Author: benward

How will technology affect your home insurance?

Even the most basic of homes are being upgraded, refitted and kitted out with smart technology to enhance our daily lives when in the home. The Internet of Things (IoT) plans to make the integration and usage of these advanced devices simple and seamless.

What does it mean for our home insurance though? And how might it affect insurers? We find out below.

New technology

‘Connected homes’ are nothing new. As with every industry, sector and way of life, technology shapes what we do, how we do it and how it can be improved. It’s this search for improvement that encourages a better, more advanced technological world.

Physical safety has always been on our minds, which is why new technology enabling you to see who knocks on your door when you’re out has seen a huge surge in demand. Other security devices, including smart alarms and smart camera footage, means that would-be criminals face more deterrents and a higher chance of being recorded if they go ahead with the crime.

Of course, environmental change is fuelling the technological advancements in the home, too. Smart meters are already commonplace, and smart water systems and other energy tracking and management devices are in development to help give us more control over our energy usage.

These devices don’t only provide us with a greater sense of control over our effect on the planet either. It also means that some of the common ways homes could suffer an accident—burst pipes, water damage, fire hazards—are being reduced or eradicated entirely.

How do we benefit?

Aside from providing more control to our environmental efforts and a greater sense of protection, smart technology will almost certainly result in fewer claims and, consequently, cheaper premiums. Aviva found that escaping water, storm damage, theft and floods were the biggest causes of home insurance claims, and all of these are being targeted by intelligent technology.

Do insurers benefit?

Ultimately, smart home technology and IoT is expected to decrease claims and reduce premiums. Whilst old-school insurers need to be ready for the change—and the implementations of the change—other insurers are already on the ball in anticipation and some are planning on providing incoming weather warnings to their customers.

Are there any downsides?

Naturally, smart home technology has its pitfalls. One issue is the simple cost of the technology itself. Whilst these devices may reduce the cost of other risks, what happens if the devices are damaged, lost or stolen?

What’s more, this level of technology usually requires an ample amount of data. Data privacy is a constant source of attention in recent years, and people of all generations will no doubt be discouraged by the data breach that could occur.

What about the future of the future of smart homes?

With home assistants already a thing in the home, the next step is surely physical home assistants. In theory, a home assistant could remove valuable assets from your home during a fire or warn you of a break-in during the night as we become more reliant on robotics. Sounds scary, right?

Rare Finds: Underinsured jewels hidden in the home

Whether inherited and passed down to you over decades or bought and collected by you personally, owning antiques is thrilling and adds intrigue and curiosity to your home. Having your antiques valued regularly may seem unnecessary, but insuring them accurately depends on correct, up-to-date valuations. Therefore it is often the case that antiques are grossly underinsured. So, if you own antiques, do you know what’s at stake? Let’s take a look at some surprising finds to pop up around the UK.

Lost Richard Dadd watercolour
In 1986, a man brought in a painting he’d stored away in his attic for years onto the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Unsure of its value, the owner was shocked to find the painting was in fact a lost watercolour by none other than Richard Dadd from 1857. It was valued at £100,000 and was later sold for the same price to the British Museum.

Bronze Jardinière
Similarly, in 1991, a bronze pot appeared on the Antiques Roadshow. The owner had used it for many years as a living room plant-pot. He was stunned to hear that the plant-pot was instead a genuine French ‘Japonisme’ urn dated 1874. The urn didn’t go on sale until 2012 where it sold at auction for a staggering £560,000.

Rare Chinese pot
For 40 years, a Hertfordshire woman used a Chinese pot over 200 years old as a doorstop in her cottage. Little did she know that this was a very rare artefact indeed, as it was valued at £20,000. When the owner decided to sell the pot, it fetched £150,000 at auction.

