Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Travel Smarts for Your Money and Identity

Thieves love tourists. It’s nothing personal. They’re just looking for an easy target – someone who’s carrying cash and credit cards, tablets and cameras, passports and other identification, all while being distracted by the new sights and sounds all around them.

So how do you take it all in without allowing a thief to take off with your money, identity and other valuables? These five travel tips should help:

  1. Stay aware of your surroundings.This applies to all situations, from your hotel room to crowded public spaces. If a stranger bumps you, check your belongings immediately, even if it seemed accidental. Also use caution if you notice a public disturbance or other commotion – thieves appreciate a good distraction.

 

  1. Watch out for digital thieves, too. If you use public wi-fi, only visit secure sites (addresses starting with “https”), and log out of accounts after each session. Need cash from an ATM? Paying for gas at the pump? Watch for “skimmer” devices designed to steal your information. They can be hard to detect, so look for card readers that don’t seem to match the rest of the machine.
  2. Lock up your devices. Make sure your smartphone, computer and tablet all require secure passwords for access. Otherwise, a thief who makes off with your electronics could also make off with your personal information. Leaving devices behind at the hotel? Store them in your hotel room safe.

 

  1. Always have some cash. There are situations where cash is just better than credit. If a merchant or barista just doesn’t seem trustworthy, use cash. Credit cards are best when you know the location is secure, such as at an airport or chain store, or when you want the purchase protection your card offers for a big-ticket item.

 

  1. Think about home.Don’t let burglars ruin your return from vacation. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery, put some lights on timers and make your {city, state or region} home looks occupied. Just in case someone does get in, keep your documents and valuables in a secure area.

 

Remember, travel is supposed to be fun! Taking just a few common sense precautions will help make sure you’re free to wander without worry.

NEWS RELEASE: Insurance Tips for Missourians Affected by Flooding
03/25/2019
Insurance Tips for Missourians Affected by Flooding

Missouri Department of Insurance provides information and resources to help flood victims recover

As portions of Missouri continue to deal with severe flooding, the Missouri Department of Insurance reminds consumers who have insurance questions or concerns to contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline for assistance at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov. The department’s Resources for Flood Victims page answers a variety of frequently asked questions regarding flood damage and related issues.

“We want to provide as much assistance and support to our fellow Missourians as we can,” said Chlora Lindley-Miles, Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. “It can be difficult to know what to do following a severe weather event. We have professionals who are ready to help answer questions and provide guidance if consumers experience issues when filing a claim with their insurance company.”

The Department offers these tips for consumers affected by the flooding:

  • Depending on the severity of your loss, you may want to consider obtaining damage estimates to help you determine whether to file a claim.
  • Contact your insurance agent or your company’s toll-free claims number if you determine you do need to file a claim.
  • If you have lost your insurance company’s contact information, the department may be able to help you locate it. Contact the department at insurance.mo.gov or by calling 800-726-7390.
  • Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. For example, a hole in the roof should be covered by a tarp or other materials to keep out rain and animals. The same goes for a broken car window. Otherwise, further damage will likely not be covered by your insurance policy. Keep the receipts for materials you buy, so you can be reimbursed.
  • Do not make permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the damage. If you do, your company may not reimburse you.
  • Once your claim is processed, get estimates from contractors or auto repair shops known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Be suspicious of strangers who offer to do repairs for you.
  • Do not let contractors inspect your property if you’re not watching. Some unscrupulous companies will cause damage to drive up the repair cost, and your insurance company will likely not cover the additional cost.
  • Do not pay the whole repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement.
  • Business owners can refer to the department’s small business insurance page, which offers information on commercial property, business interruption insurance and more.
  • If you believe your insurance company has improperly handled your claim, file a complaint with us.
 
 

 

It’s the time of year when the temperatures warm and the flowers bloom, putting us all in a chipper mood. But, it’s also time for thunderstorms, which most often occur in the spring and summer months, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

With spring officially arriving this Friday, March 20, it’s the ideal time to review what your homeowners insurance, and even your car insurance, may or may not cover when it comes to damage from fallen trees.

Here are five important things to keep in mind:

1. Your homeowners insurance likely covers tree removal and damage repairs for your home and other insured structures, such as fences.

A tree falls on your property and damages one or more insured structures. What now? Your homeowners insurance will likely help with the cost of removing the tree and repairing the damage. That’s once you pay your deductible, of course. Examples of covered incidents can include strong winds knocking a tree over onto your roof or lightning striking a tree, causing it to fall on your fence.

However, if a tree falls due to neglect, you may not receive any coverage. So keep your trees in good shape, and ask your neighbors to do the same.

2. If there’s no damage, there’s likely no insurance coverage.

You may assume your homeowners insurance will cover the removal costs of any fallen tree, but that isn’t always the case. If a tree falls on your property without damaging any insured structures, you will likely need to cover the costs of tree removal yourself.

3. Your city or municipality may clean up trees that fall into the street, but you may still have reason to file an insurance claim.

