Increase Your Cyber Insurability

CyberSecurity

Increasing your organization’s cyber insurability.

By Dennis Ast, CPCU, CCIC

The cyber insurance market continues to change. As the market has become more challenging, cyber insurers are more selective about who they choose to insure.

Some of the key changes that cyber insurance carriers are making include:

  • Lower coverage limits
  • Increased retentions
  • Higher premiums
  • Coinsurance on some coverages
  • New endorsements that further limit coverage

Insurers are requiring organizations to fill out full applications and ransomware supplementals, complete cyber assessments to search for vulnerabilities and add subjectivities to quotes to minimize their exposure to risk. These requirements are driven by an increase in number of cyber-attacks, which is resulting in higher claim payments being made by cyber carriers. Cyber insurers are looking for clients that have developed strong cyber hygiene and resiliency. If you or your company haven’t stayed current with your cyber security, obtaining cyber insurance may be a challenge.  

Cyber carriers want to offer their optimum terms to those who have best-in-class cyber security programs. There are steps that organizations can take to increase their insurability.

Below are the steps you can take to increase your insurability:

  • Start the renewal process four to six months prior to the renewal date
  • Obtain a cyber vulnerability assessment and resolve all vulnerabilities
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – especially on email and remote access
  • Secure Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP)
  • Implement Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
  • Enable email security
  • Keep all Devices and Applications patched and up to date
  • Encrypt all sensitive data
  • Remove/replace end of life or end of support software
  • Have back-ups – regular, encrypted, air-gaped & tested
  • Develop and practice a cyber incident response plan

By increasing your cyber resiliency and hygiene, cyber carriers are more likely to offer better renewal terms to your organization. OneGroup can help you to build a strong cyber program that will increase your organization’s chances of obtaining cyber coverage.


Dennis Ast is a senior account executive and cyber risk specialist at OneGroup. He can be reached at 716-572-2410 or [email protected].

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Pinwheels Blue Overlay

OneGroup supports McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. Throughout the month, OneGroup supported the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center, an organization that has been dedicated to ending child abuse in our Central New York community since 1999. They have assisted in the healing of countless children’s lives, and they see more than 1,000 victims of child abuse each year.

McMahon Ryan Logo

We kicked off the month by joining some remarkable community members at the Go Blue 4 Kids Breakfast. We were left in awe of the strength and perseverance shown by keynote speaker Michelle Knight, best-selling author and Cleveland Kidnapping survivor. Her story reminded us of the reason it is so important to support organizations that actively protect our community’s children.

OneGroup spread some positivity by planting 100 pinwheels on our front lawn. They spun through snow, wind, sun, and rain! Every day, these small symbols reminded us that all children deserve a happy and bright childhood. The pinwheels standing their ground throughout our unpredictable and harsh weather seemed to serve as a metaphor of strength.

On April 24th, the sun began to shine and some members of our OneGroup team laced up their sneakers and participated in the Step Up 4 Kids Run.

As the month comes to a close, we’re reminded that organizations such as McMahon Ryan require support year-round, not just during the month of April. Learn more about the work that McMahon Ryan does in our community here

Risk Management in Construction

Workers Compensation

The three elements of managing risks.

By Paul Coderre, CSP, ARM

Construction is a tough business. The work is tough. The people are tough. The competition is tough.

When considering risk management in construction, it can feel like a challenge to that toughness. In reality, you have worked hard to build your business. Your efforts provide for your family and for the families of your workers. Protecting your business is part of that effort. Risk and its outcome presents a real and substantial threat to the business you’ve built.

In the risk management field, we look at threats to an organization’s ability to thrive; further, we’re looking at potentials that threaten an organization’s ability to even survive. Whether the threat is a lawsuit stemming from New York State’s Labor Law, workers’ compensation costs, the cost of putting trucks on the road, or even OSHA fines – the dollars can be big and the impact severe. In the day-to-day grind of bidding and building, investing the time and effort required to manage risks often takes a back seat, but that’s when bad things happen.

So, you may be wondering… Whose responsibility is it to manage the risks faced by your company every day, and how would that be accomplished? What does a solid risk management program look like? I’ve been in the risk management, safety, and loss control field for over 40 years and I can tell you that protecting your company from risk has very little to do with a traditional safety program. I’ve walked into many a contractor’s office or job trailer and been handed the site safety plan. I’ll look it over and then ask the Super., “Can we go out and see how you’re really doing things?” Most of the time, what I see is very different from what I read. Safety (or risk management) is not a program, or a binder; it’s not a tool box talk, or computer-based training, or even an inspection. Construction Risk Management is based on the decisions that you, and every one of your employees, make every minute of every day that you are onsite. Safety is someone securing a ladder, checking a ground, or using the right tool for the job. Each of those things stem from a good decision made by the employee. Your risk management challenge is giving them the information to make the decision, and holding them accountable to making it.

