Dear Valued Customer,
I hope this finds you and yours well and enjoying the season. Every year Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a shift from the year that is slowing to a halt to the year that is revving up.
The end of the year is a time of reflection when we assess what’s gone well, what hasn’t gone well and how we want to move forward. When I reflect on the months gone by, I feel grateful. I am grateful for you – our customers! On behalf of the entire team at Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance, thank you for entrusting us with your business! It’s been a good year and our team is growing.
One of the things that we are proud of is our tradition of philanthropic giving. This year we were ranked among the top ten most philanthropic medium-sized companies in Portland by the Portland Business Journal. On a similar note, I shared in our last newsletter that BBNW teammates won the local Chubb Charity Challenge golf tournament. In October, our foursome competed in the national tournament finals in Kiawah, South Carolina and I am thrilled to report they won $17,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area.
As I look forward, I am certain our tradition of philanthropic giving will continue in 2019. I am also certain that we will remain the best agency in the business because we have the best people and we are committed to their growth and development.
One thing to watch for in early 2019 is a change to our logo and branding, which is purely aesthetic – a new look for the same team. As our CEO, Powell Brown, says, Brown & Brown is a “forever company,” and our continuous growth enables us to provide you with access to the best resources and comprehensive insurance and employee benefits expertise. It also means we occasionally want to update our brand for consistency, and that is the reason for the slight changes you’ll be seeing.
As always, I encourage you to have an ongoing dialogue with your broker – to reach out with questions or concerns. It is our privilege to service your insurance and employee benefits needs.
Enjoy the season!
State of the Market: A Focus on Cyber Insurance
Cyber attacks and data security breaches are nothing new, however, they continue to grow and evolve, and the insurance marketplace is evolving with them. New coverages and pre-breach services are being developed all the time to help protect business of all sizes.
In 2017, the average malware-related costs for small and medium-sized businesses was over a $1 million due to damage or theft of IT assets, and $1.2 million due to disruption to normal business operations (Ponemon 2017 State of Cybersecurity in SMBs) for a total cost of over $2 million. Just one resourceful hacker, one virus, or even one lost laptop could impair your company’s financial results and even potentially put it out of business.
How are hackers gaining access?
The #1 tactic continues to be email with 92% of malware being delivered via email (Verizon 2018 DBIR). Phishing and social engineering continue to be popular cyber email scams. “Phishing” is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. “Social engineering” is the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential/personal information or sending funds to the wrong party.
In 2017, hackers utilized “fileless” techniques that were able to bypass the victims’ security. Because these techniques replace the need for dropping malicious executable files, traditional security solutions such as antivirus programs cannot detect them. With no file to scan, there is unfortunately nothing an antivirus can do. Due to their effectiveness, the Ponemon study estimates a third of all attacks in 2018 made use of fileless techniques.
Taking over your computer with cryptomining
These attacks aren’t just designed to steal your personal information or trick you into sending money. In 2018 the top malware attacks were cryptomining. “Cryptomining” malware or “cryptocurrency mining” malware are relatively new terms that refer to software programs and malware components developed to take over a computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining without the user’s explicit permission. The introduction of cryptomining malware can seriously impact the efficiency and speed of your system’s processors, slowing productivity. It also introduces malware to your system that leaves it open to other outside threats
How do owners keep their businesses safe?
With new malware and hacking techniques being developed every day, investment in effective antivirus software and ongoing training for employees in identifying fraudulent emails are critical. However, insuring against the financial impact of a possible breach is also vital.
Stand-alone cyber insurance policies provide coverage for:
• Damages and defense costs associated with a lawsuit brought against your business by those individuals whose personal information was compromised.
• Reimbursement to you for the cost of restoring your electronic data and computer systems after a breach.
• Sublimits for regulatory defense expenses, cost of computer forensics, credit monitoring services, public relations, and loss of business income are also included by top carriers.
Many cyber insurance providers have also acknowledged the effectiveness in pre-breach services for their clients. Vulnerability assessments, cyber security consultations, training videos, white papers, and discounts on products and services are all complimentary services offered by leading carriers to mitigate losses for their insureds.
Is Your Employee Benefits Program Ready for the New Year?
The list of compliance obligations for administering an employee benefits program is as long as last year’s forgotten list of New Year’s Resolutions. But unlike those resolutions that benefit you, like reading more or eating less, these things can greatly benefit your employees. Here are five things you can do now to make sure you’re ready for 2019.
1. Update your Flexible Spending Account maximums – In late November, the IRS released an increase for the 2019 Health Care FSA annual maximum to $2,700. If your FSA plan automatically increases the maximums that employees can elect, it’s time to let employees know.
2. Distribute Summaries of Benefits & Coverage (SBCs) – Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must distribute SBCs to enrollees. Ideally, these are provided to employees before Open Enrollment but we have seen long delays from health insurance carriers. If you did not distribute SBCs as part of Open Enrollment, send them to benefits-eligible employees as soon as possible.
