How Surveillance Apps Could Save Your Business

1. April 2015 08:26

security camera

In Columbus, Indiana, one engineering business dodged a potentially devastating fire, thanks to the owner's surveillance app. According to a report by The Indy Channel, one of the machines caught fire and sent a jumbled status update email to Mike Noblitt, the business owner. The machine sending an email wasn't the confusing part – they are automated to do just that – but when he couldn't make heads or tails of the message, he knew something wasn't right.

After checking out the surveillance app, which streams a live feed from the industrial building's security cameras, Noblitt saw the issue: flames and smoke shooting above the machine. He immediately called the fire department and met the responders at the scene.

Because of Noblitt's risk management planning and fast thinking…

  • The damage to the machines was minimal.
  • There was no damage to the building's structure.
  • Firefighters responded within minutes.
  • There was no business interruption.

Let's take a few pages out of Noblitt's book and see how appropriate risk management measures can cut costs in the long run.

A Little Forethought = Lots of Money Saved

First of all, let's establish what we mean when we talk about "risk management." In the insurance world, this refers to any steps that…

  • Identify possible situations that could cause financial loss (e.g., a fire).
  • Mitigate those losses.

In the example above, Noblitt was thinking about the future of his business when he invested in security cameras and the surveillance app. Security cameras can lessen the financial impact of certain risks by…

  • Deterring thieves or vandals.
  • Recording fires or workplace accidents (which can come in handy for filing insurance claims).

Noblitt's cameras saved his entire business from burning to the ground because he was fortunate enough to check the video footage in time. Though the security system cost him some capital upfront, that expense pales in comparison to how much it would cost to repair the fire-damaged building and its contents.

It's worth noting that high-tech gadgets don't guarantee that your business won't face a devastating loss. Thieves could still break into your shop and a fire could still burn down your building. After all, you can't compulsively stare at your surveillance feed while you're away from your business – it would drive you mad.

That's why insurance is usually the last prong of any full-fledged risk management plan. Your preventative measures may reduce the extent of the damage, but no strategy can completely eliminate your risk exposure (not even insurance). However, insurance shields your business from the resulting costs when a covered event does happen so you don't have to pay out of pocket to keep your business afloat. For example, here's what the following policies can do:

As a final note, bear in mind that the best risk management plans include both preventative strategies and insurance protection. For more prevention tips, check out our risk management blog series.

Study: Wellness Comes Back to Small Businesses Twofold

31. March 2015 08:27

bowl of fruit

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that small businesses (even those with fewer than 50 employees) that participate in wellness programs reap serious monetary rewards in terms of employee health, productivity, and fewer workplace injuries. In fact, for every $1 spent on wellness initiatives, study participants saw an average of $2 in return. Talk about ROI!

Here are some other interesting things the study revealed:

  • The wellness program reduced common health risk factors, such as obesity, poor eating and exercise habits, tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, stress, depression, and high blood pressure.
  • Only 33 percent of small businesses offer wellness programs.
  • 97 percent of employers that participated in the study reported that worker wellness improves safety (which can reduce Workers' Comp Insurance claims and keep rates low).

Read the full write-up on InsuranceNewsNet to learn more about the study.

With all these documented benefits, initiating a wellness program at your business may seem like a given. Let's look at some ways you can promote workplace wellness and start seeing results.

7 Creative Ways Small Businesses Can Put Wellness First

The two-thirds of small business that don't have wellness programs often cite their main obstacle as a lack of resources. But you don't need an exceptional amount of money, time, or manpower to get a wellness initiative off the ground. To get your wheels turning, here are seven affordable ways to drive wellness at the office.

