Protecting Your Church from Arson

February 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Insurance, Religious Institution, Safety | Leave a comment

Did you know that arson is the leading cause of fires in the United States, resulting in more than $1 billion in property loss each year?

Arson is one of the leading causes of fires along with open flames, electrical and lightning. Churches that have been victims of arson, incur on average, in excess of $450,000 in damages.

Why are Churches Targets for Arson?

Churches are often targets for arson because the buildings are frequently unoccupied and church schedules are very predictable. Security systems in many religious buildings also are often insufficient or absent. 

According to research from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), sprinkler systems were not present in 95 percent of churches reporting fires, yet there was a 47 percent reduction in damage per church fire when automatic suppression systems were present.

However, not every Church can afford these systems. Listed below are preventive measures that can be done to protect your congregation without breaking the bank.

  • Always make sure all windows and doors are locked when the building is unoccupied.
  • Limit  the number of keys to the building, and make sure that all keys  are returned if an employee or volunteer leaves the church.  Locks should be changed occasionally.
  • All doors and windows should have adequate locks, jams and/or deadbolts.
  • Keep exterior building, door and parking lot lights on from sunset to sunrise. Remember to change the lighting timers with Daylight Savings Time.
  • Keep an interior light visible from outside lit at night or consider the installation of motion-activated lighting near entryways and windows.
  • Maintain shrubs and trees, ensuring that they are trimmed around doors and windows.
  • Establish a “Church Watch” program, enlist  volunteers & neighbors to check  the property at various times of the week and report any suspicious activity.
  • Reach out to local law-enforcement and ask them to patrol your property at odd hours when the building is not occupied.
  • Keep the grounds of the church free from debris and garbage. Have tools and ladders secured in a locked area.

For additional information please feel free to contact us at 631.403.4107 or on our website at NSAinsure/Churches and Synogues.

Make Sure Those Valuable Holiday Gifts Are Protected

January 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Insurance | Leave a comment

Did you receive new computer equipment this holiday season? How about a new piece of jewelry? Musical instruments, high quality cameras, golf clubs and even fine arts are popular gift items.

If you were given a valuable gift, you need to take steps to protect it against loss.  Although most homeowners insurance covers a certain amount of personal property, many high-value items are excluded from your policy or have limited coverage.

 Some items you should consider getting additional insurance on include:

  • Jewelry
  • Furs
  • Cameras
  • Musical instruments
  • Silverware
  • Golfer’s equipment
  • Fine arts
  • Collectable stamps
  • Rare and current coins
  • Computer equipment
  • Fire Arms
  • Wine Collections

# # more # #

Ask your insurance agent about protecting these possessions with what’s called a Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement, or a Personal Articles Floater. These endorsements allow your agent to list each article separately, and assign a specific value to them for which they will be covered.  Be sure to talk with your agent about the true cost of your gift; providing a bill of sale or an appraisal of the item is always the most accurate way of determining value.

There are various ways to cover these items:

  • Actual cash value (original cost minus depreciation)
  • Cost of repair
  • Replacement Cost (cost to buy new)
  • Replacing with “like kind and quality”
  • Agreed value loss settlement

The terms of this type of scheduled personal property coverage is determined by the specific insurance company and the terms of the agreement.  Keep in mind in some cases you will not be able to return to your neighborhood jeweler but instead the insurance company will find the replacement for you.

Fine arts should be insured under an agreed value, as they are usually unique and their value is difficult to determine.

As with most insurance policies, there are some things that aren’t covered, like damage due to wear and tear, or damage caused by insects. Ask your agent about any exceptions in your policy.

For more information about protecting your valuable possessions, contact your insurance agent. They are trained professionals that can offer expert advice on how best to insure against loss.  If you are interested in additional information on this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact one of The NSA Group offices.

Additional Links:

The NSA Group Contact Information

Trusted Choice

Holiday Safe Travel Tips

November 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Insurance, Safety | Leave a comment

The holiday travel season is fast approaching and many people will be on the roads. Last year more than 35 million people traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday, with almost as many traveling during the Christmas week. With more people choosing to drive instead of fly, you’ll need to be extra careful on the roads.

