Category Archives: Other Insurance

Cyber Security Awareness Month- Tips for Your Teens

Tips for Teens on Cyber Safety

While PCs are likely a prerequisite for school-bound young adults, securing laptops or desktops is unlikely to be a top priority. Don’t let high school and college students head off to the classroom or campus life without the knowledge they need to protect their computers and the valuable information on them. The strategies below – tailored specifically to young adults – will help to avert online disasters.

Be on guard when you shop online. You can save a bundle by buying books and other school supplies online. But, when it comes to giving out your financial information, stick to companies you know and trust or to well-established retailers. Before you click the buy button, always check out the seller, what you are buying, and the payment details.

Work securely from wireless networks. Today’s world means you can access the Internet from a variety of public locations, from a coffee shop to a library to a train station. But, open networks run an increased security risk and are vulnerable to security breaches. When you can, choose networks that have a network security key, which means information sent over them is encrypted. Connect to a standard or wired network for the most protection.

Steer clear of peer-to-peer and file sharing networks. You always need to pay special attention to what you download and share online – peer-to-peer networks are often swamped with malicious files. And it’s not just music and movie downloads that you need to be aware of; malware often piggybacks on other freebies that promise ringtones, smilicons, and screensavers.

Navigate social networking sites with care. Social networking and other Web 2.0 features make communicating, socializing, and sharing information easier than ever. But they also open you up to a variety of online threats, so you need to be on guard when logging into online hotspots like MySpace and Facebook. To avoid phishing and malware installations, use caution when you check messages, click on advertisements, and access links in other members’ profiles.

Be wary of sharing your PC. You should not loan your computer out to friends and peers but, if you do, make sure they are operating under a limited-user account and not the all-powerful administrator account. This will minimize infections in the event of an accident.

Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Passwords help protect your computer and your various accounts from unauthorized access. Use complex passwords of at least 10 characters, comprised of letters, symbols and numbers. Do not have your browser store passwords and log-in credentials – this is especially important to remember if you are using a shared computer.

Backup your data regularly.Even the most prepared and cyber savvy among us are bound to run up against serious PC problems at one time or another. Prepare yourself for worst case scenarios (your laptop crashing the night before a term paper is due) in order to avert a complete disaster. All you need to do is set up a regular backup system for yourself by saving critical information on a CD, external hard drive or online server.

Limit the information you give out online. Don’t post too much information about yourself, whether it’s on a personal website, blog, or chat room. Identity theft is a real and growing problem, and openness on the Web can lead to someone harvesting your information for their gain.

Be skeptical of e-mail and instant messaging. Do not open e-mail attachments or click on links in instant messages from anyone, including ‘buddies’, unless you expect it. Verify the attachment before opening and scan with updated anti-virus software first. Be especially leery of odd subject lines and suspicious links. You’ll also need to watch out for phishing e-mails that purport to be from familiar organizations.

While it may seem difficult to fit cyber safety steps into the busy lives of young adults, keep this in mind: it’s easier to prepare yourself and your computer than to recover from lost data and private information after an online nasty compromises your system. So, during this school season and for the rest to come, be proactive in keeping your PC safe and secure.

source: http://www.lavasoft.com/mylavasoft/securitycenter/articles/cyber-safety-101

Contact your local agent at Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance for more information on Cyber Insurance

Cell Phones Cause Distracted Driving and Employer Liability

Recently, more attention has been given to distracted driving and the role cell phones play in driver inattention. There have been numerous studies done about the subject, and several regulatory agencies have banned their use.

In January of this year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned the use of cell phones in commercial, regulated vehicles unless they are accessed via a hands free device. The driver cannot reach for, dial or hold the cell phone. Only Commercial Driver License holders are subject to these requirements while they are driving a commercial vehicle. Wired or wireless hands free devices are allowed under this requirement.

Another recent development is the National Transportation Safety Board recommending last December that all states ban the use of cell phones while driving, whether using a hands free device or not. This recommendation was made after a review of some large auto, bus and train crashes the last several years where they determined that using the cell phone and being distracted was the main cause of these crashes.

Unfortunately, this has also gained the notice of the trial attorneys. In any major crash where a cell phone may be involved, plaintiffs’ attorneys are going after the cell phone records. They have been successful in using these records to increase jury awards. A Florida family was awarded $21.6M from the employer of a driver that was using their cell phone; an Alabama trucking company was ordered to pay $18M; an Arkansas lumber company paid $16.1M; a paper company paid $5.2M in similar circumstances.

What can an insured do about it?

With the employer being the target in cases like this, insured’s need to have a strict written policy banning the use of cell phones (talking or texting) while driving. Compliance with state and federal regulations should be considered a minimum standard.

With increased accidents surrounding cell phone use while driving you must be sure you have a policy in place to protect yourself and your employees.

Does your company have a policy regarding the use of cell phones?  If not, have you considered putting one in place?

Be safe, use a hands free device while driving.

Penny-Hanley & Howley Insurance

reference  source http://qbena.com/personal-business.aspx

Managing Your Workers’ Compensation Payments Made Easier

Do you want an easier way to manage your Workers’ Compensation payments?

EZ PayIns is the way to go.

  • Multiple insurance company options
  • Accepts all payroll processing methods
  • Serviced by independent insurance agents
  • Premiums match actual payrolls
  • Minimizes audit premiums

What are the advantages of placing my workers’ compensation pay-as-you-go policy with a Renaissance EZPayIns independent agent?