Gold Leica 2 Luxus camera
In 2001, a man appeared on the Antiques Roadshow in possession of a Gold Leica 2 Luxus camera. He’d had the camera for over 45 years and was adamant it wasn’t anything unusual or of value. However, an expert valued the camera conservatively at £5,000 and assured Leica collectors would fight over the item if sold at auction. When the owner eventually sold it 12 years later, the expert’s prediction was spot on—fanatical Leica collectors fought over the item at auction and the camera ended at a remarkable £320,000.

Faberge flower
Faberge items are few and far between, but when a stunning Faberge flower appeared on the Antiques Roadshow, it had fans and media swooning. Made from gold, diamond, and jade, the ornament was gifted to an Army Reserve cavalry and was used as a centrepiece for formal events. The cavalry believed the ornament to be worth in the region of £50,000 but were truly shocked to hear that this Faberge flower was remarkably rare, and the expert valued it at £1 million, the joint highest valuation on the popular show.

Misjudgements such as these could be costly for those in possession of antiques. Of course, authenticated antiques also bring a plethora of fakes, reproductions, and copies of original artwork or craftsmanship. For this reason, having goods valued is imperative if you’re serious about having accurate insurance in place should the worst occur. Without up-to-date valuations, you could be underinsuring your antiques, risking capped pay-outs and causing undue stress.

If you have valuable items and feel they may not be insured appropriately, call us for a bespoke policy.

Hiring apprentices in the marine industry

An apprenticeship is a structured training programme which allows people to work while studying, gaining the experience to succeed in a new industry. This allows young people to get into employment sooner and older people to explore a new vocation while still maintaining an income. This route to employment is particularly valuable in the marine industry since many of the practical skills are nigh on impossible to learn on paper.

Apprenticeships in the marine industry
The marine industry has a huge part to play in the UK’s economy, especially in the export and import trades. The nature of the industry means that there is a balanced mix of theoretical and practical learning, so it is well suited to an apprenticeship. Allowing people to learn with hands-on experience while giving them time to study the theoretical side of things can make for an influx of bright young talent to join the industry.

Incentives to young talent
Many young people are attracted to apprenticeships over university degrees because they can get a wage straight away and avoid the build-up of eye-watering university fees. As these fees creep up, so does the younger demographic’s inclination to ‘hit the ground running’ in the world of work. If your business offers apprenticeships, you will attract a wider range of talent than those who don’t. It also allows you to instil strong work ethics into people at the beginning of their careers, long before they develop bad habits or ways of doing things which do not correlate with your own.

For the marine trade, apprenticeships may be few and far between. Sticking your neck out by offering apprenticeships is a brave move and you can reap the benefits when you employ the best young talent and train them sufficiently.

Improved subsidies
More than ever before, the government is encouraging businesses across different trades to offer apprenticeships. No matter how small or large your operation, there are a lot of subsidies and incentives in place for you to offer this as a career path.

The type of apprenticeships available
In the shipping sector, there are many apprenticeships available for crew members, both for on deck and in the engine room. There are also opportunities across marinas, including moving and maintaining boats, for port operatives, engineers and driving/navigating ships.

Holiday home insurance: Q&A

Owning a second home is a multi-faceted venture. It can be a getaway for you and your family when Blighty gets the better of you, providing winter sun or summer shade. For business heads, house ownership is a solid investment regardless of what you plan on doing with it. You can rent it out in the meantime, or keep it unoccupied, ready for your use as and when you please.

As well-known holiday home insurance brokers, we get lots of questions on second and holiday home ownership, so have put together a little Q&A to help with the most common problems.

Q: I haven’t decided where to buy my second home yet. Does location matter?
A: Aside from being a huge factor in your decision, location can mean everything for your insurance, too. Quieter, more secluded areas often pose a smaller chance of theft and other crimes. Flood risk areas naturally pose water damage issues, but it doesn’t mean we’re not able to include this in your policy. The key aspect is to find somewhere that suits you.

