Preparing Your Business for an Emergency

Preparing a Business for emergency or disasterSmall or independent business owners face so many challenges, and an important consideration is disaster or emergency prevention and planning.

After a major emergency, approximately 85% of all small and medium businesses fail within three years when no preparedness plan is in place.[1]

What constitutes a workplace emergency or disaster?

  • Weather based situations such as heavy snowfall, tornadoes or flooding
  • Environmental occurrences such as fires or earthquakes
  • Technological problems such as data breaches or communication failures
  • Health-based emergencies such as a flu outbreak

All business owners need to have an emergency plan in place to deal with climatic, technology and other threats within and outside the business.

Where to begin?

  • Identify risks and create a basic plan to deal with each situation: Be certain to consider that some key employees may not be able to perform their regular duties.
  • Review expectations and communications plan with staff members: What if your employees are not able to make it into work? What if your business had to close for a few days? What if a major supplier is unavailable? What happens if the phones are down? Establish a plan to deal with all possible scenarios.
  • Encourage personal preparedness: Employees who are personally prepared for disaster will be more likely to function normally in the event of a workplace emergency.
  • Technology considerations: Keep your technology systems secure and up to date. Properly maintain and dispose of sensitive information and perform regular backups.
  • Regularly audit emergency systems: Review power backups, safety equipment, evacuation routes, communication protocols and establish meeting places to best prepare for disaster.

Evaluate and review your business’s emergency preparedness plan with your staff on a consistent schedule to help ensure continuity and business health.

As your business grows and evolves, so may your insurance needs. Having the proper insurance coverage in place will help your business better recover in the event of an emergency. Keep in regular communication with your insurance professional to help ensure continued business health and profitability. If we can help your business, please reach out to us: 519-736-8228

Welcome to the Unofficial Start of Summer

Finally! The weekend we’ve been looking forward to for months… Victoria Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer!

Whatever your plans involve, we hope it’s safe and enjoyable. Here are three important reminders:

  • Bringing out summer toys, such as your camper, boat, RV, jet skis or ATVs? Be sure your insurance is up to date and that you’re fully covered.
  • Travelling out of province this weekend or at any time? Yes! Even the Government of Ontario states you need travel medical insurance. 
  • Remember to be a patient and courteous driver, and always have a plan for a safe way home. Please don’t drink and drive.

Victoria Day Gibb Insurance

From our families to yours, we wish you a safe and enjoyable Victoria Day weekend.

Emergency Preparedness Week

Emergency preparedness weekThis week is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada. The government is asking that everyone is prepared in case of emergency. From floods, floods, power outages, severe weather to even a nuclear emergency; the government wants you prepared.

What you can do:

  • Plan – Develop an emergency plan for your family.
  • Prepare – Create an emergency kit so your family can be self-sufficient for 72 hours.
  • Be Aware – Know what the risks are to your community.

It’s important that your family know what to do before, during and after a crisis situation.

While governments at all levels are working hard to keep Canada safe, everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency.

Enjoy Super Bowl LI

Super Bowl is a yearly tradition for those not only in North America, but across the world.

We plan the menu, craft the cocktails and send the invites… but be certain to include a safe way home for your guests.

Keep it simple, all you really need for a super Sunday is…

Safe Super Bowl Gibb Insurance

Please don’t drink and drive.

Protect Yourself From Email and Online Scams

Email Scams Protect YourselfEmail scams have gone far beyond the old “Nigerian Prince” requests to mail cheques and send money abroad. Scammers are using more sophisticated methods of impersonation for the purpose of stealing your personal information or money. (For information on protecting yourself from phone scams, please click here.)

Let’s review some terms.

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails which appear to be from reputable companies with the goal of baiting individuals to reveal personal information, such as Internet passwords, banking information and credit card details.

Spear-phising is even more sophisticated and targeted – often the email will contain details, such as the recipient’s name, mention a previous email conversation and may come from a trusted friend’s email address.

Here’s how it works:

An email with an attachment may appear from a known and even trusted contact. The attachment may look like a PDF file, but it’s actually an image with a link embedded that once clicked takes the user to a very legitimate appearing Google log-in (as example).

Once the recipient goes through the log in process (supposedly to open the attachment), that information is captured. The attacker now has full access to your email and, as example, Google account.

There are only two small cues that this is a scam.

  • On a high resolution computer screen, you may be able to detect that the PDF is not legitimate and actually an image.
  • Once the faked image is clicked taking the recipient to the fake log in page, the URL does not begin with “https://” and is rather: “data:text/html.”
Gmail phishing scam

Credit: Tom Scott

You can read more about this phishing technique here.

Once your email is compromised, this is what can happen:

  • They have total access to your email.
  • They can now send emails, posing as you.
  • They can find personal information, such as past conversations to send very personalized emails, posing as you.
  • They look for contacts who have sent you attachments in the past, and replicate them for phishing purposes.

Avoid online shopping scams

When shopping online, even on trusted retail websites such as Amazon, you may see an advertisement with a great deal. These might not be legitimate, and if clicked, take you away from the Amazon page.

The website may appear to be just like the Amazon website and/or payment page, but once a purchase is made, the scammers now have your money. If the purchase is not finalized (such as “we’re currently out of stock”), you may be contacted via email by the fake retailer to complete the purchase whereby they steal your money and other personal information.