  1. Encourage employees to get moving. Incorporating a little movement in your employees' workday can reduce strain, boost endorphins, and improve focus. Suggest employees go for a walk at lunch and take frequent stretch breaks to offset the damage of prolonged sitting.
  2. Welcome pets into the office. Animals are natural stress reducers, according to an article by Today. Having animals at the workplace also encourages employees to be more active – after all, dogs need to go out to do their business a few times a day. As an added bonus, the presence of pets can be a selling point for animal-loving customers. (Related: check out how the digital printing company CatPrint made their pet-friendly policy a defining part of its company culture.)
  3. Spruce up the office. Throw open the blinds on your office windows to let in natural light, which boosts happiness and productivity. As an extra touch, keep some indoor plants at the workplace to purify the air.
  4. Rethink the dress code. Sure, a suit and tie make a sharp impression, but no one wants to run around in dress clothes. Consider making the dress code business casual on days when you're not expecting clients, and you'll probably see more movement from your employees during the day.
  5. Buy fresh produce. Junk food may make for easy grab-and-go snacks, but these items take their toll on your employees' health. Instead of bowls of candy, consider bringing in fresh produce for employees to snack on. Encourage employees to bring healthy snacks to share, too.
  6. Make weekly wellness goals. Motivate your employees to reach these goals by offering a small reward (even goofy titles can be enough of an incentive). For example, a goal might be to forgo junk food for a whole week.
  7. Get a water cooler or filter for the tap. Dehydration takes its toll on work performance. According to the National Hydration Council, it causes fatigue, slows down productivity, and impedes information retention. Let employees know about the risks of dehydration, and offer quality water sources so they don't rely solely on coffee to get them through the workday.

Prioritizing employee wellness shows that you're invested in their health and happiness. In turn, these measures can go a long way toward shaping your company culture and retaining talent.

Court Rules Rick Springfield Not Liable for Derrière-Related General Liability Injury

30. March 2015 08:19

singer

For a certain fan, seeing Rick Springfield perform in 2004 quickly went from dream come true to conundrum when the "Jessie's Girl" singer's bum landed squarely on her head. According to Insurance Business America, the plaintiff Vicki Calcagno sued Springfield for damages, alleging that the collision left her unconscious for 10 to 30 minutes and temporarily disabled.

It could have been a compelling case if she had more proof than an up-close photo of Springfield's rump (snapped minutes before the descent) and her unconvincing head clutching (though the butt incident happened over a decade ago and she attended a Cyndi Lauper concert just a week after the injury). Apparently, the court agreed that the whole lawsuit smacked of opportunism and dismissed it.

Rick Springfield's behind liability aside, the case serves as more than an amusing anecdote. It's a good illustration of how frivolous lawsuits work. Let's take a look.

Meritless Lawsuits: Not Just a Problem for Rich and Famous Booties

Celebrities and big companies seem as though they'd be better targets for torts, but that's just not the case. By and large, small businesses bear the brunt of litigation costs in this country. Specifically, small businesses bore 81 percent of all tort liability costs in 2008, according to US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform study [PDF]. In terms of dollars and cents, that amounts to…

  • $105.4 billion in tort costs for small businesses.
  • $35.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs (i.e., expenses insurance didn't cover).

You may think a case that gets thrown out like the Springfield lawsuit won't cost a pretty penny, but if there's anything you can be sure of, it's this: lawsuits are never cheap or easy affairs. Even the most ludicrous claim can keep you tied up in meetings with your lawyer, and all that time and counsel costs cold hard cash. The US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform study puts a figure on it: expect to spend at least $2,000 to $5,000 on legal defense fees alone just to contend a meritless lawsuit.

Is There a Way to Avoid Frivolous Litigation?

There's no predicting when you might face a frivolous lawsuit, and it's difficult to pin down why people pursue a case that has little holding power. Perhaps the idea is to force your hand and get a quick settlement (not a bad bet, considering that 95 percent of small-business owners settle out of court just to put an end to the whole ordeal).

It's also worth noting that many attorneys refuse to take on a weak case, lest the plaintiff's litigious ire be directed at them. But there are exceptions to the rule (as we saw in the Springfield case), so don't rely on others' ethics to spare you.

Having said that, you're not completely without recourse when freak accidents turn into lawsuits. In fact, General Liability Insurance offers coverage expressly for these instances. Here's what you need to know:

  • Your business is liable for bodily injuries that happen on its premises or that your work causes.
  • If a third party (i.e., anyone who doesn't work for your business) suffers an injury on your property, they may sue for damages.
  • Your General Liability policy can pay for the ensuing legal expenses (e.g., lawyer fees and settlements or judgments), no matter if the claim is legitimate or meritless.

If your business is open to the public, the necessity of General Liability's coverage can't be overstated. An honest slip-and-fall accident could seriously hurt a visitor, and your policy gives you the means to make amends. And if someone tries to take advantage of your small business and allege that someone's rear end fell on their head, your GL policy can step in to address that claim, too.

To learn more about the policy, read "What Does General Liability Insurance Cover?"

