How to Get the Most Cost-Effective Cyber Policy

If you were to ask any company representative if cyber insurance is worth it, you’d undoubtedly be met with a resounding YES. The potential financial havoc that a cyber attack unleashes is significant enough for businesses both large and small to actively seek out cyber insurance coverage. The question therefore isn’t whether you require cyber insurance for your business. Instead, it’s: How much cyber insurance do I need?

Just like all insurance coverages, the answer is personal. You would not pay a higher level of homeowners insurance premium for a larger house than you own; so too should you not pay for more cyber coverage than your business needs. One-size-fits-all cyber insurance does not exist, and there are ways to drive the cost of coverage down by being proactive in your security efforts.

One business may need to purchase more cyber insurance, while others may need less. An organization that deals primarily online may have more potential exposure than another, for example. To get the most cost-effective cyber policy, do not just request a quote from the Internet. Instead, trust the cyber insurance advisors at W3 Insurance to learn about your company’s risks and to help you select a policy to mitigate them. 

Every day, cyber attackers become more savvy at draining company coffers. Those businesses who choose to pretend that they are not at risk stand to pay higher rates than those who actively protect themselves. Read below as we examine how cyber attack prevention can in fact be cost-effective and how a business can go about securing such coverage.

10 ways to reduce the cost of your cyber insurance policy

Think of this as akin to the ‘safe driving’ discount offered by some car insurance companies. If your business operates with safeguards in mind against cyber attack,  it is possible to reduce the cost of your cyber insurance policy. By reducing your risk, you also drive the cost of coverage down.

Some of these ways include the following:

1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Are you who you say you are? That is the simple (yet effective) impetus behind multi-factor authentication. Also known as “two step” verification, this effective means to thwart cyber attack takes the standard ‘enter username and password’ command to a new level. Sure, you will need both of the above – and then some. Often, this added failsafe comes in the form of a code that is sent to a person’s cell phone. That way, even if a password and username are stolen, the attacker is stuck. 

2. Password managers

The days of the simple password are passe – pun intended. Password managers take complex combinations of letters, numbers and symbols and make undecipherable passwords that are nearly non-hackable. One of the type of cyber attack involves a hacker learning personal information about a mark on social media and then trying those elements as passwords. With password managers storing these intricate passwords, it’s not necessary to use the same one multiple times. 

The days of “I hate passwords 123” should be over. Thank you, password manager.

3. Keep your employees trained and up-to-date

In the event your business suffers from a successful cyber attack, don’t point fingers at the computer, because it is likely not the machine’s fault.. Nine times out of ten, security breaches are caused by human error. Cyber attack is a very human game, after all; human error is the reason many attacks do succeed. 

That’s why employee training is paramount. Have your employees been brought up-to-speed about the latest phishing attacks? Do they know not to respond to emails that demand sensitive information? Constant vigilance is required to fend off cyber attacks, and that means consistent, timely training for your employees about the latest threats and information regarding how to combat them.

4. Update your software when possible

Keep pressing ‘cancel’ when prompted for a software update? -Think again. Take a few minutes and let the software update; it most likely has built-in security protocols to protect against the latest cyber threats. Cyber attacks vary widely in their creativity and personalization; software updates can help thwart some attempts before they become a problem. 

5. Invest in cybersecurity tools

When it comes to protecting your business from cyber attack, cybersecurity tools are the weapons that can keep the threat at bay. Often, they are not exorbitantly expensive, either – at least, not in comparison to how much a successful cyber attack an potentially cause your business.

Consider the list below a good start:

  • Firewalls
  • Anti-virus software
  • Application whitelisting software
  • Intrusion detection/prevention systems
  • Managed detection and response systems

6. Create an adequate response plan

Even after all your best efforts, a cyber attack may crack your defenses and affect your business. Due to the ever-changing nature of cyber attack, this is a sad reality; knowing what to do if one occurs can minimize the damage. If you suspect your business has been a victim of cyber attack, first call your cyber insurance coverage provider. Then, use your response plan to move forward.

7. Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP) are your friends

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. The adage is at the heart of business continuity planning (BCP) and disaster recovery planning (DRP). Have protocols in place as backups, and should a cyber attack occur, you may be able to continue business as (almost) usual while you work to restore prior workflows.

8. Continuously monitor your systems

Understanding what is normal for your business and what is not is a surefire way to spot a cyber attack. Watch for activity that is out of the ordinary, and if you spot something unusual in your data, dig into the cause. It may well be due to user error – or it may be a cyber attack in its infancy.

9. Hire a cybersecurity expert

Overwhelmed by the concept of cyber-securing your business? Professionals can assist you in deducing your business risk and implementing tools to address it. Consider hiring an expert to be an investment in your company’s wellbeing. The time you will spend to put all these measures in place may be better used elsewhere, and, if these protections are left undone, cyber attacks can have drastic fiscal consequences.

