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Over the past century, deficiencies of essential nutrients have dramatically decreased in the U.S., many infectious diseases have been conquered, and the majority of the U.S. population can now anticipate a long and productive life.  At the same time, rates of chronic diseases – many of which are related to poor quality diet and physical inactivity – have increased.  About half of all American adults have one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and overweight and obesity.

However, a large body of evidence now shows that healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan.

The 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines translate into succinct, food-based guidance that can be relied upon to help Americans choose foods that provide a healthy and enjoyable diet.  Its recommendations are ultimately intended to help individuals improve and maintain overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease – its focus is disease prevention.  The Dietary Guidelines is not intended to be used to treat disease.  Regardless of an individual’s current health status, almost all people in the U.S. could benefit from shifting choices to better support healthy eating patterns.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  1. A variety of vegetables from all the subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy and other
  2. Fruits – especially whole fruits
  3. Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  4. Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages
  5. A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  1. Consume less than 10% of calories from added sugars
  2. Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fats
  3. Consume less than 2,300 mg per day of sodium

In tandem with the recommendation above, Americans of all ages (children, adolescents, adults and older adults) should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.  We should also aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.  The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

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Vacation time is fast approaching!  Tons of details must be nailed down before you leave.  Let us give you some “food for thought” to help with the decision of whether or not to purchase insurance from the rental car company.

In most cases, if you carry comprehensive and collision coverage on at least one car on your auto policy, you will also have physical damage coverage on your rental car….within the U.S., its territories or possessions, and Canada.

If, however, the rental car contract makes you responsible for the reduction in market value of the rental car after being repaired, you may not have this coverage under your personal auto policy.

Another place to check for coverage could be the credit card you use to pay the charges for your rental car.  Many companies offer some coverage as part of your credit card agreement.

The best plan is always to communicate with your NAUGHT-NAUGHT AGENCY representative prior to vacation time.  They can tell you what coverage you have under your personal auto policy – allowing you to make your decision based on all available information.

Enjoy your vacation with peace of mind about insurance coverage for your rental car!!

There are a variety of billing choices for almost all your personal lines insurance policies.  It is up to you to choose the one(s) that works best for you.  Most policies allow these options:

  • Full pay
  • Semi-Annual
  • Quarterly
  • Monthly

You may also choose the method of making your premium payment.  Electronic funds transfer (EFT) is easy to manage and removes the possibility of late pays.  Most companies also allow the insured to pay premiums on their website – either by credit card or a transfer from your bank account.

Typically, companies make no service charges for either semi-annual or full pay options.  There will frequently be small service charges added for quarterly or monthly options.  In addition, some companies offer very nice discounts for the “paid in full” option.

It is up to each insured to simply evaluate all the options – including payment frequency, method of payment as well as service charges – to arrive at the best plan for you.

We encourage you to communicate with your NAUGHT-NAUGHT AGENCY representative.  One of the services we offer every client is assistance in evaluating decisions of this nature.

Statistics show that tornados begin their assault in April in the Gulf Coast area and then lift north and west into the summer.  Late May to mid-June is the expected peak period for tornados in the U.S.

Planning for this potential disaster should be an absolute for every family and business in our area.  Here are some primary plans to consider:

  1. First, know the difference between a tornado watch (Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information) and a tornado warning (A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately)..
  2. Have a family or business communication plan – Identify shelter locations – An underground area is best but if it is unavailable, seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gyms that have flat, wide-span roofs.  If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building.  If one is not within walking distance, drive, using a seat belt, to the nearest shelter.  Have a plan for accounting for all family members or employees.
  3. Unlock exterior doors and disconnect any automatic door openers so that doors can still be opened by anyone needing shelter.
  4. Create an emergency kit in the event rescuers cannot reach you immediately. Items to consider are:  medications required by family members or employees,  drinking water, easy to access food items, battery-operated radio, flashlight, first-aid kit.
  5. If backup power supplies are needed, do not use a generator indoors or inside a garage due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  6. Following a tornado, cover broken windows and damaged roof as quickly as possible.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and just five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet

A strong reputation has the potential to be your largest asset, but just one crisis could irrevocably tarnish your image and ruin your business. According to a recent survey from Deloitte, the largest professional services network in the world, 87 percent of business executives believe that reputation is their largest risk area, and only 19 percent of respondents think their business is adequately protected. In order to be prepared, you need to identify and mitigate the potentially devastating risks to your business’s reputation.

