Insurance Blog
Items filtered by date: September 2017
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 15:20

7 Tips to Avoid Contractor Scams

After a disaster strikes, be on alert for related scams and fraud. Scam artists may pose as FEMA or other government officials, aid workers, or employees from charitable organizations or insurance companies in order to get your personal information or take your money.

Published in Insurance Tips

How clever is your password? If it’s on the list below, your password is just as easily stolen as it is remembered. Protect yourself by making sure you’re not using one of the top 25 most commonly stolen passwords, as determined by IT security firm SplashData.

Published in Scams
Tuesday, 19 September 2017 15:29

6 Tips: Shopping for a Safe Vehicle

September is the month when car sales and purchase incentives start to improve for car buyers. If you plan to buy a vehicle, review and download this guide to ensure that the car you buy is safe.

 

Did You Know?

Every new car must meet certain federal safety standards, but that doesn’t mean that all cars are equally safe. Many automakers offer safety features beyond the required federal minimums. Find out more about what safety features make a vehicle safe.

 

6 Tips To Know Before Shopping For A Safe Vehicle

Consider the following safety features:

  1. Crashworthiness: These features reduce the risk of death or serious injury when a crash occurs. Crashworthiness ratings can be found at: www.iihs.org.

  2. Vehicle structural design: A good structural design has a strong occupant compartment, known as the safety cage, as well as front and rear ends designed to buckle and bend in a crash to absorb the force of the crash.

Published in Auto Insurance

Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber attack—an attack that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.
The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver's license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cyber security threat the organization has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report was affected.

If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. Complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the “Check Potential Impact” page.
  2. Provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.

From there, a dialogue box will pop up and indicate whether or not your information was lost in the hack. All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which is an Equifax service that includes identity theft insurance, credit reports, and a service that crawls the internet and alerts you if your Social Security number is posted somewhere online. This service will be free for one year for those who sign up by Nov. 21st.

If you have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend engaging in a credit freeze. This effectively locks down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevents criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

It should be noted that it may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.
Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. Contact law enforcement officials if you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way. 

Baldwin/Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies, Inc. will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber incident, providing any major updates as necessary.

 

See Related Article: 6 Equifax hack rumors fact-checked

Published in Insurance Tips
Monday, 11 September 2017 15:30

Glossary of Weather Terms

We are in the middle of hurrican season, which is June 1st - November 30th, and there's 24/7 weather coverage during which weather experts toss around a variety of terms. Have you ever wondered what they all mean? For example, during Hurricane Irma, the two terms that got a lot of air time were "the best track" and "the European model." If you wondered what all these terms mean, here's a list of storm terms and their meanings.

  • The best track is a smoothed representation of a storm’s location and intensity over its lifetime. The best track contains the storm system’s latitude, longitude, maximum sustained surface winds, and minimum sea-level pressure at six-hour intervals, based on a post-storm assessment of all available data.
  • The European model is considered by meteorologists to be the most accurate model for predicting hurricanes in the mid-latitudes. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which runs the model, developed a its method for integrating real-time meteorological data into their algorithm (so it starts with more accurate initial conditions), and invested in very advanced computer hardware. Both the European and the American models are predictive mathematical models, so they don’t necessarily reflect the hurricane path issued by the National Hurricane Center.
  • The eyewall is the band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye of the storm. The most severe weather of the hurricane occurs in the eyewall: Towering thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and high winds.
  • The Fujiwhara effect occurs when two tropical cyclones orbit around one another.
  • A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph.
  • The hurricane categories are a naming convention system. Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on the intensities of their sustained winds, which is known as the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
    Category 1:Winds speeds of 74-95 mph; very dangerous winds will produce some damage
    Category 2:Wind speeds of 96-110 mph; extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage
    Category 3: Wind speeds of 111-129 mph; devastating damage will occur
    Category 4: Wind speeds of 130-156 mph; catastrophic damage will occur
    Category 5: Wind speeds greater than 156 mph; catastrophic damage will occur and most areas will be uninhabitable
  • A hurricane warning is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical storm.
  • A hurricane watch is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area in association with a tropical storm.
  • Latent heat is the heat required to convert a solid into a liquid or vapor without a change in temperature. When water vapor condenses to form clouds, latent heat (energy) is released, which helps storms intensify by warming the surrounding air and causing instability.
  • A major hurricane has winds greater than 110 mph.
  • Maximum sustained winds is the standard measure of a tropical cyclone’s intensity. It refers to the highest one-minute average wind speed (at an elevation of 10 meters with an unobstructed exposure) associated with that weather system at a particular point in time.
  • A monsoon is not a storm, but a large-scale, seasonal wind shift over a region accompanied by large amplitude seasonal changes in precipitation (whether heavy rains or draught).
  • The radius of maximum winds is the distance from the center of a tropical cyclone to the location of the cyclone’s maximum winds. In well-developed hurricanes, the radius of maximum winds is typically at the inner edge of the eyewall.
  • A storm surge is the rise in sea levels following a hurricane or major storm, where the height is the difference between the observed sea level and the level the water would be without a cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal high tide from the observed storm tide.
  • A storm tide is the actual level of sea water resulting from the normal tide combined with the storm surge.
  • A tropical cyclone is a general term for warm weather storm systems that occur over tropical waters, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. A cyclone has a well-defined center, and rotates counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with a maximum sustained wind speed of less than 39 mph.
  • A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds between 39 mph and 73 mph.
  • A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that forms in the Pacific Ocean between 180° and 100°E, with winds of 74 mph or greater. Typhoons are the same weather phenomena as hurricanes; the only difference between them is the location where the storm occurs.

Now, the next time you hear one of these terms on a weather update, you'll have a better understanding of what it means.

Published in Weather
Thursday, 07 September 2017 01:31

Are You Prepared For Flash Floods?

Flash floods can occur within minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways, such as rivers or streams, overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry floodwater away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Published in Homeowners
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 22:42

7 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, is expected to impact the United States this week when it reaches Florida. At this time, there's no way to know if the storm will impact New England; however, it is hurricane season and we have experienced hurricanes in New England in the past. Before a devastating storm reaches our area, it's a good idea to plan ahead. What can you do to prepare for a potential hurricane? Here's what you need to help you and your family remain safe:

 

1. Prepare a Basic Disaster Supply Kit

  • Water - one gallon of water for drinking and sanitation per person, per day, for at least three days
  • Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone chargers and portable backup batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps with evacuation locations - find evacuation zone maps
Published in Hurricanes

Checklist for Business Owners and Operators

While we watched the destruction by Hurricane Harvey, and continue to watch hurrican Irma tracking towards the United States after leaving a path of destruction in the Carribean, New England residents and business owners may wonder if a major weather event like that could happen here. The answer, according to meteorologists, is probably not. "Harvey was a very unique storm in that it stalled," said Jacob Wycoff, a meteorologist for Western Mass News in Springfield. "We are so close to the jet stream [that] we don't get that type of stalling system." Additionally, Irma is the stongest hurrican in the Atlantic ever recorded. 

Published in Hurricanes

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