Managing construction risks depend on the decision you make in writing your contracts (and signing those of others). Managing risk fails when your site supervisor walks past the shaky scaffold, or the subcontractor failing to use their PPE, or allowing the employee to operate that piece of equipment without knowing if they were capable. Managing construction risk is also highly dependent on how you, your supervisors, and your site managers respond to an incident, whether it’s an injury, or a near miss, and whether it involves your employee or a subcontractor.

Now, let’s talk about the three key elements of managing construction risks:

  • Preventing of incidents
  • Responding to incidents
  • Managing incident outcomes

Prevention

Needless to say, an incident that doesn’t happen doesn’t cost the organization time or money. However, in order to be confident that the risk of an incident has been minimized, we have to be confident that our employees are making the right decisions every day (i.e. wearing their PPE, erecting the scaffold securely,  only accepting well-written contracts… the list goes on). How do you do that? Remember when I said that risk management isn’t a safety program? It’s not. That’s just a book. Prevention of incidents is dependent on every one of your employees knowing what is expected of them, and using that knowledge to make decisions every day. Minimizing incidents on a construction site requires that each of your employees apply the safety concepts they’ve been taught. It also relies on your managers and supervisors holding every one of your employees accountable to those concepts every day. So no, safety is not a program or a book; it is a system of defining expectations of conditions and behaviors, and then holding people accountable to the application of those principles. The written program is just a way to make sure everyone is using the same concepts.

Response

The next critical piece of managing risks in construction is how you (or your management team) respond to an incident. Again, we’re talking about any incident – whether an injured worker, a vehicle accident, or a subcontractor incident. The process of responding to the event can mean the difference between a minor disruption and a major claim.

The critical factors in responding to incidents are:

  • taking care of people
  • communicating with whomever needs to be communicated with
  • identifying the real cause of the incident
  • taking steps to prevent it from ever happening again (if possible)

Number one, taking care of the person is a responsibility, not an annoyance. Getting an injured person the medical care they need quickly and efficiently provides you with a host of benefits, including getting the person healed quickly and preserving a good employee. Failure to take care of an injured worker or subcontractor can easily result in long disabilities and lawsuits, not to mention low morale and turnover.

Fast and complete communication within your company and with the insurance carrier is the second critical response factor. Incidents in the field need to be communicated to management and administration quickly so that response can be coordinated. Involving your claim-person immediately upon notice of an incident can help establish appropriate care and preserves the evidence needed should a claim or lawsuit come about.

Managing Incident Outcomes

Claims and lawsuits are common outcomes of accidents within construction operations. Workers’ compensation claims run the gamut from minor incidents with no lost time to debilitating and even fatal incidents. Your ability to manage the claim process depends on the information you gather throughout the claim and the relationship you have with your adjuster.

When an incident occurs, that information should immediately be communicated to your office person who manages such situations. An incident report with all appropriate information about the injured worker, their injuries, treatment, etc. needs to be given to your office so that it can be provided to your claim professional. This allows that person to work with you to determine the best course of action in managing the claim outcome. Your office staff should be actively involved with your claim professionals to provide updated information and to continue managing the claim to achieve its most favorable outcome.

Regular claim review meetings, or periodic claim discussions regarding the status of an injured worker or a liability suit, provide you with an opportunity to contribute information, as well as get information on where the claim is going and what the outcome may be.

In addition to the initial claim report (to get the carrier involved), identifying the true or root cause of the claim, and implementing controls to prevent reoccurrence, is critical both from the standpoint of managing your OSHA exposure to fines and managing the long-term risk to your company. From the OSHA standpoint you’ve seen the new fine structure. No one can afford citations, let alone “willful citations.” Very recently, a roofing contractor was fined over $1M in response to an employee falling from a roof that resulted in a fatality (and that doesn’t even contemplate the labor law case that’s sure to arise).

This devastating accident proves the importance of establishing practices to prevent such incidents. Failing to eliminate or minimize the possibility of reoccurrence of an incident doesn’t make sense. Sometimes closing the barn door after the horse ran out is important, because there are more horses in the barn. It is in the organization’s best interest to dig into the events and decisions surrounding an incident in order to find and prevent those things from happening again.