Small Business Trends for Spring 2015

27. March 2015 08:36

spring cherry blossoms

If you’re like most of the country, you probably can’t wait until winter is over and your small business can thaw out. Whether your business does well in the cold months or not, it’s still a good time to get ahead of the new trends you can expect this spring. Here are three to think about.

Color Me Successful

Pantone released its Fashion Color Report for spring and the palette contains a mix of understated brights, pale pastels, and nature-like neutrals. For women’s wear, the top 10 colors include three blues: Aquamarine, Scuba Blue, and Classic Blue, as well as various “quiet zone” colors such as Lucite Green, Toasted Almond, Strawberry Ice, Tangerine, Custard, Marsala, and Glacier Gray. Men’s clothing colors include Dusk Blue, Treetop, Woodbine, Sandstone, Titanium, and Lavender Herb. Yes, purple is getting more popular for men. 

Do You Mind?

In keeping with the theme of taking a step back from the rat race, another trend to keep your eye on is “mindfulness.” In the report Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2015, trendwatchers report that meditation and mindfulness are being embraced all over the nation. Being mindful of all activity in life is thought to increase personal and career health. For small businesses, incorporating mindfulness could mean anything from developing mindful products to creating a mindful work environment for your employees.

Food, Glorious Food

According to Mintel, a leading market research agency, key trends to watch in 2015 include saying goodbye to fad diets. Consumers are sick of dieting (who isn’t?) and are looking for a more holistic wellness approach. Eating and drinking protein-rich foods and beverages is replacing calorie counting, and using the word diet on your menus is a big no-no. When it comes to food, consumers also want…

  • To know where their food comes from.
  • More tools for home chefs and gourmands.
  • More value for their money.

And, although regular grocery shopping online has never really caught on, consumers looking for specialty food items are going online to find them.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Avoiding a Data Breach: Lessons from TurboTax

26. March 2015 08:22

easy password

According to The Wall Street Journal, TurboTax has seen an influx of fraudulent tax return claims and account hijacks this year, prompting the company to temporarily suspend e-filing state returns while it sorts out the issue. Some security experts opine that the data breach was partially enabled by missed security opportunities. (For a detailed analysis, see this Krebs on Security article.)

While you may not have the same security concerns as a high-profile online tax prep site, the news does beg the question: are you doing enough to protect your business's sensitive information? Let's review some of the most common missed security opportunities for small businesses.

Small Business Security: 5 Oversights that Lead to Breaches

You can hardly skim through the headlines without seeing at least a footnote about the most recent hack or data breach to befall the nation's leading companies. After a while, the real-world impact of data breaches starts to feel like a product of sensationalism.

But data breaches aren't just the latest fear-mongering tactic to rack up viewership or clicks. The fact remains that breaches are a stark reality for small businesses, and the costs can be staggering. To jog your memory, 44 percent of surveyed small-business owners were victims of a cyber attack in 2013, and the average cost was about $8,699 a pop. (More on that here: "Top 8 Data Breach Misconceptions.") Those that can take that $8k hit are the lucky ones – according to a report by Experian, 60 percent of hacked small businesses close up shop within six months.

All this is to say that data breaches may seem like yesterday's (and tomorrow's) news, but that shouldn't diminish your resolve to make sure they don't happen to you. On that note, here are some common security mistakes that are easy to fix:

  1. Using weak passwords. Breaking: if you use a password found on SplashData's 2014 Worst Passwords List, it's time for a change. The best passwords may not be the easiest to remember, but they are the hardest to crack. Use complex passwords that are a mix of capitalized letters, symbols, and numbers.
  2. Ignoring software updates or patches. Software updates and patches usually serve a very good purpose: they aim to fix security holes and improve usability. Make sure your employees install the patches by sending out an email notice with a deadline for the update.
  3. Keeping security lax on business premises. If all employees have access to all information, you have a problem. After all, the Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that insider misuse is one of the leading causes of data breaches. Combat the risk by only allowing authorized employees to access sensitive and encrypted information. You may want to designate particular computers to use for accessing certain records.
  4. Having no security officer. The 2014 Cost of a Data Breach report from the Ponemon Institute found that data breach costs can be cut by about 15 percent when a business has a data security plan and a chief information security officer (CISO). The CISO should oversee the business's data security measures and implement policies for bolstering privacy.
  5. Having a BYOD workplace without regulation in place. The rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workplaces has coincided with a surge in data breaches. (Read more about that here: "Use Mobile for Business? Your Cyber Liability Is Probably Through the Roof.") Maybe that's because it's difficult to regulate what your employees do with their personal mobile devices. Still, you should implement policies that regulate how employees access work information. Your BYOD policy may stipulate that they use encryption software to transmit business data, use two-factor authentication for work accounts, and only use secure Wi-Fi networks while using devices for business. Training your employees on common security threats can help them avoid clicking malicious links or falling prey to phishing schemes.