3. Update your New Hire notices – Make sure the compliance notices you distribute to new hires or newly benefits-eligible employees, including the Notice of Exchange and Initial COBRA Notice, are current.
4. Creditable Coverage Disclosure Reporting to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) – If your medical plans renew on January 1, you have until February 28 to complete CMS’ online report to disclose whether your prescription drug coverage is “creditable” – that is, as good or better than the coverage provided by Medicare Part D. If your plans renew on a different schedule, remember to complete this reporting within 60 days of the renewal date.
5. ACA 6055 and 6056 Reporting – While the Individual Mandate may have been axed as of January 1, employer reporting was not. Employers with more than 50 employees or smaller employees with self-funded plans (including Cigna’s level funded product) must send statements regarding 2018 coverage to employees by January 31, 2019. The Transmittal Form is due to the IRS by February 28, 2019 or April 1, 2019 if filed electronically.
How to Protect Yourself from Package Theft
There are several times each year when people spend time shopping for the perfect gifts for their loved ones or themselves. While it is easy to get caught up in the fun of it all, it is important to remember that with increased purchasing comes heightened risk of theft. Thieves are on the prowl throughout the holiday season and especially target packages left in cars or outside homes.
During this holiday season, be sure to take the necessary actions to protect yourself. Follow these steps while checking things off your shopping list.
Beware of porch pirating.
When having packages delivered to your home, it’s important to be mindful of “porch pirating” — when a thief steals delivered packages from your doorstep or porch. Thieves can follow delivery trucks, watching for prime targets. These thieves commonly strike during working hours while many homes are empty.
To help avoid this situation, try using these tips:
• Have your packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, such as a neighbor’s or relative’s house or your workplace.
• When making online purchases, choose a specific delivery time if the retailer provides the option.
• If purchasing from a larger retailer, consider having your package delivered to a local store for pick-up.
• Take advantage of delivery alerts so you can be notified when a package arrives at your home.
• If you are not available to accept delivery, ask a trusted neighbor to take your package inside for safekeeping. Request the delivery company hold your package at their closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up.
• Ask the shipper to require a signature confirmation of delivery in order to prevent packages being left when no one is home to sign for them.
• Provide delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road.
If package theft prevention efforts fail, have proof.
We don’t like to think about this one any more than you do, but unfortunately, the dreaded does occasionally occur. When dealing with a stolen package, having proof that a theft occurred can be an important factor in obtaining a refund. You can use a smart doorbell, such as Ring, or a simple security camera to provide proof that your package was stolen.
Night Driving 101
Did you know that the rate of traffic deaths is three times greater at night than during the day? It is more difficult to see hazards ahead on the road, and often the lack of scenery can be hypnotizing, sending you into a state of dangerous drowsiness. Since we all find ourselves driving after dark, it is important to remember the challenges you may face on the road.
Know How to Stay Safe
Use these safety tips to prevent night driving accidents:
• Make sure all your exterior lights are working properly.
• Turn on your headlights one hour before sunset and one hour after sunrise so other drivers can see you easily.
• Keep your headlights on low beams when following other vehicles.
• Refrain from looking into your rearview mirror at oncoming headlights. Use the “day-night” feature to reduce brightness.
• Do not look directly at oncoming headlights. Look toward the right side of the road, following the white line with your eyes.
• Increase your following distance by four or five seconds to give yourself more response time.
• Slow your speed, especially in dangerous weather conditions.
• Adjust your outside mirrors so the view is just outside of the bodywork of the vehicle.
• Dim your dashboard lights if excess street lighting is causing a glare.
• Keep your windows clean – dirty windows can reduce visibility by up to 90 percent.
• Avoid smoking, as the nicotine and carbon monoxide hampers night vision.
• If you have vehicle trouble, pull off the road as far to the right as possible and set up reflector triangles near your vehicle and up to 300 feet behind it. Turn on your flashers and dome light, and call for assistance.
• Make stops to use the restroom, stretch your legs, and have a snack to reduce fatigue.
• If you get too tired while driving at night, stop and take a rest.
Put Yourself First
Wherever your final destination, your safety on the road is more important than arriving on time. If you feel that you are unfit to drive for any reason—whether it is drowsiness, alcohol, or anything else—do not get behind the wheel.
In the Community
BBNW President Jessica Getman was honored to accept Portland Business Journal’s (PBJ) award for being one of the top ten most philanthropic medium-sized companies at PBJ’s Corporate Philanthropy Awards Luncheon on October 17. The Luncheon was fun and inspiring!
BBNW was delighted that several of our clients from the non-profit sector (one of our areas of expertise) joined us to celebrate, including Caron Kushner, Development Director at Serendipity Center, shown here with Jessica Getman.