If you’re shopping with Amazon or any online retailer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Trust your instincts, deals that appear too good to be true, often are.
  • Check the URL to be certain you’re still on the correct page.
  • If you’re shopping with an Amazon “affiliated retailer”, contact Amazon’s customer service to ensure legitimacy.

Social media scams

You may have seen or heard of friend’s Facebook profiles being duplicated for the purpose of gaining trust then scamming friends via Facebook, and be aware that this problem still exists; but note that many savvy users these days turn to social media for a fast response to their customer service inquiries.

In a scam known as “angler phishing” the response may be from a faked replica of the company you’re contacting. You’ll then be directed to log in and give personal information on what may appear to be a real website, but is not.

For businesses – a real life example

Business email addresses can also be compromised. Consider the details of professional email conversations and combine that with what can be learned online about employees or even business owners who are active social media users:

  • LinkedIn – work responsibilities and professional details, fellow employees and their start dates
  • Facebook – daily activities and travel plans

This information can be compiled by a scammer, (and it’s happened locally!), sent another employee from a work email address, such as the following example:

Hello Mark,

I know that you’re on vacation in Florida, but this invoice needs immediate payment. As you know I would normally complete the transaction myself, but it’s a large amount, so I thought it best to send to you. Please find the invoice and the payment details attached. It can be paid online similar to how you paid last week’s invoice to ACME Company.

Thanks, see you soon. Jean

How can you protect yourself?

Be aware! Watch for emails, even from trusted friends or family members that contain language such as: (From the RCMP)

  •  E-mail Money Transfer Alert: Please verify this payment information below…
  • It has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous efforts to protect your account and reduce instances of fraud…
  • Dear Online Account Holder, Access To Your Account Is Currently Unavailable…
  • Important Service Announcement from…, You have 1 unread Security Message!
  • We regret to inform you that we had to lock your bank account access. Call (telephone number) to restore your bank account.

Protecting yourself online!

  • Have a strong and unique password for all your online activities.
  • When possible, utilize a two-step authentication and/or add a recovery phone number or email address for verification purposes.

Never send money based on an online request. Let you friends and family know that you will never request money from them online without personal contact.

  • Keep your travel plans off of social media.
  • Be a savvy shopper. If a deal looks too good to be true, it often is.
  • Check out the legitimacy of websites before making a purchase.
  • If you’re making an online purchase via Amazon or other online retailers, be sure you’re shopping on their legitimate website. Do a quick Google Search of the URL or company’s name. Look for online reviews or research the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
  • Before making an online purchase, check the website’s security status in the URL – look for https and a padlock symbol.
  • Business owners need to create a system for dealing with online payments, invoices and social media security.

Actions to take if you believe you’ve been sent a phishing email

(From the RCMP website)

If you receive one of these suspicious e-mails:
Report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the institution that it appears to be from.

If you received one of these suspicious e-mails and you unwittingly provided personal information or financial information, follow these steps:
Step 1 – Contact your bank/financial institution or credit card company
Step 2 – Contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports:
Equifax Canada Toll free: 1-800-465-7166
TransUnion Canada Toll free: 1-877-525-3823
Step 3 – Contact your local police
Step 4 – Always report phishing. If you have responded to one of these suspicious e-mails, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Please share this important information with everyone in your life, particularly those who are not savvy Internet users who may be more vulnerable.

Do This One Thing

Documenting your personal details - Insurance advice Gibb Insurance BrokersLikely there are “things” that you know you should do, but for a variety of reasons you haven’t done… yet… home maintenance to-do’s, maybe updating your will, getting an oil change… when we take the time to perform these pesky tasks, we feel better.

Here’s one thing we recommend adding to your to-do list: documenting and storing your personal details and financial information.

No one expects something bad to happen to them, but being prepared can save your loved ones considerable time and grief. What if you were unable to preform your normal day to day routine? Would your loved ones know who to contact for your insurance? Investments? Banking?

Here are some suggestions of what to include in your personal file:

  • Will (Power of Attorney, living will and funeral arrangements)
  • Personal medical information and history (doctor’s names and contact information, prescriptions, allergies, etc.)
  • All banking information (location, account numbers and passwords)
  • Insurance information (contact name and details, travel medical insurance and all policy numbers)
  • Investment details (contact name and details)
  • Mortgage, lease, credit card, line of credit and/or loan details
  • Vehicle information (copy of the ownership, insurance and loans)
  • Home inventory 
  • Copies of your passport, health card and driver’s license
  • If you have minor children, record all their information as well: doctor’s name, medical histories, insurance, investments, bank accounts, etc.

Further advice:

This information needs to be accessible to a spouse, a child, a trusted person or your lawyer in the event something unexpected happens to you. It should be stored in a secure location, such as a fire-proof safe, a safe deposit box or at a lawyer’s office which your trusted person can access.

The documentation can be stored electronically on a USB flash drive or on paper. Discuss with your trusted person the best format for them.

Your personal file should be updated anytime there is a change.

Documenting and sharing your personal details will make the lives of your loved ones easier in the event of a significant life change. Do it today and feel assured that your family is prepared and protected.