Cottage Season Can Be Year Round. 4 Tips to Help Winterize Your Cottage

Cottage season is beginning to wind down and after an amazing summer, some will be bidding their cottages farewell until the next year. That being said, as Coronavirus cases in Canada continue to increase, more people are working from home, some of which may even be interested in extending their cottage stay for the fall and winter seasons. Although many of these cottages are only liveable during the spring and summer months, these 4 tips can help change your summer oasis into your all-season sanctuary.

Cottage in a winter wonderland.
Could you live in your cottage all winter?
  1. How are you going to heat your cottage this winter? – You’ll want to consult with a professional to find out which heat source would best suit your cottage. The kind of heat source you want can be based around price and where your cottage is located. Insurance policies and coverage vary depending on what heat source you plan to install. So before you choose your heat source, you should call your insurance broker to make sure that you are covered and see how different heat sources can affect your insurance premiums.

 

  1. What kind of electrical and plumbing do you have? – Your electrical and plumbing systems may need upgrading or replacing to support all-season living. To prevent your pipes and plumbing from freezing this winter, you will need to run your pipes on the warm side of the insulation. It is important that an electrician or plumber comes and inspects your house as they can tell you what work needs to be done to winterize your utilities.

 

  1. Ramp up the insulation – Canadian winters are notoriously cold, so you’ll need to install proper insulation in your cottage if you plan on being there this winter. Add a vapour barrier to prevent condensation from developing inside the walls, or else your cottage could be at risk for mould and rot. (Mould and rot are not covered under a standard home policy)

 

  1. Upgrade your windows and doors – Many cottages windows and doors are outdated and are not properly sealed, which is fine if you are not there during the colder months. Ensure that all windows and doors in your cottage need are properly sealed to prevent drafts from coming in and warm air from escaping (this also helps with energy savings). Depending on the type of windows currently installed at your seasonal property, they may need to be swapped out for a year-round alternative (such as new double-paned windows).

 

How does winterizing your cottage affect your insurance?

If you’re thinking about converting your summer cottage into a four-season home, reach out to your insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you need for year-round protection. Contact your local broker at Miller Insurance to see if you have the right coverage during renovations or to see if there are any limitations if you plan on renting it out.

Driving tips this harvest season

Harvest season is upon us.

With the arrival of fall comes a change in scenery; the trees begin to change colours, playoff baseball begins (go Jays) and farmers’ begin to harvest their crops. While driving on our local roads, we’re going to notice more tractors driving from field to field and to the different grain elevators around our community. This often means that you will find yourself stuck behind a slow moving farm vehicle, that may take up more space than a car or truck. To ensure your safety and the safety for our local farmers, please slow down, be patient and only pass when it is safe to do so. Farmers understand that your trip may be delayed and will pull onto the shoulder when they can safely do so.

Rules of the Road for fall: A harvest season gets underway, here are some tips for motorists | NKyTribune

Photo courtesy of https://www.nkytribune.com/2015/09/rules-of-the-road-for-fall-a-harvest-season-gets-underway-here-are-some-tips-for-motorists/

Here are some safety tips for motorists this harvest season:

  • Do not pass farm equipment unless there is a dotted line or within 100 feet of an intersection, railroad crossing or bridge
  • Pass with caution if the farmer pulls onto the should to allow you to pass
  • Do not pass if there are any curves or hills ahead that could impede your view of oncoming vehicles
  • Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls onto the shoulder is going to let you pass. Large farm vehicles may have to make wide turns, so look for turn signals or hand signals before passing.
  • Do not assume the farmer can see you or knows that you intend to pass.
  • Do not tailgate, as it may distract the equipment operator.

Safety tips for farmers on rural roads:

  • Farmers must have a slow moving vehicle sign if the tractor and other vehicles are incapable of sustaining speeds over 40 km/h.
  • The slow moving vehicle sign must be visible from a minimum of 150 meters away (500 ft.).
  • Ensure that you’re lights, flashers and signals all work properly
  • Only move onto the road’s shoulder if it is safe to do so.
  • Check to see if hitched equipment obscures lights or signage. As drivers behind you may not know if you are turning if your signals are obscured.

Remember, farmers have the same right to use the roads as other motorists and need to in order to get from field to field and to the different elevators in our community. Keep in mind being stuck behind farm equipment for 4 KM’s is the equivalent to waiting for two stop lights. You have time to wait and our local farmers have a job to do.

Covid-19 Update

For the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities, we have closed all branches of Miller Insurance and employees will be working from home.

For assistance with your policy or a claim during regular work hours please call us at 1-800-265-3000 or email us at info@millerinsurance.ca.

If you need to make a payment, please either contact your broker or send an e-transfer using the email address accounting@millerinsurance.ca.

