On Monday, everyone will be a little bit Irish. Gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on the weekend and on Monday, we’ve gathered some links about New England activities and ways to celebrate around the area – or even in your own home. Remember – even for the Irish, there’s a limit to luck so don’t take chances with your celebrations :
Next week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. If you own a dog, you need to pay attention because dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million. While the number of bites has declined, the cost of claims continues to rise – the average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $29,752. For more on the ins and outs of insurance issues related to dog ownership, see our prior post, Insurance and Your Dog.
Postal workers – a group of folks who are particularly at risk of dog bites – issued their annual list of top dog attack city rankings, along with their tips for preventing dog bites … and they certainly have experience in that area. If you haven’t yet seen it, visit former mail carrier Ryan Bradford’s posting, All the Dogs Want to Kill Me, where he logged snapshots of dogs lurking on his postal route a few years ago. It’s pretty amusing, unless you are the postal worker or the gas meter reader who has to face the pets down. Here’s a few clips that demonstrate just how territorial and aggressive even seemingly sweet dogs can be over mail deliveries.
Small businesses have become more aware over the years of the importance of data protection and backup. It’s a rare company that doesn’t have backup procedures in place, but it’s always a good idea to make sure those policies and procedures are up to date. Since surveys show that the average data breach costs a company $7.2 million, or $214 per breached record, properly protecting your company’s data should always be one of the top items on your priority list. Plus, many states are enacting laws about customer data privacy and security, and at this writing, 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have enacted legislation requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information. Experts recommend that you routinely back up your data, develop data and disaster recovery plans and educate your employees to the importance of customer data security.
The last is crucial in today’s increasingly mobile society. A recent survey has found that up to 80% of workers in small to midsize businesses routinely use their own portable devices such as laptops, iPhones and iPads to work from home or on the road. Although most companies have formal policies in place to protect their vital data in the office, a surprising data protection gap has emerged with the growth of off site workers. Fully one third of companies let employees make their own decisions about how -or whether – to back up company and client data on their own devices and as a result, valuable data could easily be lost or compromised. Instead of these informal arrangements, it’s a good idea to implement a formal Acceptable Use Policy that may include installing security software on the employee’s device.
If your business entails storing personal customer data electronically, you should talk with your independent insurance agent about exactly what your business liability insurance covers and discuss whether you need a specialized product to cover data loss coverage and electronic data liability to deal with the aftermath of a data breach. And while you’re having that discussion, you might also inquire about cyber liability coverage for protection against various legal liabilities related to disseminating information via the Internet.
If you are thinking of getting a dog, or even if you already have one, it’s critical as either a homeowner or renter to check with your insurance agent to establish or review your liability coverage for dog bites and other canine-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and last year, the average cost of a dog bite claim was $26,166, according to the Insurance Information Institute — and costs continue to rise due to growing medical costs and larger settlements.
Most states have strict statutes holding owners directly responsible for injuries or damage inflicted by their dogs, and some insurance policies exclude dog breeds that are seen as particularly aggressive (see the Top 7 Dangerous Dog Breeds), so in addition to evaluating your ability to care for and properly train a dog, it’s vital to make sure you are covered by your policy, and take steps to minimize any risk of dog bite or other injury.
Tips for dog owners seeking homeowner/renter’s coverage for their dog(s):
Enroll your dog in obedience classes and work on helping the dog earn a diploma or certification
Schedule refresher classes for dogs who have already been trained, but are not as attentive as they once were!
Neuter male dogs to reduce dominance and aggression
Always keep your dogs on a leash and under control during walks
If your dog is allowed outside on your property, be sure the area is adequately fenced and protected
Never leave young children alone with a dog, and always teach them how to behave safely around dogs
If strangers make your dog nervous, be sure to separate them from new visitors in your home
To keep canine frustration in check, always make sure your dog is properly exercised, and don’t allow them to be exposed to teasing or taunting
Finally, if you are thinking of getting a dog primarily for home protection, be aware that money spent on increased security measures will ultimately be easier, more reliable, less expensive — and kinder to the animal.
Two common insurance questions we hear: “What’s an umbrella policy?” and “Do I need one?”
An umbrella policy is an added layer of liability insurance protection that goes above and beyond your policy’s stated coverage limits. This coverage is designed to kick in once any other coverage has been exhausted. Umbrella policies can extend your liability coverage for personal policies, such as your homeowners and auto, and they can also add a layer of liability protection for commercial and business policies. In the commercial arena, umbrella policies may also be referred to as “umbrella liability” or “excess liability” policies.
Your standard insurance policies should provide adequate liability coverage for most situations that would arise, but in today’s lawsuit-happy age, an umbrella policy can provide an added layer of protection. Should a problem arise, this secondary coverage would pick up where your primary coverage stops.
The Insurance Information Institute talks more about personal umbrella coverage: Should I purchase an umbrella liability policy?
Financial Web offers more on business liability umbrella insurance: Commercial Umbrella Insurance: is it indispensable for your business?
Just a reminder that this is only a brief informational overview. As with any insurance issue, coverage specifics will vary by policy and by insurer. If you think that you or your business might benefit by umbrella coverage, pick up the phone and have a talk with your independent agent. Be it personal or commercial matters, your agent can help you to plan the best combination of coverages to meet your specific and unique needs, and can also shop around to find the best available coverage at the best price.