The pandemic has created significant changes to what “back to work” will look like as businesses across the United States continue to reopen. With no vaccine on the market just yet, many companies have shifted to exclusively working remotely, while some have returned to their office at a reduced capacity. Without a doubt, the post-COVID-19 workplace will function differently than the pre-pandemic workplace.
As your local insurance agent in North Central Massachusetts, we want to make sure that you are prepared no matter your current work environment. To help navigate the ‘new normal’ of business, we’ve put together an outline of how business operations are predicted to change due to the pandemic and provide insights to prepare you, your business, and your employees — whether you are inside or outside the office.
A recent survey conducted by Harvard Business Review shared results that indicated workers adjusted to working virtually more quickly than business leaders had worried they would; in many cases, workers felt that they were just as productive as before. Companies like Twitter and Facebook have announced they are making working from home a permanent option for their employees. If your business is operating remotely, here are few ways to help protect your business from vulnerabilities and boost employee productivity.
The pandemic has created a surge in demand for digital capabilities, products, and services. As mentioned in our cybersecurity blog, more cyber attackers are trying to exploit employees using insecure devices and networks within their homes. Google tallied more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 on its service each day in April. The best way to combat and protect your business online is to make sure you are obtaining the needed technology and security to protect your data. We suggest having your employees add technology to protect their data. Here is a short list we suggest they start with:
Add a Verified Personal Network (VPN).
Set up two-factor authentication on all devices with valuable information.
Set up a password manager to generate and remember different, complex passwords for every account.
Set up antivirus software on your devices.
It is imperative for those returning to work onsite to follow the CDC guidelines around creating a safe environment for your employees and clients. To help with this process, they have provided many social distancing posters, signs, and resources available for download on their website. Here are some other more recommended procedures for returning to work.
New Safety Procedures for Employees and Customers
Especially today, safety should always be top of mind at the workplace. To help you reduce the impact of COVID-19 on your businesses operations, employees, and customers, here are a few suggestions on where to start:
Plan ahead before you reopen to the public or bring employees back into your office.
Implement new policies and practices to support social distancing in the workplace.
Restrict the number of customers or visitors allowed in your office at a time.
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
Reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time.
Order customized pens with your company logo for your customers to use and keep to help reduce the spread of germs.
Increase dispensers of hand sanitizer throughout your business spaces to encourage usage.
Interior & Exterior Maintenance
Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace by adding increasing safety measures and updates to their office space. This includes making sure all systems are up to date and properly functioning. Here are a few ways you can update your existing workspace to increase everyone’s safety:
Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards to protect the spread of germs.
Increase sanitation in high traffic areas like the bathroom or many entrances.
Make sure your HVAC system is properly working.
Consider installing additional high-efficiency air filters.
Check-in on your insurance policies
As you begin to reopen your business, it is always a great idea to check in with your local Anderson, Bagley and Mayo Insurance agent so we can advise you on whether your current coverage properly protects your business. It is essential for businesses to understand how COVID-19 can impact their insurance policies. This is why we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to take the necessary precautions and put controls and safeguards in place.
Your friends here at ABM understand the anxiety of reopening your business during these unprecedented times. We are here to help you navigate these uncharted waters as we adjust to this new normal. Contact us today for any questions regarding your current policies. It’s never too late to make sure your business is properly protected. ...
Businesses and individuals worldwide are adjusting to “the new normal” of working from home. While our work environments may have changed, cyberattacks are still happening and at a higher rate than normal. More than one-third of senior technology executives surveyed by CNBC say that cybersecurity risks have increased as a majority of their employees work from home.
It’s important to remember, your network at home may not be as secure as your office IT infrastructure — which means you must be extra careful to avoid falling for a cyber scam. As your local insurance agent, we want to make sure that you are protected, whether you are shopping online from the comfort of your living room or working from your home office. Here are some tips to make sure that you or your business don’t fall victim to cyber threats:
Now more than ever, it is important to take extra measures to stay safe online. Follow these precautions and look for these red flags, especially if you suspect a phishing attempt through a fraudulent email, text, or phone call
Ignore unsolicited communications, especially from organizations or companies posing as a COVID-19 resource.