Health and safety incidents, product recalls and regulatory investigations are just a few of the incidents that have the potential to damage your reputation; and, now that social media and other online sources have accelerated news coverage, you may only have minutes to respond to a crisis and protect your image. The failure to quickly and effectively address a crisis can result in lost business, litigation, regulatory fines and more.

The Many Forms of Reputational Risk

The damage to a business’s reputation is often the result of other risks. For example, a cyber attack that disrupts your business operations is generally not considered a risk to your reputation. However, an extended disruption could cause customers to think less of your business and its products.

Here is a partial list of risks and events that can cause damage to your reputation:

  • Product recalls or concerns over product quality
  • Allegations of poor or improper business practices
  • Health or safety incidents, involving either employees or customers
  • Regulatory investigations
  • Negative associations with third parties

The Role of Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool to connect with customers and extend the reach of your business, but it can also be used to quickly spread negative publicity that can severely harm your reputation.

In an increasingly connected world where anyone with a smartphone can act as a journalist, any negative experience a consumer has with your business has the potential to go viral and be seen by thousands—even millions—of people. Make sure that your business has a social media presence that is constantly monitored, and that it quickly responds to any criticism or negative customer experiences in order to maintain your reputation.

Online review services can also damage your reputation and result in lost business. According to Dimensional Research, 90 percent of customers check online reviews before buying products, and 80 percent make decisions based on what they read. Clearly, the best way to ensure that reviews for your products and services are positive is to maintain effective and comprehensive quality control procedures. However, it’s important to regularly check online sources to get feedback on your products, and to identify malicious or fictitious information that could reflect poorly on your image.

Strategies to Lower Reputational Risks

There is no such thing as complete protection from the risks to your reputation, but there are strategies you can use to limit exposure and respond to a potential crisis:

  • Create strong, relevant corporate values: Upper management should create—and regularly communicate—strong corporate values that permeate every level of the business. Though these may be created by upper management, they should reflect the values of all of your employees and stakeholders.
  • Integrate a risk evaluation into business planning: Identify the opportunities, threats and assumptions that accompany your business’s plans and strategies. Don’t assume that longstanding strategies or well-developed plans are free from reputational risks; instead, develop hypothetical scenarios to identify how your reputation could be affected.
  • Promote positive interactions with customers and other stakeholders: You can strengthen your reputation before a crisis occurs by aligning your goals and connecting with your stakeholders. Customers appreciate regular and positive interactions, and you can use social media as a tool to reach out to them.
  • Develop a reputation plan: Train everyone at your company on how to recognize a reputational crisis, and put together a response team. Your plan should identify all potential risks to your reputation and map out a response for each. These responses should include key statements that identify at least three talking points and restate your business’s core values. If a crisis occurs, distribute relevant messages as quickly and widely as possible.

In the event of a crisis, it’s important to respond quickly and decisively:

  • Don’t sacrifice your reputation to protect your finances or products. It’s usually more prudent to recall a dangerous product immediately; for example, if it’s discovered that you delayed a recall at the expense of health or safety, your reputation may suffer a serious blow.
  • Respond to questions and concerns. If you attempt to stay under the radar during or following a crisis, it will only cause negative attention to linger. Instead, respond to any concerns and continue to communicate your corporate values.
  • Always remember the broad range of your reputational risks. Following a crisis, it may seem easy to only focus on preventing a similar incident in the future. Be sure to keep all of your risks in mind.

Limit Your Risks

It’s inevitable that every business will experience some form of reputational damage, but there are ways to limit your exposures and to cover losses. Contact Naught-Naught Agency today to identify your unique risks and protect your business.

Every day, about 90 drivers are killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And, with inclement winter weather making driving conditions more hazardous, that number could worsen. For that reason, be sure to follow these six tips whenever you drive this winter:

  1. Have your vehicle serviced: The cold can have an adverse effect on your vehicle. Before the temperature drops, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to have the battery, tire treads, coolant hoses and wiper blades inspected.
  2. Assemble a winter emergency kit: In case you get stranded on the side of the road, you will want to have an emergency kit on hand. Your kit should include the following:
  3. Plan ahead: Before you get behind the wheel, check the weather forecast. If possible, prepare an alternate route in case of inclement weather or poor road conditions.
    • • An electric flashlight, spare batteries and flares
    • • Hand warmers and a thick, heavy blanket (ideally wool)
    • • A shovel and ice scraper
    • • Jumper cables
  4. Know your vehicle: Each vehicle handles winter weather conditions differently. Consequently, you should be aware of your vehicle’s capabilities—such as its ability to stop as well as how it handles driving on snow, ice or wet roadways.
  5. Tidy up: Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to clean off any snow or ice that may have accumulated on your vehicle—especially on the headlights and taillights as well as the side mirrors.
  6. Drive smart: Driving in winter weather requires you to adjust certain rules of the road. Some tips to keep in mind:
    • Speed limits are for dry, clear driving conditions. So, it is okay to drive slower than the posted limit.
    • With suspect road conditions, it is advisable to at least double the standard following distance.
    • To help ensure that other motorists are able to see your vehicle, keep your headlights turned on—even during the day.

