In honor of this vitally important month, I want to share an inspiring story with you. It’s about a member of our H&H family, Marilyn Springs, who has been with us for over 20 years.
Many of you reading this know her, and for that, you are fortunate. If you don’t know Marilyn, by the end of this article, you will have a better sense of her determination, her toughness and her character.
Throughout her tenure at H&H, the service Marilyn has provided to her clients has been unparalleled. She’s extremely knowledgeable in her profession offering sound advice to clients. She’s also compassionate and understanding when clients are facing unfortunate circumstances. Marilyn is the one so many look to, not just in our office, but in our entire industry, for advice, guidance and support. To say she means the world to us does not begin to describe how important Marilyn Springs is to our H&H family.
In early 2012, we received the tragic news that Marilyn had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We were all devastated, but we did our best to remain positive. We knew Marilyn would approach this fight with the same level of determination she brings to our office each day. And fight she has.
The schedule of chemotherapy, radiation and follow-up appointments she endured for more than a year was brutal to say the least. But she never gave up. She even remained fiercely committed to her career. In fact, her dedication to her clients and her colleagues here at H&H was apparent from the beginning of her battle.
When Marilyn had the option to set her chemo and radiation schedule, she opted for the earliest appointment available. She would be on the road to Columbus before 6:00 a.m., receive her treatment and as long as the cancer center was on time, she would return to work around lunch time. This went on for months. Through feelings of extreme fatigue and nausea, sadness and at times hopelessness, Marilyn never missed one day of work. How’s that for toughness?
Within days of learning about Marilyn’s condition, I was asked to make a donation to help fund breast cancer research. The individual requesting this donation had no idea the news I’d learned about just days before. It was one of those coincidences that looking back, could not have been a coincidence. In return for my donation, I was given this pink bracelet that has not left my wrist since that day. It began as my small way of supporting Marilyn, but as months of treatment piled up and I could see first-hand the struggles she was facing, it became a reminder that no matter what challenge I encountered in my life, it paled in comparison to the fight she had each day.
Without ever knowing, or even setting out to do so, she taught each of us incredible life lessons through her remarkable example. We’re extremely happy and blessed to share that Marilyn was recently given an optimistic outlook from her oncologist. While we can never be certain about what the future holds, we’re incredibly thankful that for the time being, Marilyn is doing well. She has returned to her normal routine here at H&H, and mostly normal day-to-day activities with one major exception: she recently became a grandma to a beautiful little girl, Norah.
If this is the first you’ve heard about Marilyn’s incredible story, don’t be surprised. She’s a very private person and did not want her condition to affect her work. In fact, it took a fair amount of convincing before she agreed to have us tell you her story. According to Marilyn, she’s no different than anyone else fighting this battle. From the perspective of those of us that feel blessed to work with her, we believed it was an inspiring story worth sharing, and perhaps could provide hope to those facing similar situations.
From the beginning of her fight, it’s been Marilyn’s preference that no one treat her any different than they did before. That feeling remains to this day so if you speak to Marilyn, feel free to share in the happiness of where she is today. However, don’t expect her to indulge in conversations about her tough road or the obstacles she still faces… it’s not her style.
With Cyber, Security & Privacy threats proving more and more prevalent everyday, can you really afford not to have this crucial insurance coverage?
Ponemon Institute: 2011 Cost of Data Breach Study
Verizon: 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report
In addition to the Ponemon Institute's study, Verizon has just released their own investigative report on data breaches, with assistance from the Australian Federal Police, Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit, Irish Reporting and Information Security Service, Police Central e-Crime Unit, and the United States Secret Service. This report confirms many of the Cyber, Security & Privacy professional's worst fears. Cyber, Security & Privacy threats are an international problem; those who commit these crimes are actively seeking out susceptible targets. Are you doing everything you can to protect your business from the never ending barrage of Cyber, Security & Privacy threats? If not, we suggest you consider a Privacy & Information Security Policy.
Realizing that Cyber, Security & Privacy was only going to become more and more prevalent in the digital world in which we find ourselves today, we stand ready to help you transfer your risk of loss with a specific insurance policy tailored to your needs.