10. Be proactive

Simply follow the above advice, and you’ll be on your way to protecting your business from cyber attack. The proactive business owner understands that if it’s possible to prepare for an attack, fortifications should be made. Act early to prevent cyber attacks in the long run. What’s more, having these protections in place can result in a lower premium. After all, such a business is less risky than one that just buys coverage but does not put any safeguards into place.

Get an affordable quote from W3

The cyber advisors at W3 Insurance can help protect your business from cyber attack. For coverage that protects your business and advice that allows for personalization of your cyber policy, trust the W3 advantage. 

Cyber attack is a persistent threat. Contact us today for more information regarding how to protect your organization.

Why Your Business Needs a Surety Bond

Do you plan to do work with a government agency in the future? Does your business calendar include appointments to bid on construction jobs? If so, you’ll likely need a surety bond to be seriously considered for employment. 

Surety bonds are a safeguard, and exist to assert confidence that your business will finish what it starts. They are required in multiple instances and across multiple sectors. Let’s talk more about them.

What is a surety bond? 

A surety bond is a promise backed by capital. This promise asserts that contract terms will be met by all parties, that agreements will be kept, and that all sides comply with the contract. 

Think of a surety bond as a handshake that holds legal weight. You or your business agree to complete a scope of work, and the entity employing you can have full confidence that this will happen. If it is not, recompense will be given to the slighted party.

The 3 parties of a surety bond

To understand how a surety bond works, you must first understand that each bond involves three parties. These are:

The Principal 

Often the owner of a small business, this bond purchaser opts to obtain a surety bond in order to enter a contract bid or do work. 

The Obligee 

If you require a surety bond, that means you’re the obligee. Obligees are commonly government agencies, but anyone looking for a solid guarantee of job completion can be one. 

The Surety

Someone has to guarantee this bond, and that is the surety, or insurance company. Think of them as the middleman: if the Principal neglects to hold up their end of the bargain, the surety steps in to remedy the situation. Completing the work is the overall aim, and the insurance company covers this as stated in the bond.

What do the terms licensed, bonded and insured mean?

These three terms are ‘the mighty three.’ A company that can list this trio has completed the triumvirate of items necessary to inspire ultimate consumer confidence. 

While a business can separately earn the designations of licensed, bonded and insured, there is a significant difference among the terms.

Licensed 

This is the bare bones, must-have designation for many industries. A company that is licensed meets some minimal guidelines for its sector. For example, it would be inadvisable to have an unlicensed stylist to cut your hair. The license hanging on the salon wall gives you confidence that the person holding the shears has completed some training as required by a licensing board.

Bonded

A company that says it is ‘bonded’ is simply sharing the information that a surety bond has been purchased to protect third parties doing business with it. If the agreed-upon project work is not completed, a claim can be filed for recompense.

Insured

A synonym phrase for insured is ‘transfer of risk,’ and that’s exactly what insurance does for a business.  An insured business commonly carries protection for workers compensation and general liability, though more coverage is available. Construction companies likely hold builders’ risk policies and property insurance as well.

What are the 4 types of contract surety bonds?

Bid bond 

Seen in the construction space, a bid bond guarantees that if a bid submitted by the contractor is accepted, that contractor will be entering a contract that involves an agreement of doing the work at the price given

Performance bond

An insurance company or bank stands behind a contractor in this situation, ensuring that a project is completed in a satisfactory manner. 

Payment bond 

A contractor opts for a payment bond, which is a surety bond that ensures subcontractors and those supplying materials are paid. Payment bonds are commonly seen alongside performance bonds.

Warranty bond 

This type of bond has an expiration date – consider it a limited warranty situation. Once that predetermined date has passed, the bond is no longer valid and active.

5 types of commercial surety bonds

License and permit bonds

Before you even apply for a permit or license in some instances, these bonds will be required. They act as a safeguard that the individual or business that obtained the license and/or bond will comply with applicable regulations and laws and that it can actually do what the license or permit details. This requirement discourages businesses that may not be completely able to perform the assigned work from agreeing to undertake it.

Court bonds

Whether one is the defendant or the plaintiff, it may be necessary to get a court bond. Included under the ‘court bond umbrella’ are the well-known bail bond, but bonds for appeal, attachment, replevin and injunction are available as well. 

Fiduciary/probate bonds

A surety bond, this type protects creditors, heirs and beneficiaries in the scenario of a trust. 

Public official bonds

If you hold a public office, you’ll likely be required to have a public official bond. These are designed to protect the public if the official does not perform as they are supposed to. It’s interesting to note the wide range of public officials who require surety bonds, including, but not limited to: treasurers, tax collectors, judges and more.

Miscellaneous 

Bonds can be personalized for nearly any situation. These fall under the category of miscellaneous, and do not fully comply with the already-mentioned common bonds. 

