10 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach

Data breach and stolen information has been something of a flashpoint in the media recently. In each news cycle there is another leak or mass hack of personal information, leaving businesses and their countless customers left hanging with their private information laid bare.

As a business, you have a responsibility to do everything in your power to prevent a data breach. You owe it to your investors, your customers and yourself. A proactive approach in information security could prevent a rending data breach and protect your private information. The following are ten simple steps that you can take immediately for protecting your company’s data.

1. Outsource payment processing: Avoid handling credit card data internally and rely on reputable technology and service providers for a point of sale system. If you cannot make the necessary strides to secure information, it’s best not to risk anything.

2. Separate social media from financial activity: Use a dedicated device for online banking and a different device for email and social media. All personal devices should be kept away from business systems and clear of financial information.

3. Think beyond passwords: Never reuse password, and don’t trust any website to store them securely and use two-factor authentication for forgotten passwords. Keep them complex and never store them in the open.

4. Educate Employees: Establish a written policy about what types of information are sensitive and communicate it to all employees. Many attack points are simply due to ignorance of the likelihood of breach.

5. Stay Informed: Evaluate the entire chain of events in a potential attack and identify where an organization is most a risk. Think diagnostically and prevent an attack before it happens.

6. Stop Transmission of data that is not encrypted: Mandate encryption of all data and consider encrypting email if personal information is transmitted.

7. Secure Browsers: Keep browsers up to date and test for weaknesses. With a few simple clicks, most browsers will update themselves.

8. Secure the operating system: It’s far easier for hackers to break into older operating systems such as Windows XP or OS X 10.6. It’ll help your security and your business.

9. Secure the router: Set a strong administration password on the company router and a WPA password on the Wi-Fi. Follow the above notes on passwords.

10. Secure Company Data: Keep backups encrypted and offsite.

These few steps are a strong start to protecting your business information from hacks or a data breach. Above all, stay vigilant and always be prepared to meet a new threat with new tactics. Data protection is work, but its necessary work for the ease that computing provides to a business owner.

For more information on Cyber Liability Insurance to protect your business call us today at 860.354.4466.


5 Reasons to Consider Liability Insurance for Your Business

Cyber crime is skyrocketing. Learn why it is important to protect your business here:

1. Value

A company’s network system and data collection are among its most valuable assets. This includes, but is not limited to, customer lists, books, records, receipts, tax documents, intellectual property, and trade secrets. Losing this information could potentially ruin your business.

2. Cyber Attack Increase

Cyber attacks are increasing! During the last year alone, data breaches increased 42%. Of that number, 40% of the breaches were at companies that had less than 1,000 employees. Even small companies are being targeted.

3. Cost

Data breach costs have skyrocketed. The average cost of a data breach has risen to $5.4 million. The loss includes business disruption, revenue loss, equipment damages, legal fees, public relations expenses, forensic analysis, and notification costs.

4. Risk

There are so many different parts of a company at risk. There is website media liability, which covers libel, slander, and copywriting. There is security liability, which covers a failure to prevent a hacker entering your system or the spread of a virus.

5. Business Laptops and PDAs

Nowadays, everyone has an electronic device that they use to check their company’s email or get into the company network off-hours. You do not want someone to find your company’s information on an employee’s device, nor do you want your employees to use a personal device, such as a camera phone, to record business documents.

 

It is clear that there are many reasons to obtain cyber liability insurance for your business. However, once you decide to get insurance, there are many different options. It can include all or some of the following: Third party technology professional insurance, privacy liability, security liability, website media liability, first party cyber extortion, first party privacy breach response, first party business interruption, data recovery extra expense, and legal and regulatory defense and penalty.

It is important to remember that no two policies are identical and the terminology can often be confusing. Attaining a cyber liability process does require specific information on your business, your systems and the level of security you have in place. If you are considering cyber liability insurance, why not call Nicholas / Tobin Insurance? Nicholas / Tobin and Associates are committed to providing residents of New Milford and Kent with quality insurance products and protection for them, their families, and their businesses. Call us today!


