Shield Insurance Blog - Ransomware attacks against schools could rise

Ransomware attacks against schools could rise

Federal agencies warned ransomware attacks against schools may increase this school year, in a joint cybersecurity advisory issued Tuesday.

BusinessInsurance.com | Judy Greenwald | September 07, 2022

Attacks may increase as the school year begins “and criminal ransomware groups perceive opportunities for successful attacks,” said the advisory issued by the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

“School districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and constrained resources are often the most vulnerable; however, the opportunistic targeting often seen with cyber criminals can still put school districts with robust cybersecurity programs at risk,” the advisory warns.

“K-12 institutions may be seen as particularly lucrative targets due to the amount for sensitive student data accessible through school systems or their managed service providers,” it said.

Ransomware Attacks

Click here for the rest of the story…


Visit other Shield Insurance Blogs!

Read More
Shield Insurance Blog - Commercial Inventory

Guidelines for properly calculating insurance coverage levels for commercial inventory

Shield Insurance Agency is here to assist business owners in the state of Michigan with all of their insurance needs. We can help you determine how to calculate your insurance needs to adequately protect your commercial inventory.

Give us a call today and let us get started on helping you!

Guidelines for determining how much coverage your commercial inventory requires

Inventory can be a tricky business when it comes to determining how much insurance coverage you need to protect your investment. This can be made even more difficult if you are a seasonal business or if your business has significant fluctuations year over year. Even for businesses that are relatively stable, calculating inventory coverage can be challenging.

The first thing to look at is the time of year when your business has the most inventory. For some, it may be at the start of the year, and for others, it could be right before the busy holiday season. Whenever this time period may be for your business, it’s important. Once you review your inventory trends, and when they are at their highest level, you will be in a better place to determine your inventory insurance needs.

Typically, a business can look at its highest inventory level and make the decision to have its insurance coverage match that level. This is a smart idea for businesses that have inventory that is of extremely high value or moves rather slowly throughout the year.

Let’s work together to protect your inventory!

Michigan business owners can depend on Shield Insurance Agency for all of their commercial insurance needs. If you have questions about commercial insurance, we are here to help. Give us a call today and let’s get started working together! We look forward to hearing from you.


Visit more Shield Agency Blog Articles!

Read More
Your Complete Guide to Painting Wood Furniture—From Sanding to Sealing

Your Complete Guide to Painting Wood Furniture

Your Complete Guide to Painting Wood Furniture—From Sanding to Sealing. Breathe new life into dilapidated chairs, dressers, desks, and more by adding a fresh coat of paint.

Martha Stewert.com | By Madeline Buiano | July 20, 2022

Whether it’s a dresser you’ve had for years or a unique chair you found in an antique shop, there are a handful of creative ways to breathe new life into worn-down furniture. One of the most common materials you’ll run into when refreshing old pieces is wood, which can quickly be transformed into something beautiful with nothing more than a coat of paint

“Painting or repainting your furniture isn’t just a budget-friendly way to personalize your home, freshen up tired furniture, or disguise aesthetic damage,” says Annie Sloan, paint and color expert, and creator of Chalk Paint Annie Sloan. “It’s a way of life, rejecting the buy more, buy new, buy now culture, and embracing hands-on, do-it-yourself, creative expressionism.” 

The best part? The process of painting wood furniture looks the same across the board, meaning you can use the required materials for more than just one project—whether it’s a desk, chair, dresser, or vanity, the same steps apply. 

Related: How to Refinish Wooden Furniture

The Materials You’ll Need 

You’ll need a few basic tools and materials in order to complete this project properly: 

  • Drop cloth 
  • Painter’s tape
  • 180- and 220-grit sanding sponges 
  • Damp cloth
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush 
  • Safety mask 
  • Sealant 

Type of Primer 

The type of wood you’re working with will dictate what type of primer you use. Wood that isn’t stained needs a high-quality latex or oil-based primer, while wood that is stained needs a stain blocking primer (as does redwood and cedar). Additionally, furniture that has exposed wood, chalking, or chipped paint needs an oil-based primer. Sloan also notes that you should use water-based primer if you’re using water-based paints, and varnish-based products if you’re using varnish-based paints. 

Type of Paint

Experts recommend using chalk paint, which is also known as chalk-finish or chalking paint. It’s an easy and stylish way to improve and transform your furniture, says Gary McCoy, Lowe’s store manager serving the Charlotte, N.C. market. “Different from chalkboard paint, it’s a latex paint that has a fine powder added to the mix to create a unique matte finish,” he says. “The brushstroke and imperfections become part of the unique look.” 

