What Choice Escrow Taught Us About Cyber Risk

Are You Relying On Your Bank To Protect Your Money? Stop!

If the recent attack on Choice Escrow taught us anything, it is that you cannot rely on your bank to protect you from a virus—like the Zeus virus used in the Choice attack—it swipes money from your account. In fact, the federal appeals court ruled that this loss was the responsibility of Choice Escrow and that their bank is not at fault and consequently does not need to replace the funds.

Choice lost $440,000 in this instance. Would your business be able to recover from this kind of financial blow? Since this ruling shows that we can no longer lean on your financial institutions to protect ourselves from cyber risk, what do we do?

The easiest way to protect your business from the threat of a breach is by carrying cyber risk insurance. These insurance policies can cover the cost of determining the extent of your breach, alerting all of your contacts that have been affected by it, and paying out settlements when necessary for compromised private information.

Even while you have coverage in place, your life will be much easier if you do not become the victim of a hack in the first place. Encouraged company-wide protocol that ensures private information is only passed via secure means, and make sure you are taking advantage of every safeguard your bank and other services offer to you. Typing in an extra password might seem tedious, but it could save you a big chunk of change as is evidenced by the Choice Escrow case.

What has your business done to limit its cyber liability? Contact the insurance professionals at The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for all of your cyber insurance coverage needs. Do not wait to give your business the safeguards it needs in the modern age.

Snow Safety Suggestions For Seniors

happy boy jump outdoors

happy boy jump outdoorsStaying Safe In The Face Of Dropping Temperatures

As you age, performing certain tasks can feel more difficult. Do not let the winter weather compound that difficulty. Certainly, the sidewalks are icy and the temperatures are low, but that does not mean you cannot continue to live life normally. Use these winter safety tips to stay safe until spring arrives.

  • Maintaining A Refuge: Your home is your safeguard from the inclement weather. Keep it warm and well stocked with plenty of non-perishable food items should getting to the store become difficult after a heavy snowfall. Also, make sure you always keep a glass or bottle of water with you while home. It is very easy to become dehydrated in the winter.
  • Keep A Clear Path: Slips, trips, and falls can lead to decreased mobility in your golden years. So you do not have to worry about struggling to get from Point A to Point B, make sure you keep walkways clear both inside and out. Inside, this means keeping paths de-cluttered, tying up electrical cords, and even considering non-slip indoor footwear. Outdoors, this looks like keeping driveways and walkways shoveled and deiced. If you are unable to maintain those pathways, hire someone else. (There is probably a student in your neighborhood that would love to make a quick buck helping you!)
  • Stay In Touch: Winter weather can bring power outages, so find a way to maintain communication with your loved ones should you be unable to use a landline.

Are your car and home protected from the harsh winter weather so you can be freed up to focus on staying safe during the coming storms? Contact the insurance professionals at The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for all of your insurance coverage needs. We are here to protect you in every season. Call us today!

Good News For Housing Trends in 2015

Paperwork at home

Paperwork at home2015 Housing Trends

The increasing economy is showing great signs for homebuyers. Many millennials are expected to start looking for their first home in the coming year, with rents rising much faster than incomes. There are many different housing trends that are helping to shape the housing market for the year, including:

  • Loose lending standards – the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been putting new lending guidelines in place that allows buyers to qualify for a mortgage with only a 3 percent down payment. With a strengthening job market, many millennials are jumping into the housing market, looking to buy their first house.
  • More homes – to help accommodate the entry-level buyers, homebuilders are increasing their production of smaller, more affordable homes. Many homebuilders are starting to build “no-frills” homes that will be listed around half the price of what their typical builds cost.
  • More affordable prices – with an increase in the homes that are available, some of the pressure of home prices will be released, which will make even the most sought after areas affordable. Institutional investors are also expected to relax on their home buying, making more properties available, leading to more affordable price tags.
  • Eventual increased mortgage rates – almost all experts agree that mortgage rates will rise in 2015, but not by much. Buyers who are able to get into a home during the beginning of the year will benefit from lower mortgage rates, saving them thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

When you have found the perfect house to move into, contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for all your homeowner’s insurance needs. We will work with you to ensure that you have the right amount of home insurance coverage to provide protection for your new home.

Overall Vehicle Sales Are Expected To Rise In The Coming Year

Colorful Cars Stock

Colorful Cars StockVehicle Sale Predictions

If you are looking to invest in a new car, there is no better time than now. Car and truck sales are expected to increase by almost 3 percent in 2015, bringing the estimated number of vehicles that will be sold to the highest level in more than 10 years.