Explaining an Auto Insurance Deductible

When you get a new car, there are many things to consider when it comes to auto insurance. However, different auto insurance plans can be confusing! Nicholas / Tobin and Associates are here to help. We want you to be well informed on what auto insurance plan is right for your car and your lifestyle. Here is a quick guide to understanding an auto insurance deductible:

Auto Insurance Deductible 101

Deductible only applies if you purchase collision and comprehensive coverage which is optional. It is important to review your coverage prior to submitting any claim. Once you know the cover you have in place you can assess what is the right deductible to fit my needs. What is a deductible and how does it work? To simplify the answer it is the amount of money you pay towards your car’s repairs after you have been in an accident of some sort. Your insurance company would then cover the rest. If you have damage on your car that will cost $7,000 to repair and you have a $1,000 deductible, you would pay the $1,000 and your insurance would pay the remaining balance of $6,000. And in the case where you are hit by another car, you may not be subject to any out of pocket expenses IF the other carrier takes responsibility for the accident and the repairs to your vehicle. Always, talk to your agent before reporting a claim and ask them for the best advice on how to proceed given the situation.

Best Course of Action

Many people think this means that it is best to keep a very low deductible. The less you pay in repairs, the better, right? Wrong! The lower your auto insurance deductible is, the more you will have to pay per month. And sometimes just because you have coverage in place does not mean you should submit the claim. Assess the situation review how much insurance money will you get back? When was your last claim? Is it worth submitting the claim if you have had one or two recent ones in the past several years?
In the case where you may have a small insurance recovery you want to best understand what will happen to my future insurance costs if you submit the claim. Many times it is not a matter of the carrier increasing your insurance after a claim, but that simple fact that they took away your loss free discount.

Many Factors to Consider

There are many factors in determining the correct auto insurance deductible for each person and family. Income, budget, savings, and credit will all come into account. In fact in a lease or with an auto loan you need to check with your lender as they may have strict limitations on what deductible you need to have. Either way you can choose two different routes. You can take more financial risk with high deductibles and lower your monthly costs, or you can choose low deductibles and higher monthly costs but more peace of mind in case of an accident.

Learn More

Auto insurance deductibles can be difficult to choose from. To figure out which policy is best for you, why not contact Nicholas / Tobin Insurance? We are proud to offer automotive insurance to the New Milford and Kent areas. For more information on our auto insurance coverage, click here or call us today at 860.354.4466!


Kick Back with Comprehensive Vacation Home Insurance

Let’s face it. When you fantasize about kicking back at your vacation home, insurance policies are the last thing on your mind. More realistically, you probably start to ponder which Jimmy Buffet album you’ll listen to first. After all Buffet-related matters have been settled, you’ll presumably start to consider which brand of rum to sip in your hammock. If you opt to go the bottom-shelf route, you’ll save a few bucks but you also risk the wrath of a serious hangover. Is it worth it?

Nobody’s disputing the fact that these are matters of the highest importance. With all of that being said, it’s still imperative that you set aside some time to obtain the right insurance package for your vacation get-away. Even though this particular process doesn’t deviate too much from standard homeowner protocol, it’s always recommended that you brush up on the facts.

Take a look at the following sections, and learn more about this specific form of coverage. When you’re ultimately ready to protect your vacation home against accidental damage, liability and loss, all you have to do is speak with one of the friendly folks here at Nicholas / Tobin. We’re standing by to take your call.

In most instances, folks will choose to explore each of the insurance packages listed below. Though you may not reside in your second home year-round, it’s still important that you cover all your bases.

 

  • Full Property Coverage will protect your home against most direct, sudden, and accidental physical losses which aren’t excluded from your selected policy.
  • Named Peril Coverage protects you from any peril listed within your policy. These commonly include fires, explosions, lightning, wind and hail.
  • If you’re found to be legally responsible for any accidental injury sustained on your property, you’ll be protected by Liability Insurance. Homeowners will additionally be covered if a guest causes damage to a neighbor’s property.
  • Actual Cash Value will cover the cost to remedy damaged property. This amount is generally determined by the current age and condition of your value of your seasonal property or vacation home.
  • Your Agreed Loss Settlement will cover the insured value of your property, minus any applicable deductible.

 

Along with each of the aforementioned points, there are always additional matters to consider. Take a look at each of the following points and tips and decide whether or not you need to bolster your coverage.

 

  • In many instances, flood insurance is not included in standard vacation home policies. If you suspect your property is at risk, consider exploring additional flood coverage.
  • If your vacation home is located in a cold weather region, you probably realize that snow storms can quickly cause a lot of damage. If you winterize your home prior to departing, you’ll stand to save lots of cash in the long run.
  • Is your property situated in an area where forest fires have been spotted? You may choose to clear most vegetation from around the perimeter of your structure to save on repair and insurance costs.
  • Earthquake insurance is rarely included in standard vacation home insurance packages. Be sure to purchase this coverage independently if need be.
  • Are you renting your home to others? Make sure to contact your insurance company about additional insurance requirements. Renters should provide evidence of insurance which is similar to the attaining renter’s policy. This protects you from unnecessary claims and risk that others may impose on you and your assets.