Type of Paint Brush

Click here for the rest of the story…


Read More
What To Do If An Airline Loses Your Luggage

What To Do If An Airline Loses Your Luggage

What To Do If An Airline Loses Your Luggage? Air travel experts share their advice for dealing with missing checked baggage — and minimizing the risk in the first place.

Huffpost.com | By Caroline Bologna | Jul 28, 2022, 05:45 AM EDT

For many years, people felt relatively secure about checking their luggage for a flight. But the chaos of air travel this summer has thrown cold water on that confidence.

The odds of airlines losing your luggage have reportedly “skyrocketed” this year, with massive increases in the numbers of “mishandled” ― i.e., lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered ― bags.

“During the pandemic, many airports and airlines were forced to reduce their workforce in reaction to the restrictions the world was facing,” Alex Miller, founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, told HuffPost. “Now, as these restrictions have been lifted, people are returning to their travels again, leaving airports and airlines struggling to cope with the surge of passengers. This combination of an increased demand, with a shortage of staff, as recruitment hasn’t been able to counterbalance the increase, is leaving many travelers to arrive at their destination without their luggage.”

The result is countless airport photos showing mounds of lost luggage and a lot of frustrated travelers.

Of course, the obvious solution is to pack less and avoid checking a bag, but sometimes that’s just not an option. So what should you do if you find yourself in this situation and end up separated from your bag? Below, experts share their advice.

File a missing bag report.

“The first thing you should do if you notice that your baggage did not arrive at your destination is to report it immediately,” Miller advised. “The airline that you flew on is responsible for ensuring your luggage is delivered to your destination.”

Go to the airline’s baggage desk and have the customer service representative see if they can locate your luggage. It’s possible it was delayed but will arrive on a later flight. Or perhaps it arrived early and was placed in a separate area.

You might also be able to determine your bag’s location on the airline’s mobile app. If the bag is still missing, however, it’s time to file a claim.

“Once you’ve informed airline staff about your missing baggage, it is essential that you file a missing baggage report,” Miller added. “You should provide a detailed description of your luggage, including size, color and material of the bag. The report should also include your current address and contact information so the airline can contact you. You should also keep a note of any reference or tracking number that you receive from the lost luggage desk.”

Find out what compensation you’re owed.

Click here for the rest of the story…


Read More
DIFS Alerts Consumers to Recurring Scam and How to Avoid It

With home values up do you have enough insurance coverage?

From: Michigan Dept. of Insurance and Financial Services <DIFS@govsubscriptions.michigan.gov>
Date: Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 8:31 AM
Subject: Press Release: DIFS: Increased Home Values, Rising Supply Costs May Leave Homeowners With Insufficient Insurance Coverage If Disaster Strikes

Media Contact: Laura Hall, (517) 290-3779, DIFS-press@michigan.gov
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2022(LANSING, MICH)

For National Insurance Awareness Day, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is urging consumers to confirm that their home’s replacement value is adequate in today’s housing market, and to make sure they understand the terms and conditions of their policy, particularly the policy’s deductible, that will apply if disaster strikes their property.

Home Values

“Home values and building supply prices have increased across the country, and the current coverage provided by your homeowners policy may not be enough to replace or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Though some policies may provide automatic value adjustments, this is a great time to contact your company or agent to discuss your home’s value and to make sure you understand your policy to ensure that it will fully protect you in the event of a loss.

”Homeowners insurance is a contract between a consumer and an insurance company to provide protection for a home. The contract specifies the potential risks, called hazards, that the policy will cover and any applicable policy terms, limitations, exclusions, and policyholder responsibilities. It will also detail things like the premium, deductible, the replacement value of a home, any outbuildings, and any valuable personal property, such as jewelry or collectibles, that may require additional coverage with a personal property endorsement.

In exchange for providing the coverage described in the policy contract, the insurance company will charge the policyholder a premium. Premiums may be billed on a monthly basis, though discounts may be available if consumers elect to pay on an annual or semi-annual basis. The policyholder is also responsible for any relevant deductible, which is a certain amount of money that must be paid out-of-pocket before the insurance company will pay a claim after a loss. For example, a homeowners policy may have a $1,000 deductible, meaning that the insured must pay $1,000 of a covered loss before the company will pay.

“Policy premiums typically decrease when a consumer chooses a higher deductible but choosing a higher deductible may make it more difficult for a family to recover from a disaster,” said Director Fox. “It is important that you have a plan, such as a dedicated emergency fund, for paying your policy deductible or your family could face a severe financial strain if a fire, tornado, or other natural disaster damages your home or possessions.

”For more information and tips on saving for emergencies or other financial goals, visit the DIFS Financial Education website.