 Here are some quick tips to make your journey safe and sound.

Check Road Conditions and Weather Reports. Even if the forecast is good, winter weather can change quickly. Check weather conditions not only in your home town, but log onto weather.com to check the forecast for the town you’re traveling to. Check the Federal Highway Administration’s Web site for up-to-the-minute traffic information, detours and road construction. Planning for delays or looking for alternative routes can save you time and a lot of hassle.

Emergency Snow Kit. Even the best planning may not allow you to avoid wintry driving conditions. Pack an emergency snow kit,  and keep it in your car. Include a snow scraper and brush, a flashlight, blankets, booster cables, a shovel, kitty litter, flares, emergency triangles and a first aid kit. While you may never have to use these items, you’ll be glad you have them in the event of an emergency.

Winter Check Up. The last thing you want to do is break down, whether it’s on a deserted back road or on a busy interstate highway.  So make sure to have a certified mechanic check your oil level, tire pressure, windshield wipers, heater, defroster, antifreeze and brakes before you head out on icy and snowy roads.

Buckle up. Sounds like a no-brainer, but  many motorists fail to use this basic safety essential.  Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most dangerous and deadliest times of the year to travel, don’t let yourself or your loved ones become a “Thanksgiving statistic.”

Do Not Over Eat. Over indulging in holiday treats can make you feel uncomfortable and groggy for the ride home. If you have a long journey ahead, consider cutting back on the goodies and have a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda to help perk you up for the trip home.

Do Not Drink and Drive. Another no-brainer.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more people are killed in drinking and driving accidents during Thanksgiving weekend than during New Year’s Day weekend.

Review Your Auto Insurance Policy. Make sure you know what is and is not covered in your plan.  Please feel free to contact us with questions.

You can find additional safety information on the NSAinsure links page.

Interruption of Business Due to Catastrophe

September 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Business Insurance | Leave a comment

Hopefully, you and your business made it out unscathed from Hurricane Irene.  Unfortunately, with the power outages we have been experiencing many businesses are unable to open their doors and food in freezers has been lost to spoilage.

When business operations cannot resume due to damage or access to the property is denied, one of two things may happen:

  1. Business operations cannot resume until the property is restored.
  2. Operations can resume but only by acquiring another location.

Business Interruption Insurance would be helpful in both of these cases, and may be added to your property insurance policy.  Typically, insurance policies require that the property located at the business location be damaged by a “covered cause of loss”, therefore the specific coverages included in your policy should be reviewed and customized during your insurance review with your agent.  A few examples of additional coverages that you may choose to add to your policy would be:

    • Terrorism
    • Property located at another location
    • Utility services coverage, if phone or internet service is disrupted.
    • Dependent coverage, if a business you depend on is damaged.
    • Leasehold interest coverage, for termination of a lease triggered by damage to the business property.

Choosing your coverage limits for the business income coverage requires you to:

  • Project future income and expenses, one year in advance.
  • Identify the maximum length of time it would take you to restore your property.
  • And for extra expense coverage, you would need to determine the extraordinary costs that may be incurred to operate from another location.

Having adequate financial records will be necessary to determine and establish these limits and support any claim under these coverages.

On most policies, you will find a 30 day extension of coverage if a business is still losing income after the property has been restored.  And extensions can be increased up to 730 days for an additional premium.

**It is also important to note a 72 hour waiting period typically applies once the Business Interruption coverage is triggered.

Feel free to contact us with any further questions.  www.nsainsure.com

For more information see the following:

http://www.trustedchoice.com/Content/Articles/Business-Interruption.aspx

http://www.iii.org/individuals/business/basics/interruption/

Hurricane and Flood Preparedness

August 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Insurance, Safety | Leave a comment

With a threat of a hurricane hitting our area within the next few days, you may also experience flooding in your community. Here are some tips on preparing for the coming storm and the best ways to safeguard lives and property.

