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Community Outreach
Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

Keeping Active as a Senior

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – As we get older our bodies begin to slow down as well as obtain stiffer, so exercise can obtain harder. However, staying energetic is very important to keeping us healthy.

Research reveals that workout improves our cognitive feature along with our physical feature.

For older grownups it is very important to get an excellent mix of exercise in various classifications: adaptability, cardiovascular workout, stamina, and also balance.

Adaptability: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and also the American Heart Organization (AHM) suggest older adults stretch three or four times a week for a minimum of 10 minutes. They need to try to extend the upper body, shoulders and elbow joints, rear of the upper legs and also knees, calves front of the wrists as well as hands, and also low back and neck.

Cardiovascular Workout: The ACSM and also AHM advise older grownups do 150 mins of moderately paced aerobic task every week. That’s about HALF AN HOUR a day, 5 times a week. Procedure of activity in 10-15 min increments spaced throughout the day are likewise efficient.

Stength: The ACSM as well as AHM suggest older grownups do toughness training two or 3 times a week enabling muscle mass teams to rest between sessions. The muscle groups to target are the core (abdominals/back), upper legs, butts, and back of the arms.

Balance: The ACSM recommends older adults balance train 2 or three times a week. It entails targeting stance control as well as sensory systems.

When you are working to stay healthy and balanced, here are some points to keep in mind:

Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist

Discover a workout program or exercise that is enjoyable, obtainable and also sustainable so it could become regular

Attempt to integrate physical activity right into your everyday routine. March in place while you brush your teeth!

Difficulty on your own to try something new, discover new motion pattern. Great for body and also mind!

Look into offerings at local recreation center as well as gyms. West Michigan has numerous sources available for walking clubs as well as team exercise classes developed for the older grownup.

To compliment your fitness routine, consume healthy as well as stay hydrated.

Getting The Right Amount of Life Insurance

Life insurance is a valuable investment for your dependants or anyone you have chosen as a beneficiary. If you are a financial support to others, it is imperative you leave behind something when you are gone so that your they will be able to look after themselves in case your gone.

However, it can be a challenge to determine exactly how much life coverage you require to ensure that your loved ones are well taken care of.

A recent survey showed that, while 20% of Americans agree that life insurance should be included as a part of any sound financial planning, only 40% said they would know what to look for in buying a life insurance policy. The same survey indicated that 50% of Americans felt they were under-insured.

Experts recommend at least six times the annual gross income as a good place to start for determining how much life insurance you should obtain.

As you consider the varying options available, always keep in mind that buying life insurance is like buying any other consumer product – your goal is to get the best value for your money.

Before taking out life insurance, it’s smart to speak with an expert to ensure that you understand all the options that are available to you.

And, working with an independent insurance agency ensures you can receive several quotes without having to call several carriers directly. This will help you make an informed decision while getting insurance that is tailored to fit your situation.

Beyond the “six times annual gross income” rule, you need to understand your “life value”. This may sound like an absurd thing to consider, but it is important. After all, you want to be sure that the money you leave behind will take care of your family.

So, do you expect to be earning more in the future? If so, plan for that. Do you take care of things around the house that someone might have to otherwise pay for? Be sure to include that as well.

Likewise, if you have debts, be sure there’s enough insurance to cover those bills as well.

And if you have kids and need to ensure they can go to college, you have to plan for that too… college is expensive and its costs are accelerating.

By taking full stock of your current situation and the impact your death will have, you’ll develop a clear understanding of what your family will really need to survive.

With an effective financial planning process, you will approach purchasing life insurance with an unbiased perspective that will allow you to make a sound decision. (If your life circumstances change, be sure to talk with your live insurance professional right away. Things like buying a vacation home, having kids, or even getting a divorce can impact your life insurance needs.)

We understand that life insurance is a subject most folks try and avoid talking about, yet it is important. It is about protecting loved ones from uncertainty in difficult circumstances. Please reach out to us for resources on getting the most out of life insurance. We’ll be happy to help point you in the right direction and help you explore your options.

Protecting Your Passwords is Financially Critical

Think about a computer system password as being a front door to your wide range and also secrets. It can be made from flimsy wood or as impervious as a titanium bank vault. Here’s how you can finest secure your citadel.

