Week in Rewind <<

If you haven’t noticed our focus has been heavily weighted in the area of cyber risk! Too many of our friends and clients have been impacted lately by cyber thieves. Yes, we sell insurance, but we are passionate about the benefits of insurance. We are all about Mitigating Risk and Loss Exposure!

So How Does Cyber Insurance Actually Help?

What Does It Cover?

First thing to know here is, in most cases you can design a plan to cover your business’ specific needs. As a generalization Cyber Coverage includes the following:

  • Defense and Settlement – civil proceeding or investigation
  • Regulatory fines and penalties including forensic examination
  • Re-certification services
  • Cyber extortion
  • Ransomware
  • Website media
  • Business interruption
  • Data recovery
  • Crisis management and fraud response
    • notification to breach parties
    • call center operations
    • design and implementation of website for advising breach parties
    • credit monitoring
    • public relations
    • associated legal expenses

What It Does Not Typically Covered

  • Potential future lost profits
  • Loss of value due to theft of intellectual property
  • Improvement costs to internal systems after cyber evet
    • Your other policies may be “activated” in the event of a cyber incident, but there are likely gaps in coverage for what damages are actually covered. The industry term, “Silent Cyber” refers to cyber loss exposure not covered under traditional, non-cyber insurance policies; namely the exposure is silent.

IT Risk Management

In an effort to further educate our audience we are providing links to our previously published articles on creating a better infrastructure to avoid successful attempts.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Colonial Pipeline authorized ransom payment of $4.4 million as a result of the company not being able to quantify the magnitude of the cyberattack breach to their system and the length of time to get things up and running again. Feet held to the fire for resolve and the decryption tool provided for ransom payment did not bring full restore back to Colonial. We can all feel the impact of the Colonial hack.

CNN reports that the Justice Department indicated that 2020 was the worst year for cyber attacks with ransomware demands, on average, exceeding $100,000 but as high as tens of millions of dollars. “….A key lesson here is that while technology and automation is good, we must also have the ability to efficiently operate manually as well. Attacks will happen, but how quick can you recover and restore critical services?”, Brian Harrel, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security, as reported by CNN. Having the support of insurance coverage through a Cyber policy is definitely one way to mitigate recovery exposure, should you fall victim.

NAPEO has pre-recorded webinars and information available on Cybersecurity. For non-members, follow this link to join.

Libertate Insurance Services has access to a variety of programs for Cyber Risk Coverage. Contact us, let us help you identify your Company’s Cyber Risk and find the best placement for your needs.

Ransom seeking hackers taking advantage of server flaws

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Content was taken from Reuters, Mr. Raphael Satter click here for original article from The Insurance Journal’s Mr. Jeff Mason click here for original article.

Since Microsoft announced a series of vulnerabilities in it’s widely used mail server software on March 2, 2021 the biggest threat has been from hacker groups holding users hostage by preventing access to their data unless large sums of money are paid. One security firm had counted 10 separate hacking groups taking advantage of the flaws – with ransomware targeting being the most serious of the threats.

On Sunday, The White House urged computer network operators to “take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted?” Despite a recent software patch concerns over remaining vulnerabilities continued to loom. The remedy still leaves open a so-called back door that can allow access to compromised servers and perpetuating further attacks by others. The back channels for remote access can impact credit unions, town governments and small business, and have left U.S. officials scrambling to reach victims, with the FBI on Sunday urging them to contact the law enforcement agency.

CNN reported that the Biden administration was forming a task force to address the hack. The White House official, in a statement, said the administration was making “a whole of government response.” A Microsoft representative said that the company is working with the government and others to help guide them accordingly. Secondly, Microsoft has urged the impacted to install patch updates as soon as possible.

Neither the company nor the White House has specified the scale of the hack. Microsoft initially said it was limited, but the White House last week expressed concern about the potential for “a large number of victims.” So far, only a small percentage of infected networks have been compromised through the back door, the source previously told Reuters, but more attacks are expected. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.

Post Update! Overview of the Passed $1.9 Trillion Stimulus, the American Rescue Plan

We posted earlier this week the highlights on the Proposed Stimulus Package, we just received updates on what was passed! Check out the overview below.

The $1.9 trillion relief bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, has passed Congress and will head to the President for a signature. Highlights of the bill include extended unemployment benefits, direct checks to individuals and more.

While some of the bill was changed during its time in the Senate, it’s largely similar to the initial version passed by the House. However, some key provisions, such as a higher minimum wage, were scrapped amid efforts to pass the bill swiftly.

This article outlines the most relevant provisions included in the bill.

Small Business Assistance

The bill invests billions toward small business assistance. Here is the current funding breakdown:

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan program: $15 billion
  • New grant program for bars and restaurants, specifically: $28 billion
  • Paycheck Protection Program: $7.25 billion

Direct Payments

Just like the two other COVID-19 relief bills passed during the pandemic, this version also features direct payments to Americans. This time around, eligible recipients can expect $1,400 per person ($2,800 for couples), including adult dependentsa family of four could receive up to $5,600.

