McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Hacking of Equifax: Was Your Information Compromised?

What Happened. (As posted on the Equifax web site) - On July 29, 2017, Equifax discovered that criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Upon discovery, we acted immediately to stop the intrusion. The company promptly engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm which has been conducting a comprehensive forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion, including the specific data impacted. Equifax also reported the criminal access to law enforcement and continues to work with authorities. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.

What Information Was Involved. Most of the consumer information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 consumers and certain dispute documents, which included personal identifying information, for approximately 182,000 consumers were accessed. We have found no evidence of unauthorized access to Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

What Equifax is Doing. Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted.

Also, Equifax has established a web site, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/, where you can check if your personal information is potentially impacted. The process is easy to do. Simply click on the link, “Check Potential Impact,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.


Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.

Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, Equifax provides the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier, a complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring program.

Equifax also recommends that consumers be vigilant in reviewing their account statements and credit reports, and that they immediately report any unauthorized activity to their financial institutions.

Additionally, Equifax recommends that people monitor their personal information and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft, to obtain information about steps they can take to better protect against identity theft as well as information about fraud alerts and security freezes.

Suggestions from the Federal Trade Commission include:

·      Check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year.
·      Consider placing a credit freeze. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
·      If you place a freeze, you'll have to lift the freeze before you apply for a new credit card or cell phone - or any service that requires a credit check.
·      If you decide not to place a credit freeze, at least consider placing a fraud alert.
·      Try to file your taxes early - before a scammer can. Tax Identity Theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
·      Don't believe anyone who calls and says you'll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt - even if they have part or all of your Social Security number, or they say they're from the IRS.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Are You Insured for Hurricane Damage?

Do you know if your homeowner's insurance policy would have covered your home had Harvey come our way? The answer depends on the source of the damage and the type of storm deductible to be applied, that is, named storm deductibles, windstorm deductibles, or hurricane deductibles. The distinction between these types of can be worth thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars.

Typically, damage caused by wind, downed trees and power outages are covered. However, flooding caused by rain or surface water is typically not covered.

In Massachusetts, the standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers damage caused by wind, which includes broken windows, roof and interior damage caused by trees or limbs falling onto the home. Tree damage to cars may be covered by your comprehensive auto policy coverage rate.

Flooding, which is defined as any water that rises from the ground or from the sky, is typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance policies. To be reimbursed for hurricane flooding damage, homeowners would have already secured Federal Flood insurance. The average flood premium is about $700 annually, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Unlike other types of insurance, flood insurance coverage doesn't begin on Day One. With few exceptions, you must wait thirty days after you first purchase a flood insurance policy before your policy will take effect.

So don’t delay. Call us today to discuss what options are best for you. You know the old saying: Better to be safe, than sorry.

Monday, July 3, 2017

ATV Insuance and Safety

While there is no law requiring anyone to purchase any insurance on your off-road recreational vehicle, it is prudent to consider coverage to protect not only your investment in your off-road recreational vehicle, but to protect you from any costs you may be liable for from the use of your vehicle.
Your automobile policy may provide coverage for your cars, trucks or motorcycles that have been registered with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, however the standard policy does not cover off-road recreational vehicles such as unregistered trail bikes, all-terrain vehicles, dune buggies, go-carts, and snowmobiles. ATVs and off-road bikes are not specifically covered under either your automobile or home insurance and you may need coverage in a special policy or as an endorsement to your existing automobile or home insurance.
ATV Insurance Basics

ATV’s can cause injury and/or major damage, that’s why carrying liability insurance on your ATV is vital. Liability coverage protects you when the operator of your ATV is responsible for an ATV-related incident/accident. 
If your ATV is involved in a collision, is stolen or damaged due to weather, physical damage coverage on your ATV policy would compensated for these damages so you don't have to pay out of pocket to repair or replace your ATV.

ATV Safety Practices

Many common injuries can be prevented with the use of proper protective equipment. ATV manufacturers recommend wearing a DOT-approved helmet, protective eyewear, gloves, knee/shin guards and suitable riding boots for all riding conditions.

Proper tires (suited to a particular terrain) can also play a vital role in preventing injuries. Always maintain the recommended tire pressure. Be sure that all tires are inflated to proper pressure. Check that tires on the left side of your ATV are inflated to the same pressure as the corresponding tires on the right side.
Always keep both hands on the handlebars and both feet on the footrests of your ATV during operation. Removing even one hand or foot can reduce your ability to control the ATV, or could cause you to lose your balance and fall off.


·      Climbing hills improperly could cause loss of control or cause the ATV to overturn. Some hills may be too steep for your abilities. Use your common sense. If the hill you are approaching looks too steep, it probably is. Never ride past the limit of your visibility; if you cannot see what is on or over the crest of a hill, slow down until you have a clear view.

