Tag Archives: small business

Cyber: 7 Ways to Secure a Small Firm

It’s a startling statistic: Due to the massive amount of consumer and corporate data stored across the country, more than half of all data breaches globally are expected to occur in the U.S. by 2023. Although most people assume hackers are only interested in large data breaches, like the one experienced by Equifax in 2017 or Marriott International last year, it’s small businesses that find themselves at a greater risk. In fact, a recent report by Small Business Trends stated that 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. That number will only continue to grow as cyber hackers develop increasingly sophisticated methods of threatening and stealing sensitive information. Small businesses can also suffer from lost data, unsecured devices and attacks stemming from covert phishing emails.

Below are seven simple measures you can put in place to protect your small business this year:

1. Back up your data

Over 140,000 hard drives fail in the U.S. each week, and 29% of those failures are caused by accident. Losing data can devastate a small business. Finding a secure way to back up your data is a necessity in today’s fast-paced, competitive business landscape. If you store company data in the cloud, back it up on a physical, on-premise drive to ensure data remains secure and a plan B is available.

2. Update and strengthen passwords

The standard eight-character password can be cracked in 15 minutes. That time continuously decreases as brute force hacking bulldozes its way through identifying words, phrases and character password combinations. It’s important to make sure all passwords are 12 to 15 characters and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters that can slow down or derail a hacker. A password manager can also be employed to help ensure passwords at each access site contain a different, complex sequence of letters, numbers and special characters. Consistently updating passwords and requiring unique passwords for various devices will help maintain company security.

See also: Taking Care of Small-Medium Business  

3. Take cybersecurity training courses

97% of people are unable to identify a sophisticated phishing email. Phishing scams cost American businesses $500 million each year, and that number continues to rise, with over 400,000 more phishing attacks occurring in 2016 than the year prior. Data breaches also allow phishers to obtain specific information on a target through information uncovered during a breach and then use that information to appear credible. One way to combat this disturbing trend is to train your staff on how to identify malicious emails.

4. Implement a clean desk policy

Unattended computers or documents cause 47% of all data breaches. As a result, many small and large businesses have begun implementing a clean desk policy, requiring employees to clear their desks of all papers and completely shut down their computers at the end of the day, to help ensure proper security of sensitive information.

5. Get cyber insurance

On average, it takes 191 days for a business to even realize it has suffered a data breach and 66 days to contain a breach. Cyber insurance can provide critical coverage for any destruction including data lost through theft, cyber attacks, cyber crime, malfeasance or employee error. Cyber insurance companies can provide guidance in the days or months after a data breach, data recovery and forensics, ransom payments, public relations and credit monitoring for those affected by the breach. Having a defense plan in the form of cyber insurance protects your business, reputation and customers.

6. Create a plan

54% of SMBs have no contingency plan for handling a data breach. Not having a plan can make it exceptionally difficult to recover when your business is under attack. By creating a plan that clearly lays out the steps you and your employees should take after a data breach occurs, you can help mitigate the potential damages and losses and quickly begin the road to recovery.

7. Manage all BYODs

87% of companies allow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). While the concept is admittedly an essential part of maintaining connectivity and handling after-hours tasks, the unfortunate reality is BYOD exposes your business to threats. By tracking all instances of BYOD with a mobile device management system, requiring all devices to be password-protected and developing a written security device policy, however, threats to these devices can be diminished.

See also: Cyber Attacks Shift to Small Businesses  

Taking these small steps to securing your growing business, and constantly revisiting and revising your cybersecurity plan, are some of the best ways to protect your investments and prevent the likelihood your business will suffer from malicious hackers trying to profit off your data. Prioritize these essential cybersecurity best practices above all else, because the safety of your business, employees and customers truly depends on it.