Some scammers are impersonating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization — be extra cautious if you receive any emails containing links, logos, or imagery of these organizations. Many of these emails contain malicious links that are in place to try to get you to click by using phrases such as “updated cases of the coronavirus near you” or “you may have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient.” These landing pages are likely set up to steal email credentials and other personal information.
Double-check your links
When you open an email, roll your cursor over the link and see if the URL that pops up is consistent with the email address and the content in the message. If not, don’t click.
If you receive an email or text with links for transactions or packages claiming to be Amazon that you don’t remember ordering to your home, don’t click the link. Instead, contact their customer service to be sure it is an accurate email.
Don’t provide your personal information
Be cautious of requests for your username and/or password, or other personal details such as banking information or login credentials to help with payments or COVID-19 discounts.
Be on the lookout for suspicious websites and requests:
If you see a website that looks suspicious and claims to sell goods or services, do some research before exploring their website. For example, scams have been reported by consumers searching for home exercise equipment during the pandemic. Certain items are very hard to find at this time, and there are many Facebook ads claiming to have them available at deeply-discounted prices.
You should also be wary if you receive an ad or an email that has an overwhelming sense of urgency or is asking you to complete a task quickly.
Now that we’ve covered some basic red flags, here are a few ways to add extra security to your home office.
If your computer looks different, experiences glitches or a suspicious problem develops, immediately report it to your business IT support team.
Make sure you have backup copies of important files and data in case of a cybersecurity breach, accidental deletion, or computer malfunction. Saving all documents and data to the shared drive on the server and having the server backed up on a regular basis is a great way to protect your data.
It is recommended to have encryption on laptops to prevent sensitive data from being accessed.
Use a Verified Personal Network to add an extra layer of protection to your WIFI and data.
Use secure passwords on all of your online accounts. Eight characters are not enough — practice good password management and use a strong mix of characters. Do not use the same password for multiple sites. Do not share your password with others and do not write it down anywhere where someone could see it.
Unplug Alexa/Google or any other device that can “listen in” while you’re on Zoom calls to avoid the potential for sensitive company information (e.g., account numbers, company plans, etc.) to be compromised.
At Anderson, Bagley & Mayo, we strive to stay up to date on risks that may bring harm to our clients, including threats to their businesses. If you are a business owner who has concerns about increased risks due to employees working from home, please contact Rich or Tom Bagley today for a complete review of your insurance protection. If you are an employee working from home, this is also a good time to review your insurance protection, to make sure that your home office, data, and personal information is secure and properly insured. Contact us today, and let Anderson, Bagley & Mayo help protect what matters most to you....
Anderson, Bagley, and Mayo Insurance is here to do our part in support of you — our customers, neighbors, and community. We know that many of you are doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. That means many of you are driving fewer miles, resulting in a decrease in auto claims and vehicle usage.
To recognize this change in driving behavior, and to ease some of the financial burdens, many of our carriers are now offering auto relief programs. For details on what your carrier has for billing options and/or credits towards premiums for customers, follow the links below:
Arbella's Here. For Good.® Give Back Program
MAPFRE Insurance Staying Home Refund
Traveler’s Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program
The Main Street America Group Personal Lines Auto Premium Relief Program
Safety Personal Auto Relief Credit
Vermont Mutual Auto Premium Payback
Plymouth Rock Assurance Home and Auto relief
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID relief programs
1. Do I need to do anything in order to receive my credit?
You do not need to take any action to receive your auto premium credit.
2. How do I know if I qualify for the auto credit?
All active auto policyholders qualify for the credit, regardless of payment status
3. Do I need to be staying home to qualify for the credit?
You do not have to be sheltering-in-place to receive the discount. All active policyholders are eligible.
4. How will I get my credit?
Clients that have paid their premium in full will receive a refund check. All others will receive a credit on their bill.
For any other questions regarding your auto credit, MAPFRE has put together an extensive FAQ sheet. To view, visit: bit.ly/2zS2cFD
As this situation evolves, we will provide updates about how we will continue to support you during this crisis. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us by email, phone, or form. Contact ABM today for help protecting the most important things and people in your life.
We thank you for your business. Stay safe and be well....
Here in North Central Massachusetts, we are spending a lot more time at home to help flatten the curve. While our normal routines may have been disrupted, it is a great opportunity to find the silver lining and enjoy spending quality time with our families, trying out new recipes, getting ahead of spring cleaning, and even protecting our valuables in our home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make a home inventory. We’ve put together the following insights to help guide you through this helpful stay-at-home project.