Remember, even the most robust security plan won't be enough if your employees don't follow it. So lead by example. Make data security a priority and enforce the rules, or appoint a CISO to do that work for you.

Small Business Spotlight: Crowdfunding with Peggy Jean’s Pies

25. March 2015 08:20

peggy jean's pies logo

Rebecca Miller and her mother Jeanne Plumley own Peggy Jean’s Pies in Columbia, MO. Peggy Jean’s Pies is a gourmet pie bakery offering delicious, made-from-scratch pies.

The original Peggy Jean’s Pies closed its doors in 2004. Years later, the much-loved pie bakery made a comeback with a Kickstarter campaign. We talked with Rebecca about the decision to revive PJP and their decision to use crowdfunding for the re-launch. Learn how small-business owners can utilize crowdsourced funding to build their business. The transcript below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What’s the story behind the original Peggy Jean’s Pies?

My mom (Jean) and her best friend (Peggy Day) owned the business from 1994 to 2004 and did exceptionally well. Peggy started to experience some health challenges in 2001 and her health only declined from there. My mom was completely overwhelmed as she tried to run the business on her own and decided to close it. Peg eventually passed away in 2005.

What inspired you to bring back PJP?

My mom would be asked from time to time: is there the possibility of getting a pie? Would she consider writing a cookbook of pie recipes? If we wanted to bring Peggy Jean’s Pies back to our area, we knew the name recognition still existed in our community. Mom and I started working to bring Peggy Jean’s back in the fall of 2013.

What sets you apart from other bakeries?

We make our pies completely from scratch each morning. We don’t use anything canned or frozen from a box. We don’t add any preservatives or fillers. Most of all, we absolutely adore our craft and it shows in our product.

What made you turn to crowdsourced funding to jump start your business?

It was important to us to pursue this business without asking our husbands to mortgage our homes and cars for a loan. We wanted this to be something that we did together on our own.

How did you choose the right crowdfunding site (e.g., Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc.)?

I had spent some time on Kickstarter in the past. I enjoy reading through the different projects and appreciate the creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit in the Kickstarter process. It was basically the platform that I was most familiar with, and I could see how a Peggy Jean’s project could easily fit the scope of Kickstarter’s goals.

What was confusing or challenging about using Kickstarter?

Writing the campaign was more rigorous than I anticipated. Kickstarter assigned a project manager to our campaign and that person worked through our submitted materials, pushing us to make our campaign stronger.

How did you spread the word about your campaign?

I write an exceptionally popular blog about the PJP experience (though it was so very new then – if 50 people a day read it, I was thrilled), so I talked about it on the blog a lot. I used Facebook and Twitter extensively. I contacted local newspapers and magazines, one of which ended up hosting a baking class as a fundraiser for our project. Anyone who would stand next to me for 15 seconds got my full sales pitch for our campaign.

Were you worried you wouldn’t meet your goal of $10,000? How quickly did you hit it?

We were very worried. For my mom, especially, she felt like reaching our goal of $10,000 indicated that the community wanted PJP back in business. She felt strongly that if the campaign only reached $9,000, then it was a sign we shouldn’t re-open.

Thankfully, we never needed to have that discussion. We were funded four days prior to the end of our 30-day campaign, hitting a total of $10,246.

How did you fulfill rewards to backers? Any challenges?

We offered rewards to our backers at different levels. Some received a slice of pie a month for a year and some received a whole 9-inch pie a month for a year, depending on the donation. For the highest donors, we offered a personal pie party in their home for up to 25 guests. We received donations from $5 up to $1,500.

Our biggest challenge was the number of out-of-town contributors. When we began the campaign, it never occurred to me that people all across the country would be a part of this journey. Obviously, shipping a slice of pie to Southern California from mid-Missouri has its challenges, so we worked to overcome those.