·      Going downhill: Choose a downhill path as straight as possible, and with a minimum of obstacles. Shift your weight to the rear and use a low gear.

·      Don’t ride alone: Always make a plan before you ride. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Ride in a group of two or more. Each rider should be responsible for keeping track of one of the others. It’s called the “buddy system” and it’s good insurance on any ride.

(Safety practices courtesy of the ATV Safety Institute)  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What To Do After An Insurance Claim

Claims can be a stressful process. We've worked with clients after car accidents, home fires, storm damage, and even a death in the family. Insurance claims are tied to the most stressful events in our lives. That's why it's extremely important that you work with an agent and a company that you trust. 

After an insurance claim, you call us.

First

We gather as much information from you as we can and report it to your insurance carrier. This could be Safety, Travelers, NGM or others. Our agency writes insurance with many different insurance carriers. Your agent will be there to advise and assist in the process.

Second

Your carrier will assign you a claims handler, who sends an adjuster to evaluate your loss. Depending on the type of claim, they will examine the property and gather more information.The adjuster will determine the settlement amount. Your claims handler will help with any questions you may have.

So what happens if things don't go smoothly at first?

Maybe you don't agree on the amount? Or you can't get the right documentation? Your claims handler is hard to contact?

That's where I come in. My job, as your agent, is to also be your adviser.  My office goes to work to help you communicate with your adjuster and claims handler if there is a problem. That means that when you need help, we're there. Your insurance carrier will settle your claim, but we are in your corner. 

Yes, sometimes you can get cheaper rates with unknown companies. And you might love being able to buy online without talking to an agent. But when it comes down to those stressful moments, it's great to have someone who knows the process on your side.  Call my office today and let us protect your family next.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Safe Stopping Distance

Did you know that it takes 292 feet to stop your car if you’re driving 60 MPH on the perfect road surface? Throw in some messy weather and all bets are off.

In order to be able to stop safely, you need to keep some things in mind: It takes about three-quarters of a second to react to a situation and step on the brake pedal.

You should always make sure that your brakes are in good working order and that the thread on your tires are good. Other braking tips are:
  • Warn pedestrians, bicyclists, or other drivers of possible trouble. Brake early and gently when preparing to stop or turn. 
  • Do not let your foot rest on the brake pedal while driving. (This is called riding your brakes.) 
  • If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, never pump the brakes.
  • Always slow down near a curve or an area where you cannot see clearly ahead.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Replacement Cost vs. Market Value

How many times have you looked at your Homeowner’s policy and thought that the coverage on your house was way too high? And that you could never sell your house for that amount.

With the housing market being what it is, people think that the coverage on their homes should reflect the market value -- but you couldn’t be more wrong. The difference between market value and replacement cost is that market value reflects what a home can be sold for but replacement cost is what a home can be re-built for. Do you see the difference?

With the cost of services and materials, you want to make sure that you have enough coverage to rebuild your home in case of a loss. Some may say that they would never rebuild their house the way it is now, but let’s consider the problems with that theory if you have a loss and the home is not completely destroyed. For example, say your home is insured for $160,000 but it should be insured for $200,000 and you have a kitchen fire that resulted in $50,000 worth of damage. The fact is, the insurance company will only pay you $40,000, less your deductible. That means that you’ll have to write a check for that remaining $10,000 in order to get your kitchen back in working order.   

The reason behind this is in the numbers.  Because you have only insured your home for 80% of its value, you will only receive payment for 80% of the loss.  If you have questions about replacement cost, contact your insurance agent.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Will Your Party Be Holiday Cheer or a Potential Lawsuit?

Most states have laws that govern the operation of bars, taverns, restaurants or any other business that is required to have a liquor license in order to sell and serve liquor. State laws further define the responsibilities of these business owners for the actions of their customers who leave their place of business after having too much to drink. These businesses are encouraged to purchase a Liquor Liability Insurance Policy to provide protection for potential lawsuits due to property damage or bodily injury caused by an intoxicated customer.

 
However, even you as a homeowner have the same exposures.
Many states extend liquor liability to any “social host” who continues to serve liquor to anyone who appears to have had too much to drink and will likely be driving home. So take these tips to heart:

¨   
If possible, have the party at a location other than your home.
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Serve lots of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
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Have someone keep an eye on your guests, to recognize when someone has had too much alcohol.
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Keep an eye on everyone as they leave the party to determine whether or not they are sober enough to drive.
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Make arrangements for transportation for those who shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
You may even want to consider an "alcohol free"
Christmas party. You will just have to weigh the advantage of alcohol over the potential for lawsuits due to bodily injury that might result from the actions of an intoxicated party guest.