April 12, 2013
The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) announced today that Matt Simon, Insurance Advisor with Hill & Hamilton Insurance, is the recipient of its
prestigious Young Agent of the Year award. Each year, PIA honors one outstanding young insurance agent in the United States for his or her professionalism, achievement and contributions to the insurance industry.
Matt has worked in the insurance industry full time since 2004. He began his career with a regional insurance company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio before joining the team at Hill & Hamilton. Talk with Matt for just a few minutes and you get a sense of just how passionate he is about continuing the success of the agency that’s been around since 1920, while leading not just his business, but also the independent insurance agency system, into the 21st century.
“I believe as Professional Insurance Agents, it’s not just our job but more importantly, our responsibility, to educate our clients on the importance of their insurance protection. As consumers are increasingly bombarded with advertising that encourages them to base their insurance buying decisions solely on the price of the coverage, I feel even more obligated to advise my clients on exactly what they’re purchasing. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the coverage you need for a devastating claim, it doesn’t really matter what you paid,” Matt says.
Throughout his years with Hill & Hamilton, Matt has worked to instill a culture focused on doing what’s right for clients… a philosophy that’s been the foundation of the agency since its founding. Industry colleague and President of Securance Service Inc. Dan Henry said “I have worked with Matt on many occasions and have always come away from my interactions with him feeling that we are going to be in VERY good hands in the future under his leadership.”
When asked about being honored with the National Young Insurance Professional of the Year Award, Matt was quick to point out that it’s recognition of all his agency associates. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be recognized as the Young Agent of the Year, but it’s really a reflection of the people I work with. If I wasn’t surrounded by the talented, experienced and hard-working associates that I’m blessed to work with, I certainly wouldn’t have been in a position to win this award.”
Matt was presented with his award in Arlington, Virginia today during the Professional Insurance Agents National Awards Luncheon and in typical fashion, was on the phone with a client helping handle an issue within an hour of his acceptance speech. Matt’s clients have always been his top priority and nothing appears to be altering his philosophy… even his national notoriety!
Nobody lives forever. This is one of the hard and fast truths in life. If you have others who depend on you for support, this issue becomes especially important. Have you considered talking with your insurance advisor about looking into the various options for the best coverage and premiums available to protect those that depend on you?
Taking the time now to plan for the future will help ensure your dependents have the necessary funds, even if you can no longer be there to provide for them. It can also mean that your children will not have to forgo plans such as college, just because you are no longer there to provide.
Whether you are healthy or have health problems, prices among similar policies can vary greatly. Life insurance is a highly competitive business, and that’s a good thing for consumers. On the other hand, you could waste thousands of dollars over the course of a life insurance policy by not using an independent agent who represents many companies. An independent agent can do the shopping for you and show you rates from many different companies.
Be an informed consumer, don’t wait until it’s too late to protect the ones you love. We just published a new whitepaper titled How to Protect Yourself and Your Family: What Everyone Must Know About Life Insurance. This report, an $87 value, is available to all clients of H&H at no cost. You really can’t afford to ignore the vital information in this report.
Now before you say to yourself, “I’ll take my daily latte instead” or for that matter, anything other than cyber liability insurance, if you’re a business owner, you need to pay attention.
Electronic data has become essential in all aspects of business activity, and has intrinsic value. Most businesses these days are completely dependent on their computer system. Storing personal data on your network, individual computers or even keeping this personal information in a paper file leaves businesses vulnerable to an attack.
The looming threat of a virus, hack on your system or even a rogue employee are risks to be taken very seriously. Cyber liability insurance has become increasingly important to addresses these risks.
While cyber liability insurance has been around for nearly 10 years, most business owners have just started hearing about it over the past few years. When we review this coverage with clients, the two most common questions are:
- What is it?
- Do I need it?
What is cyber liability?
Cyber liability addresses the risk the business faces with e-business, the Internet, networks, electronic data, informational assets and other personally identifiable information the business keeps about its clients or employees. Common types of risks include:
- Hacked computers
- Virus attacks
- Web content liability
- Privacy issues
- Infringement of intellectual property
These types of attacks tend to be more public because the amount of damage is so huge – as evidenced by the Sony data breach at an estimated $171 million – but employees continue to pose the greatest threat.