Were you surprised by the outcome of your campaign or its reception from the public?

I was very surprised by the number of contributors whom I didn’t know at all and didn’t live in our area. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many people really root for Kickstarter campaigns to do well. I think it speaks to that part of us all that wants to create without having the restrictions of traditional funding sources harnessing our decision-making process.

Would you use crowdsourced funding again or recommend it to others? Why?

Absolutely. When we are ready for a second store or a production facility, we will be back on Kickstarter. It is a wonderful way to build an audience engaged in your goals. It is also a tremendous way to support entrepreneurship in its most basic format.

What’s next for Peggy Jean’s Pies?

World Pie Domination. Seriously.

Kickstarter Tips from Peggy Jean’s Pies

  • Use strong campaign content. Make the story interesting, personable, and relatable. And spellcheck everything – nothing is more distracting than poorly written and edited content.
  • Set realistic goals. We tried to think of a dollar amount that felt obtainable in 30 days. Does $10,000 give you everything you need to open a bakery? Of course not. But was it realistic and did it give us an amazing start to our storefront? Absolutely.
  • Know your audience. Identify how to explain crowdsourced funding to your audience as many will still be unfamiliar. Having that 30-second prepared speech in mind gets your point across succinctly. Conduct outreach through social media.

Check out previous posts in our Small Business Spotlight series for more small business stories and tips.

Target's Cyber Liability Insurance Covered 36% of Its Data Breach Costs. How Much Does Yours Cover?

24. March 2015 08:25

money

You'd think that a behemoth retail chain like Target would have an insurance policy befitting its size, and before the 2013 data breach, its Cyber Insurance limits probably seemed high enough. But the figures for 2014's cleanup costs are in, and it looks like Target's policy only covered a fraction of its data breach expenses.

Here is a rundown of Target's expenses, courtesy of a report by Advisen:

  • 2013: $61 million total; insurance covered $44 million.
  • 2014: $191 million total; insurance covered $46 million.
  • Total data breach expenses so far: $252 million.
  • Total covered by insurance so far: $90 million.
  • Total Target paid out of pocket: $162 million.

Though $90 million seems like a lot of coverage, it's not much of a salve when faced with a $162 million hit to Target's bottom line. Plus, the data breach costs are still rolling in, so $252 million isn't the final count.

What's driving these costs? You may have heard that several banks are suing Target over the cost of replacing customer credit cards, but that's just the start of Target's money hemorrhage. Other costs stem from:

  • Investigating the breach.
  • Repairing security weaknesses.
  • Complying with breach notification requirements.
  • Offering credit-monitoring services for breached customers.
  • Hiring a legal defense team to respond to lawsuits.
  • Curbing reputational damage through PR measures and advertising.

Target's Cyber Insurance can help cover these costs, but the policy's limits aren't high enough to bear the majority of the costs. The good news is that Target's misfortune can be a learning opportunity for your business. Let's take a look at some ways you can ensure your Cyber Liability Insurance policy's limits are appropriate for your risk.

Choosing Adequate Insurance Limits: How High Is Too High?

As we discussed in the post "Anthem's Data Breach Reminds Us Why Insurance Coverage Limits Matter," your best bet for getting adequate insurance coverage is to work with an insurance agent. And that's not our bias talking. An experienced insurance agent can help you…

  • Understand your risks. Evaluating your exposures is best left to the pros unless you have a preternatural knack for data breach risk analysis. Even then, it never hurts to have an objective party weigh in. At insureon, our agents are trained by the industry, which gives them firsthand insight into your field's most pressing risks.
  • Match policies to your risks. Once your agent has assessed your risks, they find insurance policies designed to address those exposures. For data breach protection, your agent may point you toward one of two Cyber Risk Insurance policies: first-party response or third-party defense coverage. First-party response handles data breach notification costs, security repair expenses, and reputational damage costs. Third-party defense coverage can address lawsuits related to the breach if you were responsible for building the security infrastructure that was compromised.
  • Find adequate insurance limits. If you choose limits that are too high, you'll probably pay an arm and a leg for coverage you don't necessarily need. Choose limits that are too low, and you'll be in Target's situation: uninsured at a time when you need coverage most. Good thing your agent is an insurance whisperer and can help you pick limits that appropriately address your level of risk.
  • Take advantage of money-saving options. For example, if you qualify for a Business Owner's Policy, your agent may recommend adding Cyber Liability Insurance to your bundle. That way, you can reduce your insurance spending and still get adequate data breach protection. Read more about that here: "Want Data Breach Insurance? Try Putting it in Your BOP."