3 Reasons to Use Online Marketplaces

Providing your employees with insurance coverage is one of the best ways for small business owners to support them. Employees with health insurance are happier, far more productive in the office and more likely to stay at a company if they are satisfied with their current benefits. In this digital age, online benefits marketplaces render finding employee insurance for your employees as modern and straightforward as searching for and buying other high ticket items such as automobiles or homes. There are resources at your disposal should you have any questions throughout the insurance shopping and purchasing process. Below are three reasons online marketplaces help small business owners choose health insurance:

Convenience

As a small business owner, you are exceedingly busy, and your time is valuable. In a recent Vistaprint survey, small business owners reported spending their time on administrative duties, project management, marketing, product development, design and countless other tasks that are essential to growing their businesses. Your hectic schedule demands that you be able to browse and shop from your laptop or tablet, comparing employee health plan options digitally to save time that you would otherwise spend filling out lengthy paperwork, scheduling meetings or playing phone tag. Sophisticated technology modernizes employee benefits shopping as you know it by removing any confusion or unknowns.

See also: 5 Health Insurance Tips for Small Business  

Breadth of Options

Most small business owners want to know they have considered a wide range of employee health insurance options before buying. You don’t want to sift through stacks of paper when considering your choices, but you do want to make sure you haven’t missed the best plan or plans for your employees. Research shows that 43% of individuals shop and purchase online. Look around the store the next time you are shopping and notice the number of people searching the price of a commodity prior to buying it. Employee benefits are no different. It is important to use the online resources available to you when providing your employees with benefits that suit both their needs and your budget.

Broker Support

The digital experiences offered by online insurance shopping marketplaces do not mean the death of the broker. People still benefit from having access to an expert in the field should they need any assistance. Even with the most streamlined of digital insurance shopping experiences, you may have questions and concerns along the way, especially because this is a high-cost decision that affects your employees directly. It is helpful to have a licensed broker to answer your questions, put you at ease and act as an ally who can assist you through the process. An online experience does not preclude you from having access to one of these valued resources. Licensed brokers are traditionally still made available to small business owners even online.

See also: 4 Trends to Expect in Health Insurance

Your employees and their health are important to you. Taking advantage of the ample resources provided by online health insurance marketplaces is the smartest and most cost-effective way to make sure your team is covered. You will save time overall and be presented with a variety of precise information faster, while still having access to support every step of the way.

5 Health Insurance Tips for Small Business

For a small business owner, offering competitive employee benefits is a crucial way to attract and retain strong talent. Whether you currently provide them and are planning next year’s renewal, or you are thinking of offering them for the first time, here are five things you should consider before your employees enter the open enrollment period for next year on Nov. 1:

Small Businesses Don’t Have to Wait

While your employees won’t be able to enroll in health insurance plans until November comes along, small business owners don’t have to wait at all to secure health insurance for their employees. The sooner you act, the better, to guarantee that you and your employees are protected. According to recent studies, healthier employees are happier employees and, as a result, will contribute to a more productive workplace. A more positive and constructive work environment is better for you, your employees and your business as a whole.

Health Literacy Is Important

Whether you’ve provided health insurance to your employees before, or you’re looking into doing so for the first time, it is always worthwhile to prioritize health insurance literacy. There is a host of terminology and acronyms, not to mention rules and regulations that can be overwhelming to wrap your head around.

The internet is full of relevant information, ranging from articles to explainer videos, that should have you up to speed in no time. Having a good understanding of insurance concepts such as essential health benefits, employer contributions, out-of-pocket maximums, coinsurance, provider networks, co-pays, premiums and deductibles is a necessary step to being better-equipped to view and compare health plan options side-by-side. A thorough familiarization with health insurance practices and terms will allow you to make the most knowledgeable decisions for your employees and your business.

Offering Health Insurance Increases Employee Retention

Employees want to feel like their health is a priority and are more likely to join a company and stay for longer if their healthcare needs are being met. A current survey shows that 56% of Americans whose employers were sponsoring their healthcare considered whether or not they were happy with their benefits to be a significant factor in choosing to stay with a particular job. The Employee Benefit Research Institute released a survey in 2016 that showed a powerful connection between decent workplace health benefits and overall employee happiness and team spirit. 59% of employees who were pleased with their benefits were also pleased with their jobs. And only 8% of employees who were dissatisfied with their benefits were satisfied with their jobs.

