insurance are among the most important to consider. Employee Practices Liability insurance will provide you as an employer with the protection you need from claims made by employees, former employees, or even potential employees. Excess Liability Insurance, often called an Umbrella Policy is there to provide limits in excess of an underlying liability policy. Basically, if your business should have a crisis or unexpected issue that threatens its financial security, your Umbrella policy comes to the rescue. Lastly, during this Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to assess your Business Auto Insurance, especially if you are the owner of a restaurant or use work vehicles regularly. Be sure to inform your employees of your state’s policies and procedures, especially when handling food deliveries.

In addition, unfortunately, vacant buildings and offices are more at risk for theft and break ins during this time. If you are able, be sure to regularly check on your office building for any suspicious activity, and shut off the water supply to prevent leaks and water damage, and unplug all appliances to lower the risk of a fire. Keeping these things in mind, review your current insurance policy to be sure you are covered if a break in or other unfortunate event were to occur.

It is also important to remember that laws, requirements, and regulations vary by state, so what may apply to a business in South Carolina may not apply to a business in North Carolina. In addition, many of the companies we work with have amended their policies in an effort to ease the burdens business owners are facing. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for Business Interruption Coverage, Workers Compensation Coverage, Premium Audits, and more. If you need assistance navigating through new regulation or want to review your current insurance policies, we can help.

We don’t believe that “one size fits all” when it comes to business insurance policies. We work directly with the business owners to learn your unique risks to help design a plan that works for you. The right insurance customized for your business can be crucial to the short-term and long- term success of your business, especially in times of crisis.

Source: https://www.thehartford.com/resources/covid-19

The General Liability Environment

The General Liability Environment

Legal, Medical and Emerging Trends Affecting Liability Losses

In the past few years, there are a number of legal and medical issues that, when combined, have driven liability costs even higher. We partnered with our friends at Liberty Mutual Insurance to explain some of the elements that are causing liability costs to rise as well as a few steps to keep you and your loved ones protected at the best value.

Legal

Escalating Verdicts—Cases going to trial result in higher paid costs. While headlines have focused on auto liability, we see this impacting general liability as well.

Litigation Funding—Outside investors are fronting legal fees, resulting in more cases going to trial, which can drive up claim severity.

Traumatic Brain Injury—Plaintiff attorneys are including TBI at the onset of claims, leading to more medical costs and life care plans. TBI claims have grown in recent years.

Medical

Medical Inflation—In recent years there has been a two percent increase in medical inflation, a 2.4 percent increase in prescription drug inflation and a 5.6 percent increase in hospital cost inflation.

Opioids—Average costs are higher when patients are dependent on opioids. New opioid treatments and other newer risks facing businesses today can create challenges for employers if not managed effectively.

Wellness—The aging population and overall decline of our health and well-being is putting pressure on costs. The increase in co-morbidities and preference for non-surgical and non-opioid treatments are driving use of physical medicine therapies.

Inability to Manage Medical—Unlike workers compensation claims, insurance carriers have little influence on how medical insurance is managed.

Emerging Trends

Violent Events—Active shooters and other crisis situations are causing organizations to re-assess their risk and readiness.

Technology—Data and technology are disrupting how we do things. From A.I. (artificial intelligence) and autonomous vehicles to data-driven environments, these advancements can help us be safer, but not without risk. Technology-sensor-loaded gear in the form of vests, glasses, gloves and more, may help improve workplace safety and productivity. But, it’s also in its infancy, so you should review information carefully and identify objectives and potential impacts before moving forward.

Sharing Economy—The lack of clarity in where coverages begin and end in the sharing economy is driving the need for custom insurance solutions.

What Can You Do?

Partner with an insurance carrier who understands your industry and your unique risks and can create a tailored solution specific to your business.

Get extra protection when you need it most. Make sure you have appropriate umbrella and excess liability coverage.

Disaster preparedness planning can help you identify vulnerabilities and dependencies in the event disaster strikes.

Expert claims management for the best possible outcome can impact your total cost of risk.

Risk control resources and a packed calendar of webinars and in-person training to help you identify and mitigate risk. Topics include contractual risk transfer, industry-specific risk improvement tools, product liability and more.

With an ever-evolving landscape, liability insurance can be difficult to navigate. Here at Penny Insurance Agency, your peace of mind is our priority. Give us a call today to connect with a Penny Insurance agent to discover your best liability coverage options.

The Basics of Business Insurance

Thinking about starting your own small business? Opening your own business can be exciting, rewarding, and let’s face it, downright scary. You put a lot of time and money on the line in an effort to pursue a goal or a dream, and it can all seem fine when things go well. But the truth is, sometimes everything doesn’t work out exactly as you plan. Business or commercial insurance can help protect you when life throws you a curveball, and can keep you afloat when you might have otherwise had to shut down.

Watch the video above to learn the basics of business insurance. When you’re ready to learn more, give one of our agents a call.

Why We Love Our Local Hendersonville and Tryon Communitites

Why We Love Our Local Hendersonville and Tryon Communitites

Main StInsurance agents have the ability to work from anywhere in the country. Not only is insurance a universal need no matter where you live, but in this day and age many have found ways to telecommute and serve a large area from a distant office. At Penny Insurance Agency, however, we have found that not only do we enjoy serving our local community of Hendersonville, Tryon and the surrounding areas, but we also believe in the value of serving customers from an office that is right down the road from where they work, live and play.

In the world of smart phones and tablets, it’s not uncommon to hear other agencies advertise the ability to interact solely through mobile communication. However, we enjoy turning off the Facetime app on our phones and instead, sitting down with our clients in person to have actual face time. By meeting in person, our clients feel comfortable asking questions without feeling rushed. Our clients know that they can always just stop by our office in Hendersonville or Tryon to find an answer, that they don’t have to sit on hold for hours on end waiting for an operator with a script to finally pick up the phone. It may be an “old” way of doing things, but we think it works just fine. (more…)