Are you at risk of computer theft?

How common is computer theft? The 8th Annual BSI Computer Theft Survey has an eye opening list about the real threat computer theft possesses. Here are some of the more compelling findings of the survey:

  • There were over 5,500,000 computers stolen in the USA in the last three years. Worldwide statistics are proportionally similar.
  • According to the FBI, only 3% of unprotected (those that do not use a software tracking and recovery software) stolen computers are ever recovered.
  • More than half (58.7%) of the survey respondents have been the victim of computer theft in the last 12 months.
  • Laptops comprised more than two thirds (68%) of those devices reported stolen, followed by desktop computers (10%) and PDAs, iPods, iPhones, etc. (22%).
  • Ninety-seven percent of survey respondents that experienced computer theft report the thief was never caught.
  • Forty-six percent of respondents report the estimated value of proprietary data on their stolen computing device at $25,000 or less; 46.5 % estimated the value at between @25,000 and $1,000,000. ; 6.5% estimated the value at $1,000.000 or more and 1% estimated the value at more than $10,000,000.

It brings to mind the story of Francis Ford Coppola Losing 15 Years of Data in Burglary. Francis Ford Coppola is the legendary director of such films as The Godfather, The Godfather 2, and Apocalypse Now. On top of losing his personal data and 15 years of work it also put Tetro, the multi million dollar film he was working on at the time, in jeopardy.

Don’t let what happened to Francis happen to you, backup your data and make sure you are insured! Most homeowners and rental policies will cover a computer up to a certain amount – but if you have a very expensive computer or peripherals, or if your data is vital to your livelihood, you should talk over additional coverage options with your agent!

The Indiscriminate Tastes of Animals

dog-diamonds.jpgWe frequently offer advice about protecting your property against theft and natural disasters … but what if the natural disaster walks on four paws? Recently, a Pomeranian swallowed $10,000 Worth of Diamonds. Dogs specifically seem willing to eat any variety of items lying around the house. Underwear was cited as the most ingested household item by dogs. A contributing factor might be owners tend to leave underwear lying around on the floor, but doing so may lead to an unplanned trip to the veterinarian.
This is not anything new, in fact the the lack of dietary discretion in animals led Sound Elkin, a veterinary imaging company, to sponsor an annual “They Ate What?” X-ray Contest. Entries included a hound mix that ate 309 nails and a Labrador retriever who swallowed a 5 inch paring knife.
Diamonds, nails and knives might seem obvious things for pets to avoid, but VetStreet complied a list of Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs and Cats that might not be so apparent. Follow the link for details on what makes these foods toxic to dogs and cats and to learn more about the accompanying symptoms. Here is a quick overview of their top 10:

  • Xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Macadamia Nuts

Whether it is house hold items or human food, it is important to keep potentially dangerous items away from your pets. If your pet has swallowed something potentially harmful or poisonous it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. And if your pet is a compulsive and indiscriminate eater, in addition to a visit to the vet, you may want to visit your insurance agent to ask about pet insurance!

Tips from 60,000 pediatricians about back to school safety

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a helpful back to school safety tip sheet. We’re reprinting the safety tips that deal with traveling to and from school and vehicle safety.
School Bus Safety

  • If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.
  • Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Do not move around on the bus.
  • Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.
  • Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.

Car Safety

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a selt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting to prevent driver distraction; and limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see

Bike Safety

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”

Walking to School

  • Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
  • In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider starting a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.

Questions you should ask about Homeowners Insurance

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a wealth of insurance information at Insure U. When shopping for homeowners, here are some questions that NAIC suggests that you ask your agent:
• Are the agent and the insurance company licensed by my state insurance department? For how long? (Your state insurance department can confirm the answers to these questions.)
• How can I find out the claims history of the home before I buy it?
• If I submit a claim, how will it affect my premium when I renew the policy?
• What discounts are available?
• What does the policy cover? What doesn’t it cover? What are the limits to the coverages?
• How much coverage for my personal property do I need?
• Should I buy flood insurance or earthquake coverage?
• How will my credit history affect my premium?
Learn more at A Consumer’s Quick Guide to Home Insurance (PDF)