Usage passphrases

Cyberpunks utilize advanced software application that can run countless combinations of letters and also signs quickly. Your protection: longer passwords. Former hacker Kevin Mitnick advises 20 characters or longer. The method: Utilize a sentence or phrase you develop, such as “My Auntie Sylvia has actually loved me given that I was a kid.” It’s ultra-hard to hack however very easy to keep in mind. For a lot more protection, add a number or sign at the end, together with an uppercase or two.

Include a 2nd door

Two-factor verification services include an added layer of safety to your most crucial digital accounts. You log in to an account using your typical password. Next off, the two-factor verification site sends your phone a six-digit code that you need to get in before getting. For a listing of web sites that offer two-factor authentication, go to

Subscribe to the AARP Cash Newsletter for a lot more on rip-offs and also customer defense

Maintain your passwords in a vault

Never ever keep passwords in a file on your computer system. Rather, utilize password supervisor apps that save passwords in a well-protected digital space. All you need is a master password to access the checklist. Popular variations that utilize cloud modern technology consist of LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. Applications that place the vault on your disk drive include RoboForm, Password Safe or KeePass.

Revitalize consistently

Yearly, change the passwords on all your essential accounts. With hackers swiping information on millions of accounts at a time, this will certainly aid keep you safeguarded if their focus turns toward you. Likewise alter your password if you’re informed by a web site that its safety and security has actually been breached.

Vary your passwords

That’s the golden rule, cybersecurity specialists say: Why allow one key unlock every one of your digital doors?

How to Keep Yourself Safe From Fraud

Your house is your castle and it is the number one target for fraudsters. Your house is one of the most important asset you own since it is your biggest investment. So it is an attractive target for a con artists. Why? Because these fraudsters know that when it comes to your house, you are willing to take additional care and invest more money to maintain and protect its worth.

If you are a retired person, fraudsters will consider you as a very easy target since you are more likely to respond to “pitches” in person, via the phone, or mail.

There are various schemes. Below, you’ll find examples of some more notorious house scams that have been turning up nationwide. We’ll also discuss how can you protect yourself from being a victim of these scams.

Power Plays

* Did you ever come across any person demanding money for unpaid bill? They try to scare you by saying that if you do not clear your unpaid bills, your utilities will be turned off. Always remember that these kinds of notifications, if true, usually comes through mail. And be mindful that NO authority sends their representatives to collect money in-person without giving any notice about it through mail or phone call.

* There are many instances where fake specialists go inside a home unannounced, saying there is an emergency and that your house needs to be checked. These are generally burglars with fake identity cards and leased uniforms.

* The most recent rip-off: Fake representatives from cable firms promising to give discounts if you pay a few months of your bill in advance with pre-paid debit cards.

Burglar Blockage

A home security and safety system is effective in combating some crime. However, home security systems can attract other fraudsters too.

* Some fraudsters pose as certified technicians from the security and safety firms. They say they are here to fix the security system of your house. Then they get inside your house and deactivate your theft security system, so that later they can rob your house when you are sleeping or not in home.

* Other people claiming to be from the security company try to sell you much more expensive services. You must remember that any reputable company do not work in this way.

Contract Disadvantage

Be careful if a person tells you that he is a contractor who happens to be working in your neighborhood and wanted to know if you too need home repair service. Most of the time, these people are fraudsters. They will take some money from you for buying materials in advance. Needless to say that they will vanish after taking your money. There are others who insist on doing some unneeded extra repair work and then leave after doing a shoddy job. One of the favourite scams is resealing your driveway by spreading used motor oil on it. Always be sure to work with licensed contractors and actually verify the license with your state’s licensing authority before agreeing to work.

Fraud at Your Front Door

Whether it is a appeal for a charity, specialty home items, limited time offers, vacations, or overpriced magazine subscriptions, be on your guard. The best way to protect yourself: Don’t give your bank card to the person at the front door.

How can we help?

As a senior citizen you are a target for some of the worst schemes. We’re on your side and are here to help you navigate financial complexities. If you have any questions about protecting yourself from financial risk, please be sure to reach out to us.