Have a Family Plan
Keeping your family safe is your first priority, so develop a Family Disaster Plan.
• First, determine the safest place for your family to be if a hurricane strikes. It might be your home, but it might be with friends or a local shelter. Make sure everyone knows where to meet if you get separated.
• Find out about the established escape routes for your neighborhood. Many communities will block off streets, or change them into one-way avenues, so make sure you know what will happen to make evacuating faster and less stressful.
• Contact an out-of-state friend and ask them to be a point of contact. Many times cell phones won’t work, or will not be properly charged. An out-of-state friend can relay messages to loved ones faster and easier than you may be able to.
• Make plans for your pets. If you are keeping them with you, make sure they have a collar on with identifying information. Keep a photo of them with you so you can show it to others if you lose them. Be sure you have adequate food and water for them and a pet carrier in case you all must evacuate. If you are going to board the animal, make sure it is up to date on all vaccinations and leave important contact information with the facility.
• Be sure to keep a battery powered NOAA weather radio in your home, with extra batteries. This radio will keep you up to date on storm news and data.
• Keep a stocked first aid kit with you, along with a supply kit. Your supply kit should include enough supplies to last you 3-7 days:
        Water
        Food (nonperishable)
        Blankets
        Clothing (sturdy shoes and rain gear included)
        Flashlight and batteries
        Cash

Secure Your Home
After you’re sure you’ve done everything to keep your family safe, take measures to secure your home. Wind damage can be substantial if the wind is allowed to enter the house so take these precautions:
• If you have shutters, make sure that all are closed and securely locked. If you don’t have shutters, you may want to consider boarding up your windows.
• Close and lock all your doors, including your garage doors. You may want to consider installing head and foot bolts on the inactive door or double-entry doors. Make sure your doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock which has a minimum one inch bolt throw length.
• If you are evacuating, be sure to shut off all water, gas and electricity in the home to prevent damage from broken pipes, wires, etc.
• Park your cars in the garage, not in the driveway or on the street. They’ll be safer from flying debris or falling trees.

Make Sure You Have the Proper Insurance
Many homeowners policies contain exclusions for wind damage and flooding. Contact your agent to review your policy and ensure you’re properly protected!

Visit our catastrophe page for additional information. http://www.nsainsure.com/index.cfm?pageid=346

I Had An Auto Accident, Will My Rates Go Up?

June 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Insurance | Leave a comment

After you are in an accident, and you realize that your passengers and yourself are unharmed, the next question that most people ask themselves is, will my insurance premiums be increasing? The answer to this question is not always clear-cut, however here are some basic guidelines.

In New York, your premium is not increased just for filing a claim. Instead, your insurance company would have to determine that you are more than two thirds at fault and pay out more than $2,000.

An example of some accidents that most likely would cause your premium to increase are

1) Reversing out of your driveway and striking a fixed object.
2) Hitting a parked vehicle in a shopping center.
3) Hitting another vehicle in the rear after they have already been stopped.

It is important to mention, that while you may have seen some insurance commercials on TV that mention their policy contains accident forgiveness, what these companies do not mention; is that they charge more up front for your auto policy every year.

If you are involved in an accident, remember that the most important thing is that hopefully no one was injured. Please call an NSA Group branch office to speak with one of our claims representatives so that we can better assist you with any incident you may have been involved in.

Umbrella’s Aren’t Just for Rainy Days

May 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Insurance | Leave a comment

We’ve been giving our rainy day umbrellas quite a work out these days but hope is on the horizon as the sun is attempting to shine through the clouds today. Just as we are grateful for rainy day umbrellas when it rains, insurance umbrellas offer us special protection against a lawsuit as well.