What is a home inventory and why do I need one?
Every homeowner, condo owner, or renter should consider having some form of a home inventory. It simply is a way to document everything you own along with details about how much each item is worth. In the event you suffer an insured loss, this list can help expedite the claims process, especially when our memory may fail us. Here at Anderson Bagley and Mayo, we believe reviewing your homeowner’s policy and creating a home inventory list go hand-in-hand.
What should I consider when taking inventory?
Your home inventory should include a comprehensive list of the items or personal belongings you have in your home, condo, or apartment. The list can be categorized by room, type of item, collection, or other relevant criteria. Each item should also have as much of the following information as possible:
Make, model or serial number
Where and when the item was purchased
What it cost to purchase the item and what you think it will cost to replace the item “today.” (What you bought on sale, may not be on sale at the time of loss).
Appraisals of valuable items like antiques, jewelry or collectibles.
Receipts or photos in an attachment if relevant
If you have any expensive jewelry, paintings, rare keepsakes, or electronics in excess of
$1,000-$2,000, we recommend that you record those in a separate section of your home inventory list. These big-ticket items may need additional coverage. Below is an extensive list of items that may best be insured under separately:
Valuables (jewelry, silver, furs)
Antiques, collectibles, fine arts
Boats, jet-skis, ATV’s, and snowmobiles
How should I make my home inventory?
There are several ways you can take inventory. You can make a physical list, create an organized spreadsheet, compose a digital inventory by taking photos and videos, or you can use a home inventory app. When creating your home inventory, go from one room to the next and include all household items from couches to appliances. It is, however, important to remember, in the event of a loss like a fire, having a hard copy of your inventory inside your home may not be of much use. We recommend having a backup copy outside of your home, at your office, in a safety deposit box, or stored digitally.
We hope these tips help you get started on creating your home inventory. If you have any additional questions about home inventories or your home insurance policy, your ABM agent is here to help.
There’s no place like your home. Let Anderson, Bagley & Mayo help you protect it. Contact us today!...
Do you feel like you’re not being heard in your relationship with your … insurance company? If you find yourself waiting on hold, getting frustrated talking to a robot, or explaining your situation over and over again, it’s time to break up with your big-box insurance company. Like finding your life partner, committing to the right insurance agent should be based on compatibility and overall happiness. Stop ignoring the red flags and realize it’s time to work with a local agent who will put you first.
Here at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance (ABM Insurance), we're not just your agent, we’re your neighbors here in North Central Massachusetts. We work and live in the same towns as you and truly care about protecting you, your family, and your business. Here are three reasons why we believe you should break up with big-box insurance and switch to a local agent today:
1. To them, you are just a number
Don’t you hate waiting on hold? Or having to dial a 1-800 number just to speak to an automated voice recording? With big-box insurance companies, you may never speak with a real person on the other end of the line. Do you trust that your national insurance company’s call center representative is going to understand your unique situation and do everything in their power to help you resolve it? If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, perhaps it’s time to consider buying insurance through a local agent.
2. The lowest price may not be the best price
Many big-box insurance companies focus on price point, not quality insurance. Big-box companies more often than not, will give you just one quote and slash your coverage arbitrarily to get your price point down. While the big-box insurance company may say they are lowering your price, they are often getting rid of coverage that will keep you and your loved ones safe. It is critical to talk to a knowledgeable insurance professional who will find you the best insurance coverage for your unique situation.
At ABM, our job is to provide you with multiple options and help you select a policy that’s the best match for you. We’re not married to just one insurance carrier — we represent many reputable insurance carriers that offer a wide variety of coverage options and price points. It is important for us to find you the best fit for your unique situation and we truly take the time to familiarize and understand your needs. Additionally, with our local connections and knowledge of the Massachusetts insurance market, our agents will work hand-in-hand with you to find the coverage you need. Our agents will do the grunt work. You do the benefiting.
3. They are likely not local
Long-distance relationships are hard enough, imagine if you needed someone during an emergency or had questions about filing a claim. In the event of an emergency, like a house fire, ABM insurance professionals are right around the corner, ready to help. We are not just an automated 1-800 number to call — at ABM, we are real people ready to help whenever you need us.