4 industries that need surety bonds

Auto dealers

Ever wonder why more lemons aren’t sold by well-known auto dealers? Surety bonds knows as auto bonds are a failsafe to make sure that auto dealers do not engage in fraudulent behavior. If the dealer lies about a vehicle’s age or condition or engages in another misleading claim, this surety bond protects the consumer. 

Construction contractors

If a construction contractor breaks laws and does not honor their contracts, a penalty 

lies ahead for them. That’s thanks to a contractor bond, whether residential, commercial or other. 

Financially responsible officer bond

Ethics is the name of the surety bond game here. A company’s FRO (financially responsible officer) is thus guaranteed to act becoming to a high standard. These bonds aren’t widely required. 

Healthcare providers

By now, you’ve likely learned that bonds ensure that an entity fulfills its contractual obligations. This is the same for healthcare providers, who may opt for a surety bond over an LOC (letter of credit). 

How much do surety bonds cost?

A variety of components factor into the answer to that question, including credit rating, industry expertise, riskiness of the undertaking and more. Consider a small construction company bidding for its largest project to date. It may need to pay more for a surety bond than, say, a larger company that has a proven track record of project successes. 

The best way to find out how much a surety bond will cost for your unique situation is to contact a professional, explain the scope of work, and let them do their due diligence.

How do I get a surety bond?

This answer is the most straightforward of all of them in the article: simply call our office at (727) 522-7777 to speak with one of the surety bond advisors at W3 Insurance. 

Whether you’re a Florida small business owner hoping to bid on a federal project or a contractor investigating the types of surety bonds necessary for the future, W3 has extensive surety bond expertise.

9 Business Resolutions for Your Small Business

Your Business New Years ResolutionsThere are so many things you need to look at as a small business owner. You often wear so many hats that it’s difficult to really cover all your bases. So we gathered a quick list of things to look for regarding your Commercial and Employee Benefits Insurance.

Commercial Insurance
  • Know your risks: Employees and automobiles. Do you have employees using company time to drive to the bank to make a deposit, grab lunch for your office, pick up a package, etc.? This is a huge exposure that you don’t necessarily think of. If your employee is in an accident during that time, your business will suffer. Hired and Non-owned Auto coverage can be obtained for these situations.
  • Look for holes in your security system. Big-box security breaches are in the news all the time, but you may not know that most cyber-crimes happen in small businesses. Why? Small businesses are often easier targets for thieves as they have less sophisticated security systems and/or processes. If you store customer information or complete credit card transactions, you are likely at risk for attacks. Cyber Liability Insurance is an often overlooked coverage. Without it, it can prove very costly for your business.
  • Develop a disaster plan in case of a natural disaster. In Florida, we have a very real risk of storms and flooding causing significant damage to our businesses. Even if you have property damage coverage, your business will likely be unable to operate during the repairs. Would your business survive months of not making any income? Business Income Insurance, coupled with a good disaster plan, is a necessity for all businesses in Florida.
  • Take a closer look at your key people. Most organizations employ at least one individual who is essential to the company’s success. This person may be a partner, owner, majority stockholder or another individual crucial to the business. If this person unexpectedly leaves the organization—due to a death, disability or immediate resignation—it may be hard for the organization to survive. In this instance, Key Person Life Insurance can help ensure that your business is protected.
  • Make sure that mistakes don’t cost you your business. In today’s litigious society, no one is safe from lawsuits. A simple mistake can cause you, as an owner, to be sued for what is deemed a “wrongful act”. A Directors’ and Officers’ Liability (D&O) policy specifically provides coverage for a “wrongful act,” such as an actual or alleged error, omission, misleading statement, neglect or breach of duty. Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O) is another coverage that can help protect your business. E&O coverage kicks in where your Commercial General Liability policy does not provide coverage, such as for service errors, contract performance disputes or any other professional liability issues.
Employee Benefits Insurance
  • Explore alternate funding. Policies issued prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin to be phased out this year. Some employers still have these policies because they are less expensive than new ACA compliant policies. Alternate Funding of policy premiums can save a company from unnecessary rate increases.
  • Ask an agent about alternative networks in your area. HMO’s can save a company 5-10% on premiums without any loss of providers in a metropolitan area such as Tampa Bay.  Due to Florida law, they also have increased protections for your employees to safeguard against balance billing. In short, these are not your grandmother’s HMO’s
  • Update salaries with your life and disability insurer. Salaries often change yearly, so be sure their benefits match.
  • Resolve to review carrier invoices monthly. Often carriers have a 30 day limit on making adjustments… and mistakes can be costly.
  • Count your employees every January. The magic numbers for different applications of Cobra laws is 20, for IRS 1095 reporting it’s 50. But these are counted differently – we can help.

Wallace Welch & Willingham is here to help you! Please contact us if you have questions about any of these business resolutions.


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