Q: Do I need second home insurance? / Can’t I just buy regular home insurance?
A: Whilst some policy features may overlap between the two policies (buildings and contents), the conditions are very different. Emptiness, theft and storm damage are insurers’ primary concerns when insuring second homes. As you won’t be around, you won’t be able to quash or minimise an issue, either.

Q: What happens if I just tell my insurer that I live full-time at my second home?
A: For your own sake, you should always be honest with your insurance company. If you’re not and something happens, your insurance company may be reluctant to pay out if it is deemed you withheld the truth. In turn, this could leave you with significant shortfalls to make up and your assets could even be in jeopardy.

Q: Can I let the property out?
A: Many of our clients rent their second home out over winter, summer or even the whole year. It’s advised you consider public liability insurance. This cover can pay for legal and compensation costs if, for example, your tenant falls in your premises and injures themselves due to your negligence or omission.

Q: Can I employ somebody to check over and clean my second home every so often?
A: That’s fine. In fact, we recommend it, as it could deter would-be criminals planning a burglary. If you do employ a member of staff, however, you’ll need employers’ liability to protect you and your employee. This is a legal requirement and it can cover legal and compensation costs in an incident was due to your negligence.

Q: What are some common ways to reduce the chance of a claim?
A: Having somebody go into your property can help drastically, even if it’s simply a family member or friend. Keep the property looking ‘lived-in’, ensure gates, doors and windows are locked and secure. It’s worth checking your policy document as some insurers demand you use a specific type of key.

Q: Is there anything else I should look out for?
A: Take necessary precautions in relation to the location of your second home. For instance, if it’s very cold during the winter months, consider insulating your pipes. If there’s lots of rain, ensure drainage systems have no chance of becoming blocked. If your home is abroad and experiences unpredictable or extreme weather, try to plan for this where possible.

We have considerable experience in providing second home insurance, as well as an array of other policies, and are more than happy to answer any other query you may have.

Supporting employees through financial stress

In a recent Office for National Statistics survey, they found that over 25 million of those surveyed in Britain rated their anxiety as “high”, over double the amount of those in 2019.

Amongst this group, the highest sufferers were approximately 2.6 million people who said they were struggling to pay their bills.

Is there more your business can do to better support your employees?  

Emotional Support
Financial wellbeing is a private and sensitive issue, so don’t be surprised if employees are not forthcoming to discuss it. But financial worries can weigh heavily on a person’s mind, impacting their mental and general wellbeing. Implementing an initiative which allows colleagues to discuss confidential matters in a comfortable environment may entail bringing in an outside counsellor who otherwise has no involvement in the business.

CIPD president Professor Sir Cary Cooper said: “Although many businesses have made great strides to look after the mental wellbeing of their employees over the last decade, not as many employers have supported their financial wellbeing. And given that employees have said their money worries are affecting them at work, this is a bottom-line issue.”

Money Management Workshops
Try offering sit-down sessions on practical money management skills such as budgeting, financial planning and free accounting apps. Though they might not set pulses racing with excitement, they may well prove popular as they bring the problem out into the open – and provide solutions.

As Jeanette Makings, Head of Financial Education at Close Brothers asset management, puts it: “Equipping staff with the tools they need to take control of their finances now and for their future will not only improve their own wellbeing, it has been proven to boost productivity levels – benefiting both business and workers.”

Health Advice
Many employees reported that they suffered physical fatigue caused by loss of sleep due to worrying about money, therefore impacting their productivity at work. Stave off physical health worries and boost general employee wellbeing by offering healthy lunches, fitness classes and regular activities, perhaps teaming up with a local gym or health centre.

To better support your employees both physically and mentally, have you considered a review of your existing group health scheme? Many insurers are now offering increased mental health support for a wide range of issues.

To find out more, get in touch with Aceso Health & Group Risk on 0113 531 2727.

Can anyone fall victim to a cyberattack?

Think that you could spot a cyberattack a mile away? 