We are sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience during this time.

Miller Express is our 24/7 client site.
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Cyber Insurance: What is Social Engineering?

Cyber Insurance

Cyber Insurance: What is Social Engineering?

We continue to dig into Cyber Insurance coverage this month by looking how your employees may fall victim to social engineering.  In today’s sophisticated world of cybercrime, even the most loyal employees can be duped into unknowingly handing over critical customer information or other sensitive data. While hackers can enter your computer systems through a variety of ways—such as stolen passwords or network infiltration—some of their methods are even more devious, particularly the new trend toward what’s being called “social engineering.”

In social engineering schemes, hackers take advantage of human weaknesses and temptations to get employees to click on specific links, allowing them to enter the user’s network and wreak havoc on their systems. They do this in a number of ways, such as by sending emails to employees with falsified sender information and tricking them to link through to “important information” related to their jobs.

Tricking someone into disclosing sensitive information of their own volition feeds off the human instinct to trust and be helpful—particularly in a work situation, which is why there is an increasing need for Cyber Insurance coverage.  Employees are trained to be responsive on the job and act respectful to customers and vendors alike. Criminals exploit this quality by using various forms of communication, such as email, the internet, the telephone, and even face-to-face interactions to infiltrate and defraud their targets. They may cultivate their source on an ongoing basis, beginning with information gathering, growing into a relationship status, and then diving into exploitation—all without the victim’s awareness.

Here’s one example of how it works. Say you are a controller at a private corporation, responsible for making regular payments to an overseas vendor for supply that is later incorporated into finished goods for sale in the United States. After regularly working with this vendor for some time, the controller receives an email purportedly from that same vendor describing an impending move to a new bank. The controller complies with the change request and sends along payment to the new institution. When the regular vendor comes forward seeking payment some time later, the buyer realizes a scam has taken place and is out a large sum of money. In this case, nobody hacked into an account or used technology to blindside someone without their knowledge. The victim willingly gave up identifying information and made payment to the criminal.

Once businesses accept that it is virtually impossible to guard against these hackers, they need to take steps to protect sensitive financial data. Along with having cyber insurance coverage in place, training should be an important component of this effort, with formalized classes for employees on when it’s OK to divulge confidential information and to whom, and when it is not. At the corporate level, sensitive information should be on a system different from the one that widely used information is on, and access should be restricted only to key personnel. Employees should be trained on what suspicious malware links may look like, and companies can even implement practice drills to assess employees’ preparedness. In addition, IT departments should force employees to change their passwords frequently and should be sure to implement software updates as soon as they become available.

As wide-scale data breaches continue to get reported—whether committed by social engineering or more traditional means of hacking—more businesses are realizing the importance of a good cyber insurance policy. These policies are designed to cover not just large businesses whose hacks receive the most press attention but any small or medium-sized business that safeguards sensitive customer, vendor, and employee information.

Our experienced and trained brokers can help you determine whether your business liability policy can provide enough protection in the event of a serious data breach or whether a separate cyber insurance policy is needed. These policies provide coverage for a number of different risk factors, including network infiltration, regulatory breaches, data loss, business interruption, and losses due to social engineering schemes. While policies differ widely with respect to their specific coverages and premiums—premiums usually depend in large part on revenues—call us to speak with a broker to understand what coverage you need to protect yourself, your staff, and your customers.

Cyber Insurance 101: Your Checklist for Avoiding IT Security Breaches

Checklist and information from the Business Development Bank of Canada

Our series on Cyber Insurance continues this month with a focus on prevention.  The most pressing information technology security problem facing Canadian entrepreneurs is not computer hackers. The majority of security breaches actually come from a company’s own employees.

They’re usually not doing it on purpose, though: most breaches are accidents, such as an employee mistakenly emailing confidential client information outside the company, a cashier leaving a customer’s credit card information on a publicly viewable computer, or a manager inadvertently deleting important files.

Downloaded Breaches

One of the most common breaches: accidentally downloading malware—those nasty little computer viruses and Trojan horses that can cause mayhem in your computer network.

Four in five Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) report experiencing a security problem related to information and communications technologies (ICT) caused by an employee in the previous year, according to industry research. But most SMEs don’t do much about it until it’s too late and don’t have the cyber insurance coverage required to cover the loss.

Many business owners pay lip service to tech security, but they don’t invest money in it. As a result, actions usually get postponed until the day an essential computer crashes or vital data gets wiped out in a malware attack.

And with the proliferation of mobile devices, wireless computing, and remote workers, the security challenge is growing bigger for entrepreneurs.

Evaluate your technology security

Ideally, you should regularly evaluate your IT security as part of a larger review of all your systems. The idea is to make sure your tech gear and processes aren’t out of step with your business strategy.