All in all, risk management in the construction industry is not “having” a safety program. Success in managing risk is about using the tools (i.e. a safety program, training, consistence, accountability) to foster the right decisions among your employees; every hour of every day that they’re on your job site.


For more information please contact Paul Coderre, Vice President of Risk Management Services at [email protected].

Helping Vetpreneurs with IVMF

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OneGroup joins with IVMF to Help “Vetpreneurs” with New $5 Million Federal Grant.

OneGroup was selected by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to support their Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The competitive grant program, established as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will assist small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. OneGroup will specifically work with the IVMF in support of the veteran community. 

IVMF was named as one of only eight Tier 1 grantees, selected as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program. The $5 million grant will support veteran and military spouse businesses with entrepreneurship education, small business technical assistance, loan preparation, access to capital/capital readiness, corporate and federal contracting, and networking.  

Helping Vetpreneurs with IVMF

“This is truly exciting for IVMF and OneGroup. Over the next two years, this program has the potential to impact thousands of veterans and families we serve,” says Michael Haynie, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, Barnes Professor of Entrepreneurship and IVMF Executive Director. “It is also wonderful recognition of IVMF’s and OneGroup’s partnership to provide veteran entrepreneurship education programs. Joining with a network of local providers like OneGroup allows for individual attention that understands the nuance of operating in the OneGroup community. This broadens our national impact, having developed a vast network of alumni and partners who are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of veterans and military-connected families,” says Haynie. 

OneGroup will be able to draw on IVMF’s best practices delivering cost free entrepreneurship programs like Boots to Business (B2B), Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), among others, that have assisted more than 75,000 participants.  

During the pandemic, the IVMF also launched two new virtual entrepreneurship programs, EBV Spark and R.I.S.E. (Resilience, Innovate, Sustain, Evaluate), to help veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs adapt their businesses to the current operating environment.

In applying for the grant, the IVMF noted strong partnerships with businesses that can help veterans achieve success. In addition to OneGroup, the IVMF will be coordinating the work with key partners, including Texas A&M, Florida State University, St. Joseph’s University, Dog Tag Bakery and StreetShares, as well as others. Whether through direct technical support, training or networking, the entrepreneurs assisted by IVMF programs have demonstrated resilience and success; 92% are still operating their business today.

Haynie says IVMF research highlights how veterans face an array of barriers in attempting to launch businesses, including a fragmented ecosystem, capital readiness, difficulty navigating resources, certification process hurdles and lack of assistance from medical and disability service providers. He believes the new pilot program offers a unique solution that provides a navigation and support mechanism to strengthen the ecosystem, nurture entrepreneurial aspirations and sustain growth and success.

“The goal is for military-connected clients to receive efficient, timely, and comprehensive access to the services and resources they need, where they are and when they need them in their entrepreneurial journey,” says Haynie. 

Learn more about the IVMF here.

What is Umbrella Insurance?

What is Umbrella Insurance?

Preparing for the unexpected.

By Janice Kophen

Look at the picture in this article. At first glance, it’s just a group of friends enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company – lovely, right? But if you look a bit closer, you’ll notice that the people standing in the foreground are precariously close to the edge of a stone step. If one of them were to trip or fall down those steps, this gathering would quickly become much less enjoyable, especially if the guest is seriously injured.  

What is Umbrella Insurance?

These are the kinds of situations that homeowners must be aware of when establishing insurance policies for their home. Standard policies have limits that would barely cover the cost of a lawsuit, injury settlement, or devastating accident. And this doesn’t just apply to accidents at home! Auto, RV, and watercraft accidents can also become very costly if you don’t have enough coverage established… this is where umbrella insurance comes in.

Umbrella insurance policies are added layers of coverage. They enhance your existing policies and may act as primary coverage in areas excluded on your standard policies. These policies cover the cost of injuries sustained by others in accidents involving you or your property. These may include auto accidents, boating accidents, trips/falls at your home, etc. They cover court and attorney fees if you are sued and can extend to the other members of your household, as well. For example, if your teenager is found responsible for a major car accident or hosts a party with underage drinking when you aren’t home, any potential damages would be covered.

Umbrella policies can cover you from $1 million up to $20 million, or more! And it’s not as expensive as you may think – a $1 million policy can cost as little as $150-$300 per year, and each additional million is typically less.