According to Kristen Simonson, underwriting director with Travelers Global Technology division, “Many of the data breaches that have occurred over the past several years are not limited to hacking. In fact, the majority stem from old world issues such as employee negligence in password management or leaving confidential documents out for anyone to see.”
Do I need it?
- Does your business maintain electronic records with personal data on your clients?
- Do you keep paper files with personal data on your clients?
- Do you store (digitally or in a paper file) personal data on your employees?
- Do you accept credit card payments from your customers?
- Do you have a laptop or smartphone to access your email?
- Do you shred outdated files?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a risk that needs to be addressed. Seem like a fairly broad list? That’s because nearly every business in operation faces the risk of its clients information, or personal information of its employees, being compromised.
For more information on cyber liability insurance, or for specific recommendations on best practices to reduce your cyber liability risk exposure, contact us… we’re here to help.
Portions of this article reprinted with permission from Professional Insurance Agents Association of Ohio
When a tenant makes permanent improvements to a leased building, the improvements usually become the property of the building owner. The tenant gains the ability to use and enjoy the improvement or betterment during the period of the lease.
Examples of improvements could be:
The typical business property policy defines improvements and betterments as: “fixtures, alterations, installations or additions that are made a part of the building that is occupied but not owned by the named insured, and the named insured acquires or makes at his expense but cannot legally remove.”
Here’s the important question for the tenant that has made improvements to the leased building: If there is a loss and the improvements are damaged, what has the tenant lost if the building improvement actually belongs to the building owner?
The tenant has lost the “use interest” in the improvement. For example, if a tenant installed an air conditioning system in her retail store to keep her customers comfortable during the hot summer months and it’s struck by lightning, the tenant has lost the use of the air conditioner even though it’s considered part of the building that she doesn’t own. It is a possible loss of use of the improvement that gives a tenant an insurable interest.
Coverage for improvements and betterments are automatically included since the business personal property section of the business property policy actually refers to a named insured’s “use interest” as tenant in improvements and betterments. BUT, don’t forget – it’s important when determining a limit for business personal property to consider the value of improvements and betterments.
In a recent poll by a leading insurance company, American drivers admit to some very bad habits behind the wheel, all while rating themselves as very good or excellent drivers. Could this be considered overconfidence in their driving abilities that no doubt, lends to their feeling they can engage in unsafe practices?
The survey reveals the following:
89% admit to driving faster than the posted speed limit, with 40% driving more than 20 miles per hour over the posted limit
Men are more likely to speed than women
More than one-half of drivers admit to driving when on the verge of falling asleep
15% say they have driven while intoxicated.
One-third has sent an email or text message while driving
Drivers 18-29 years old are most likely to text while driving
53% of drivers report that they have received at least one speeding ticket or other moving violation, with 44% of these drivers receiving three or more tickets.
As a result, two-thirds of drivers say these poor driving habits have caused accidents or near-accidents.
Your insurance rates, and even your ability to obtain auto insurance, are directly dependent on your driving history. The good news is, you’re in control of maintaining a good driving record. By doing so, you put yourself in the best position possible to qualify for the lowest auto rates.
On the flipside, it’s no surprise that this survey indicates the poor driving habits mentioned above frequently results in violations or accidents – both of which can drastically increase your cost of auto insurance.
Tires are probably one of the most abused yet most reliable parts of your automobile, but did you ever consider that tire failure can result in a serious accident. Staying in control of a vehicle with a blown tire can be a test of driving skill, especially in a rear-tire blowout. Avoiding a blowout is sometimes impossible, but careful maintenance and observation of safe practices can lower your chance of dire consequences from a catastrophic tire event.
If you suffer a tire failure on the highway:
Keep driving as straight as possible
Do not rapidly or suddenly apply the brakes
Wait until your car slows down to below 30 mph before gently steering toward a safe stopping place
Don’t let the sound of the tire blowing out startle you. It can sound like a bomb, especially a blowout at high speeds.