Wrongful Termination

Although many states are fire-at-will states, there may be circumstances that allow legal action to proceed against employers. For example, a firm that appears to adhere to a plan of progressive discipline actions prior to terminating staff members and then terminates an employee while failing to following that plan can be putting themselves in legal danger. In one example of this, the California Appellate Court ruled that the employees claim could proceed even though the company was a fire-at-will company.

Proceedings in other states have had similar outcomes so it is worthwhile exploring what happened in this situation.

The case in question occurred with Barnes & Noble Booksellers and their employee Christine Oakes. Christine began working for B&N starting in 1987 as became store manager in 1989. She also managed the West Valley-Mission Community University Campus location from 2002-2010.

Several times throughout her career with Barnes & Noble, Christine acknowledge she had received and reviewed the B&N code of conduct. She also signed an acknowledgement that she understood she was an at-will employee.

The company’s employee manual also had a disclaimer that it was not a contract and was for reference purposes only. The manual made it clear that they were a fire-at-will company meaning they could let go of employees without prior notice and without cause.

The manual also contained a specific policy of employee discipline, specifying that managers use certain training tools and procedures to progressively discipline their employees. The discipline begins with a verbal warning and progresses through a written warning. The handbook also stated that if a significant offense was taken, the initial disciplinary steps could be skipped. Also, if the infraction was significant, the person could be terminated without any prior disciplinary steps.

Oakes’ received good annual performance reviews until 2009. While she was rated as satisfactory or exceeded criteria in many measurements, she was found to not meet standards in the area of liability, client focus, and interaction.

Barnes & Noble terminated Oakes on June 1, 2010 without prior warning. Likewise B&N failed to leverage the discipline process it outlined in its employee guide.

In April 2012 Oakes sued the company for wrongful termination. This was based on the concept that B&N was in breach of contract.

The company requested a summary judgment in 2013, asking for the claims to be dismissed before trial. They said that she was a fire-at-will employee let go for legitimate reasons. The court approved the motion but Oakes appealed.

In a deposition taken prior to the dismissal of the lawsuit, Oakes said that she had been told by B&N’s HR department to use the progressive discipline process outlined in the employee manual prior to letting go of employees. She also noted that if she terminated someone without taking these steps, she was reprimanded by the company.

To support her testimony, two other managers affirmed Oake’s testimony. They said that they were not aware of any other cases where employees had been let go without the handbook’s recommendations being followed.

Does employment agreement match actual practice?

Although California is a fire-at-will state, the appeals court noted that events in an employee partnership can alter that status.

Barnes & Noble had stated that they were a fire-at-will company in their handbook but there was indeed evidence that this policy was not their intent. The court noticed that the company was correct in their ability to be a fire-at-will employer. However they acknowledged the existence of a separate unwritten policy. The court found their actual plan was using progressive discipline before terminating an employer. The appellate court used this information to change the trial courts dismissal of the case and stated that a trial was needed to figure out exactly the terms of the employer’s policies and if Barnes & Noble had breached those terms.

Protecting your business from lawsuits…

An expert guideline in this case is that it is essential to understand that actions do speak louder than words. Although a business may state certain policies and procedures, their day-to-day running of the company may not be followed consistently. Not following policies consistently puts businesses at high risk for lawsuits.

If you have a business with employees, we highly recommend that you take a close look at EPLI or employment practices liability insurance. It helps protect you from claims of things like wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Because while you may believe you are operating within the law, a court may disagree. Be sure to talk with us about affordable EPLI options for your business.

Separating Truth From Fiction With Employees

Philip Maltin, who was discussing the ways of spotting liars at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Skill Monitoring Conference & Exposition, began by explaining how we can misread some signs when trying to spot liars in the workplace.

According to Maltin, if someone folds her arms, fails to look you in the eye, and keeps massaging the back of their neck depicting nervousness and stress, it’s not mandatory that they are lying. Maltin feels that body movement of a person is just one of many cues that help us to understand whether that individual is a liar. According to him, an individual might appear worried even when he is looking to tell the truth; that’s because he might believe that people would start judging him after knowing the truth.

