Capital One announced recently that a hacker had accessed the personal information of 100 million individuals in the United States and 6 million in Canada that had applied for credit with the Virginia-based bank. The affected information includes credit scores, linked bank account numbers, Social Security and Social Insurance numbers and additional information that was provided at the time of credit application.
With the full scope of this breach still unfolding, here are some immediate steps you can take to protect your identity:
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files to make it difficult for someone to open a new account in your name.
Check your credit reports. Identify what information it contained and look for any unusual activity that could indicate identity theft.
Pay extra attention to your account and billing statements. Check for unauthorized charges.
Change all user access credentials. If you use the same passwords for all financial institutions, change them. Watch out for suspicious e-mail, phone and snail-mail scams. Enable text and e-mail alerts and turn on two-factor authentication when possible.
For additional tips and resources, visit www.cyberscout.com/knowledgecenter to learn about the best ways to minimize your risk and help protect your personal information.
While homeowner insurance covers individuals and families for many day-to-day claims involving water damage, roof damage, and the like, it is potentially there for you when the unthinkable happens and your house is completely destroyed.
Dozens of questions arise whenever a catastrophic circumstance occurs; however, there is one question you should ask yourself prior to such a situation: how will my homeowner insurance policy respond to the loss of my home?
Traditional homeowner policies have specific limits of insurance for the dwelling, detached structures located on the residence premises, and for contents. Once those limits of insurance are exhausted, additional payments cannot be made for property covered under the exhausted limit. However, several coverage enhancements have entered the marketplace over the years and homeowners now have additional options to guard them against the worst-case scenario of not having enough insurance coverage to adequately rebuild or replace their home.
There is no disputing that the internet has changed our lives in the past 15-20 years. It has altered how we live, shop, and interact with each other. Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple have become household names. But technology has also brought the expectation that everything should be quick and easy. To meet this demand, some technology companies have tried their hand in the insurance space which can be problematic for the consumer.
While being able to access a quote online is a convenient and viable option for the consumer, there is a very dangerous reality that the consumer may end up with serious deficiencies in coverages if they only view the price when quoting online. The fact is not all quotes or policies are alike; some quotes offer higher limits, more “enhanced” coverages, coverage exclusions, and different deductibles. Unfortunately, most consumers do not realize these differences or deficiencies until a loss occurs.
Seeking a trusted independent insurance agent is the best option to avoid coverage gaps or deficiencies. Independent insurance agents are licensed professionals who can find the right coverage for the individual needs of a client, and at a fair price. Independent agents represent several different insurance companies so they can present the best options for the client. Insurance is an essential product in our everyday lives that can provide the invaluable piece of mind knowing your assets are protected. But buying insurance online to seek the best price, may leave you exposed to uncovered loss exposures you were not aware of. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” It may be prudent, but it’s important to take your time when quoting online so coverages can be compared and reviewed more closely. Your assets are more valuable than a few quick minutes of your time.
Did you know that washing machines are one of the main sources of water damage to homes? Others that top the list include hot water heaters and dishwashers. Fortunately, there are a few easy and inexpensive steps you can take help to prevent these types of losses:
Check for leaks: Thoroughly check the area around appliances for any signs of leaking every four months.
Check supply hoses: Check the supply hoses regularly to ensure a tight connection, and no breaks or tears. It’s a good idea to replace supply hoses for washing machines and dishwashers every five years even if there are no signs of wear. Sometimes, wear only shows on the inside. Reinforced, steel braided hoses are recommended.
Read the manual: Always refer to your manufacturer’s guidelines for types of soap and load recommendations for the washing machine and dishwasher. Most new washing machines require HE detergents.
Flush your water heater: It is recommended to flush your water heater once per year to ensure you have fresh water and to remove sediment.
Don’t leave running appliances unattended. Try to only operate washing machines and dishwashers when someone is at home.
Replace hot water heater as needed. It’s recommended to replace the hot water heater when it is nearing the end of its life expectancy, even if there aren’t any problems. As the water heater ages, the risk of a slow leak or sudden burst increases.
Leak detection systems are a great tool to monitor your appliances, and even automatically shut off water in the event of a detected leak. While there are expenses with a leak detection system, it might just score you a discount on your homeowners policy! Leak detection systems can be added to individual appliances or an entire house.
Of course, not all losses can be prevented, but following these tips should lower your chances of a loss. In the event of a water leak, it is important to know where your water shut-off valve is located so that water can quickly be turned off to minimize damage.
After the holiday season, many like to start the New Year by organizing new gifts and purchases and cleaning out the closets. As each year goes by and your needs continue to change, it’s easy to forget to update your insurance policy in the process. There is no better time than now to make sure both your new, as well as old belongings, are insured properly on your homeowners policy.
It might surprise you to know that an unendorsed homeowner policy has limits of coverage for theft of certain types of personal items such as jewelry, watches, furs, and firearms. Coverage for items like coins and stamps can be limited to a special limit of coverage no matter what the cause of damage is.
A common limit for theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semi-precious stones on a homeowners policy is $1,500. Not to mention, your policy deductible would apply to this type of loss. If you misplace those items opposed to a loss by theft, you may not be covered at all under your normal insurance coverage. [READ MORE]
According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year. Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because it’s odorless, colorless, tasteless, and can easily go undetected. When the cold temperatures start to hit, what’s the first thing we do? We turn on our furnaces to heat our home and tightly seal our windows. If your furnace is emitting poisonous gases, you are trapping them in your house. Here are a few things you do to help prevent this silent and deadly killer.
First, it’s important to have your furnace inspected and serviced annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests we install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors near every area in the home used for sleeping and be checked regularly to be sure they are working correctly .
The CDC shares additional ways to prevent carbon monoxide exposure [Read More]
The Independent Insurance Agents of Bristol Food Drive are combining forces and collecting non-perishable food items or monetary donations for MEALS FOR NEIGHBORS (Zion Lutheran Church) from October 20, 2018 to November 20, 2018. Visit any of the offices mentioned below in the spirit of giving back. Together we can make a difference!
The great debate in auto insurance; should you purchase comprehensive coverage and/or collision coverage? Collision insurance sounds simple – it’s insurance for collisions. Collision coverage provides coverage for the loss resulting from the striking of another object by a moving vehicle. But what about comprehensive coverage? [READ MORE]
For a number of years, businesses have had the option to purchase cyber liability insurance. This type of coverage protects them against threats like malware attacks, cyber extortion, online fraud, and data breaches. In fact, this coverage continues to be one of the most discussed areas of commercial insurance, as business owners realize no matter the size of their business – or the type of business they operate – all business are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Whether you are a returning college student, a proud college graduate who just received your first job offer, or simply starting fresh in a new city, if you are renting an apartment or even a house, don’t overlook the importance of renters insurance.
The Insurance Information Institute found “only 41% of renters actually have renters insurance.”  Many choose to not purchase renters insurance because they believe they are covered under the landlords’ insurance, it won’t actually provide coverage they need, or that it is too expensive. The landlords’ insurance policy will cover damage to the dwelling but not the tenants’ personal property in the event of a loss. Renters insurance offers many benefits including coverage for theft, fire, water damage, vandalism, and more. The landlords’ insurance policy will cover damage to the dwelling but not the tenants’ personal property inside in the event of a loss. Compared to the price of homeowners insurance, renters insurance is very reasonably priced. In fact, the “average renter’s insurance policy only costs around $187 a year.” [READ MORE]