"Access Denied" - Is your website ADA compliant?Is your company’s website ADA compliant? Even for the most well-intended among us, there’s a good chance you may have never considered the Americans with Disabilities Act while building your online presence. But now that you know, you can — and should. In fact, there has been a recent increase in claims regarding company websites that do not offer reasonable accessibility to persons with disabilities.

If your company’s website or app is not ADA compliant, the risk of being sued is real, and the number of lawsuits filed for inaccessible websites only continues to grow. Over the last few years, there have been thousands of federal lawsuits filed for inaccessibility of company websites, many of those focused on food service, retailers, universities, and financial institutions.

If avoiding a lawsuit wasn’t motivation enough, consider that it can also be good for business. For instance:

  • Accessible websites are easier for everyone to use and navigate.
  • ADA compliance boosts your site’s SEO, meaning your company is given higher preference on major search engines like Google. This improves your rank and position on search engine results pages and makes it easier for customers to find your company online.
  • Accessibility features improve your keyword targets, giving search engines more ways to identify relevant content on your site for an interested, inquiring audience.

Remind me: What is ADA compliance? Title III of the ADA states: “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to) or operates a place of public accommodation.”

So what does that mean for the web? The majority of lawsuits filed thus far have centered on a lack of digital accessibility for blind or visually impaired individuals. However, to fully comply with the ADA, websites also need to be accessible to individuals with physical, mental and neurological impairments. Here’s how you can start:

  • Understand the language of accessibility. A good first step begins with having a basic understanding of ADA compliance overall. Review key terms used to discuss ADA compliance. There are many acronyms and concepts to understand, so take your time and be ready to learn.
  • Order an assessment of your digital properties, including your website and any apps, to determine their level of compliance – or noncompliance. Quantitative and qualitative digital accessibility audits may give a good understanding of vulnerabilities within your website(s) or app(s).
  • Create and maintain an internal web accessibility policy to ensure the website remains compliant.
  • Show initiative. Publish an accessibility statement on your app or website that outlines your efforts to produce and maintain an inclusive website. If you haven’t yet implemented any changes, state what you’re doing to fix this, and then do what you say. It may help hold off a lawsuit if you have demonstrated a clear plan for an ADA compliant website. But be sure to follow through on that plan.
  • Provide ongoing accessibility training for web developers and managers to hedge against future digital accessibility issues and gaps in compliance.

Although there is currently no clear set of instructions to make a website ADA compliant, there are guidelines that may be able to help ensure your website is compliant. A good primer for website accessibility is available on the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

If you’re unsure whether your company’s website is ADA compliant or not, start a conversation with your website designer or IT professional. To discuss your company’s liability coverage with an ISA agent, contact us at (828) 253-1668 or info@isa-avl.com.

October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and while you may think your company’s cybersecurity is up to date and your risk for attack is low, cybercrimes are on the rise. In fact, cyberattacks increased by 148% in March 2021 over baseline attacks in February 2021, and that trend seems poised to continue or even increase as more employees work remotely.

This increase in cyberattacks can be alarming considering the staggering number of cybercrimes and ransom attacks in 2020. Industry-specific attacks have increased in healthcare, education and higher learning, and financial and insurance sectors. Even municipal, state and federal government institutions were not immune.

Cyber and ransomware attacks are not only costly in terms of a company’s productivity and reputation, but they can also break the budget on a much larger scale. In 2019, companies around the world spent more than $7.5 billion to settle ransomware attacks. In 2021, mid-sized organizations paid an average $170,404 ransom to recover their compromised accounts. For some, the cost can be much more dramatic. In the 2017 ransom attack on FedEx’s Dutch subsidiary, the company claimed a $300 million loss, the majority of which was attributed to the ransom attack.

With cybercrimes on the rise, what can businesses do to help protect themselves from these types of attacks? Below are some basic prevention tips, which is a good place to start.

  • Establish a Plan. Work with your IT provider to make sure your business has a plan in place to combat cyberattacks, and make sure all employees are familiar with basic cybersecurity efforts and protocols.
  • Educate and Train Employees. Ensure that everyone with access to your network systems — employees, remote workers and vendors — is educated on the company’s cyber policies, and implement those practices into their daily work functions.
  • Avoid Clicking Suspicious Links. This may sound remedial, but it’s estimated that more than 70% of data breaches involve phishing scams from email solicitations. These days, phishing attempts often replicate the design and address of another trusted source — or even a company email.
  • Utilize Robust Email Protections. Using robust email and endpoint protections is imperative to protecting your company’s data. Be sure to include up-to-date email scans for malicious attachments and current endpoint signatures for malware detection.
  • Consider VPN (Virtual Private Network). Consider using a VPN for employees and remote users.
  • Password Security. Set up two-factor authentication on your company’s password system. This can help limit access in the event of a password breach.
  • Offsite Backups. Keep immutable and offsite backups of your company’s data. This can help limit data loss in the event of a cyberattack or data breach.