Maltin, who is currently a partner with the LA firm Raines Feldman LLP, protects organizations in cases involving employment insurance claims. His other endeavors include helping civil legal delegates in honing deposition skills and teaching district attorneys effective trial strategies. Maltin said that he has met many detectives, police officers, and prosecutors who have the habit of doubting supposed lawbreakers assuming that they have committed a crime. HR experts, who are expected to follow employee management best practices, are also often found to possess a similar tendency.

Maltin played an audio, in which a policeman was heard interrogating ex US Senator Larry Craig hurriedly after the latter was arrested in 2007 for performing vulgar acts at an airport restroom meant for men. Instead of examining Craig carefully and calmly while adhering to the facts, the law enforcement officer maintained an argumentative, accusatory, and confrontational behavior. This, according to Maltin, allowed the policeman to gather little information from the ex senator.

Maltin affirms that people won’t reveal themselves to you just because you are the boss or the head of HR. You will get desired results only upon asking flexible questions, hearing all answers carefully, and staying on track.

Here are a few tips to suss out the truth…

Study well before questioning

Before you question someone suspected of inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing, you must investigate thoroughly. The investigation process might require you to go through the person’s emails, computer history, account details etc. Video monitoring may also be needed. Maltin believes that it’s important to know your witnesses, suspect, and the questioning techniques you will be using beforehand.

Examine your suspect, but always play nice

You must know that accusatory and aggressive interrogation might make your suspect uncommunicative. This might even cause false admissions, which should never be the way to go. You should be irresistible when interrogating. The only way you can gather information is by making the accused individual talk with you. For that, you will have to get along well with the person. Allow the person narrate his story. This will provide you with the weirdest facts. Instead of asking directly about the misdeed you feel the person has committed, you should shoot an open-ended question towards him. For instance, you should begin by asking a simple question like, “How’s life treating you?” and then move your investigation forward based the responses you get.

Evaluate the suspect’s responses

Once your suspect finishes telling his tale, you should assess it. According to Maltin, phonies tend to share tales that are mostly illogical. The details provided by them are filled with uncertainty and discrepancies. He added that liars often use simple constructions for sounding incoherent. They also have a tendency of evading straight enquiries by altering the topic. Sincere individuals, on the other hand, tend to give lots of understandable details in a coherent order. Their narrations are always significantly more meaningful and interactive in nature.

You should question yourself

It’s true that it’s extremely important that you suspect one or more individuals based on the investigation carried out by you and in-depth evaluation of the responses you receive from your suspect or suspects. However, while suspecting someone else, you must also move a step back for locating loop holes in your own thoughts.

Maltin stated that anxiety might also be an indicator of sincerity. He added that feelings would never be able to tell you what factors are responsible for causing them. It’s impossible to know what has made a person mad or nervous or worried. As a result, an individual who primarily counts on his or her intuitions would not be a good lie detector.

Protect yourself from mistakes

We are constantly on the lookout for great information about employee management best practices and how to manage your business risks. Dealing with employees can be tricky. There are a number of EPLI concerns that can impact insurance risk.

The best strategy is to be sure you have an EPLI policy in place if you have employees. If you are curious about EPLI or If you want to review your current EPLI risk, be sure to reach out to us.

Protect Against Excavation & Trench Hazards

According to the American Federation of State, County as well as Community Staff members, one of the typical hazards associated with excavation or trenching job is cave-ins. Individuals bearing the highest risk of getting seized in a collapse include but not limited to:

a) Workers who repair utility lines like sewer, water, and others

b) Roadway building contractors and also

c) People who actively participate in digging.

Statistics by the American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees (AFSCME) indicate that slides or collapses during excavation can be instigated mainly by the following factors:

· The heavy weight of the excavation equipment especially if positioned near to the margin of a trench

· Loose soil culminating from construction equipment vibration and traffic in the construction location.

· Water accessing the construction site or the excavation location. This compromises the strength of trench peripheral and as a result a slide might occur.

· Loose soil that weakens the walls of the trench or construction and may end up collapsing.

Before performing any excavation or trenching activity, it’s always prudent to seek an expert to examine possible risks prior to commencement of the activity and also during the procedure till the process is complete. The operation ought to be regularly monitored in order to ensure that all possible hazards are kept on check.

