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Gov. Rick Scott Bill To Install Generators In Assisted Living Facilities

One of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of the devastation of Hurricane Irma might have a life-saving ending. In the months after the storm, 14 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died due to heat-related illnesses and complications. The nursing home, located 20 miles north of Miami, had lost power to its air conditioning system on September 10, a scenario Governor Rick Scott hopes to prevent from ever happening again. However, associations representing care facilities are finding the new regulation and the potential requirement to carry liability insurance too far-reaching, expensive, and unrealistic.

The governor's emergency rule issued in October stated that all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida are now required to install generators that can provide power in the event of an electricity outage. The care homes must also allot for 96 hours of fuel to run the generators. The governor's orders required compliance within 60 days.

Associations representing these kinds of facilities immediately opposed the ruling with two legal filings, arguing that the regulation was not in response to an “immediate danger.” They argued that it could take six months to two years to install a proper generator system. Despite their appeals, the First District Court of Appeal allowed the rule to stand.

Only a few weeks later, an administrative judge sided with the nursing home associations, agreeing that the new rule required too much of the facilities with too short of a deadline. The judge also felt the end of hurricane season being weeks away should allow the facilities more time to abide by the new regulation. With Governor Rick appealing this decision, the rule remains in effect as the battle continues in court.

Florida legislators are attempting to cement this regulation and are taking the cause even further by requiring all nursing homes and assisted living centers to obtain liability insurance. Their proposed legislation would also allow more state access for investigations and even prioritizes care facilities during power restoration efforts. If passed, this law would require generators in place by July 2018, the start of the next hurricane season, with fines of $1,000 per day for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, the fallout for the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills is not slowing any time soon. Families of affected residents have sued the nursing home for negligence, claiming the facility failed to call 9-1-1 or notify emergency officials of the need for help. State and federal agencies, as well as the local police, are investigating criminal charges. The state of Florida has revoked the center's license, and the feds have banned it from receiving Medicare funding. The center is now closed indefinitely after laying off 245 employees.


Professional Liability Insurance for Real Estate Companies: What You Need To Know

Real estate is a high-investment and often high-risk industry. The nature of the business involves hundreds of thousands to multi-millions of dollars on the line and complex legal transactions, making investors, residents, and other associates more likely to pull the trigger on a costly lawsuit if they feel the company was in any way negligent. Having the right insurance in place is essential to keeping a real estate company from paying exorbitant lawyer fees and judgments which could drive the business into insolvency. While there are several policies that should be in place, one of the most important for the real estate industry is professional liability insurance.

Professional liability insurance—also sometimes referred to as professional indemnity or errors & omissions—covers real estate companies against lawsuits claiming negligence, misrepresentation, bad-faith negotiation, inaccurate or misleading advice, and other professional mistakes. Keep in mind that these claims do not need to be true for the insurance to cover the legal costs. In fact, professional liability insurance covering the real estate company against groundless lawsuits is a very common occurrence. Professional liability is often combined or overlapped with directors & officers insurance (a type of policy that exclusively protects executives from personal financial responsibility), and it serves to fill in coverage gaps in general liability policies.

Let's look at a few real-world examples that indicate the need for real estate companies to carry professional liability policies.

In one case, the owner of a recently purchased home sues the real estate company claiming his agent failed to notify him of existing water damage. In another scenario, a potential tenant sues a real estate company claiming they lost their promised apartment due to discrimination. In the case of real estate developers, the homeowners can sue years down the line if they believe the construction was mismanaged and caused preventable damages. There are even cases where investors may sue a developer if they believe they were misled about the costs of a project—a tricky situation because construction often runs over-budget with no inherent negligence on the part of the developer. These are just a few of the many examples in which professional liability insurance can protect a real estate company.

It is important for real estate companies to review their insurance policies carefully. Common exclusions may be applied in the case of criminal intent (such as a case of fraud or otherwise knowingly wrongful acts), injuries resulting in death, or property damage caused directly by an agent. It is important for real estate companies to work with an experienced insurance agent to ensure there are no coverage gaps between the various necessary policies.

Making the Most of National Cyber Security Day

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nowhere does this Benjamin Franklin truism prove itself more than cyber security. Every November 30th, businesses around the world are encouraged to celebrate Cyber Security Day by reviewing their cyber security plans and training employees to be more aware of potential online threats. Another key part to any cyber strategy is cyber liability insurance.

Here are some simple tips to help businesses make the most of National Cyber Security Day.

Do not connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks

We find this tip is one of the hardest for businesses and employees to follow. Free Wi-Fi is just too convenient. Whether it's at the airport or a coffee shop, these networks are dangerously tempting for getting some quick work done. However, unsecured Wi-Fi networks—those that have no password or easily obtained passwords—are primed for hacking. Even something as simple as checking work e-mail from these networks can allow cyber criminals access to sensitive information. If you must have Wi-Fi on the go, we recommend using your smartphone as a hot spot with a backup battery charger.

Take advantage of automatic security updates

Keeping your computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones secure is vital to any cyber security strategy. All devices must be protected in two ways. One is with updated operating software, and the second is with antivirus software. This means you need two types of automatic updates, e.g., Windows updates and McAfee antivirus updates. With workplace devices, the easiest way to stay secure is to allow automatic updates between off-work hours, usually overnight. Be sure that employees secure their personal devices if they do any work from them.