 

While this information was designed to touch on the basics of vacation home insurance, there are far more intricate matters discuss. If you’re serious about obtaining comprehensive vacation home coverage, all you have to do is speak with a trained insurance broker today. Better yet, contact Nicholas / Tobin as soon as possible, and gain instant access to the finest rates on the market!


Insurance Coverage for Outdoor Property Improvements

Summer is right around the corner and the warmer temperatures are beginning to return to Connecticut. This means that many home and business owners will soon be outside working on improving their property. Lawns will be cut, landscaping will ensue and grounds will be sculpted, not to mention home additions, painting, deck building, and more!

Those who will be hard at work on projects outside this spring and summer should remember to have insurance coverage for their homes and businesses. The last thing you need is for something go wrong, only to find out that your home or business property is not adequately covered. Nicholas / Tobin Insurance offers homeowners and business insurance for customers in Kent, New Milford and the surrounding areas. We are your source for information on your existing policy, what it covers, and what coverage you may want to add if you are about to make improvements to your home or business.

Get the Right Coverage before Improving your Home or Business

Your home and business are likely to be your biggest investments, so be sure to protect them. Basic homeowners insurance will protect the house itself as well as other structures on your property, typically including many types of outdoor improvements or additions. To be sure, find out what your policy covers by speaking with a professional.

If you are beginning a home improvement project, you may want to see what your homeowner?s insurance will cover if someone were hurt during an improvement project, what replacement costs would be covered if the improvements were damaged due to weather or another catastrophe, as well as the cost of repairs if your home should suffer any damage during the construction work.

The same need for liability insurance applies to businesses. Nicholas / Tobin Insurance has commercial property insurance available for businesses to protect them from property losses. If you end up damaging your business? property during a construction project, you will want coverage for your losses. General liability coverage can protect your business from liability if someone is injured on your property while working on a construction or landscaping project, but you may also be interested in business interruption coverage in case your property is damaged and your business is forced to a temporary site.

For homeowners insurance, business insurance or auto insurance, the best choice for customers in Kent and New Milford is Nicholas / Tobin Insurance. We provide the best coverage for a wide variety of needs at the best possible price. Protect your home, business and property with coverage from Nicholas /Tobin Insurance.


Simple Home Upkeep: Avoiding Water Damage

Here in Connecticut, most of us have grown accustomed to worrisome winter weather. Water can cause damage to your home in a variety of ways, including burst pipes and basement floods, but what about the water that results from melting snow?

Not all types of water damage are covered under homeowner’s insurance policies. This makes it essential for anyone that owns a home to take the necessary steps to help prevent damage caused by snow. Keep an eye out for snow and ice on your roof after freezing weather strikes, and take a few simple precautions that may help costly repair services at a minimum. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you step outside and check your roof.

Roofing

Are you fully aware of the condition of your roof? Sure, it may look alright at first glance, but without a thorough inspection, you’re not going to notice the small chips and cracks which could lead to larger problems. It may be especially difficult to inspect during the winter months, so next year, try to check before winter strikes!

Melted snow can easily make its way into these minor cracks and cause a whole list of exterior and interior damages. Leaking water can seep inside your home, causing stains on the ceilings and walls. Melted snow may also produce damages to your insulation, creating water vapor which will compromise the structural integrity of your home. This excess water can even lead to mildew build-up and mold; a true mess of costly problems!

Gutters

If your gutters become overwhelmed with ice buildup, then water will not be able to properly drain off of your roof; this may leave the water with no place to go but inside your home. If there is an insufficient supply of heat reaching the attic of your home, ice dams in the gutters are more prone to develop. It’s also important to make sure down spouts are not blocked by snow or ice; these allow water to flow away from the house.

It is important that you keep tabs on the buildup of snow and ice on the roof and in your gutters. If there is an accumulation, hire a professional to remove the snow and ice. Getting the right homeowner’s insurance is the first step you should take after purchasing a home, but it’s just as essential that you do your part as well. Keep your home maintained, and steer clear of the costly damages that can be caused by snow and ice buildup on the roof.


Cultivating Community: A Look Back at 2013

As a local, independent insurance agency, Nicholas / Tobin Insurance strives to provide you with the coverage you need to protect your home, business and auto. It is our mission to answer your questions when you are choosing a policy, and to be there when you need assistance during the claims process. It is our pleasure to offer the personalized service that sets us apart from so many of our competitors.