On the other hand, protective measures have to be taken for any form of excavation or trench that happens to be deeper than 5′. However, digging operations that are fewer than 5′ deep might also require a safety system in case the professional onsite discerns a potential cave-in.

Below are some safety systems that are recommended in order to mitigate excavation and construction site hazards:


This system comprises of wales, cross-braces as well as uprights and needs to be installed from the top down as well as removed from all-time low up. It supports the wall surfaces of the excavation hence reducing the likelihood of a potential slide.


This system ensures the sides of the hole open out from the base of the excavation. This kind of soil management moves out an appropriate angle from the base (depending on the soil) to help prevent any probable collapse.


This system comprises of trench guards or trench boxes that are put in the digging site to prevent the trench walls from failing. The person is safeguarded while in the box. Some boxes can be moved as work progresses. All shields must protrude a minimum of 18 inches from the top of the trench slope.


The benching system a lot like sloping. However steps are cut into the sides of the trench. It’s important to note that if you are digging more than 20′ deep you’ll need a registered engineer to authorize your solution.

Dealing With Risk Exposure

As a contractor you face many different kinds of risk exposure. It’s important to have comprehensive protection to be sure profits are preserved and that your company isn’t put at risk as a result of a catastrophic claim. Please reach out to us for cost-effective ideas on how to leverage and maximize insurance to limit exposure.

Keeping Workers Safe From Fire Risk

Although most areas of the country have excellent fire departments, fires are still responsible for huge losses of jobs and lives. The most recent National Fire Defense Record (NFPA) record released in 2015 stated that there were more than 3000 civilian deaths and more than 15,000 fire injuries that took place in the United States. The costs associated with fires are more than $14.3 billion in home damage alone. The losses caused by fire affect not only personal homes and property, but also have an effect on work environments and businesses.

And while fire affects many businesses, it has a substantial impact on both small and medium-sized businesses who have fewer financial resources. These businesses are usually housed in a single location and, in the case of a fire, may not be able to continue their work. The key to preventing a loss of business is prevention and it’s every business’s job to keep the workplace safe from any potential fire threats. Fortunately, many of the fires that occur today are preventable.

These are just a few of the easy and effective ways to keep your workplace and your workers safe:

1. Keep the Office Clean

Having standards for the state of the workplace is an important step to prevent fire. Make sure to keep work spaces neat as any piles of waste and clutter are easy kindling for a growing fire. Make it a regular habit to get rid of any flammable materials such as wood and cardboard. Worker safety is a key element of prevention here so promote clean habits in the entire office. Make sure also to keep any waste baskets and dumpsters away from areas of heat.

It’s a common habit to destroy waste in an open pit or barrel, thinking that this is a safe way to get rid of waste. However, this is not only a fire hazard, but also illegal in most states. Instead of burning any trash, follow state and government guidelines to get rid of combustible waste safely. Look up the guidelines in the area and keep them posted in the workplace to inform all employees.

2. Watch for Potential Hazards

Potential fire spots are areas to watch out for in the office. There are a few key areas, for example, in the workplace which are specifically prone to fire risks. It’s important to keep an eye on them to prevent problems. For example, the kitchen is the most common place to experience a workplace fire. Coffee makers that have been left on can trigger a fire. Make sure to ask employees to turn off any appliances in the company kitchen before leaving the area. Also keep any flammable items away from appliances to decrease the fire risk.

3. Watch out for Faulty Wiring

Faulty electrical wiring is one of the leading violations according to the Occupational Security and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2016. Make sure that any cables and wires in use are in good condition with no exposed wires. It’s also important to use the appropriate power cable for the work. Substituting cords can be tempting in a pinch but can increase risk.

When using an electrical outlet, prevent any dual adaptor links. Instead, use a power strip with a fuse. Make sure to schedule regular electrical repair and maintenance to prevent any potential hazards. Additionally, it’s important for businesses to test any safety and security buttons roughly every three months. Keep in mind that electrical safety isn’t just based on the electrical system. Any water leaks in the building can also lead to blown circuits, fire, and personal harm. Water is a good conductor of electrical energy and can electrocute anyone in contact. Make sure that there are no water leaks in the workplace.

