Protocols and Security Technology: Best Data Protection Practices
Today, data security is the foundation upon which small businesses maintain trust with customers, who rely on the diligence and data security systems of vendors and suppliers. Nevertheless, mistakes sometimes happen and, when they do, the loss of proprietary information may be so costly that small companies go out of business trying to recover from the expense and loss of credibility that a data breach can produce. No matter what business you’re in, there are data security best practices that should always be observed.
You have a moral obligation to customers, but you can also be legally obligated to protect their data. For example, some companies in New York are required to follow the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulation, which mandates that a security infrastructure be in place to protect against cyber threats. Other states have taken similar action - in 2018, South Carolina became the first state to enact a comprehensive cybersecurity law for the insurance industry with the South Carolina Insurance Data Security Act (simply known as “the Act”).
Multi-factor authentication may seem like an inconvenience to busy employees, but in today’s high-stakes business environment, it’s an important safeguard. It requires two methods of verification for a successful log-in, an easily added level of security at the vulnerable log-in stage, and well worth the few extra seconds it takes to log on. Password security protocols must be carefully enforced, which requires a frequent updating of passwords. And don’t overlook the importance of effective passwords with at least eight characters, including a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Ensure that employees know they should always log out before walking away from a workstation and to never log in with someone, even a fellow employee, watching. Many security breaches originate with employees or disgruntled former employees, so make sure each staff member follows good security practices.
The people you hire may come in with different levels of knowledge and sophistication concerning computer security. That’s why it’s so important to make sure everyone is well-educated on best practices. That includes knowing what danger signs to watch for, such as questionable emails, hot links and attachments. Human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches, so make sure your entire staff is well-versed on cyber threats and the many different forms they may take.
Your company’s most sensitive data should be restricted to a small core of trusted individuals, which means you need to implement multiple levels of access. Additionally, if your business accepts credit card payments, be certain that everyone is following the same payment security protocols.
Sensitive data should never be stored on individual employee computers, which can be hacked or even stolen (or misplaced). It’s much safer to maintain important data in the cloud, where security is always encrypted. In an era where ransomware and other forms of cyber attacks are commonplace, data backup is a must. For example, if your data is compromised by a ransomware attack, you can simply wipe the system and resort to your data backup. It’s also a valuable fail-safe in case a natural disaster damages your servers.
The cost of recovering lost data and making things right with customers is costly in multiple ways. You can lose business, but nearly as damaging is the erosion of trust that a data breach can create. Prospective customers may choose to do business with a competitor out of security concerns. Small businesses may lack the resources to pay for expensive and redundant layers of security, which places a high premium on maintaining an aware and well-educated staff that understands the danger and knows what to watch out for.
3 Crucial Steps in Planning for Long-Term Care
Step One: Start “the conversation” early
- Reassuring your loved one that this conversation is about helping them secure a comfortable, healthy life.
- Avoiding talk about being a burden, unless your loved one brings it up. According to The Conversation Project, 60 percent of seniors say it’s important their families aren’t burdened with tough decisions, but nearly the same amount of people haven’t communicated their wishes.
- Putting their needs and wants into writing so that you have documented details when you need to make tough decisions.
Step Two: Understand gaps in medical coverage
Step Three: Prioritize needs and wants
- Average age. Is it appropriate for your loved one? Will they be able to make friends and have peers with similar ages, backgrounds and mindsets?
- Activities. Does most socializing occur on the grounds or are their trips and other planned activities? What level of activity does your loved one want?
- Food. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit down in the dining area for a meal. How does your loved one like the food? How does the staff prepare meals?
Planning for Long-Term Care
As you and your loved ones age, it can be difficult to plan for the future, particularly with the rising cost of long-term care. However, to provide the best possible level of care, it is necessary to begin planning well in advance. Here are some steps to follow when developing a long-term care plan for yourself or your loved ones.
Planning for the Costs of Long-Term Care
The planning process should begin well before any long-term care is actually required. First, assess the likelihood you or your loved one will require long-term care. What kinds of lifestyle choices are you currently making? Smoking, drinking excessively, and eating a diet with high amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium can drastically increase the likelihood you will need long-term care. Similarly, if you exercise regularly, maintain a reasonable level of physical and mental fitness, and eat healthfully, your chances of needing long-term care will go down. Next, look at your family’s history; are there hereditary illnesses or conditions that could impact your health down the road? Recurring cases of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or arthritis in your family may make it more likely you will need long-term care. As worldwide lifespans increase, the likelihood that extended care will be necessary also increases.
Finally, how close are you to retirement? In order to maintain financial and general independence, factor in a realistic retirement age and how that might affect your ability to pay for long-term care, should it be required.