Alleviate Health Insurance Costs

High insurance costs can be an obstacle for small business owners. A new survey suggests that 53% of American small business owners stress over the costs of providing healthcare to their employees. The 2017 eHealth report reveals that nearly 80% of small business owners are concerned about health insurance costs, and 62% would consider a 15% increase in premiums to make small group health insurance impossible to afford. However, there are resources in place to help reduce these costs. One helpful way to cut down on health insurance costs is to take advantage of potential tax breaks available to small business owners. All of the financial contributions that employers make to their employees’ premiums are tax-deductible, and employees’ financial contributions are made pre-tax, which will decrease a small business’ payroll taxes.

Additionally, if your small business consists of fewer than 25 employees, you may be eligible for tax credits if the average yearly income for your employees is below $53,000. For small business owners, the biggest driver on insurance cost will be the type of plan chosen in addition to the average age of your employees. Your employees’ health is not a factor.

Use Digital Resources

You don’t have to be an insurance industry expert to shop for medical plans. There are resources and tools available that make buying medical plans as easy as purchasing a plane ticket or buying a pair of shoes online. Insurance is a very complex industry that can easily be simplified with the use of the advanced technology and design of online marketplaces. These platforms are great tools for small business owners to compare prices and benefits of different plans side-by-side. Be confident while shopping for insurance because all of the information is laid out on the table. Technological solutions such as digital marketplaces serve as useful tools to modernize the insurance shopping process and ensure that you and your team are covered without going over your budget.

Health: 3 Ways to Win Over Millennials

The millennial generation – which generally refers to individuals born between 1980-1996 – continues to fascinate businesses. Millennials are now the biggest cohort in the workforce and are opening the majority of small businesses. That means they hold a lot of power, both through the products and services they purchase and by way of social influence. Companies are motivated to understand millennials and win them over.

That is not an easy task, considering that millennials show high levels of distrust in major institutions and most businesses. The health insurance industry, which struggles with public opinion more broadly, has a long way to go in terms of gaining millennials’ business and trust. Below are three factors they should consider to convince millennial decision-makers that health insurance is an important purchase.

Costs are a bigger concern than for other generations

Millennials are more concerned with costs than other generations. Many young adults are saddled with student loan debts, while, at the same time, salaries have largely stagnated, and costs of living continue to increase. Millennial business owners understand these struggles because many of them have experienced them personally. Many millennials would rather go without health insurance than enroll in an unaffordable plan, especially because they are often relatively healthy and may not see an immediate need for healthcare services.

To convince millennial business owners that health insurance makes sense for them, health insurers will have to prove their value. Insurers need to persuade millennial business owners of the short-term and long-term benefits. Insurers should create targeted, relatable ads that emphasize coverage of preventive services, which can reduce costly healthcare services down the road. Millennials treat health and wellness as a daily, active pursuit, so this message may resonate well with them. Small businesses should also view health benefits as an appealing incentive to attract and retain millennial talent.

See also: How Millennials Are Misunderstood  

Transparency is crucial for millennials

While costs are important, millennials also place a high value on other brand characteristics like transparency. Considering the high levels of distrust among this generation, it makes sense that millennials want clear and honest information.

In a dense and complicated industry like health insurance, companies can benefit from making information as simple as possible. It is especially important to be clear about pricing structure so potential customers can quickly understand what plan benefits include and don’t include. Insurance providers should also use social media and other channels to communicate with millennials and make it clear that they care about members. According to Ambassador, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand after having a positive experience with them on social media.

They prefer digital experiences

Millennials grew up with technology and are comfortable using the internet and their smartphones for all sorts of things, from banking to shopping. Taking care of their health is no exception – millennials are more likely to engage with insurers digitally and use telehealth services than older age groups. Millennials are coming to expect these capabilities, and some companies are doing better than others. For example, millennials’ retail expectations are based on the experiences they have with Amazon, Spotify, Airbnb and others.