4. Use and Store Chemicals Securely

Most chemical cleaners and other materials are flammable. Make sure to read the label and security sheet on each container to determine if it is flammable and how best to use the product safely. All chemicals should be labelled correctly and stored based on the instructions. The chemicals should also be kept in secured containers when they are not in sure. Advise employees to only use their chemicals for their intended purpose. For example, ethyl alcohol should not be used to clean the floor or as a hand sanitizer. Provide employees with the appropriate equipment such as gloves and masks as well as any tools for dealing with hazardous chemicals. Clean up any chemical spills promptly and according to directions.

5. Screen Out Risky Workers

Although it’s a good idea to hang “no smoking” signs to let your employees know that smoking is not permitted and carry out regular fire drills, sometimes these steps aren’t enough to make your work environment safe from fire hazards. Each company takes a different approach to maximize workers safety and the safety of the environment. Industrial companies, for example, are starting to screen out potentially dangerous workers in their goal to create a safe and reliable work environment.

In the past few years, there has been a rise in pre-employment alcohol and drug tests. Many of these screening kits are easy for employers to use with potential employees. Make sure to use a kit that has been FDA-approved. These kits are a good way to determine if an employee engages in any risky behaviors which could increase the company’s risk of an accident or fire.

6. Prepare for Emergency Situations

Although using the steps above to prevent a fire is key, some accidents can still occur. It’s important to be prepared in the case of an emergency situation. Conduct regular fire drills a few times a year and also make sure to supply employees with safety training according to both federal and state standards. Make sure to have an assigned meeting point for all employees to account for each person after the drill.

Employee training is just one step of this process though. Make sure that emergency phone numbers and any firefighting equipment are accessible and understood by employees. Keep the fire extinguishers up to date and in good working condition. Make sure that each employee understands the building’s evacuation strategy from their initial start at the company. A public address system is also a good idea and can be used to inform personnel in case of an emergency. The emergency exits should be marked and easy to reach. Finally, local fire departments are great resources for local businesses. They can provide valuable information on how to react in a fire and also if the building has done an adequate job of preparing for a fire.

Final Thoughts

Workplace fire accidents are known for their catastrophic loss of human life as well as equipment and materials. When it comes to safety and security, prevention is the key. From focusing on simple steps like cleaning to building an evacuation plan, these basic safety tips will help to keep your workplace security. Keeping workers safe is an important part of managing risk to keep your Worker’s Compensation insurance premiums low. If you need help evaluating your risk profile be sure to reach out to us.

5 Key Actions in Case of a Ransomware Attack

Imagine this: you are seated at home working on your computer, either answering your email or polishing a work related presentation. Suddenly, a message blinks on your screen. The message curtly demands that you send cash to a certain destination, failure to which you will be unable to access any of the documents stored on your computer. You also discover that your keyboard has become unresponsive. Logically, you decide to restart the computer. The screen comes right back on, but to your shock, you are still unable to access any of your files and folders. It dawns on you that your data has been remotely locked via a device on your network, and that no matter how much you try you cannot access it.

The above scenario clearly illustrates what happens in a typical ransomware assault. This has become an acute problem globally, with the WannaCry attack being the latest ransomware attack to affect the largest number of individuals on a worldwide scale. The victims are usually at a loss on what to do.

You can use a ransomware attack as a learning point, and consequently take measures to enhance your protection against similar attacks in the future. Here are five steps that you can take if you have been a victim:

1. Do not pay the Ransom Money

Internet security experts advise that it would be a disastrous mistake to pay off the aggressors. For one, it is an indicator that you have given up control of the situation to the attacker, and that you trust they will amicably resolve the situation. Honestly, this never happens. The aggressor is only interested in ripping you off. Once you pay the ransom, it is unlikely that they will unlock your documents. If in the unlikely event they do, be certain that they will see you as soft victim and mark you for repeated blackmail attacks. Giving in to the attackers’ demands also gives them the impetus to continue perpetrating further attacks on more victims.