Want to speak with an expert to see if an umbrella policy is right for you? Our team is ready to answer your questions. Give us a call at 800-268-1830.


Janice Kophen is vice president, personal insurance operations at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-558-6777 or [email protected].

Home & Auto Premium Rates are Rising

Home & Auto Premium Rates are Rising

Let’s talk about how we can help!

By Kathleen Gorman

As you may know, the nation is facing historic levels of inflation, supply chain issues, and increased costs of services and materials. These factors have caused a ripple effect in the insurance industry, leading to increasing premiums on home and auto policies.

We understand that this rise in costs may cause you concern or questions, so we wanted to provide you with background knowledge on why this is happening and how we can help!

Homeowners Insurance

  • Worsening weather conditions lead to an increase in damage to homes, which then leads to a need for building materials and skilled laborers to perform repairs. Unfortunately, both of these things are in short supply, causing prices to go up overall.
  • From steel products to lumber, the costs of building materials are exponentially higher. Many of our nation’s manufacturers reside outside of the United States, which, in the face of a global pandemic, has led to shortages and delayed imports.
  • The home-building industry faces a massive loss of skilled workers, driving up labor costs.

Auto Insurance

  • As with construction materials, the essential parts of a vehicle (microchips, windows, plastics, etc.) are in short supply, making repairs and replacements more costly.
  • With a lack of supplies to manufacture new vehicles, the cost of used vehicles has skyrocketed, and the scarcity of new vehicles has led to an increase in those prices, as well.
  • Severe auto accidents are on the rise, leading to an increase in claims. With more claims comes more of a need for repairs, causing carriers to increase premiums to offset some of the inflated costs.

We at OneGroup have the advantage of offering you many options to consider for insurance, as we are an independent agency and we focus on providing the best value for your specific needs. These conditions are industrywide and may impact you in some way. However, there are many options to handle rising premiums, including higher deductibles, policy bundling, electronic fund transfers, defensive driving courses, and other loss mitigation credits. Our OneGroup representatives are available to help review your coverages and options. Finally, I want you to know that we appreciate the trust you place in us and we will work together to support you during these difficult market conditions.   


Kathleen Gorman is senior vice president of personal insurance at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-558-6772 or [email protected].

OneGroup Now Official Agency to Syracuse Builders Exchange

OneGroup Now Official Agency to Syracuse Builders Exchange

OneGroup takes over where the Exchange Agency left off.

February 25, 2022

For over 40 years, the Syracuse Builders Exchange (SBE) has provided health, dental and life insurance benefits and services to its member firms and their employees through its wholly owned subsidiary, The Exchange Agency.

A few years ago, through the dedicated efforts of Brett Findlay, Bob Galusha and others, OneGroup was invited to provide SBE members with property and casualty and other risk management insurance services.

I am pleased to announce that through our consistent high level of attention and service to SBE and its members, SBE’s relationship with OneGroup has greatly expanded. With many thanks to Earl R. Hall and the SBE board of directors, OneGroup was selected to assume responsibility for all health, dental, and life insurance, for SBE and its members. Further, OneGroup has been appointed official insurance brokers for SBE.

OneGroup Now Official Agency to Syracuse Builders Exchange

This new partnership greatly enhances SBE’s value to its members, allows members access to far more valuable services, and provides tremendous opportunity for OneGroup to help many more companies in the construction industry, an area of specialty for our agency. OneGroup services SBE members now have access to include:

  • Employee Health, Dental and Life Insurance
  • Human Resources Solutions
  • General Liability and Automobile
  • Property & Casualty
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Disability Insurance
  • Cyber Liability
  • Risk Management
  • Contractual Risk Transfer Guidance
  • Claims Resources

These and the many other services SBE currently offers its members will combine within SBE’s “Titanium Toolbox”, its branded portfolio of member services. We are thrilled and humbled that SBE has placed their trust in us to provide the highest level of attention, service and value to its members. We look forward to many years of working closely together!

Learn more about The Syracuse Builders Exchange here.

Pierre Morrisseau
Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]

Reduce the Risk of Water Damage

Reduce the Risk of Water Damage

Tips to keep your home safe, despite the weather.

By Janice Kophen

Winter is upon us, and with that comes an increased risk of water damage. From failed appliances to burst pipes, these kinds of problems are costly and not easily remedied. While it is most common for water damage to occur in freezing temperatures, our clients to the south should keep in mind that extreme heat and high humidity can lead to plumbing issues, as well. Regardless of location, it is a good idea to regularly attend to the maintenance of your home’s pipes.