But when it comes to our role as a proud community partner in New Milford and Kent, Connecticut, Nicholas / Tobin Insurance has the unique privilege of giving back to those who support us, doing our part to enrich and cultivate the communities we serve. With 2013 behind us, we would like to highlight a few local events in which we were delighted to have played a part.

Established, local, independent business men and women can be a wellspring of valuable information to up and coming entrepreneurs. This past May, Richard Herrington, President of Nicholas / Tobin, contributed to a panel discussion sponsored by the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce on the topic of Taking Your Business to the Next Level. He spoke along with other local business leaders, sharing insights and providing guidance geared to start up and small businesses entrepreneurs.

A true highlight of 2013 was the Seventh Annual Taste of New Milford, which took place in September. With proceeds going to The Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut, this event aims not only to benefit individuals seeking to contribute their talents to the culinary arena, but to provide an enjoyable evening out to residents of New Milford and nearby communities. Nicholas / Tobin is proud to have worked alongside The Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce to sponsor this event, which offers a great opportunity for exposure for local restaurants and fosters pride in our community and its local businesses.

More recently, Nicholas / Tobin Insurance was delighted to become a sponsor of the 37th Annual Kent Pumpkin Run, held this past October. This event benefits the Kent Food Bank and offers participants a great reason to get out and exercise while enjoying some of the most beautiful fall foliage and outdoor scenery in Litchfield County.

With 2014 already off to a strong start, we look forward to continuing our participation in the communities that we are delighted to serve.


Be winter weather worry-free with light home maintenance and the right homeowner’s insurance

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the forces of Mother Nature and the havoc she may wreak on your home or property. However, signing on with the right homeowners insurance and taking a few steps to weather-proof your home, especially as winter approaches, can help keep future maintenance and repair costs down.

Weather-proofing from the outside in

There are many ways you can weatherproof your home, starting with its exterior. It’s vital to make sure that no gaps or holes are left unattended. Check areas like basement window wells for debris build-up, and scan your windows and doors for gaps or cracks. Inspect sheds and crawlspaces for any potential problems, and make sure to keep central air units protected with heavy shielding material. If there are any branches or wires hanging over your home, make sure to have those removed as well.

No one likes a pipe burst or a broken furnace. Keeping the interior of your home temperate and properly ventilated can help to keep pipes from bursting and moisture from building up. This can prevent ice dams and other potential damages. Start at the top; make sure there is proper ventilation and insulation in your attic. When the temperatures really drop, try opening kitchen and bath cabinets, as well as register vents and air returns to allow more warm air to circulate through your home and around pipes.

To maintain the smooth operation of your furnace and water heater and to reduce the possibility of winter-related damages, make sure they are in an insulated area; if not, insulation may be necessary, as well as a water heater cover. If you enjoy the comfort of a fireplace, pellet stove or space heater, make sure these are well maintained and in proper working order before winter weather strikes. During your weather proofing, make sure all fire alarms are functional, for the increased use of your in-home heat providers can increase the chance of a fire at any time.

Prevent Ice dams

Now is a good time to check your insulation, particularly in the attic and around eves. Ice damming is caused by heat escaping into your attic, causing your roof to heat up and the built up snow to melt. Ice damming can be prevented by keeping your roof cool. A cool roof will allow the snow build up to eventually dissipate without extensive melting. To prevent ice damming, seal any gaps in the attic, check your insulation and make sure you have good air flow of cold air under the roof. Yes, that?s right, cold air! If you can keep your roof deck 30 F and below during the winter months there is very good chance you will avoid any ice damming problems. Keep in mind ice damming can occur over an extended period of time, which only exacerbates the damage that can occur and the cost to repair it. Popular Mechanics has a great article which was written in 2008 on how ice damming works, please take a look as it may be of assistance to you.http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/outdoor-projects/4293184

Review your homeowners insurance policy

Standard homeowners insurance policies typically cover some–but by no means all–weather related damages. Reviewing your policy or speaking with your insurance agent may prove fruitful if you are unsure about your present coverage and wish to head into the snowy season with peace of mind. You may also find that you wish to purchase additional endorsements to heighten your protection against weather related damage.

If you have more questions about protecting your home and property, contact Nicolas / Tobin Insurance to speak with an agent about homeowners insurance options. Agents in our Kent and New Milford offices will be delighted to speak with you!