Find out more about social engineering in Cyber Attacks

Gone are the days when the term phishing was associated with a leisurely Sunday afternoon activity and trees were the only victims of hacking. As we continue to make dramatic advancements in the digital and tech space, the threat of cybercriminals has grown significantly, and the methods used aren’t just limited to viruses and ransomware.

What is social engineering and how it is used in cyber-attacks?

When cybercriminals use social engineering tactics, they aim to psychologically manipulate their victims for their own gain. This often includes handing over sensitive information or transferring large amounts of money to an unknown account. These attacks can occur at any time, through text, email, phone calls and social media chat facilities.

What does a social engineering attack look like?

Social engineering attacks often appear to come from a trusted source such as a friend, relative or colleague. Or you may find they approach you as your banking, utility or broadband provider. The purpose of this impersonation is to gain your trust.

Phishing

Most phishing attacks aim to obtain personal information from the victim. These are often opportunistic and use fear tactics based on what’s happening in the world at the time, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  No two types of phishing attacks look the same so it’s important to remain constantly aware of this threat when working online.

Baiting

Very similar to phishing attacks, baiting uses the promise of free goods or services to encourage victims to hand over information. This tactic also takes advantage of our natural curiosity, asking us to click a link to uncover a mystery prize or access a piece of information.

Tailgating

Not all cyber-related attacks happen online. Tailgating attacks occur when a criminal attempts to access your office premises by tailgating an employee, playing on our instinct to be polite and hold the door open for the person behind us. Some criminals have even gone as far as to wear fake baby bumps to garner sympathy – because who would shut the door on a pregnant person?

Pretexting

Unlike phishing attacks which are usually conducted in mass, pretexting attacks try to build a believable scenario to establish trust before they try to obtain information. For example, you could receive an email from your CEO who states they’re about to enter an important meeting and need your password urgently to access a system. Or you may receive a call from your payroll team saying your payment didn’t go through this month and they need to check your account details. These types of attacks are designed to put pressure on the individual, so they act fast without careful consideration.

How to recognise a social engineering attack

Cybercriminals are changing their methods all the time, so there’s no exact formula that makes up a social engineering attack – but there are red flags to look out for.

These include:

  • Requesting information or money access
  • Evoking a sense of urgency in the email
  • Short and concise
  • Asking you to donate to a charitable cause
  • Asking you to verify information
  • Responding to a question you did not ask
  • Using fear tactics – threats or intimidation
  • Offering you something too good to be true

How to protect yourself against a social engineering cyber attack 

When it comes to protecting yourself and your business against cybercrime, you need to remain vigilant and think before you click.

Training

Ensure that your staff are up to date with the latest cyber training, implementing measures to ensure it remains at the forefront of their minds. If you have a near miss, let people know about it.

Anti-virus software

While it doesn’t make you immune to a cyber-attack, it helps to create an extra barrier of defence with well-reputed anti-virus software. Look at setting your spam filters to high – although keep an eye on your junk mailbox to ensure nothing legitimate slips through the net!

Check the sender

Encourage your staff to always check the source if an email seems suspicious. As well as checking the email address itself, recipients can hover over links (don’t click them!) to see where they lead.

Simulate social engineering events  

It’s hard to know how you’re going to react to a social engineering attack until it happens. That’s why it’s a great idea to send test emails to your staff to see what they would do. Use this as a learning tool to educate them on what they should do if a real risk presents itself.

Monitor your digital footprint

Some of us tend to overshare on social media, giving hackers ammo to hack into our devices. But have you considered what you’re sharing outside of these platforms? For example, if your CV is online – are your address and phone number on this? Not to mention your old schools, interests… the list goes on. Think twice about what you share online.

Get Cyber Insurance

Despite nearly 40% of all UK businesses reporting at least one cyber attack in the last 12 months, businesses are still not taking the threat of cyber attacks seriously enough. Now, the Government are urging businesses to take steps to improve their digital resilience. Cyber Insurance is designed to protect your business in the aftermath of an attack, including investigation, data recovery, loss of income, reputation management and more.