Christopher Budd, a security supervisor for the electronics security firm Trend Micro, emphasized the above point in a business article he wrote last July. In the article, he advised victims of ransomware attack not to pay, but to keep in mind that they are handling bad guys. He reiterated that giving in would not guarantee that, as a victim, you would get back all your documents. It would only help the criminals perpetuate this criminal activity. As a worldwide communications threats expert, Christopher Budd definitely understands the pitfalls of giving in to the aggressors.

2. Use a Backup to Reinstall Your Files

Using a computer back up system comes with numerous advantages. Many people use computer backups to access their data in case the computer breaks down. In the same way, the backup will come in handy in case you fall prey to ransomware attacks. You will be able reinstall all your files and folders from the backup system, without having to refer to the aggressors. For this to be effective, ensure that you have set your system to automatically backup all the data that you handle via the computer. Once the backup system is well set, it will operate automatically and you do not have to keep thinking about it; unless something happens and you need to access the data.

3. Update Your OS and Anti-virus

It is important that you regularly update your OS and anti-virus with the latest versions. Microsoft is quite aggressive in addressing security concerns. Actually, the latest update of Microsoft’s Window 10 is fully secure against WannaCry -the latest global ransomware assault. There are several firms and individuals, however, who still use earlier versions of windows, or do not activate automatic updates on the later versions. These firms and individuals would not be protected in case an attack is imminent.

4. Engage the Services of Your IT Division or an Anti-Virus Firm.

The personnel in the IT department of your company may have the technical expertise to recover your data in case your computers are attacked. Inform them immediately you notice the problem, and allow them to try and salvage the situation. Conversely, you may opt to ask anti-virus companies to assist. There are some anti-virus software that could help, but do not peg most of your hopes on this.

5. Reformat Your Hard disk

This is a tough decision to make, because it means you will lose all your data. However, it is a good move compared to the alternative of giving in to the aggressors. So, if all the other solutions are not tenable, go ahead and reformat your hard disk and reinstall the OS. Take the entire ordeal of the attack as a lesson well learnt, and ensure to back up your data once you are back in business.

Importance of Identity Theft Protection

Of course, these kinds of attacks indicate that your computer has been violated. Attackers may have gotten access to important information from your system, in addition to holding it hostage. Just as it is important to protect your computers and devices with operating system updates and anti-virus / anti-malware software, it’s also important to protect your identity. Many carriers offer identity theft insurance endorsements on homeowners or renters insurance policies. Some also offer stand-alone identity theft protection options. If you are concerned about the financial implications of having your identity stolen, be sure to check with us for advice on your best options.

Giving Rewards to Increase Motivation

Recognizing an employee’s talent and rewarding them is a simple way to increase motivation. American Express recently conducted a survey on 300 SME (small-medium enterprises). They found that 89% of workers have received some form of incentive from their company. While most employees have received some form of incentive, about 33% percent of employee participants feel that it makes them work harder. This is interesting to note considering that 37% of employers who don’t currently use rewards believe that starting a reward system would increase their employees level of production.


While rewarding employees can serve many functions, about 34% of employers feel that adding a incentive program will result in higher retention rates. This seems to makes sense, since 46% of employees feel “really valued” after receiving an incentive. Since 44% percent of employees feel rewards are a way of employers noticing their dedication, it may be worth the investment of companies to think about adding such a system


Companies choose various way in which to reward their team members. 38% of companies choose to only provide an incentive to their high performing employees. While 23% provide rewards to all their employees. It seems that a lot of companies have a harder time investing money into their talent unless it is high profitable for them to do so. But, its interesting to consider that 21% of employers choose to reward their long term employees.


Brendan Walsh, Executive Vice President, recently said “Small to medium-sized businesses have put strategies in place to grow product and service in innovations”. Companies are looking for ways to increase their level of production through various avenues. It’s difficult to judge a reward system in “hard” numbers. Feedback from employees can be a valuable resource to calculate the cost benefit of a reward system.


One often overlooked aspect of incentives is how they are delivered. Looking an employee straight in the eye and saying “thank you” is critical. Simply adding money to a pay check without some form of recognition defeats the purpose.


Of course, incentives are only one part of attracting and keeping employees. We are always searching for new information on employee benefits. If you have any questions about your current employee benefit program, please feel free to contact us. We can answer any questions and help with the expansion of any employee benefit package.