For additional information on insurance policies, the claims filing process, or to file a complaint against an insurance company or agent, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or call 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

####


Read More

Grand Rapids, MI Voted 16th Best Place to Live

US News Reports | By Anna Gustafson

Grand Rapids, Michigan Overall Score 6.6/10

What’s it like to live in Grand Rapids, MI?

Grand Rapids has an affinity for public art, and its craft brewery scene is one of the best in the nation. A scenic spot perched on the Grand River – Michigan’s longest waterway – Grand Rapids has evolved from its 19th-century roots as a hub of furniture production to the modern-day metro area that is attracting college students and young families with its healthy job market, affordable housing and outdoor recreational activities.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on the quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there.

Click here for the rest of the story!


Wanna see more great articles?

Read More
DIFS Alerts Consumers to Recurring Scam and How to Avoid It

Tips Following Northern Michigan Tornado

FROM: Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Offers Insurance Tips Following Northern Michigan Tornado

Media Contact: Laura Hall, (517) 290-3779, DIFS-press@michigan.gov 
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2022

(LANSING, MICH) As residents across northern Michigan assess the damage and begin to recover from Friday afternoon’s tornado, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is providing tips to assist residents when working with insurance companies to file claims and repair damages.

“DIFS stands ready to assist the residents of northern Michigan as they begin to recover from the incredible devastation wrought by Friday’s tornado, hailstorm, and power outages,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “It is important that those who have experienced damage understand their rights and responsibilities when filing insurance claims. They should carefully review their policies and work with their agents and insurers to see what coverage is available to them. DIFS is available to answer questions and assist consumers 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442.”

Anyone impacted by storm damage should:

  • Contact their insurance company’s claims hotline and/or agent to report the claim. Have the policy number and other relevant information readily available. DIFS has prepared an Insurance Claims Tracking Sheet to make this process easier.
  • Take steps to protect the property and prevent further loss. Be sure to keep receipts for any purchases of supplies that are needed to protect the property.
  • Document the loss. Take pictures or videos of the damaged items and do not get rid of the items until instructed to do so by the insurance company.
  • Review insurance policies to understand their coverage and discuss with their agent or insurer if there are any questions.
  • If there is water damage to a home or other structure, consumers should tell their insurance company that there is water damage and they are looking to determine what coverage is available. Consumers should not simply state that the damage is due to a flood as there may be additional causes for water damage, such as storm-related rainwater intrusion, sewer backup, or failing sump pump, that may be covered under the policy.
  • If there is damage to a vehicle, consumers should contact their auto insurance company. They may have coverage for the damage if they carry comprehensive coverage on their auto policy.

More Information

Additional disaster recovery information is available on the DIFS website.

DIFS encourages consumers to first attempt to resolve any claim disputes directly with their insurance company. If a resolution cannot be reached, DIFS will help try to resolve disputes. To learn more and file a complaint, visit Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints. Anyone with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage is asked to call the DIFS toll-free hotline 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442.

The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.


More great reads…

Read More
How to Make a Flower Garden - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Make a Flower Garden

If you have been wanting to start a garden, now is the time! The long, sunny days are a great source of energy for plants, making summer the perfect season to start growing flowers. Any home could use a pop of color. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, it can be helpful to cover the basics. From sunlight to soil, there are a lot of choices that must be made in order to create a successful flower garden, but hopefully, this guide will help you through the process with just five easy steps!

  1. Choose a Location
    The first step is deciding where you would like to plant your flower bed. Most people make flower beds along the front or the side of their house, but feel free to get creative with it. You could create a garden around the base of a tree, around your mailbox, or you could use flowers to hide certain objects in your yards such as electrical equipment or pipes. Sunlight is important to consider when choosing a location. Depending on the flowers you choose, they could need up to six hours of sunlight. It is important to read the labels of any seeds or plants that you buy to ensure that the location will be able to provide the necessary amounts of sunlight.
  2. Choose your Flowers
    Different flowers will flourish in different climates and different types of soil. Temperatures and day length plays a key role in the photosynthetic cycle. Depending on what region you live in, some flowers may not be able to grow. The country is divided into climate zones. Research what plants suit your climate zone, or ask for help at a local plant nursery! They will be able to help you choose the right flowers to make your garden successful.
  3. Remove the Grass
    Once you have picked a location, it’s time to prepare the soil. Begin by removing the grassy layer. With a shovel, start digging in the center of the designated area. Continue to lift the sod with your shovel until all grassy parts have been removed. If digging isn’t your style, there is another option! Although it is a longer process, it’s far less labor-intensive. Instead of digging up the grass layer, set newspapers over the entire area. Cover the paper with rich planting soil or compost and, in four or five months, the grass will have died and the area will be rich and ready for soil preparation.
  4. Prepare the Soil
    The next step is to add planting soil on top of the garden bed you have just prepared. When choosing one of the six soil types, consider what types of flowers or plants will be living in the soil. Each plant grows better in a certain type of soil. Be sure to research which type of soil will be best for your flowerbed before you begin planting. Soil does its best when it is loose and breathable. Before you add the soil, break up any clumps of dirt and remove rocks. Lay down six inches of soil. Do not apply too much pressure to the soil; packing it down will increase the density, making it difficult for air and water to reach the roots. Once the soil is down, create an edge with rocks or bricks to separate the garden from the grass.
  5. Plant the Flowers
    Before you begin planting, make sure that the soil is ready. You want the soil to be moist but loose. If you are planting seeds, look at the packet to see how deep they should be planted. Seeds need oxygen to germinate – planting them too deep can inhibit growth. Begin by digging a hole; for most plants, you want the hole to be about ¾ the size of the pot. Once you have taken the plant out of the pot, gently remove and discard the excess dirt from the roots. Set the roots in the hole you prepared, and gently push topsoil back into the hole, but do not press down. The soil needs to remain loose and full of oxygen.