It's also a breath of fresh air to see a smiling face when you want to review your policy. Our door is always open and we are here to help you through all the stages of your life, whether you’re going from renting an apartment to buying a home, starting a business, getting married, renovating your home, or looking to cover that retirement property. We provide coverage that will grow with you, your family, and your business, no matter where life takes you.
Today, more than ever, ABM is uniquely qualified to find you the best personal and business insurance solutions to safeguard the most important things and people in your life, while also saving you valuable time and money. As one of the largest, independent, and family-owned insurance agencies in North Central Massachusetts, representing many of the highest-rated insurance carriers, we are committed to helping you protect the life you’re living today. We look forward to protecting you wherever the road may lead you in the future by creating an insurance plan that can grow with you, your family, or your business....
With ABM Insurance, you can stay focused on creating and living the life you want, while feeling confident that you’re protected from anything unexpected — and with an umbrella policy, you will certainly feel secure. Umbrella Insurance can provide additional liability coverage beyond the limits of your home or auto policy.
This coverage is designed to provide enhanced protection against mishaps that all of us know can happen, but that we don’t have the power to control or to predict when they will happen. To demonstrate umbrella’s protective powers, we put together some common reasons why you may need it:
1. You drive daily
Whether you have a short daily commute to Fitchburg or travel to Boston, you participate
regularly in a high-liability activity which increases your risk of getting into a car accident. Umbrella Insurance can help cover damages from a car accident that would exceed the limits of your auto policy. In the event of an accident that results in unexpected damages or bodily injury that leads to a lawsuit, your assets will be protected and your umbrella policy will cover costs exceeding your standard policy that you’re found legally responsible for, which can often be in the millions.
2. You frequently entertain at your home
With great hosting comes great responsibility. If one of your guests were to slip and fall inside or outside your home and injure themselves, you could be responsible for their medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering if they decide to sue you. Even if you did nothing wrong, you will have to defend yourself in a lawsuit, and the cost of paying a good attorney to defend you can really add up. If these fees exceed the limits of your home insurance policy, your umbrella policy would kick-in, offering additional coverage for these extra costs.
You are also responsible for people leaving your home — if your guests were to drink alcohol at your party and get in an accident, you would be at fault.
3. You drive your children and their friends
If you were to get into an accident while driving your kids and their friends, the injury count would increase dramatically. This also means if your children’s friend gets injured, their parents could potentially sue or press legal charges against you. If you don’t have Umbrella Insurance, you would be responsible for paying out of pocket.
4. You have a pet
As much as we love our pets, animals can be unpredictable and can be a major risk. If your pet were to bite someone, you could be sued to reclaim compensation for their medical expenses.
5. You have a pool or trampoline
There’s nothing better than a backyard with a pool and/or a trampoline — especially for children. However, as much fun as these backyard toys are, they are also a huge liability. Again, if someone were to injure themselves using your pool or trampoline, you would be at fault. And, it can cost you enormous sums of money to defend yourself in a lawsuit. That’s why anyone who would like to safeguard not only their current earnings but also their future wages, can benefit from having an umbrella insurance policy.
The final thing to know about Umbrella Insurance: it’s a small price to pay for a huge amount of coverage. For around $200 annually, you could get up to $1 million in excess liability coverage, beyond the limits of your homeowners and car insurance policies.
When it comes to your insurance coverage, you need more than just a great price. You need
help from local agents who understand what you are going through. Contact your local ABM
agent today to learn more about what kind of umbrella protection you need. Our team will go
right to work for you, first assessing your risks to then finding you the most affordable umbrella policy available that will meet your needs and protect your assets....
Living in North Central Massachusetts, we are no strangers to how weather can impact our home, apartment, condo, or rental property, especially during the winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home and apartment fires occur more often in the winter than in any other season. And it makes sense — this is the time of year when we spend more time by the fireplace, near the space heater, or in the living room with scented candles.
Here at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance, we want to ensure that you have professional, knowledgeable, and caring advice — not only about the right home insurance but also in the situations when you need it most. Most home or apartment fires occur as a result of easily preventable negligence, which is why we’ve put together the following collection of tips to help keep you, your family, and your property safe and reduce your risk of experiencing the devastating effects of a fire. There’s no place like your home, so let ABM help you protect it.