Check with your city or municipality to determine who’s responsible for removing a tree that falls into the street. If your city takes responsibility, it may only be for the portion that’s in the street. Any of the felled tree that’s left on your property will be your responsibility. Your insurance may help if an insured structure was damaged in the incident.

4. You may have coverage even if a tree falls from your neighbor’s property.

When a fallen tree damages your property, your homeowners insurance may pitch in no matter who owned the tree. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance carrier may attempt to recoup some of the costs, including your deductible, from your neighbor’s insurance. This may occur, for example, if the neighbor was negligent in caring for the tree before it fell.

5. Your car insurance may cover damage to your vehicle from a fallen tree.

If a tree falls from your property onto your car, it’s your car insurance and not your homeowners insurance that will likely help cover the cost of repairs. But, the tree doesn’t have to be from your property. You likely have coverage if a tree falls on your car, no matter from where. What may not be covered? The cost to remove the tree from atop your car.

Of course, every insurance carrier handles fallen trees differently. It all depends on the specifics of your policy and your coverage limits, as well as the specifics of your situation. If you need to file an insurance claim for a fallen tree, use the tips below.

Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim for a Fallen Tree
Take photos: Photos taken from many angles and vantage points help to establish the extent and cause of the damage. Be careful not to go near fallen trees that are entangled in power lines, however. And don’t climb onto an unstable surface to get better photos.

Provide as many details as possible: If, for example, a neighbor’s tree was neglected and fell onto your property, causing damage, be sure to tell your carrier. If a storm caused the tree to fall, be sure to provide details about the severity of the weather.

Be prepared to pay your deductible: If you experience a covered loss due to a fallen tree, you will be responsible for paying the appropriate deductible.
Your homeowners insurance, or car insurance, covers damage from a fallen tree in many instances. But, it’s important to know when you’re covered and when you’re not. So review your policy with your local insurance agent and ask plenty of questions about when a fallen tree is covered by your insurance and when it isn’t.

 

March 16, 2015

By Safeco

 

02/04/2019

Autism Report shows improvements in access and coverage for Missouri consumers, with minimal impact to premiums

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: February 1, 2019 

Media Contact:

Lori Croy, Director of Communications

(573) 751-2562

news@difp.mo.gov

Missouri continues to see increases in access to autism services without a notable impact on health insurance premiums

Jefferson City, Mo– The eighth annual autism report from the Missouri Department of Insurance shows that nearly 3,700 individuals were treated for autism-related conditions in 2018, receiving nearly 85,000 autism treatments of which 51,223 were applied behavioral analysis (ABA) sessions covered under Missouri’s mandate. This number is up from 14,505 ABA sessions in 2013 (the first year these data were collected), which represents a 250 percent increase.

Using data supplied by health insurance companies, the report says, in terms of dollars, insurance claims for autism-related treatments totaled $16 million in 2018.  Of that amount $9.1 million was directed to ABA services.  However, in terms of the relation of autism treatments to overall health claims, autism treatments represent just 0.32 percent and 0.28 percent of total claims incurred in 2018. For each member month of autism coverage, total autism-related claims amounted to 90 cents, while the cost of ABA therapy amounted to 51 cents.

“Missouri has successfully balanced the significant needs of families while maintaining affordable health insurance premiums, “said Chlora Lindley-Myers, Director of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. “This is evidence of what is possible when all interests come together to help solve problems for the families of our state.”

Other noteworthy findings from the department’s report:

  • In 2018, nearly 98.5 percent of individual policies provided the coverage for autism. Across all market segments in the most recent reporting period, 99.8% of all insured individuals were covered for treatment associated with autism.
  • Just under 3,700 individuals diagnosed with an ASD submitted over 85,000 claims, of which 51,223 were ABA sessions. This number is up from 14,505 ABA sessions in 2013 (the first year these data were collected), which represents a 250 percent increase.[1]
  • ABA treatments comprised just over one half of all autism treatments provided in 2018.
  • The average monthly cost of treatment across all market segments was $398, compared to $341 in 2017.  Of that average monthly cost, ABA therapies accounted for $228.
  • While costs associated with autism-related treatment have risen during the years since the mandate was enacted, the fact that these costs remain near three-tenths of one percent of overall claim costs means this law continues to have little appreciable impact on insurance premiums.
  • The first licenses for applied behavior analysis were issued in Missouri in December 2010.  As of mid-January 2018, 593 licenses had been issued, and an additional 84 persons obtained assistant behavior analyst licenses.  Of these, 492 behavior analyst licenses are still active, as are 40 assistant behavior analyst licenses.

Missouri’s landmark autism law was passed by the Missouri General Assembly on a bipartisan basis and signed by the Governor in 2010.

The Department of Insurance has extensive resources for families and health care providers on its website. Consumers and providers with complaints or questions are encouraged to call the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or file a complaint at insurance.mo.gov.

