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Cyber-crime is a trend growing as fast as the Internet itself. It seems that every day there’s another identity theft story in the news that leaves us feeling vulnerable to this invisible threat.

While the compromise of corporate networks gets most of the media attention, we as individuals should be concerned — especially those with greater wealth and high media exposure. Now that personal information has become so hard to protect, financial status is much easier to discover. The explosive growth of mobile communications has created millions of new targets for criminals. Even vehicles, home security systems, and “smart” appliances can be hacked and used against someone. Anything controlled by a computer or connected to a network can be compromised.

The key to protection isn’t through a high-tech solution; cyber security is about awareness of online activity. It’s a good idea to work with a private security advisor who can offer expertise in cyber security. They not only help with background research and network security on both a personal and enterprise level, but they also provide tips and education on effective measures one can take to guard against cyber-crime.

It is also essential to insure one’s assets and reputation should a loss occur due to cyber-crime. Recovering stolen identity or lost assets can be expensive and time-consuming. And if this happens to a business leader, politician, celebrity or other high net worth individual, restoring a damaged reputation can also be difficult and costly. Good coverage provides some reassurance that you can financially recover from a cyber-crime. Not all insurance providers can meet those unique needs; it is important to talk with a trusted insurance agent who can offer expert advice on coverage solutions and recommend the best insurance companies to help protect against cyber-crime. Some carriers offer in-home safety consultations or can recommend an international personal security firm with expertise in protecting wealthy individuals and families.

It’s important to discuss these cyber risk exposures with your trusted insurance agent who can provide risk mitigation and loss prevention recommendations and, most importantly, secure insurance coverage with an insurance company that specializes in this risk.

In the excitement of surprising someone with a gift that makes a big impression, remember that properly insuring expensive gifts can bring peace and joy long after the holiday season is over.

Standard homeowners insurance policies include coverage for personal items such as jewelry. However, valuable items such as jewelry, guns, furs, silverware, watches, and coins for example, usually have coverage limitations to theft.

To make sure jewelry and other expensive gifts are adequately protected, it is important to take the following actions:

Contact your Client Advisor
Let your agent know that you possess expensive items. Find out how much coverage you have under your home insurance policy and if additional insurance is needed.
 
Have the item appraised
It is important that expensive items are properly appraised. Your Client Advisor can recommend a reputable appraiser if necessary. If this is your first time getting an expensive item appraised, have heirlooms and other expensive items that were purchased several years ago appraised as well. Expensive items can go up or down in value.

Keep a copy of the store receipt and add it to your home inventory
You will need to forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer so that the company knows the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for yourself and update your home inventory.  Get into the habit of keeping a visual record of all of your personal possessions. This helps to document your loss and speed up the claims process, particularly for claims involving antique and unusual pieces of jewelry.

Store valuables in a secure location
No one ever wants their valuables to be stolen, so it is well worth buying a safe to protect many of those irreplaceable items. When choosing a safe, make sure to check that it has good ratings for resistance to burglars, fire, and flooding, since all three of these things pose a potential threat. The safe should be permanently installed and securely bolted into your home.

With a little planning, you can make sure that your holidays – and future – will be merry and bright.

Go ahead and blame Mother Nature for the things that can go terribly wrong at one’s home. Just not all of them. Damage caused by punishing weather — wind, hail, and rain — accounted for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims over the past six years, but there were other culprits as well, such as fire, leaky pipes, and theft.

The findings are contained in a new study which identified the most common and most expensive homeowners insurance claims based on a review of thousands of claims filed with the company from 2009 to 2015. The most common claims were for:

  1. Exterior wind damage – 25% of all losses
  2. Non-weather-related water damage (e.g., plumbing or appliance issues) – 19%
  3. Hail – 15%
  4. Weather-related water damage – 11%
  5. Theft – 6%

Any number of things can go wrong with a home, and it’s impossible to predict them all. However, if homeowners focus on these particularly common risks and take preventive steps and perform routine maintenance, it may help lessen the likelihood of damage.

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Challenge: You have a homeowner that knows the structure has been updated with a new roof, or other pertinent feature, but there is no permit on file to confirm it. The Insurance Company needs confirmation of an update or they will decline coverage on the home.

Solution: Permit by Affidavit
You can apply for a “Permit by Affidavit” through the following process:

  • The property owner would hire an Engineer or Architect at their own expense.
  • The Engineer or Architect would complete the “Permit by Affidavit” after inspecting the property.
  • The Engineer or Architect would then turn in the completed form to the county or city.
  • The permitting department would review the affidavit and inspect the home.
  • If the inspector agrees with the Engineer or Architect, the permit would be filed.
  • The property owner would then pay the permitting fee to the county/city.

 

Now the permit is on file with the county/city. The forms can be found online on the Collier County Government website, or call Gulfshore Insurance and we will happily provide you with a copy.

Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely known ridesharing companies, have transformed the public transportation industry. Riders love the service due to costs that are a fraction of a traditional taxi. Drivers love the ease and flexibility of this part-time job. Cabbies and taxi companies, however, aren’t big fans, using a variety of regulatory maneuvers to try and stop the industry’s phenomenal growth.

After spending $100 dollars on a cab, I can certainly understand the allure of ridesharing. As an insurance and risk management professional, I can also understand the potential liability issues that could arise if a ridesharing driver does not carry the proper insurance.

As these ridesharing services become an increasingly popular way for people to earn money (as drivers) or save money (as passengers), it is important to be aware of potential gaps in insurance coverage. State insurance regulators have grown increasingly concerned about the insurance implications of these services. The main issue is a possible gap in insurance coverage between the driver’s personal automobile insurance policy and the commercial policy maintained by the ridesharing company.

The Coverage Gap Explained
While these ridesharing companies have expanded their own insurance policies to carry $1 million in liability protection, there still remain some gaps in coverage. Their policies only cover drivers once they have been matched with a fare and when they are carrying a passenger.

So what happens during the period of time between fares? This is called a trolling period, or the time when drivers are logged into the Uber/Lyft app, waiting to be matched with a fare. During this time, the Uber or Lyft auto policy does not apply and quite possibly neither does the driver’s personal auto policy. This is what is referred to as the insurance gap.

Most personal auto insurance policies contain standard exclusions to limit exposures related to the commercial use of a vehicle. This exclusion also applies to other coverages, including uninsured motorist and collision. Uber drivers may be in for quite a surprise in the event of an accident that could leave them personally liable following a valid insurance coverage denial. In some states, failure to disclose commercial use of a vehicle would be classified as a material misrepresentation, subjecting the policy to be void ab initio (from the beginning).

Before becoming a driver or passenger with one of these ridesharing companies, you may want to consider the insurance implications if an accident were to occur. Currently, there is a bill in process in Florida that would establish new insurance requirements for rideshare drivers. This policy includes higher death, injury, and property damage coverages, and coverages for the current insurance gap. Currently, 29 states have already created coverage for rideshare drivers.