Space Heaters and Fireplaces
It’s that time of year again — colder months are upon us. Space heaters are an extremely popular method of warming up during the winter, but they are also the second leading cause of home fires. If you’re using portable space heaters to keep warm at home, here are a few safety precautions to follow:
Before turning on your space heater, inspect it for cracked wiring or broken plugs. If the space heater is damaged in any way, absolutely do not use it.
When using a space heater, always make sure that you have it placed on a flat, level surface, at least three feet away from flammable objects such as blankets or clothing.
Space heaters use a lot of electricity, so always plug them directly into a wall outlet.
Never use an extension cord or power strip with a space heater, as the amount of electricity they pull can cause a circuit overload, which can result in a fire.
Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn off and unplug the heater when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Double-check any space heaters you were using before going to bed or leaving your home to make sure they are off and unplugged.
Make sure your space heater has an anti-tipping feature. This will ensure that if your space heater is knocked over, it will turn off.
If you make use of a fireplace or wood/pellet burning stove in your home, here are a few tips and procedures to be mindful of.
Fireplace safety tips:
After being out of use for a number of months, it is important to have your chimney inspected by a certified professional annually. Debris can build up within the walls of your chimney, which can lead to a home fire.
Make use of a fireplace screen and keep it closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto surfaces within your home.
Never leave a lit fire unattended.
Avoid placing flammable items within 10 feet of your fireplace.
Woodburning stove safety tips:
Proper ventilation is key for any wood burning stove system — be sure your wood stove complies with all fire codes and inspect your ventilation system before lighting your stove for the first time of the season.
Install and test carbon monoxide detectors near your stove.
Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and use only recommended pellets for your stove.
Install and Regularly Check Smoke Detectors
The NFPA recommends that your home has smoke detectors installed on every floor, as well as one for each bedroom. Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls and close to ceilings because smoke rises.
In the kitchen: be sure to place your smoke detector at least 10 feet away from any cooking appliances to avoid triggering a false alarm while cooking.
In the basement: place the smoke alarm on the ceiling near the bottom step of the stairs that lead up to the first floor.
Be sure to regularly check your smoke detectors by pressing the test button and replace the batteries at least once if not twice per year. If your smoke detector is “chirping” that means it is time to replace the batteries, or it may be alerting you of a disconnected battery/wiring issue.
Fire extinguishers are helpful for putting out/minimizing the damage of small fires quickly. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher readily available in your home and that you know how to use it. You can contact your local fire department for fire extinguisher training — follow these simple recommendations from the U.S. Fire Administration.
Preventing Electrical Fires
Electrical malfunctions are one of the leading causes of home fires. When making any changes or renovations to your home, make sure you are working with a qualified electrician. Avoid making electrical changes to your home yourself — leave it to the professionals.
Be sure to check the cords and electricity usage in your home regularly.
Make sure cords do not run across doorways or underneath rugs or carpets or anywhere they can be easily damaged.
Limit the number of plugs you have on an outlet or power strip.
Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for the lamps in your home.
Here at ABM, we have first-hand experience in helping our home insurance clients face the devastating results of house fires. Even if you follow all of the above safety tips, accidents can happen. This is why it’s important to have a local, professional, independent insurance agent to help you choose the right home insurance, apartment insurance or condominium insurance, - insurance that will protect what’s most important to you.
If you’re a homeowner, landlord, renter or condominium owner, contact one of ABM’s knowledgable, professional agents today to learn more about the insurance that’s right for you and your home. Please call (800) 783-5133 or visit our website today....
Why do you need Renters Insurance? Renters insurance includes coverage for most of your personal belongings, liability insurance that could cover most bodily injury and property damage, and, in the event you’re displaced, renters insurance should provide funds for temporary housing. ...
You’ve seen the TV commercials with actors hired by major insurance carriers talking about Accident Forgiveness, and how this coverage will save you money if you get into a car crash. But what exactly is this additional endorsement, how do you find out if you can have it added to your policy, and how much does it cost? As your local insurance professionals, ABM is happy to breakdown Accident Forgiveness for you and give you an easy to understand synopsis of the coverage. ...
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for online shopping. And this year it’s more important than ever before to protect your personal data. That’s why we’ve compiled the following collection of cyber security tips and best practices for our clients and neighbors in North Central, MA. ...