Now that you have your flower garden, remember to take care of it! Some areas may have enough rain to nourish the plants naturally. If you live in a dry area, you will need to water your flowers between rainstorms to make sure that they are healthy.

Happy summer, and happy planting!


Latest Posts

Read More
Best Place to Raise a Family - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Best Places To Raise A Family

Rocket Homes | 9 MINUTE READ | FEBRUARY 05, 2022

Raising a family is as incredibly rewarding as it is challenging. There’s no doubt that heads of households want to ensure they’re giving their children every chance to thrive academically, mentally and physically, while also providing a safe space for the family unit to strengthen.

The burden doesn’t solely rest on a parent or caregiver’s shoulders. The place they choose to put down roots should also provide support and opportunity. The best cities for families to live will excel in providing safety, affordable care, open spaces to roam and quality learning, whether kids are starting kindergarten or wrapping up their high school years.

Taking those factors into consideration, Rocket HomesSM teamed up with BestPlaces.net to find some of the best locations to raise a family. This diverse list includes college towns, suburban spots, urban locales and several areas of the Midwest, meeting the needs of the country’s many different kinds of families – from those who wish to watch their kids grow up in the hustle and bustle of a big city to those who dream of the white-picket fences and treelined streets of the suburbs.

Finding The Best Places For Families

The researchers at BestPlaces.net used the following metrics to determine the rankings for the best places for families to live in the U.S.:

  • School ratings
  • Crime rate
  • Average cost of child care
  • Amenities for kids
  • Percent of households with children
  • Parks, playgrounds and greenspaces
  • Increase in households with children

1. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Population: 1,074,223

Percent of households with children: 47.9%

Average cost of child care: $9,420

Located just 30 miles from the beaches of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids has an abundance of opportunities for kids to engage in culture, history, art and nature at more than 20 museums and the world-renown Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Residents can also be sure their children will receive a good education. Grand Rapids ranks in the top 5% in the country for school system ratings, which can be attributed, in part, to the quality of life of its educators, as the city also ranks as one of the best places to be a teacher.

2. Bridgeport, Connecticut

Click here for the rest of the story…

Read More
Shield Agency Flood Insurance

Considering A Home In A Flood Zone? What You Need To Know About Flood Insurance

Water views are fantastic, but the thought of a flood in your home can be scary. Flood insurance works to protect homeowners against the devastation that can be caused by a flood. Here, we’ll take a look at what you need to know if you’re considering buying a home that requires flood insurance.

Who Needs Flood Insurance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determines a flood zone as an area that has a 1% or greater chance of flooding in the coming year. Changes in water levels can mean that a home may be in a flood zone one year, but not the next.

If you’re considering purchasing a home in a flood zone, you’ll need to have flood insurance in order to move forward with the purchase of your new home. Sometimes, flood insurance is covered as a part of homeowner’s association (HOA) fees. In other cases, homeowners need to purchase flood insurance on their own.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Thankfully, your flood insurance policy may cover all direct damage related to a flood. In the event of a flood, your insurance policy may cover functional aspects of your home (such as a sewer system that has backed up as a result of a flood), and damage to personal items. It’s important to note that your policy is specific to you and your home, and you’ll need to work with your insurance agent to fully understand your flood insurance coverage.

Need Flood Insurance? We’re Here To Help.

Reach out to Shield Insurance Agency, serving Michigan, for more information about how a flood insurance policy can help keep you, your family, and your home protected against the unexpected.

Read More