To learn more about how agents are the bee's knees when it comes to all things insurance, read the post "How an Insurance Agent Can Help Small Business Cut Insurance Costs."

Buck the Trend: Read Your Whole Insurance Policy

23. March 2015 08:04

man reading on a tablet while drinking coffee

A study by the British Insurance Brokers' Association found that 29 percent of British small- and medium-sized business owners don't read their insurance policies in full. Here are some other interesting behaviors the study revealed:

  • 30 percent of women always read their entire insurance policy.
  • Only 16 percent of men do the same.
  • 47 percent read the full insurance policy summary.
  • 8 percent never read the full summary.

The study also showed that it's not just insurance documents that business owners are breezing past – they also aren't reading bank account terms and conditions, rental car contracts, or software terms and conditions.

Though the study focused on British business owners, chances are the results wouldn't be that much different in the United States. For example, a 2010 study out of New York University showed that only one in 1,000 online consumers access a site's terms of services, and even fewer bother to read the thing.

So what gives? Surely business owners aren't averse to being well-informed. Perhaps the reason they are skimming past crucial information is…

  • The legal jargon is too confusing to understand.
  • Legal documents aren't very compelling reads.

Granted, no one expects an insurance contract to read like a YA novel. But isn't there some middle ground? How can business owners get the information they need without the legalese standing in the way?

We have a few ideas.

Resources to Help You Understand Your Small Business Insurance Policies

Reading the fine print on your insurance policies may seem like a chore, but you need to know what your policy does and doesn't cover. When you need to make a claim, you don't want the unpleasant surprise of finding you don't have coverage for something you thought was covered.

Here are some resources that can make understanding your coverage a little less complicated:

  • Your insurance agent. Your agent is your go-to resource for all things insurance. At insureon, our agents can walk you through each of your policies and explain your coverage in plain old English. If you're looking to save time and take the guesswork out of the insurance process, ask your agent for this in-depth scoop. Also, be sure to ask about riders (i.e., add-on coverage), which can fill gaps in your policy and address risks unique to your business.
  • The "Legal-Ease" Glossary. If you run across a term you don't understand, look it up in our glossary. It breaks down complicated legal terms into easy-to-grasp definitions and examples.
  • Decoding Your Small Business Insurance Quotes. So you don't have a policy yet, but you're in the market for one. That means you'll need to apply for insurance quotes. But once those quotes are in hand, you might need some help understanding them. Consult this guide to learn about key terms in your quotes, how to prioritize that information, and what your next steps should be.

Though these resources can help you understand your policies, it's still good to read them all the way through. That way, you can ask questions and manage any changes to your business protection plan.

Plus, you were never one to follow the crowd. Dance to the beat of your own insurance-y drum, pour a cup of coffee, and get to reading.

Want Data Breach Insurance? Try Putting It in Your BOP

20. March 2015 08:11

data breach concept

Two things are almost always true for small-business owners:

  1. Saving money is a good thing.
  2. Data breaches are a concern.

That first point is kind of a given (especially if your business is still getting off the ground), but the second? Do small businesses really have to worry about data breaches?

Indeed, they do, and here are the numbers to prove it:

Though these figures are alarming, they aren't a death knell. Rather, look at this as an opportunity to start taking your business's cyber security seriously by investing in Cyber Liability Insurance (aka Data Breach Insurance). This policy can help pay for the cost of data breach recovery so it doesn't come out of your pocket. Learn more about what this policy can do in "Analysis Shows Less than 3% of Small Businesses Have Cyber Liability Insurance."

If you're in super sleuth mode today, you might be putting the pieces together now: there is a way to save money on your Cyber Liability coverage. Simply bundle it with your Business Owner's Policy (BOP). Here's how.

BOPs: Get a Bundle, Save a Bundle

If you own a very small business, you may be eligible for a Business Owner's Policy. To keep costs down, this policy is only available to businesses with small commercial premises, low-risk profiles, and small staffs.