Insurers that focus on providing more streamlined digital services, like e-commerce marketplaces, online portals and subscriptions to mobile health solutions, will be in a better position to win over millennial consumers.

See also: Taking Care of Small-Medium Business

Conclusion

To appeal to more millennials, health insurers will have to adapt their business strategies to prove their value, increase transparency and provide more digital offerings. Millennials are skeptical and cost-conscious, but they also care about their health a great deal. By meeting or exceeding millennials’ expectations, companies can gain loyal customers and increase the number of millennials who are insured.

Why Start-Ups Win on Small Business

As more companies invest in insurtech, we know that the small business insurance market is in the crosshairs of a number of start-ups, because small businesses are underserved and often underinsured. What many have failed to discuss is the impact that serving a small business has on carriers and brokers and how innovation could help these folks, as well.

It is both challenging and costly to manage a small businesses book because serving these smaller, often first-time business owners comes with more questions, more time spent on renewal and more upkeep. Small businesses often do not have someone solely responsible for operations, and, thus, business owners are figuring out insurance on their own, with little time or patience to learn every intricacy of the insurance process.

See also: Start-Ups Set Sights on Small Businesses

However, the small business market makes up $100 billion of the $1 trillion insurance market. While not serving these businesses comes with a cost, serving these businesses poorly perhaps comes with a greater cost — not the least of which could be the loss of trust, if not the loss of a customer for life.

Without the right systems in place, brokers and carriers will continue to feel the burden of serving small businesses, and small business owners will continue to feel confused about their insurance needs.

So the truth that no one is talking about is: Innovation goes beyond helping small businesses; innovation helps everyone, carriers and brokers included.

So, what is the solution?

When many insurance veterans hear the words “start-up,” “innovation” or “change,” they roll their eyes, and they have the right to. After all, many of these folks have dedicated their lives to selling insurance and managing books worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Traditional carriers and brokers have built strong brands and have served billions of businesses, both large and small.

At CoverWallet, we don’t take the expertise of those who have come before us lightly, but we know that finding a better way to acquire, retain and improve lifetime value of small businesses policies in a more cost-effective way is an essential path forward for traditional carriers and brokers. What’s important to understand is that many carriers and larger brokers aren’t well-positioned to take on completely innovating their tech stack, which is where start-ups can fill an unmet need.

Start-ups can innovate and build faster and can focus on a single group, while traditional carriers and brokers have largely been forced to focus on many groups, businesses and sizes of business. Overall, start-ups are better poised to:

  • Acquire customers: Quotes and binds can take a long time, and carriers are more apt to focus on larger accounts. However, start-ups with an online application can serve businesses faster, moving from quote to bind in record time.
  • Service customers: Finding information about insurance online is tough, but with peer comparison tools, informative landing pages and support any way you want it (email, chat, phone) a customer can get questions answered in 1-2-3.
  • Retain customers: Retention of small businesses for traditional carriers and brokers gets tougher and tougher year-over-year as customer expectations grow. Many small business owners will at least shop around for a new quote when renewal time comes up, typically because they are disappointed with the level of customer service they have received. Start-ups focused on small businesses, providing a digital solution, built-in notifications and renewal reminders will likely make customers more comfortable with renewing — again and again.

This is not to say that introduction of start-ups into the insurance world means the end of traditional carriers and brokers. Quite the opposite. While start-ups are better-positioned in some ways, even the most innovative start-ups will need the help and support of traditional carriers and brokers.

See also: InsurTech Boom Is Reshaping Market  

Partnering with a start-up, especially one that focuses on making insurance a digital experience, from the bind to policy management, will no doubt prove valuable for today’s insurers. Doing so will allow carriers and brokers to focus on their largest binds and will reduce the cost of maintaining smaller businesses for the carrier.

Having a strong digital presence and giving customers a way to buy online will be essential to the future of the industry. What is important for all players to understand, from start-ups to brokers to carriers, is that the most successful way forward is together.