By following these tips, you should be prepared for driving in any winter weather conditions.

Organizations and individuals will likely face unexpected emergencies – both natural and manmade.  It is vital to have a crisis management plan in place in order to protect you, your employees, your customers and your business facilities, as well as your company’s reputation.

Some of the preparation includes winter storm emergency kits, emergency contact lists, preventing freeze-ups, snow loading and roof collapse as well as post-winter storm procedures.

  1. Secure Supplies and Information
  2. Emergency Contacts

Click here for the complete form from Liberty Mutual 

(Taken from article by Ashley Tate in Thrivent, December, 2015)

Keeping your finances in order doesn’t require countless hours.  Take just one hour a month….that’s all it takes to get your finances in better shape by year’s end.  Use this checklist for 2016, or create one of your own.  The most important to-do??  Just get started!!

  • Review retirement-savings options – Do you have multiple accounts? If so, consider rolling balances into one IRA.  It makes it easier to manage.
  • Protect the people you love – Is your beneficiary information is up to date on insurance policies as well as investment and retirement accounts? This is especially important if you’ve had a major change, like a marriage, divorce or death.
  • Prepare for a spring break getaway – Notify credit card companies when you will be on vacation to avoid a block on cards.
  • Make sure your taxes are right – If you are getting consistent tax refunds, consider changing your deductions and put the excess into an emergency fund or pay down debt.
  • Keep paperwork safe – Make sure all key documents, such as wills and passports, are safe in a fire-proof box or safety deposit box. Compile other key documents (financial statements and insurance contracts) in one place.
  • Set up automatic bill pay – Paying 10 bills a month electronically saves nearly $60 annually. If some don’t allow that, create a calendar reminder to pay electronically on or before the due date.
  • Update auto and home insurance – Report updates to your home such as roof. If comprehensive and collision insurance on a car costs 10% or more of the vehicle’s value, consider carrying liability only on that vehicle.
  • Take stock of big-picture finances – Have an annual or semi-annual meeting with a financial advisor where you can share concerns and ask questions.
  • Use up your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Submit receipts for reimbursement and plan how to use remaining funds by Dec. 31 or by March 15, 2016 if your plan allows this additional time. Figure out if you need to change contributions for 2016 during your open enrollment period.
  • Draft and update your will and other documents – If you have a will, power of attorney or health care directive, look to see if they are still what you want. If you don’t have those items in place, take time this month to get them started.
  • Make it a month of giving – You may give during the year, but if you haven’t, finish annual giving before year’s end. Keep receipts together so you can take the right deductions come tax time.

Check off these to-dos, and you’ll have your finances in better shape by year’s end.

“Phishing,” a type of cyber attack in which a hacker disguises him- or herself as a trusted source online in order to acquire sensitive information, is a common and technologically simple scam that can put your employees and business at risk. However, more resourceful criminals are resorting to a modified and more sophisticated technique called “spear phishing,” in which they use personal information to pose as colleagues or other sources specific to individuals or businesses.

A spear phishing attack is often disguised as a message from a close friend or business partner and is more convincing than a normal phishing attempt; when messages contain personal information, they are much more difficult to identify as malicious.

For businesses, the potential risk of spear phishing is monumental. A report released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) stated that there were over 120,000 cyber crime-related complaints against businesses last year, resulting in over $800 million lost. A large majority of these attacks can be attributed to spear phishing, since the messages are designed and customized to make victims feel safe and secure.

The Basics of Spear Phishing 

Any personal information that is posted online can potentially be used as bait in a spear phishing attack. The more a criminal learns about a potential victim, the more trustworthy he or she will seem during an attack. Once the apparent source gains the victim’s trust, and there is information within the message that supports the message’s validity, the hacker will usually make a reasonable request, such as following a URL link, supplying usernames and/or passwords, or opening an attachment.

Even if spear phishing perpetrators target just one of your employees, it can put your entire business at risk.

Falling for a spear phishing attack can give a hacker access to personal and financial information across an entire network. And, successful spear phishing attacks oftentimes go unnoticed, which increases the risk of large and continued losses.