Here is an ICT security checklist SMEs can follow as part of this review:

  1. Strategy and human resources policies
  • Does your company have a clear ICT security policy that’s known to staff?
  • Do you have a policy on acceptable ICT use, password guidelines, and security practices?
  • Do you have confidentiality agreements for contractors and vendors?
  • Does your company have a privacy policy?
  1. Data backup
  • For critical data (this is anything needed in day-to-day operations, including customer information), do you centralize it on a server and back it up nightly to a remote location?
  • For important data (anything important to the business but that doesn’t get updated frequently), do you centralize it on a server and back it up semi-regularly off-site?
  1. Desktop security
  • Do all computers have working anti-virus software?
  • Do you have a security policy for downloading and installing new software?
  • Do you have passwords with a minimum of eight alphanumeric characters that are changed every 90 days?
  • Are all computers updated with the latest system updates and security patches?
  1. Internet and network security
  • Do you have a firewall and intrusion detection on all web connections?
  • Do you use a virtual private network for remote access?
  • Are all modem and wireless access connections known and secured?
  1. Privacy and sensitive information
  • Is customer financial information encrypted and accessible only to those who need it?
  • Are paper files kept in locked filing cabinets with controlled access?
  1. Audit
  • Do you do a periodic audit (every six months at least) of your ICT security checklist?

According to a Leger poll commissioned by IBC in the fall of 2019, 44% of 300 small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees) did not have any sort of defence against cyber attacks and 60% of these organizations did not have any cyber insurance to protect them in the event of an attack.  Call us today at 1-800-265-3000 to speak to one of our brokers about how to get the protection you need.
For more tools and information for small business and entrepreneurs visit www.bdc.ca

Cyber 101:

Types of cyberattacks

Criminal hackers are devising new techniques all the time to attack organizations. Here are a few of the most common methods:

Denial of service attack: The hacker floods a website with more traffic than it was built to handle, making it impossible for legitimate visitors to access the site.

Phishing: An attacker pretends to represent a trusted organization to trick a user into taking an action (such as opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a bogus link) that he or she would not normally take.

Malware: Harmful software takes control of a machine, monitors user actions and keystrokes, and/or sends confidential data from the infected computer or network to the attacker’s home base.

Ransomware: This software encrypts files to prevent users from accessing them and then demands payment for their safe recovery. These attacks can occur after clicking on a phishing link or visiting a compromised website.

Spoofing: A cybercriminal impersonates another user or device to attack network hosts, steal information, spread malware, or bypass access controls.

Brute force: The attacker attempts to decode encrypted data by trying as many password combinations as possible, as quickly as possible.

Six questions to consider when buying cyber insurance

1. How many records containing personal information does your organization retain or have access to?

2. How many records containing sensitive commercial information does your organization retain or have access to?

3. What security controls can you put in place to reduce the risk of having your system compromised?

4. Do all portable media and computing devices need to be encrypted?

5. What about unencrypted media in the care, custody, or control of your third-party service providers?

6. Could you make a claim if you were unable to detect an intrusion until several months or years had passed?

What can cyber insurance cover?

Regulatory defense expenses: Civil fines incurred in responding to a regulatory proceeding resulting from a privacy or network security breach

Legal and civil damages: The cost of legal representation and possible damages related to a privacy or network security breach.

Security breach remediation and notification expenses: The costs to notify affected parties and manage a privacy incident.

Crisis management expenses: Public relations expenses to manage the damage to your organization’s reputation.

Forensic investigations expenses: The costs of hiring a breach response firm.

Computer program and electronic data restoration expenses: Expenses to restore or recover damaged or corrupted data caused by a breach, denial-of-service attack, or ransomware.

E-commerce extortion and reward payments coverage: Pays for the cost of a professional negotiator and potential ransom payments to the person or organization extorting you or your organization.

Business interruption and additional expenses: Income your business loses and the costs it incurs due to an interruption in services.  +

Insurance Bureau of Canada

ibc.ca

Protecting your business from Cyber Crime

Let’s talk about about what small business owners can do to protect themselves from this ever increasing category of risk.

Q:  What about a commercial general liability policy, doesn’t that cover cyber crime?

A:  Definitely not.  The main focus of a Commercial General Liability policy it to cover body injury or property damage to a third party. There is no coverage for claims due to a loss of data or breach of privacy.

Q:  Give us an example of a cyber liability claim.

A:   Absolutely, an employee’s company laptop is stolen from a vehicle.  On that laptop is a customer database containing physical and virtual addresses, phone numbers and personal financial information.  This information was used in an identity theft crime.  The victims of the identity theft then sue for recovery of their costs in restoring their identities.