Even if you meet all the criteria for a healthy lifestyle and history, it is still critical to plan for the future. On average, 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their life.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a great way to prevent or put off needing long-term care. Smoking and overindulgence in alcohol increase the risk of cancer, so quit smoking and try to limit alcohol consumption to less than a drink a day. Improve your overall health by changing your diet to include fewer processed foods and more fruit and vegetables, which are thought to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Regular exercise will help you become more physically fit and able to fight off various illnesses. Plus, exercise releases endorphins and serotonin while reducing cortisol, which improves mental health by boosting your mood and reducing stress. Finally, balance-specific training will help strengthen your core, reducing the risk of injury from a fall.
Paying for Long-Term Care
The other major reason to prepare for long-term care well in advance is that costs can be prohibitive. While you may have already arranged a spending plan for your life after retirement, this plan may not account for the unexpected. It is important to know your options if you need help paying for care; Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so typically, payment would be self-funded until it is necessary to transfer to Medicaid, which does cover long-term care but has stringent requirements that change state by state.
One of the best ways to properly plan for long-term care while preserving your assets is to buy a long-term care insurance plan, which covers a broad range of services, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and independent living. Most experts recommend buying a long-term care insurance plan in your 50s to prepare for the eventuality. As with any insurance plan, this involves paying an agreed-upon amount on a regular basis to fund future long-term care, if necessary.
Reverse mortgages are a popular option for seniors aged 62 and older to pay for long-term care and other living expenses. This type of loan allows homeowners to borrow against the equity they’ve built into their home. According to consumersadvocate.org, one of the pros of this option is that you can receive a lump sum that you can use in any way you need to, but one of its cons is that it could potentially negatively impact the value of your estate. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, speak with your financial planner and estate attorney to ensure this is an ideal route for you.
Another option is to sell a life insurance policy for its present value to help pay for daily living expenses and medical care. This is possible regardless of your current state of health. If you are covered by a high-deductible health plan, you can also open a health savings account (HSA), which helps people deal with the shock of high medical costs and comes with many tax benefits.
With proper planning, the future doesn’t have to be frightening. Know the chances you (or a loved one) will require long-term care, and plan accordingly.
June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
Our Coverage Options
Please visit our Long-Term Care Insurance page for more information on the types of coverage options our agency offers.
Who Needs Flood Insurance?
Owners and renters should insure their personal property against flood loss. Buildings in the course of construction, condominium associations, and owners of residential condominium units in participating communities all may purchase flood insurance.
What can cause a flood?
- Floods and flash floods
- Heavy rains and wind
- Winter storms and snowmelt
- Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
Just a single inch of water(or mud) can cause damage to your home, resulting in thousands of dollars in repair and restoration costs.
Why should you consider Flood Insurance?
Most homeowner insurance policies exclude coverage for a flood! It is important to fully protect your property. If an unexpected flood occurs, flood insurance would end up saving you thousands of dollars on damage to your home and possessions.
Purchasing flood insurance provides protection: For home investment, destruction, and financial devastation. A flood can occur anywhere that is rains or snows. It can also occur anywhere near a body of water, a dam, or a drainage system. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes that almost 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from areas that do not have high flood risk.
It is Affordable: The annual cost of coverage can range from $130 to around $1,000 depending on your flood zone risk and the amount of coverage that you purchase. The actual cost of flood insurance will depend on whether you live in a low, medium, or high-risk flood zone. FEMA determines the flood risk of a community. You may visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site to confirm what risk zone your home is located in. Keep in mind that the lower your flood risk, the lower the cost of the insurance will be.
*You should refer to your policy and its Declarations Page for specific information on coverage, limitations, restrictions and deductibles.
Renters: Get The Protection You Need
As a renter, you need to make sure you and your belongings are covered in case of an unfortunate event. Travelers Renter's insurance can give you the protection you need at a price you can afford.
Coverage can include furniture, clothing, appliances, and improvements you've made to the rental unit. Personal liability coverage can include protection if someone is accidentally injured while in your home.
Travelers offers highly professional services to save you time.
Contact Single Source Benefits Insurance Enrollment Center benefits today to get started on a quote.
Prepare your home for cooler days ahead
Your home is one of your most important possessions. By keeping it properly maintained, you can reduce the risk of a loss. Please take a moment to review these important safety tips.
- Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures, and turn up the thermostat during extra cold periods.
- Check for damage to your roof, and clean gutters and downspouts to keep fallen leaves from accumulating.
- Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
- Have your chimney cleared and maintained annually by a professional.
- Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
- For more seasonal home maintenance tips and to learn how you can further protect our home and property, visit Travelers Insurance.