What happens when you make the cut? You have access to all things BOP, which is an insurance package that cuts premiums by bundling certain coverages together. A standard BOP offers you…

  • General Liability Insurance. Worried about being sued over slip-and-fall accidents that happen on your premises? Good thing your GL coverage can pay for legal expenses when third parties allege you didn't do enough to make your business safe.
  • Property Insurance. Every business owner relies on their commercial space and equipment to do their work. This policy ensures you have the means to replace or repair those business assets when they're damaged or lost because of fire, theft, vandalism, or windstorms.
  • Business Interruption Insurance. Winter disrupts even the most prepared businesses. For example, an ice storm may take out your supplier and keep you from generating revenue. BOPs usually include 12 months of Business Interruption coverage, which helps you cover payroll, rent, taxes, and loans when a covered Property claim keeps you on standby.

The other nice thing about a BOP? You can customize your policy by adding endorsements. In most cases, you can add Cyber Liability Insurance to your bundle to reduce your overall insurance spending.

For insureon's online application, you must select the BOP or General Liability + Property Insurance option in order to see the Cyber Liability option. Give it a try to find out how much you can save on these essential policies.

Lawsuits and Workers' Comp and Breaches: Oh My!

19. March 2015 08:05

exasperated judge

This story has it all: lies, scandal, mystery, intrigue. Oh, and data breaches. How could we ever forget data breaches?

But first, let's set the scene. It all went down in Los Angeles, California. According to a report by EmploymentLawAcademy.com, two law firms were embroiled in a Workers' Compensation case. For the sake of drama, let's say the two firms spent sleepless nights in front of computer screens, both parties looking for the argument that would bring the case home.

Pressure can bring out the best in us, or it can reveal the depths to which we'll sink to get the job done. And the latter may be true in this instance. Perhaps the partners thought no one would notice they came upon a treasure trove of privileged information.

Whatever the cause, whatever the motivation, the report states one firm allegedly hacked into the other firm's computer network. The result? Knox Ricksen LLP gained access to 2,000 privileged case materials from the other law firm – information that could have given them a real advantage in the case had the judge not questioned where the attorneys got the goods and ordered the documents to be returned.

According to the report, the breached law firm is suing Knox Ricksen LLP over the violation and seeks…

  • Unspecified damages.
  • To keep Knox Ricksen from accessing the firm's privileged electronic communications.
  • To have all illegally downloaded documents returned.

Though you may have no aspirations to be a sneaky hacker mastermind to give your business an edge, there are some lessons to be learned from this convoluted case.

Professional Misconduct: 3 Cautionary Takeaways

Though there are a number of things this lawsuit can teach your business, let's focus on the following three:

  1. Professional errors can come back to haunt you. Sometimes these errors catch up with you almost immediately. Or it may take years for your business to be sued over mistakes – real or alleged – that happened during past projects. That's why it's important to carry Professional Liability Insurance throughout the life of your business – you never know when you might face a lawsuit, and your benefits only kick in when the policy is active. Learn more about that here: "Professional Liability Insurance Basics: Protecting Your Business from High-Dollar Lawsuits."
  2. You can be held responsible for your employee's errors. Let's give Knox Ricksen the benefit of the doubt and say that the leading attorneys on the case didn't know how their colleagues retrieved the private records. But at the end of the day, ignorance isn't an excuse for wrongdoing. Even if your employees made the mistake, your business can be held accountable.
  3. Insurance does not cover intentional wrongdoing or illegal activity. Usually, your liability policies only protect you when mistakes are inadvertently made. For example, most Professional Liability policies won't cover lawsuits over acts of willful negligence. (Learn more about that in "7 Things Professional Liability Insurance Doesn't Cover.") Similarly, your small business insurance policies can't cover criminal cases – liability insurance is designed to cover civil lawsuits.

As a final word of caution, know that lawsuits over professional missteps can be avoided with a little contingency planning, training, and quality control.

For example, ensure your employees understand the industry rules and show them how to operate within those regulations. Though breaking into a competitor's computer network is obviously illegal, there are issues that can be a little more ambiguous. If an employee runs your business's social media account, for instance, they should know about copyright laws and fair use to avoid accidentally committing copyright infringement.

To learn more about preventing different kinds of lawsuits, check out "How & Why to Prevent Malpractice / Professional Liability Lawsuits" and "Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business: Cut Your Advertising Injury Exposure."

Customer Rating 4.9 out of 5
Read Customer Reviews