Hulk Hogan wishes he had followed the advice of his insurance agent and purchased an umbrella policy. Evidently, his young son was involved an auto accident in which the passenger in his car was seriously injured. Of course the injured party turned to the insurance coverage of the Boella family (Hogan’s real last name). Unfortunately, for Hogan he had to pay out of pocket for any damages that exceeded his coverage amount. Hogan was also left with the attorney’s fees that would have been paid by the umbrella policy if he had purchased the recommended coverage.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine your need for an umbrella policy.
• Do you own a home or vacation home?
• Do you own a business?
• Do you have a swimming pool on your property or live on the water?
• Do you own more than one vehicle?
• Do you have teenage children of driving age?
• Do you own a dog?
• Do you own a boat?
• Do you have an “average” family income?
• Do you have investments or any degree of assets?

If you answered yes to any of these questions your chances of being targeted in a lawsuit are increased! Even if you didn’t answer yes to these questions the probability exists for you to be sued like a millionaire even if you aren’t one.

Carrying a personal umbrella policy can protect you against $1,000,000 lawsuits just as much as a rainy day umbrella can protect you on a stormy day!

For additional information please see the following links:

• AARP.org, http://www.aarp.org/money/insurance/info-06-2009/umbrella_insurance_policy.html
• Tampa Bay Online, http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2011/may/03/judge-dismisses-hulk-hogan-lawsuit-against-insuran-ar-204443/
• Neefus-Stype Agency, http://nsainsure.com/index.cfm?pageid=245#Umbrella

The NSA Group Suffers from Spring Fever!

May 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Posted in Community | Leave a comment

The spring sunshine seems to be having a positive affect on the NSA Group! It seems our team members are out and about in the community once again, working with our favorite charities and taking advantage of the change in weather.

Our first blog back in February explained how we might highlight charitable events members of our NSA Group family support and become involved with. It seems we have plenty to share with you.

1. The Neefus-Stype Heart Beats Team has been formed for the 2nd Annual Healing Heart 5K Run/Walk to benefit The American Heart Association. Our team is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for those affected by heart disease or stroke. See our team members and help us reach our goal by visiting our team page The Neefus-Stype Heart Beats
2. Peter Sabat, Senior Partner at Neefus-Stype is participating once again in the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch Annual Iron Golf-a-Thon. Every hole Peter plays raises funds for at risk youth and families in crisis.
http://www.timothyhillranch.org/THCR/PSabat.html
3. North Fork Breast Health Coalition, supported by NSA team members Susie Bandiera and Annie Baulch, is hosting their Annual Golf Outing on Monday, June 27, 2011. Learn more at www.northforkbreasthealth.org .
4. Rotary Club of Riverhead is once again presenting “Rotary Uncorked” on May 25, 2011 at Martha Clara Vineyards, supported by NSA Partner, Randy Morreale.
http://www.clubrunner.ca/Portal/Home.aspx?cid=1764
5. Mattituck Lions 57th Annual Strawberry Festival will have the assistance of our team member, Jay Wahl. For a list of the organizations helped by the Mattituck Lions club please visit http://mattituckstrawberryfestival.org/html/who-benefits.html .
6. LI2Day 8th Annual Walk to Fight Breast Cancer will have two of our team members walking and supporting the cause on June 11-12; Janet Gonzalez and Stacia Woolford. Click here to join the fight http://li2daywalk.org/ .

We’re super proud of our group and their caring personalities. We wish all of them and their worthy charities good luck with these helpful events!

Are Your Emergency Evacuation Procedures in Place?

April 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Religious Institution | Leave a comment

While crowds of people assemble at churches and other houses of worship each week, it is relatively uncommon for churches to think about or practice how they will evacuate their buildings in the event of an emergency.  Given the number of elderly, disabled and children that attend religious services and activities implementing an Evacuation plan is a necessity.

When planning your Emergency Evacuation it is a good idea to involve your local fire officials.  First assess your facility and the means of egress, or escape from the building.  A means of egress should always be the nearest exit.  Remember evacuation paths should never be through high hazard areas, such as kitchens, boiler rooms or mechanical areas.  Make sure all routes to exits are clear of obstructions; that all emergency exit signs are in place and well lit. The emergency lighting units must provide adequate illumination if the power were to go out; appropriate panic hardware should be installed in the doors and signs need to be posted showing the emergency evacuation routes. Elevators should never be used in case of a fire.