Implementing these types of security measures can help protect your company’s systems from attack, prevent a data breach or help mitigate information loss should an attack occur. If your company sends and receives emails, makes or receives payments online, hosts an interactive website, or holds any personal information within its systems, you may be vulnerable to a cyberattack. Every business needs a Cyber Liability Policy, and it is imperative to educate and train your staff on cybersecurity.

ISA has decades of experience helping clients manage risk in their commercial and personal lives. To speak with one of our agents about how ISA can help with your insurance questions, contact us at (828) 253-1668 or info@isa-avl.com.

Sources: afcea.org, mimecast.com

The past few months have seen a rise in catalytic converter theft in Buncombe and the surrounding counties, and businesses or contractors with fleets of vehicles are quickly becoming prime targets for this crime. Additionally, theft of tools and other work equipment, often left in trucks, has become a concern for companies and working individuals alike.

To discourage criminal activity and protect yourself (or your company’s fleet) from becoming a target of theft, consider upgrading your security measures with:

  • Security Systems and Cameras. Installing security systems on your company premises or private property can help you monitor, quickly respond to and potentially identify any intruders.
  • GPS on Vehicles. Using GPS tracking monitors on vehicles and equipment can help you recover stolen goods — or even locate a suspect.
  • Secure Vehicles. Keep vehicles behind locked gates or in garages, if available. Be sure to lock and secure vehicles that contain valuables or equipment when in public spaces or unsecured worksites. When employees are out of town on the job, ask that they park work trucks in well-lit areas after dark and store portable equipment and tools in their rooms overnight.

To ensure your company’s equipment is properly covered in the event of theft, contact one of our agents today for a consultation at (828) 253-1668 or info@isa-avl.com.

Source: WLOS News 13

Open Enrollment for 2022 health coverage begins Monday November 1st, 2021!!

When can I enroll in 2022 Marketplace coverage?
  • Open Enrollment starts Monday, November 1st
  • Enroll by December 15th, 2021 for coverage that begins January 1st, 2022
  • Open Enrollment period extended until January 15th, 2022

Helpful Resources:

->healthcare.gov 

Insurance Service of Asheville is here to assist you in navigating the 2022 Individual and Family plan options!

Contact our Specialist, Debra Sale and schedule a consultation now!

Debra Sale
Certified Insurance Service Representative
828-350-3933
dsale@isa-avl.com

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (or Medicare Annual Enrollment Period) runs from October 15th, 2021 through December 7th, 2021. 

What changes are allowed during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period? 

  • Switch from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare (plus a Medicare Part D plan, and possibly a Medigap Medicare Supplement plan)
  • Disenroll from Original Medicare and enroll in Medicare Advantage
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan
  • Change from one Part D prescription plan to another
  • Cancel your prescription drug coverage

Any changes you make during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period will take effect on January 1st of the following year.

Recommended information resources:
—> www.medicare.gov
—> “Medicare & You 2022”—The official U.S. government Medicare handbook

If Insurance Service of Asheville can be of service, please contact Debra Sale.

Debra Sale
Certified Insurance Service Representative
828-350-3933
dsale@isa-avl.com 

 

Cyber Crimes Continue to Rise for Asheville Organizations

Cyber Crimes continue to rise everywhere.  Asheville and Western North Carolina are no exception. Cyber criminals, and Cyber Crime Organizations, continue to become more savvy and more malicious.

Additionally, Ransomware is topping the list at number one for cause of loss for small and medium-sized organizations. It is imperative to understand Cyber Crime.  Beyond that, know how to protect your organization, and how Cyber Insurance Policies work.  This exposure is even more evident with the increase in remote workers. Continue reading →

As businesses continue to pivot operations in response to the “new normal” and COVID-19, new exposures arise.  What is your plan to guide your Craft Brewery through the current environment?

 

What has changed?

Takeout and delivery = Have your Business Automobile Liability limits and cargo increased with your new exposure?

Increased distribution= What are your Product Recall limits and coverages?  How do your Risk Transfer Agreements reduce your liability?

Remote employees = How does your Remote Work Agreement with your employees read?