Unlike payroll services, independent insurance agents offering Renaissance EZPayIns are local business people whose entire careers, knowledge, and expertise are devoted to providing you with insurance and business solutions for your entire company. Payroll services that sell insurance often represent just one insurance company’s products and their primary business is payroll processing. Renaissance member independent agents represent many regional and national insurance companies. When it comes to workers’ compensation or any other major business insurance, only independent agents can provide you the maximum freedom of choice and competitive products combined with local service from someone who understands your business and caters to your company’s individual needs.

As your local independent agent, Penny-Hanley & Howley Insurance is here to help you with all your needs. Protecting you is our job.

For more information regarding the EZ PayIns Program give us a call at 860-684-2721.

Weird And Crazy Insurance Claims

We’ve all claimed insurance at least once in the past (if you haven’t, keep up the streak, your policy price will keep going down) but some of these claims are a means of getting rich or just plain old odd. Check it out and have a few laughs. Just remember, don’t try this yourself or you will be either caught or embarrassed, especially with the bikini peeping one ;).

Droughts and Heat Waves: Be Prepared

These two natural disasters weren’t a threat to mankind up until recently. Sure, they still occurred but not as worse as they are now. What might be the cause of increase heat waves and droughts? My best guess would be global warming. (See Chart Below)

Heat Waves and Droughts, 1980-2010

Heat Waves And Droughts, 1980-2010

The symbols show the most affected regions as of March 2011

Droughts and heat waves accounted for two of the deadliest natural disasters in the world since 1980, including a 2010 heat wave in Russia that caused 56,000 deaths and nearly $2 billion in economic losses, according to Munich Re. The major part of the direct economic losses of heat waves are secondary effects such as drought, subsidence and wildfires, according to Munich Re.

Europe is witnessing a dramatic increase in property damage as a result of drought-induced soil subsidence, according to a 2011 study from Swiss Re. Prolonged dry spells can cause the ground to sink by so much that cracks appear in the earth, tearing apart the foundations of houses, bridges, factories and other structures. In France alone, subsidence-related losses have risen by more than 50 percent in the last two decades.

So, how do heat waves form?

A heat wave is an extended interval of abnormally hot and humid weather, usually lasting from a few days to over a week. Heat waves form when an air mass becomes stationary over a region. In the Eastern United States a heat wave occurs when a high pressure system originating in the Gulf of Mexico becomes stationary just off the Atlantic Seaboard (typically known as a Bermuda High.) The SW winds on the back side of the High continue to pump hot, humid Gulf air North-eastward resulting in a spell of hot and humid weather for much of the Eastern States.

The dangerous heat wave spreading across the United States the third week in July 2010 caused at least 22 deaths and prompted NOAA’s National Weather Service to issue a heat alert affecting approximately 995,000 square miles and 150 million people.

Be Prepared – – Heat Wave Tips:

  1. If a heat wave is predicted or happening – slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you have to do strenuous activity the recommended hours are between 4 am and 7 am.
  2. Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Remember electric fans do not cool air, but they do help sweat evaporate which cools your body.
  3. Wear lightweight, light colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.
  4. Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool.
  5. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heart’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which actually dehydrates the body.
  6. Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

As long as you stay in a cool place and keep yourself hydrated, you’ll be fine. And remember to check up on elderly friends and neighbors.

Tax Season: Factor the Losses

Everyone’s favorite time of the year is rapidly approaching, the tax deadline.

As you’re thinking about the past year, make sure to consider any property losses you may have incurred in 2011. Many people up and down the East Coast suffered losses due to Hurricane Irene, which was by most estimates one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. Irene was a tragedy, but the silver lining is that according to the IRS, losses may well be deductible.

Keeping the terminology clear may help you understand which losses are deductible and which are not. Remember, a casualty occurs when your property is damaged as a result of a disaster such as a storm, fire, car accident or similar event. A theft occurs when somebody steals your property. A loss on deposits occurs when your financial institution becomes insolvent or bankrupt. Any losses incurred as a result of hurricane damage are considered casualties, particularly since Hurricane Irene was one of the manyfederally recognized disasters in 2011.

However, while losses are deductible, it’s important to know that if you have insurance, you must have filed a timely insurance claim. Any reimbursement you received from insurance must be taken into account and subtracted when figuring your loss. This includes any expected reimbursement even if you have not yet received it. This booklet on Casualties, Disasters & Theft from the IRS (PDF) will help you decide if the casualty, loss and theft deductions apply to you.

Taxes are never fun, but being prepared for all eventualities helps whether the disaster is a hurricane or a Form 1040. Make sure your accountant is aware of any losses you may have suffered in 2011.

And when you’re done with the taxes, get the party hats out and celebrate another tax season dealt with.

Should You Buy Insurance?

Everyone asks this question at least once in their life. But does buying insurance really make a person safe? While some things are certain in life (death and taxes), there is plenty that is unpredictable. Purchasing insurance for your assets, including your life, can be one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

To find out what kind of policy fits you best and how much coverage you should purchase, read the flowchart below. It has plenty of information on how insurance comes in handy when you need it.

<a href="http://www.mint.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Should-I-Buy-Insurance.png&quot;

Provided by Mint.com