Matters to Consider when Insuring your Business Auto

If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to insure your business vehicle, the time to remedy this particular misstep is now. When attempting to protect a business, it’s imperative to register an automobile in the name of the corporation or LLC. Taking the following points into consideration will help you gain the proper auto insurance policy for your company vehicle.

Vehicle

First off, one must consider the actual nature of the business, as well as the manner in which the company vehicle will be used. Are you going to be making deliveries all across town? Perhaps matters require that you transport yourself, and possibly others, in a luxury vehicle. All of these questions need to be taken into consideration prior to obtaining the proper auto insurance because separate sorts of vehicles warrant drastically different forms of insurance. A box truck will require a particular policy, while your company Audi A7 will garner an entirely separate quote. Be prepared with this information prior to dialing up your trusted business insurance agent.

Freight

Your insurance agent is going to be interested in whether or not you will be hauling any freight within the company vehicle. What are you carrying, and how far is it going? A number of these factors will all play into the final insurance policy. Additionally, a vehicle carrying hazardous or extremely valuable items will justly require that a specific set of riders be added to the policy.

Human cargo will also force a more in-depth form of coverage, and those transporting people will be required to meet a separate set of guidelines. It’s possible that a limousine company, for instance, will be forced to explicitly outline which type of passengers they’ll be catering to, and why. Also, all company drivers may need to pass a screening process before an insurance agency will feel comfortable presenting an appropriate insurance package.

Use

Though it may seem obvious, one final point bears mentioning. The best way to protect your business is not only to set up a LLC or corporation, but to register an auto in the name of the LLC or corporation and actually use that auto while performing work. Many people set up a LLC or corporation for their business only to completely circumvent that protection when they drive around performing work in an auto that they personally own. Think of it this way, an auto accident while performing business is more likely to occur than a lawsuit for other work endeavors. Another important need to know is that any injured party in an auto accident is going to sue the owner of the vehicle. If you are driving a personal vehicle, you have completely exposed those personal assets you were trying so desperately to protect in the first place.

The next step in the business auto insurance process should be clear. It’s now time to contact a reputable agent to handle your business insurance and auto insurance needs. Nicholas / Tobin Insurance will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the right coverage!


Natural Disaster Coverage, Get it before you Need it

In light of the current hurricane season, it may be a good time to make sure that your home is covered to handle unpredictable weather with natural disaster insurance policies. While there is no assurance that the worst will happen, it’s good to know that you are prepared in the event that it does. That is why a comprehensive insurance plan that takes a number of potential natural disasters into account is going to be the safest bet. The following is a rundown of some popular natural disaster endorsement plans and what they’ll bring to the protection afforded by your automobile and homeowners insurance.

Earthquake

Like most natural disaster coverage, homeowners’ insurance does not handle earthquake coverage in standard practice. You will have to purchase earthquake endorsement, which may be highly beneficial considering how devastating direct earthquake damage can be. And earth quakes are not just a western United States issue! In fact, New York State has a fault running right down the middle of it. Should damage from earthquakes be of concern to you, please don’t hesitate to ask how we can assist you with providing the coverage to meet your needs.

Flooding

Flooding damage can range from simple cost replacement to large scale renovations of foundations and additions. The best way to go about preparing your homeowners’ insurance or auto insurance plan for flooding is to educate yourself about your local area and its history/frequency in handling flooding. Governmental agencies and other organizations provide detailed, frequently updated maps that outline the areas of the country that are the most susceptible to catastrophic flood damage. If you live in a particularly susceptible area to flood damage, talk to our firm to find out your options for adding flood policy to insurance portfolio. Just remember damage from floods are an excluded provision under any homeowners policy.

Storms

Storm damage, especially resulting from catastrophic hurricanes and the like, is always a possibility in coastal areas which are highly exposed to powerful storms and hurricanes from June on. Talk to Nicholas / Tobin and ask about what is covered and what isn?t, so that you may easily fill in the holes of your plan by having the right coverage. What is important to know is that all policies have strict limitations with respect to damages that are caused by large storms. If damage to your driveway, pool, outdoor building or stone wall on your property is of concern, you may want to speak with our firm, as these may require additional coverage. Likewise, the cost of tree removal, food spoilage or damage resulting from power outage may not be automatically covered by your policy. It is the incidental coverage limitations that can make a break an insurance policy. More importantly, they will determine how smoothly your claim will go when you need it most.

It’s better to be safe and protected. With the strength of natural disasters, your home and automobile could be one incident away from irreparable damage. That is why it’s best to contact Nicholas / Tobin today about the available coverage and endorsements that will protect your investments should the unthinkable happen this stormy season.