An increase in the number of vehicles sold is a good sign for the economy. Experts agree that the increase in vehicle sales will be driven by very favorable economic circumstances, including improved job rates, a more confident consumer, and lower gas prices. In terms of economic growth and the revenue that is coming from utility, pickup, and luxury vehicle sales, the past year has been remarkable and 2015 is expected to be even better.

The National Automobile Dealers Association, or NADA, is predicting that sales of new cars will stay just a little under 17 million. The chief economist of NADA is warning that the forecast of new car sales hinges on the Federal Reserve deciding to keep the interest rates where they are, or at least in an affordable territory. Due to the improving economy, many people are expecting interest rates to rise. Even if the interest rates do increase, it is likely that it will be small, which will not make a large impact on the total number of vehicle sales.

Although the favorable economic situation may seem like all good news, it will also lead to increased prices of vehicles. Both new and used vehicles are expected to have a sticker price that is around 2 percent higher than last year.

Having the right auto insurance policy is the best way to ensure that you and your new car are protected from any peril. Contact the insurance professionals at The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for all of your auto insurance coverage needs.

Tips To Avoid Ice Dams At Your Home

Glass toy house

Glass toy houseIce Dam Basics

As the cold winter weather continues to stick around, you may be dealing with water damage and leakage around your ceiling and exterior walls. While you may be thinking that it is time to replace your roof, there may be a very simple solution, look out for ice dams. Knowing how to spot and deal with ice dams will help to ensure that your home stays safe this season.

Ice dams are caused by heat that builds up in your attic, due to improper ventilation, which then warms your roof and melts the bottom layer of ice and snow that is sitting on top. The melted ice and snow then runs down your roof until it reaches a cold area (typically your rain gutters). The water then refreezes, causing an ice dam to form. As the process continues, more water builds up behind the ice dam, which can cause the water to leak into your home.

Luckily, there are steps that you can take to help prevent ice dams from forming on your roof, including:

  • Making sure there is adequate insulation installed on the floor of your attic to keep the attic and roof around the same temperature.
  • Checking the ventilation in your attic and installing soffit vents that are meant to vent air toward the ridge of your roof to prevent heat buildup.
  • Insulating or wrapping all heating ducts that are in your attic.
  • Sealing all openings from your home into your attic, such as light fixtures and chimneys.
  • Keeping all of your downspouts and rain gutters clear of all fallen leaves and other debris so that water can properly drain off your roof.
  • Do no use any sharp tools on your roof to remove ice since they can cause much more serious damage.

Having the right homeowners insurance policy will help to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage for any winter perils. Contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for all of your home insurance needs.

It Is National Blood Donation Month!

Donate blood

Donate bloodNational Blood Donor Month

Before January comes to an end, it is time to roll up your sleeves to do some good. January is National Blood Donor Month, which is the perfect time to do your part to help those in need. National Blood Donor Month has been celebrated since 1970 as a way to call attention to the need for blood and to help recognize those who have saved lives by donating.

Although blood donations are needed all year long, they are especially needed during the winter months since blood donor rates tend to drop. Bad weather conditions cause many blood drives to be cancelled and many people have to cancel their appointments to donate due to illness. There is a constant need for blood to help keep a healthy and reliable blood supply, and each time you donate, you have the chance to save up to three lives.

The process to donate blood is fast and simple. After a mini-physical to check your temperature, blood pressure, hemoglobin level, and pulse, you are able to donate. The actual donation process only takes about 10 minutes and uses a small needle that feels like a pinch. When you are done donating, you get to relax and enjoy a tasty treat and something to drink. You are able to go back to your normal daily activities after donating blood, just make sure to stay hydrated.

All of us at The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota would like to encourage you to do your part to save a life this month by donating blood.

Keep Your Classic Car In Peak Condition

Classic car

Classic carWinter Tips For Classic Car Owners

Winter weather can be harsh on your vehicles, particularly your classic vehicles. You have probably put a lot of time, money, and effort into keeping your classic cars in top condition, so winter proofing your investment is a great idea. Here are some tips to keep your classic car looking and running great after the winter.

  1. Drain the fuel tank: Old gas contains deposits that can lead to clogs in your carburetor, which can cause your valves to work incorrectly. Draining and replacing your car’s fuel can prevent this from happening. Adding a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from breaking down is also a good idea.
  2. Change the oil: Before parking your classic car for winter, changing the oil can prevent moisture build up in the cold engine. Clean oil in your car will also reduce the risk of harmful contaminants damaging your engine while it hibernates.
  3. Replace the brake fluid: Getting rid of the old brake fluid is the best way to prevent your brakes from deterioration when it is inactive. Just remember to replace it with fresh brake fluid the next time you drive.
  4. Remove and store the battery: Long periods of inactivity can drain your car’s battery. Disconnect your battery and wash it with a solution of water and baking soda. Top off the battery with distilled water and store it in a dry place until you need to reconnect it.
  5. Cover up your ride: Covering up your car will protect it from the harsh winter weather. A cotton flannel car cover will allow air to circulate while keeping out unwanted moisture.

Contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake for all of your Minnesota auto insurance needs.

Check Before You Buy: Used Car Inspections

Car insurance

Car insurance5 Things To Check Before Purchasing A Used Car

Used cars can be a great way to get the car you want for a price that won’t break the bank. Before you make any final decisions or commitments, you should have the car inspected to make sure you do not encounter any surprises down the line. Here are 5 things to inspect before you buy that used car.

  • Check the paint: Look carefully for dents, scratches, rust, and various signs of a recent paint job. If you notice waves in the vehicles paint, chances are it has been repainted. Take your time, because a keen eye is key. If you see any telltale signs, ask the car dealer or owner what required the paint job.
  • Check the belts: Open the hood and make sure that there are no issues like cracks in any of the various hoses and belts. If something looks iffy, you should ask the owner or dealer if and when it was replaced.
  • Check the tires: Having to replace 4 tires on a vehicle you just bought can be expensive and frustrating. Save yourself the time and money by taking the time to inspect the tires on the car you are looking at. Check the quality of the tires and make sure there is sufficient tread by using the penny trick. If you have concerns, have your mechanic take a closer look.
  • Check the air conditioning: Making sure the air is running properly now can save you when summer hits.
  • Check the brakes: This is one of the most important things to check when inspecting a used car. When you test-drive the car, test out the brakes to make sure they work well at different speeds and in different scenarios. When in doubt ask the dealer or seller when the brakes were last replaced.

Contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake for all of your Minnesota auto insurance needs.

Ring In The New Year In Style And Safety!

Happy New Year background

Happy New Year backgroundNew Year’s Safety Tips

As the New Year approaches, it is time to start planning for the celebrations. Whether you are hosting or attending a party or just celebrating with your family, keep these safety tips in mind for a safe start to 2015.

Drinking Safety: 

  • Do not set your drink down anywhere to prevent someone from tampering with it.
  • Eat starchy foods before and while you drink to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to make sure you stay hydrated.

Driving Safety: 

  • This may be common sense, but do not drink and drive.
  • If you are too impaired to drive, have a designated driver or hire a taxi to take you home safely.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. With all the added people on the road, driving is more dangerous. Plus, while you may not be drinking and driving, other people might be.

Hosting Safety: 

  • Plan ahead and name a designated driver or contact a local cab company to make sure all your guests get home safe.
  • Consider providing your guests a place to stay overnight in your home.
  • Stop serving alcohol to your guests several hours before the party ends to give them a chance to sober up before they leave.
  • Monitor the alcohol intake of your guests to prevent them from drinking too much and getting alcohol poisoning.

Keep these various safety tips in mind to celebrate the start of the 2015-year safely! Contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake for all of your Minnesota insurance needs. Let us protect you with a great policy that will keep you safe for the New Year.

Have A Safe Holiday With These Tips

Lit Up for Christmas

Lit Up for ChristmasEssential Home Safety Tips For The Holidays

The holiday season is a prime time for property damage, whether it is because of the weather or an increase in home hazards with all the decorations. Safe habits during the holidays are important and they can make your holiday celebrations go as smoothly as possible. To keep your festivities safe, keep these holiday safety tips in mind.

  • If you plan on frying your turkey for your holiday meal, be extremely careful. Never leave the fryer unattended and follow all instructions to ensure safe cooking.
  • When picking out a Christmas tree for your home, you want to make sure you get a fresh one by checking for flexible needles and sap at the base of the tree stem. Getting a fresh tree not only means it will last longer in your home, it also means that it is less of a fire hazard. You still have to regularly water your tree so that it does not dry out and become a magnet for fire.
  • Believe it or not, illuminating your entire house with lights is not the best way to show your holiday cheer. In fact, doing so is extremely dangerous. Make sure that you check your holiday lights for frayed wires and that you do not link more than three strands of lights together.
  • Scented candles are a fun way to make your house smell festive but you should exercise caution with candles. Keep lit candles in your immediate location and do not leave them unsupervised or near any flammable objects.

For added safety during the holiday season, keep these home safety tips in mind! Contact The Insurance Shop in White Bear Lake for all of your Minnesota insurance needs. Let us protect you with a great policy to keep you safe for the holidays.