How to Protect Your Business 

Though it is difficult to completely avoid the risk that spear phishing attacks pose, there are ways to prevent further damage to your business. Make sure that your employees are aware of these simple techniques:

  •  Never send financial or personal information electronically, even if you know the recipient well. It may be possible for a third party to intercept this information, especially if the recipient is later subject to a spear phishing attack.
  •  Be cautious when you are asked to divulge personal information in an email. Even if it appears to be from a trusted source, it could be a hacker impersonating another person or group.
  •  Only share personal information on secure websites or over the phone. When in a Web browser, you can ensure a website is secure when you see a lock icon in the URL bar, or when an “s” is present in the “https” of a URL. The “s” stands for “secure” at the end of the normal “http”.
  •  Some spear-phishing schemes use telephone numbers, so be sure to never share information over the phone unless you initiate the call to a trusted number.
  •  Never click on links or open attachments from unknown sources. Even opening a file that seems familiar can give a spear phishing attacker access to personal information stored on your device.

 Ensure that your company’s security software is up to date. Firewalls and anti-virus software can help protect against spear phishing attacks.

 Encourage employees to think twice about what they post online. Spear phishing hackers often attain personal information through social media sites. Make sure that employees know how to keep this information private to protect their own security as well as that of your business.

 Regularly check all online accounts and bank statements to ensure that no one has accessed them without authorization.

 Never enter any personal or financial information into a pop-up window or a Web browser.

What to Do If You Suspect a Spear Phishing Attack 

If you believe that your business has been the target of a spear phishing attack, it is important to act quickly to limit your potential losses. The first step should be to immediately change the passwords of any accounts connected to the personal or financial information of your business or its clients, and to obtain a list of recent and pending transactions. It may also be necessary to contact law enforcement.

Next, an internal or third-party IT expert should consulted to pinpoint any vulnerabilities that remain in your business’ network, and he or she can advise you on how to avoid future attacks.

If you have further questions about spear phishing or other types of cyber attacks, or if you would like to discuss potential coverage options to further protect your business, contact Naught-Naught Agency today.


Simple strategies small business owners can take to identify and manage top risks,  provided by Naught-Naught Agency

Optimism is the fuel that drives the entrepreneurial spirit, so it isn’t surprising that most small business owners consider themselves optimists. Too much optimism, however, can get a small business owner into trouble. A business plan built solely on the “best case scenario” is like a house of cards—one gust of wind (or fire or wrongful termination lawsuit) and the entire business can come crashing down. That’s why smart business owners temper their innate optimism with a healthy dose of reality. In other words, they learn to manage risk.

The first step in implementing a comprehensive risk management plan is identifying potential risks. To help you get started, we have provided a list of the top 10 threats facing small business owners. As you read through the list, consider the unique risks facing your business and ask yourself whether those risks are being managed effectively.

1. Protecting your Property

Property holdings are often a small business owner’s largest asset. Therefore, for the long-term security of your small business, it is vital that you evaluate potential threats to your property and develop a plan to manage those threats. Begin by taking a complete inventory of all your assets to determine how a loss might affect your business and how much coverage you need. Property coverage can come in many forms to suit your specific needs, but a typical policy will provide the replacement cost value for your building and the actual cash value for your business property.

You have a lot weighing on your budget already, but don’t make the mistake of planning for the “best case scenario” when it comes to your property coverage. Leaving your small business underinsured is a risk too great to take.

2. Business Interruption

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster such as a fire or flood. Is your business prepared to weather the storm if disaster strikes? If a fire causes the [C_Officialname] facility to be temporarily unusable, what would you do? Ideally, you would move to a temporary location while your permanent place of business is being repaired, but traditional Property Insurance does not cover this move or the loss of income while the permanent business location is being repaired. Ill-prepared businesses are often forced to completely shut down operations during repair, which can do irreparable damage to their brand and leave employees without work for extended periods of time. To mitigate this risk, consider adding Business Interruption coverage to your Property Insurance policy. This invaluable, though often overlooked, coverage safeguards your business by covering operating expenses and lost income while the permanent business location is being repaired. This will allow you to maintain payroll and, if needed, reallocate current employees to help with the cleanup effort.

