When to File an Insurance Claim and more

Friday October 17, 2014

bridgetedit500“This newsletter has several bits of important information! Tips in keeping you information safe while stored in the Cloud, protecting yourself against contractor insurance fraud & when to turn in a claim for a fender bender.” Bridget Hetchler | bhetchler@peabodyinc.com 5 Tips for Using Cloud Services to Keep Your Private Information Safe Storing documents, photos and data in cloud storage can be very convenient. Some people feel it’s much easier to have everything in one place instead of carrying around flash drives or discs that contain your data. But recent events in the media may have you doubting whether the private information you keep in cloud storage is safe from hackers. Here are five tips to help keep your cloud data safe from hackers:
  • Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Don’t answer security questions honestly. Security questions can be hacked right along with passwords. Make up your own security question, if possible. The answer doesn’t have to be true—just something you can remember.
  • Turn on two-step authorization to require more than a password, such as a security question and a password to successfully sign in to your account.
  • Find out what you are automatically backing up in the cloud. If you don’t want your info to back up automatically, turn that setting off.
  • Understand that you have limited control over the security of what you store on the Internet. To put it into perspective, think of it as storing data on someone else’s computer. You cannot control what he or she does with it or how it is secured.
Watch for Contractor Insurance Fraud The average homeowner probably knows little about the costs of materials and labor for home repairs. Unfortunately, this makes them ripe targets for disreputable contractors who will lie about the extent of a problem in order to make money off  of overpriced repairs. Often, the need for such repair is heavily exaggerated, if not completely fabricated. It is important that you act wisely when dealing with contractors so you don’t end up paying for repairs you don’t need. One especially dangerous type of contractor fraud involves using a homeowner’s insurance to pay for unnecessary repairs. A contractor will begin the process by finding damages and then he or she will offer to fix the damages for little or no cost. The contractor will then cause additional damage before telling the homeowners to file a claim with their insurance carrier. Often, the contractor will assert that the damage was caused by an accidental or weather-related incident. Contractors often convince homeowners that this is an acceptable use of their insurance policy, when in fact it is a form of insurance fraud. Insurance companies are on the lookout for such behavior and will prosecute when fraudulent claims are discovered. Unfortunately, the homeowner is often the party that is found responsible, not the contractor who caused the damage. Contractors involved in such scams are careful not to do anything illegal on paper, which helps them deny involvement and divert blame toward the homeowner. Remember, if you didn’t contact the contractor, you probably don’t need them. Be wary of any contractor that shows up at your door out of the blue and claims that your home is damaged. To ensure the problem they discovered is a legitimate concern, always get a second, third or even fourth opinion before committing to anything. Should You File a Claim for a Fender Bender? It can be tempting to file an auto insurance claim when you’re involved in any type of accident. However, for smaller accidents that only do minor damage to vehicles, sometimes it may make sense to forego filing a claim. By working out a deal with the other involved party, you can prevent insurance rates from spiking as a result of the incident. To do this, both people need to be on the same page. If the other person wants to get the insurance company involved, yours will likely be involved, as well. Also, if there are injuries, it is best to make a claim. But if the only damage is a broken taillight, it probably makes sense to write a check and be done with it. To prevent future legal issues, make sure to document the fender bender with pictures of any damage to the vehicles. Collect the other driver’s information in case you need it down the road. Regardless of what you ultimately decide to do, it is always a good idea to contact Peabody Insurance Agency Inc. following any accident, large or small. We will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of filing a claim, so that you can make an informed decision. Walk the Pounds Away If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to stay healthy or lose weight, you need nothing more than your own two feet. Walking is an ideal form of exercise—it’s free, and you can do it almost anytime and anywhere. Walking is also a great way to maintain a healthy weight. Whether you walk outdoors, on a treadmill or at the local mall, you will want to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. Walking shoes are designed to give you the flexibility, support and the proper push off needed for walking. Everyone’s feet are different, but look for shoes that are light, flexible and immediately feel comfortable. Walking shoes should not require a breaking-in period. You can walk to maintain your health or as part of a weight-loss program. To get moving, experts advise that beginners start with a 15- or 30-minute walk daily, adding five or 10 minutes to the walking session time per week. Once you get started, you will want to stay motivated. Consider finding a walking friend, joining a walking club or registering for a challenging walking event. Remember that you will not notice immediate physical changes to your body, but by walking and adding a healthy diet to your daily routine, it won’t be long before you look and feel better!