Reduce the Risk of Water Damage

For many groups, open enrollment has wrapped up and 2022 coverage for health and welfare benefits became effective on January 1st. After all the time and effort that goes into open enrollment, it’s easy (and common) for employers to consider benefits a completed activity, and move on to

Here are a few specific steps that homeowners can take to reduce their risk of water damage:

  • Keep the temperature inside your home above 65o in cold climates to avoid frozen pipes. In warmer weather, interior relative humidity should stay at 40% or less to avoid mold.
  • If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, or at risk of harm from rapidly melting snow, it is beneficial to establish a backup source of power to your sump pump. In the event of a power outage, this will help to keep it running.
  • Audit your home for hidden issues that might lead to problems with your plumbing. Air and duct leakage, excess moisture, and gaps in insulation are some of the complications to keep an eye out for.
  • Installing an automatic leak detection system and water shutoff valve can also prevent a significant amount of damage. These systems monitor the flow of water in your pipes and can detect water on the floor – if either of those variables are identified as irregular, the water supply to your home will be automatically shut off.

These are just some of the many steps that can be taken to prevent water damage, and may even lead to a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premium. 


Janice Kophen is vice president of personal insurance operations at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-558-6777 or [email protected].

Open Enrollment is Over, What’s Next?

Open Enrollment is Over, What’s Next?

Keep the conversation going.

By Kristen Pease

For many groups, open enrollment has wrapped up and 2022 coverage for health and welfare benefits became effective on January 1st. After all the time and effort that goes into open enrollment, it’s easy (and common) for employers to consider benefits a completed activity, and move on to other tasks. While we understand the “benefits fatigue” that comes after open enrollment is over, benefits education should be a year-round activity. Insurance companies provide many programs and tools that your members might not take advantage of – or even be aware of – and the New Year is a great time to provide ongoing education to ensure members know what is available to them and that they are making the best use of their benefit plans. 

These coverages could help them with a range of services, including managing chronic conditions; finding coupons and lowest cost prescription drugs (especially for those on HDHP plans); covered-in-full preventive care like annual physicals, immunizations, and cancer screenings; and smoking cessation programs. These are just some examples of the many programs and services available through your medical insurance company, or third party administrator.

Telemedicine is a great example of a benefit that is included with most health insurance plans and is an underutilized benefit with most groups. While the pandemic did highlight this service, and many groups saw a jump in its use, the hope is that this benefit continues to be considered a viable avenue for medical care of non-emergency needs – both physical and mental. Winter is the perfect time to remind your members about this coverage, including what to use it for and how to pre-register so that members are ready to use it quickly when the need arises. With winter comes colds, the flu, and other ailments that can be treated remotely, via a video chat or phone call with a United States-based, board-certified physician. 

Open Enrollment is Over, What’s Next?

In general – and especially in the current environment – people don’t want to spend time in waiting rooms, so it would be favorable to offer an alternative that allows them to stay at home and still get the care that they need. In addition to costing less than a visit to your primary care provider, urgent care, or the ER, telemedicine is also very convenient, with physicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to the member savings, higher utilization of this benefit can lead to much lower costs to your plan.

There is no shortage of topics when it comes to benefits education. Companies and their employees spend a significant amount of money on their health insurance coverage, so be sure that they are making the most of it! Reach out to your consultant to discuss a calendar of topics for the year and develop communications and collateral to share with your members.


Kristen Pease is vice president of human resources & benefits at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-413-4468 or [email protected].

Limits Vs. Deductibles

Limits Vs. Deductibles

Insurance terms explained

By Kathleen Gorman

There are two key terms included in almost every type of insurance policy: deductible and limit.

Let’s break down how these terms apply to personal insurance:

deductible is the amount of money to be paid out of your pocket on a claim before your insurance kicks in. In most cases, your insurance carrier will subtract the deductible from the total and cut you a check for the rest. Work with your agent to determine how your specific policy is structured.

limit is the maximum amount that your insurance carrier will pay toward your claim, leaving you responsible for the rest. In high-risk situations where the limits seem insufficient, ask your agent about an umbrella policy.

As always, our agents are standing by to help you understand and make the most of your insurance.

If you have any questions, we invite you to call our experts at 800-268-1830 or email us at [email protected].

Kathleen Gorman is senior vice president of personal insurance at OneGroup.