3. Liability Losses

No matter how well you plan, running a small business can be fraught with unexpected surprises—the only way to completely avoid liability is to shutter your business. Smart business owners do the next best thing: protect their assets by carrying adequate Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance coverage. CGL policies provide coverage for claims of bodily injury or other physical injury, personal injury (libel or slander), advertising injury and property damage as a result of your products, premises or operations. A CGL policy with adequate coverage limits enables you to continue normal operations while dealing with real or fraudulent claims of negligence or wrongdoing, and also provides coverage for the cost of defending and settling claims.

4. Key Person Losses

Many small businesses are built around the talents and expertise of a few individuals. If an employee crucial to the functioning of your business departs unexpectedly due to death or injury, would day-to-day operations continue as usual or would disorder and uncertainty ensue? Would you be able to maintain your current level of performance and current revenue stream? How would you cover for the financial loss of the employee or pay for a temporary replacement during his or her recovery? Key Person Insurance can help you answer these questions with confidence. This coverage is designed to provide financial stability in a time of stress and uncertainty, allowing you to keep your business moving forward without missing a beat.

5. Injuries to Employees

Small business owners, especially those with less than 10 employees, often struggle with understanding their employee health and safety obligations. Just like their larger counterparts, small businesses have the same responsibility to indemnify workers who are injured or become ill during the course of their employment. Many businesses do not realize the full effect workplace accidents have on their organization. Beyond initial treatment costs and lost production time, on-the-job injuries have an impact on insurance premiums, which can increase your costs for years to come. Thankfully, by managing exposures and promoting safety, it is possible to control workers’ compensation premiums. Having the proper pre- and post-accident procedures in place can drastically reduce the severity of a workers’ compensation claim, and implementing a comprehensive safety program can reduce the accident rate. Together, these two steps can produce tremendous long-term savings.

6. Managing Electronic Data and Computer Resources

Small businesses often lack a formal IT department or even rudimentary internet security measures, which leaves them vulnerable to unscrupulous cybercriminals searching for an easy target. With an estimated liability of more than $200 per compromised record (multiplied by hundreds or thousands of customer records), the cost of a single data breach incident can be devastating for a small business. If your business stores customer records electronically, it is crucial that you have robust security measures in place. In addition to taking preventative measure to reduce Internet-based exposures, specialized technology coverage, such as Cyber Liability Insurance, can help protect your business against damage from cyber attacks, data breaches and other Internet-based exposures.

7. Environmental Exposures

Think of a business with significant environmental exposures. What comes to mind? Most people think of a large manufacturing, mining or petroleum operation, but these are not the only industries at risk for environmental liability losses. It is important to perform a comprehensive risk analysis to determine your own level of exposure. Keep in mind that because most commercial insurance policies contain pollution exclusions, unless you carry Environmental Insurance, you may be uninsured against significant environmental loss exposures.

8. Employment Practices

From the moment you begin the pre-hiring process until the final goodbyes at the exit interview, you are at risk for a lawsuit. In fact, three out of five employers will be sued by a prospective, current or former employee while they are in business. Although many lawsuits are groundless, defending against them is costly and time-consuming. Your business should take a hard look at whether it can afford to defend itself against accusations of wrongful employment practices. If not, there is an insurance solution called Employment Practices Liability that will protect your company against wrongful termination, discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.) or sexual harassment lawsuits.

9. Contracts

When first starting out, many new business owners simply don’t have the time or expertise to adequately evaluate each clause in everything they’re signing. This oversight, however, can create major problems down the road. In many cases, small businesses become saddled with large additional risks, accepted via risk transfer from savvy suppliers or customers. While it’s tempting to shave costs by skimping on legal fees, making sure your business isn’t accepting additional and unnecessary risk can save you a lot of money over the long haul, both in legal costs and in insurance coverages.

10. Manage Your Supply Chain

Do you rely on one or more third-party suppliers to produce certain components used in your products? If you do, a disaster that interrupts your supplier’s regular business operations could have a crippling effect on your production abilities. Although you should always try to minimize potential liability through contingency planning and other risk management techniques, as supply chains grow across the globe, sometimes there is little you can do about the exposures faced by your suppliers. In a perfect world you could simply avoid doing business with companies that present numerous risks or that are unwilling to conform to your standards, but pricing constraints and niche markets limit the number of potential suppliers to choose from. Supply chain insurance is meant to cover losses you incur as a result of an interruption to your supply chain. Such coverage allows you to work confidently with suppliers who face exposures beyond your control.

Insurance is a key component of any comprehensive risk management plan, but successful risk management also involves prevention, training and contingency planning. Contact Naught-Naught Agency at 573-634-2727 to learn more about the tools and resources we can offer to help you manage risks, control workers’ compensation costs, advance safety and boost employee morale.