COVID exposures and testing = What are your procedures and how do you communicate them with  your staff?

Facilities that are seldom used = Are you regularly inspecting chillers, fermenters?  What are your limits should something go wrong?   What is a maintenance issue versus an insurance claim?

 

As a business owner, and certainly from an insurance perspective, proactivity is key.  How do you identify and mitigate risk associated with your new exposures?

 

1.  Training and Education

2.  Develop and Communicate Policies and Procedures

3.  Transfer Risk to another Party:  Contracts

4. Understand the Coverages you have, and more importantly those you do not have.

5. Compliance with and Awareness of constantly evolving regulations

6. Do you understand your exposure to Employee Practices Liability  Claims?

7. Do you know your exposure to Cyber threats and the average cost of a Cyber claim to a business your size?

Cyber Crime Statistics

15 Alarming Facts on Cyber Crime

Guiding through the current environment requires Risk Management: risk avoidance, reduction, transfer and retention.

If you would like answers to the questions above, or more information, please contact:

 

Tige Hopper, CIC, CBIA, MBA

828-545-8118

thopper@isa-avl.com

 

 

 

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) national emergency has presented unprecedented challenges for the American public.  Millions of Americans are facing uncertainty and millions of Americans are experiencing new health problems during the pandemic.

Due to the exceptional circumstances and rapidly changing Public Health Emergency (PHE) impacting millions of people throughout the US every day, many Americans remain uninsured or underinsured and still need affordable health coverage. In accordance with the Executive Order issued by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that the COVID-19 emergency presents exceptional circumstances for consumers in accessing health insurance and will provide a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage they need. This SEP will be available to consumers in the 36 states served by Marketplaces that use the HealthCare.gov platform.

Starting on February 15, 2021 and continuing through May 15, 2021, Marketplaces using the HealthCare.gov platform will operationalize functionality to make a SEP available to all Marketplace-eligible consumers who are submitting a new application or updating an existing application.

Insurance Service of Asheville is here to help the community! 

To read the executive order, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/28/executive-order-on-strengthening-medicaid-and-the-affordable-care-act/

To read the press release, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/01/28/hhs-announces-marketplace-special-enrollment-period-for-covid-19-public-health-emergency.html 

To get to the Marketplace, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/

For assistance, please reach out to our in-house specialist, Debra Sale at 828-253-1668 or dsale@isa-avl.com

 

 

 

Please join  the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and Insurance Service of Asheville’s Tige Hopper at noon on February 3, 2021 for a presentation on Navigating Risk in a Changing World. This segment of the BrewSmart Lunch and Learn Series will illustrate the parallels in Business Optimization and Risk Management. As breweries navigate the pandemic and new regulations, new exposures arise in operational changes. This educational segment will offer risk management techniques for breweries to minimize exposures during the everchanging landscape of the pandemic.

All sessions in the Lunch & Learn series will take place virtually via Zoom.  Registered attendees will receive Zoom login info 48 hours in advance of each scheduled session.

 If you have any questions regarding this event, or Guild membership, please contact lisa@ncbeer.org
++  Please note that this event is open to all breweries and brewery staff, regardless of Guild membership.  Allied trade vendors must be a member of the NC Craft Brewers Guild in order to participate.

For more information please visit the links below:

https://www.memberleap.com/members/evr/reg_event.php?orgcode=NCCB&evid=19540681

ncbeer.org

thopper@isa-avl.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 15th through December 7th is an important time for seniors. Open enrollment for Medicare and Part D prescription coverage allows you to shop around for plans that may be a better fit for your personal needs. At ISA we specialize in Medicare Supplement plans, sometimes called “Medigap,” and Part D coverage. This combination along with original Medicare Parts A and B allows for greater freedom when traveling, less provider limitations and a Medicare Supplement plans can help pay for some of the health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover.

Open Enrollment Period for Medigap Plans / Medicare Supplements Plans

Medigap insurance companies are generally allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept your application and how much to charge you for the Medigap policy. However, even if you have health problems, during your Medigap open enrollment period you can buy any policy the company sells for the same price as people with good health.

Each year, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. There are 2 separate enrollment periods each year:

Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage.

What can I do?

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

What can I do?

  • If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage).
  • You can drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. You’ll also be able to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

What can’t I do?

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you’re in Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another if you’re in Original Medicare.

www.Medicare.gov

A federal government website managed and paid for by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

If you would like to see what ISA can do to assist you, please reach out to our in-house licensed Medicare agent, Debra Sale.

Debra Sale

828-350-3933

dsale@isa-avl.com