[1]The precise number of individuals seeking an ASD-related treatment is subject to some uncertainty.  Data submitted by some insurers in some years appeared to be anomalous.  The DIFP is currently subjecting this figure, as well as the overall data, to additional verification procedures.  When completed, the DIFP hopes estimates for the number of individuals seeking treatment for an ASD can be reported with greater certainty. More confidence exists for 2017 and 2018 data, such that the number of individuals seeking treatment for an ASD is reported for these two years.

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department’s seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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(From The Insurance Journal; March 11, 2019)

In an increasingly digital world, it’s important that small businesses don’t get left behind when fending off cyber threats. While a recent study by Forbes Insights and The Hanover shows that most small business owners recognize they are exposed to cyber attacks (94 percent), only 20 percent feel adequately insured against cyber risks. This “coverage gap” is driven largely by the challenges businesses face when valuing their (or other’s) digital assets and what makes them potential targets of a cyber breach in the first place.

Assessing Digital Risks

Helping businesses understand they are big enough to be targets and recognize they have ample digital assets of value to a cyber attacker is a critical first step. A second crucial step is for independent agents to guide business owners through the complexities of a cyber risk analysis so they can identify high-risk areas in their operations. Often, business owners conclude they do not have any personally identifiable information in their systems, and their analysis stops there. Unfortunately, when it comes to small commercial insurance, and especially cyber, it is more complex than that.

The following are five key questions agents can ask to determine their customers’ most significant cyber risks:

  • Does your client’s business have digital assets? Without knowing what the client is trying to protect, it is difficult to design a risk mitigation program. Small businesses can have many digital assets, including design or manufacturing specs (their own or customers’), personal information, and mergers and acquisitions activity.
  • Do they know where those assets are located? Understanding where and how assets are stored is critical in determining what kind of coverage is needed to protect them. This can include on-site systems, cloud back- ups, historical hard copy information, data entrusted to third parties (e.g. employee data managed by an HR suite or compensation management software provider) and more.
  • How do they value those assets? Is the client in a “high-trust” field (e.g. doctors, lawyers, etc.) where a cyber attack would reduce consumer confidence? Reputation management is a key consideration in designing cyber insurance coverage plans. For more industrial or manufacturing-based clients, questions related to the importance of the digital assets include: “Would a shutdown cause the client to miss key deliverable dates?” and, “Could the data be easily recreated?”
  • Do they have access to a third party’s system? Your clients may not store valuable assets themselves but could be targets due to their access to larger, more data rich organizations with which they have business relationships.
  • How long, or in what capacity, could they run their operations if their point-of-sale or other systems were taken off-line? Some attacks are indiscriminate and cast large nets. An unknowing employee could erroneously click on a malware link in an email that results in files or systems being “locked.” Having coverage to mitigate risks associated with human error or employee negligence cannot be overstated for most clients, especially those relying heavily on point-of-sale, manufacturing or other systems.

Customizing Coverage

Once digital asset risks are identified, the final step in a cyber risk analysis is determining which cyber insurance fits clients’ needs. Cyber insurance can provide coverage for first- and third-party risks, adding a level of complexity for businesses evaluating their needs. With almost every business relying on computers, optimizing policies for coverages and appropriate limits is challenging. It’s critical to consider coverages and limits that address the exposures specific to each customer’s class of business. Here are three cyber coverage types to consider, based on clients’ needs:

1.Baseline. This coverage often is the best option for clients that do not have substantial exposures and do not require extensive protection. For instance, if a client does not collect extensive amounts of personal information and does not have highly automated and connected manufacturing systems, a “bolt-on” product could be added to their existing package policy, offering added coverage needed to protect against cyber exposures. These bolt-on coverages are generally simpler and easier to purchase, as they may not require an underwriting application.

2.Stand-alone. For larger clients or more complex needs, stand-alone cyber coverages can provide businesses with more comprehensive coverage and greater limits. While these products generally require underwriting applications, the simple process of completing the application is often beneficial to small businesses, as questions typically involve security-related best practices.

3.Coverage continuity. It is also important to be mindful that some cyber risks may be covered under other lines of insurance coverage. For example, false pretense coverage may be covered under a client’s crime insurance policy. However, this client could still benefit from obtaining explicit cyber coverage on a cyber-specific policy, depending on the cyber exposures they would like to cover.

When helping small business owners evaluate cyber insurance exposures and needs, agents can look at all available lines (cyber, package, crime, management liability and more) to ensure small businesses’ needs are addressed.

By placing all coverages with a single carrier, the potential for coverage friction is reduced, resulting in a better and more seamless customer experience for the insured.

As cyber risks continue to evolve and insurance providers work to reduce exposure for commercial clients, confusion persists regarding first- verses third-party cyber insurance coverage.

For many companies – particularly a tech company that deals with other businesses – third-party cyber coverage if often much more important than first-party coverage.

First-party cyber coverage – protection for the data you own, such as information that pertains to your customers or employees

Third-party cyber coverage – provides protection for liability associated with your customers’ data, among other things.

The bottom line, talk thoroughly with your insurance advisor about your operations so they can help you correctly cover all your exposures in this area.