In addition to providing coverage for claims made against the business, cyber coverage could also respond for the costs incurred by the business itself.  This could include restoring and securing data, business interruption, customer notification and credit monitoring to name a few.

Q:  So how much is this coverage and what limit of coverage is available?

Miller Insurance has a range of companies that can provide cyber coverage as an extension of your existing package policy, usually with a limit of $25,00 to $50,00.  Premiums are based on the type of business and the limit of coverage you require.  As this may not be an adequate amount of coverage, increased limits of $100,000 up to $5,000,000 are available.

Q:  How do I know if I have Cyber exposure?

A:   Chances are if you are dealing with customers, you have an exposure.  Simply losing a smartphone can lead to a substantial breach depending on your business and clientele. Contact your broker today and find a plan that fits your needs.

Q: What does this protection mean to the business owner’s clients?

A: When a cyber breach occurs the business is not the only victim. Normally the compromised information is stolen with malicious intentions.  Victims of identity theft now spend an average of 600 hours (normally over the course of years) recovering from this crime. The time spent would equal somewhere in the range of $16,000 in unrealized or lost income for the average person. By purchasing proper cyber protection it indicates to your customers that you care about them and are willing to protect them from something that is normally outside their control.

As always, having a conversation with your broker about your insurance needs and concerns is the best way to ensure you are covered for potential losses.  Remember if it is worth protecting, it is worth talking about.

Keep Your Liability Slip on Your Phone

Digital Liability Slips now legal in Ontario 

September 5, 2019,  the Ontario Government announced that consumers can now present their proof of auto insurance electronically.  That means no more digging through your glove box and hoping that you remembered to replace the old ones when your policy renewed 🙂  For our team at Miller Insurance and our clients, this is great news.  Our Miller Express app offers you 24/7 access to your digital liability slips along with other important policy information. It’s simple to download.  Just click on the Apple or Android icon below and download today!  Just one more way that Miller Insurance is working hard to bring you Insurance. But Better. 

Keep your personal information safe

Our lives are kept on our phones so it’s important that you take steps to protect your private data while using electronic proof of insurance. Our friends at the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario have created an info sheet that walks you through using the Lock Screen function on your iPhone and android.  Download it here.  

New Distracted Driving Laws January 1, 2019

According to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, a driver using a mobile device is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road. Based on that statistic and the widespread adoption of mobile devices, it’s no surprise that Distracted Driving collisions in Ontario have doubled since 2000.
Ontario’s new distracted driving laws will take effect on January 1, 2019. Under the new laws, those convicted of a distracted driving offence will be penalized with fines, demerit points, and a licence suspension.
• 3 days suspension and a $1,000 fine for your first offence
• 7 days suspension and a $2,000 fine for your second offence
• 30 days suspension, a $3,000 fine, and 6 demerit points for 3 or more offences
What’s considered distracted driving? It’s more than just talking on your cell phone.
• Using your cell phone to talk, text, check a map or change a playlist
• Reading
• Typing into a GPS
• Holding an electronic device
• Eating
ADDITIONAL PENALTIES FOR NOVICE DRIVERS
And, novice drivers will face similar fines plus a licence suspension of 30 days. Second offences will lead to a 90-day suspension and 3rd offences will result in a complete removal from the Graduated Licensing.
Careless Driving is an even more serious charge and is a Criminal Offense in Canada. If you’re convicted of Careless Driving you’ll face steep penalties and your standard insurance policy will likely be cancelled by your provider.
HIGHER INSURANCE RATES
Drivers need to know that a suspension can impact your insurance rate for up to 6 years. If you have a suspension, you will likely require non-standard insurance. With a suspension, it’s likely that your insurer will cancel or non-renew your insurance policy. That means, you will need to find a broker that specializes in high risk insurance.

Potential Postal Service Interruption

As reported in the news, there is a possibility of an interruption in mail services.
Should postal services be interrupted, as a client of Miller Insurance Brokers, you have the option of online banking or electronic transfers. Online banking can be set up using your Miller Insurance customer code. Electronic transfers can be sent llambert@millerinsurance.ca. You can also drop off payments and correspondence required by your insurance company and we will forward them on your behalf to the Insurance company via our courier.
For our clients with email addresses, we will send your insurance correspondence to you electronically so that we can ensure that all important documentation will reach you in sufficient time and minimize the risk of a policy expiring. If you have changed your email address or are unsure if we have it on file, please call us today at 1-800-265-3000 or fill out the form found by clicking here.
If you do not have an email address, policy documents can be picked up during regular business hours at the Miller Insurance office closest to you.
We also encourage you to sign up for Miller Express so that you have 24/7 access to your policy information and documentation. Enrolling in Miller Express is easy. Just click on this link and fill in the screens.
Questions? Contact us at 1.800.265.3000 or visit us at one of our eight offices.