Consider switching antivirus software

For most consumers, the prepackaged antivirus that came with our computer is the one we tend to keep. However, businesses may need protection above the average consumer's needs. Lesser-known antivirus names like Avast, Bit Defender, TrendMicro, Avira, or Sophos may be a better fit for your business. You can also consider upgrading your standard software to a small business plan, such as Norton's.

Choosing Cyber Liability Insurance

Even the best-laid plans can be foiled by cyber criminals. Their full-time job is breaking into your system, and they are constantly changing their tactics and strategies. Even giants like Target, Home Depot, Equifax, Uber, and other corporations with sizable IT budgets can fall victim. What has saved these companies from going under is their cyber liability insurance. These policies can help keep afloat businesses big and small by paying for data recovery, consumer notification, lawyers' fees, government fines, and other associated costs. This Cyber Security Day is a great time to work with an experienced agent to find the right cyber liability policy.

Cyber Risks in the Healthcare Industry

2016 was a record-breaking year for cyber criminals, with Bloomberg reporting a 40% increase in attacks over the previous year. That year also brought a bigger target on the back of the healthcare industry with over 16 million patient records stolen in the U.S. alone. As we approach the end of 2017 we must recognize these attacks prompt a need for a complete modernization of the industry's cyber security protocols, including a thorough review of their cyber liability insurance policies.

The healthcare industry is the second largest victim of cyber attacks, second only to the lucrative financial industry. The WannaCry breach was 2017's biggest plunder. The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) was hit hardest by this ransomware, but U.S. hospitals did not get away scot-free, and even pharmaceutical giant Merck fell victim. This widespread healthcare industry attack is thought to have been perpetrated with malicious e-mail attachments innocently downloaded by hospital administrators and doctors.

The level of risk for the healthcare industry is not only dangerously elevated but its consequences are particularly frightening. Rather than simply gaining access to credit card information or other financial data, many attacks in this sector are planned purely for chaos, whether by amateurs or by foreign enemies. Some criminals may hack into medical devices, like robotic surgery tools, pacemakers, and insulin pumps. Others may encrypt patient information in order to demand a ransom.

But there is another key reason criminals target the medical industry for cyber attacks. The medical field is notoriously slow to upgrade its IT strategies, often having cyber security policies a decade or more out of date. With the rise of electronic patient records, the out-of-date security is egregiously negligent. Many blame the lack of funding in public systems or the bureaucratic approach to cost-cutting, but whatever the cause, the industry needs awareness and practical solutions immediately.

One of the best and most affordable solutions for today's healthcare environment is a well-chosen cyber liability insurance policy. While prevention through a comprehensive cyber security strategy is necessary, it is still fallible, That makes having a cyber liability policy a must. Even the best-funded IT security can be breached, but having cyber liability insurance in place can help keep hospitals, doctors offices, and other vendors from facing bankruptcy following an attack. With the threat against healthcare services expected to continue climbing, there is no excuse to wait.


What Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Drone Marketing

In an industry as competitive as real estate, agents are always looking to keep one step ahead. In today's market, that means high-quality aerial photos, like those obtained from drones. While the marketing effect of drone photography is undeniable, there are several things real estate agents must consider before investing in this hot, new technology, including the need for adequate liability insurance.

Buying vs. Hiring

Real estate agents have two options when it comes to drone photography: doing it themselves or hiring a vendor.

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lowered the regulatory standards for flying drones to allow more drone operators to enter the market, but this does not necessarily mean drones are easy to operate safely. Additionally, purchasing a drone with an adequately high-quality camera for real estate showcasing can also cost upwards of $1000. Crash that drone once, and you might lose that investment entirely.

For these reasons, working with a vendor is still a popular choice. When going with a professional photographer or drone operator, agents can pay as little as $100 to get aerial shots of each property. Still, agents with more than 5 to 10 listings per year might want to consider learning how to operate a drone camera on their own.

Obtaining a License

If you choose to purchase and operate your own drone, you must be licensed. The FAA no longer requires a pilot's license to operate a drone; however, commercial drone operators (those doing so for a profit and not for hobby) must still obtain a remote pilot certificate, often referred to as the “Part 107 certificate” or “drone license.” This requires operators to pay $150 and pass a written test. The FAA offers an online course that teaches test subjects like safety, weather, emergency procedures, and other relevant issues.

Getting Insurance Coverage

While drones are an exciting—and even fun!—advancement for the real estate industry, these futuristic flying machines should not be taken lightly. Drones can and have caused damage and personal injury. Regardless of whether real estate agents choose to use a drone themselves or hire someone else, they must make sure they have the correct insurance policies in place in the event the drone crashes. There have also been cases where neighbors sue the real estate agent claiming a violation of privacy when they appeared in the background of the aerial photograph.

Conventional Commercial General Liability insurance may not cover drones. A qualified and experienced insurance agent may need to work with the insurance company to ensure the policy will cover drone accidents. It is also possible to get individual insurance for “unmanned aircraft” that will cover the real estate agent's business even if a vendor is hired. An Errors & Omissions policy as well as a Personal Injury Liability policy may also be able to offer the right coverage.

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