However, payment parameters are stricter this time around than with the previous direct payment. The full amount will go to individuals earning under $75,000 (or $150,000 for couples), with payments cut off entirely for individuals earning over $80,000 (or $160,000 for couples). Individuals earning an amount between those figures will receive a reduced sum.

Unemployment Aid

The bill extends two previously established pandemic unemployment assistance efforts: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Unemployed gig workers, freelancers, contractors and others who previously qualified for aid will continue to be eligible under these programs. The financial assistance provided by these two programs is currently set to expire in mid-March, which pressured legislators to act quickly.

The bill also provides for enhanced unemployment assistance payments of $300 per week. Under the bill, these programs and their financial aid are extended through Sept. 6.

Housing Assistance

The bill sets aside billions in financial aid to homeowners and renters. Here is the funding breakdown:

  • Aid for emergency rental assistance: $22 billion
  • Aid for mortgages, utilities and property taxes: $10 billion
  • Aid to states and localities to help individuals at risk of becoming homeless: $5 billion

Emergency Paid Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law on March 18, 2020, required certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. That requirement expired Dec. 31, 2020.

The American Rescue Plan maintains the status quo, in that it does not require employers to offer leave under the FFCRA framework. However, the bill does provide tax credits for employers that voluntarily provide leave under the FFCRA framework through the end of September 2021.

Aid to Schools and Child Care

A significant portion of the relief bill involves aid to states, including schools and child care facilities:

  • Aid for getting K-12 schools ready for in-person learning: $125 billion
    • Money may be used for purchasing protective equipment, improving ventilation systems and hiring support staff, among other things. However, 20% of the money schools receive must be used to address pandemic learning loss—for example, extending learning time into the summer.
    • Aid carved out specifically for private schools: $2.75 billion
  • Aid for colleges: $40 billion
    • Institutions will be required to spend at least 50% of their allocated funds on emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Child care provider assistance: $39 billion
    • Funds may be used for payroll, rent, protective equipment and other expenses.

Tax Credits

The relief bill provides an overhaul of the child tax credit for the 2021 tax year. The bill increases the amount of the credit to $3,000 for each child under the age of 18 and $3,600 for children under the age of 6. The credit will also become fully refundable, meaning low-income individuals would receive the benefit.

The bill also expands the earned income tax credit for individuals without children. The maximum credit will be nearly tripled, and eligibility will be expanded as well.

Health Insurance

The bill subsidizes private health insurance premiums for unemployed workers through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The provision allows individuals eligible for COBRA insurance coverage to maintain their employer-sponsored coverage after losing employment without having to pay any portion of the premiums through the end of September 2021.

Additionally, the bill invests nearly $35 billion in premium subsidy increases for those who buy coverage on the ACA Marketplace. The bill increases the subsidies provided to currently eligible individuals, and removes the 400% federal poverty level cap (equal to approximately $51,000 for an individual) on subsidy eligibility.

Aid to states, local governments, tribes and territories

The bill provides billions in financial assistance to states, local governments, tribes and territories. Here is the current funding breakdown:

  • Aid to state and local governments: $325.5 billion
  • Aid to tribes and territories: $24.5 billion
  • Creation of the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, to carry out capital projects directly enabling work, education and health monitoring: $10 billion

What’s NOT in the Bill

A minimum wage hike to $15 per hour—one of the most discussed provisions from the initial bill—has been removed from the final version due to strict rules governing budget bills in the Senate. Some Democrats have suggested this provision may be considered as a standalone bill, but any movement on that front remains to be seen.

Additionally, the bill does not include an extension of the eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on March 31, or an expansion of mandated paid sick and family and medical leave. While neither were included in the original House bill, these were popular provisions contained within one of the previous bills.

Thank you for being part of our PEO Compass information outlet. Contact us at Libertate Insurance for your PEO and Workers’ Compensation needs.

SBA Issues New PPP Update

On January 6, 2021, the SBA (Small Business Administration) issued guidance on PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) by way of 2 interim final rules (IFR). The SBA will use the consolidated guidance of PP1 and these 2 IFRs to apply to PPP2. Withum, tax and assurance advisors, has put together a summary of the guidance to help us understand. Check out the full article here.

The biggest take-away for me is that borrowers under PPP1 are eligible for loans under PPP2; see article above for eligibility details of visit that SBA website. If you are interested in applying for the second round , the SBA has provided a list of Participating Lenders. Round 2 will be handled similarly through private lenders for management of the loans as well as the forgiveness application process. If you currently have a banking relationship contact your representative for guidance, as I learned with PPP1, each institution handles the program processing differently.

For more detail on the interim rulings you can check out the SBA webpage for PPP here.

Welcome to 2021, I will say it was nice to see that a second round of assistance is being offered up for small business. These days we always need to remember to look for the silver lining, be thankful for what we have, and be strategic in planning for our needs.