It is also very important that you inspect all emergency equipment such as fire alarms, smoke & heat detectors and insure that they are in good working order.  It is also good practice to make sure that appropriate fire extinguishers are in place throughout your facility and are inspected regularly.

Your emergency procedures should include assigning responsibilities to all appropriate staff & volunteers including ushers, pastoral staff, any facility staff, ministry leaders and workers.  Designated responsibilities should be assigned to assist with the elderly, small children and the disabled in exiting the building safely. A safe gathering place outside the building should be established and communicated to all. With regards to the children a plan should be communicated to the parents where to meet up with their children if an evacuation should occur.

Once your procedures have been established, training of both those involved in the evacuation plan and the congregation as a whole should take place. Keeping the congregation aware of the exit routes and the planned evacuation strategies is extremely important.  Those with specific responsibilities should be trained on their duties. Planned emergency evacuation drills should be conducted to avoid any confusion and panic if a true emergency should take place. Having the local fire officials involved may be helpful and will provide insight and feedback on any improvements or changes that may be needed.  The local fire officials are always glad to participate as in the event of an actual emergency the more prepared you are the easier it is to have a safe and successful evacuation. Remember the practice drills should not only be carried out during worship service but during any ongoing activities.

Never take for granted that when an alarm goes off that there is not an emergency.  Many times an alarm may be triggered by candles or incents.  Following procedures will always secure a safe outcome if the alarm is ringing for a true emergency.

A little planning goes a long way.

Breached Data Security – It’s not just for BIG Business!

April 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Business Insurance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 The emails from vendors telling us that data has been breached and “ONLY” the email addresses, nothing else was compromised seem to arrive daily in the inbox! It’s not a very comforting thought.  And it can’t be a pleasant thought for the vendors either; wondering whether their customers will have any identity fraud issues after a breach.  The stories of breached data security are all too familiar:

  • An employee takes home a company laptop against regulations.
  • A hard drive is sent for repairs, but disappears.
  • A disc with sensitive data is stolen from an office.
  • A hacker breaks into the company network and steals customer information. 

Big businesses are not the only targets of data theft.  Doctor’s offices, retail shops, contractors, sales people and most other professions store personal information electronically.  Information stolen from your business might result in hefty bills to you.  You may be responsible for the following expenses:  informing the victims of the theft, replacing data and income lost during the recovery, repaying the victims for expenses they incurred to recover their lost information, repaying the victims who suffer financial losses resulting from identity theft and so on.  Your personnel may even lose confidence in you and seek employment elsewhere.  Traditional insurance products – such as general liability, property business income and crime insurance – are not designed to cover this type of loss.  A thorough review of your insurance policies and endorsements would be a good first start in protecting your business as well as implementing the following, as a minimum.

  • Install and update daily an anti-virus program on all computing devices.
  • Set the anti-virus program to scan and filter email attachments and downloads before opening any files.
  • Install and configure firewalls.  The use of default settings is not sufficient in most cases.
  • Networks should be configured using multiple firewalls to separate back office operations from devices using the internet.
  • Create and openly discuss a security policy with all employees and contractors.
  • Create and test a disaster recovery plan.
  • Create and test a security breach response plan.
  • Back up your network data daily and store the back-up files in an offsite location.
  • Remote access should be given only to a VPN or equivalent system.
  • Keep your server room locked and limit access to authorized personnel.

 

This information is intended for educational purposes only.  As always, please feel free to comment on this or any other NSA Group blog post.

 Additional information may be found at:            http://www.kroll.com/about/library/fraud/Oct2010/databreach.aspx

 http://www.cna.com/portal/site/cna/menuitem.489f2511a757a1a1df88e0f2a86631a0/?vgnextoid=2c9f65683c2fe010VgnVCM1000008f66130aRCRD     ** Information from CNA (a partner company of the NSA Group) was used for this blog.

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