The best way to avoid tire failure is taking proper care of your tires. Make sure you maintain proper tire inflation. Don’t rely on tire pressure monitoring systems installed on many newer vehicles. Some of these systems fail to alert you to low tire pressure until the pressure is dangerously low. Properly maintained tires improve the steering, stopping, traction and load-carrying capability of your vehicle. Another benefit of properly maintaining your tire pressure is increased fuel economy.
Located on the vehicle’s door post, door frame, glove box or inside the trunk lid, are placards placed by the manufacturer listing recommendations for tire size, inflation pressure, vehicle capacity weight and axle weight ratings. This information can also be found in the vehicle owner’s manual. Tire inflation pressures are also found on the side of the tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has information detailing what the number and letter designations on the side of your tire actually mean.
A tire gauge costs less than $2. If you don’t already have a gauge, you might consider buying one and checking your tire pressure every so often when you’re filling up at the gas station. It’s quick and easy, and may save your life.
Annuities have been around for a very long time, but many people have no idea how annuities work. Very simply, an annuity is a contract between you (the annuitant) and an insurance company to provide you with a future income stream. You give an insurance company an amount of money, and in return, the insurance company promises you regular checks for as long as the contract stipulates.
The annuitant has a wide variety of choices of how to structure the annuity. Payout can be for a certain period of years; begin immediately or sometime in the future or can be paid for your lifetime. Age, sex, duration of payments and the amount of payments are determining factors in the initial or ongoing premium.
But, are annuities for you?
There are several reasons why you should seriously consider annuities in your financial or retirement planning:
Income you cannot outlive. Annuities can provide you income which by contract, you cannot outlive.
Guaranteed returns. Annuity contracts guarantee a minimum rate of interest. The amount you get from your annuity will never be less than what you put into the annuity – a guarantee you can’t get in the stock market.
Tax-deferred interest. Interest earned on a deferred annuity is not taxable until taken out of the annuity.
Proceeds at death pass outside of probate. While annuities are estate assets, the proceeds pass directly to the beneficiary named in the contract avoiding the probate process.
In order to provide the income guarantees and death benefits, the variable annuity provider will assess income withdrawal, mortality, expense and administration fees. These fees are in addition to the sub-account fees that would have similar fee structures to that of mutual funds.
Surrender charges are assessed if you close the annuity within a specific period of time, called the surrender period. Surrender periods can vary widely, but some are as long as eight years.
While annuities aren’t for everybody, they do provide a safe-haven for money with guarantees that you cannot find anywhere else. The long and successful history of annuities is one of the greatest arguments in favor of this investment.
In a recent survey conducted by Chubb Insurance Group, nearly 40% of respondents reported they had experienced some form of water damage to their home. The survey also found that few homeowners are doing all the things they could in order to avoid water damage to their homes. According to the survey:
31% never inspect washing machine hoses
36% do not inspect toilets
61% do not inspect water heaters
97% do not have a moisture or water detection system
Most water damage claims result from accidents that occur within the home, not from weather-related events. In 2010, the average cost of these claims was a little more than $4,000. The Chubb survey noted that more than 50% of respondents did not have enough coverage to deal with potential water damage.
Water restoration experts recommend property owners do the following immediately after water damage occurs:
Remove as much water as possible by mopping and blotting the saturated area
Wipe furniture to remove excess water
Place aluminum foil between furniture legs and wet carpet
Prop up wet furniture cushions for even drying
Lift drapes off flooring, loop through a coat hanger and hang on curtain rod
Remove wet area rugs
Turn on the air conditioner if damage occurs in summer
Move valuable paintings, art objects and photos to a safe and dry place
Open closet doors, furniture drawers and luggage to aid in drying
Remove any wet fabrics and dry immediately
Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature
One very important fact to keep in mind is that coverage for damage caused by water backing up in your house is NOT typically included on your homeowners policy. Often times, coverage for water damage can be added for an additional cost.
Additionally, there’s a difference between water damage caused by leaking pipes (usually covered by your homeowners policy), water backing up through sewers or drains (usually not covered by your homeowners policy unless you have elected to add this coverage, and water damage caused by a flood (only covered if you have a specific flood policy).
If you would like to review your coverage as it relates to water damage, give us a call… we’re here to help!