Resiliency Is The New Sustainability

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firms that continually assess risk and adjust strategy will better weather impacts of climate change

The weather extremes that battered the planet in the Summer of 2018 – from the searing heat across Japan and Europe, to the fires in California, Portugal, Greece, to the Arctic Circle, and the historic flooding in Hawaii and India, are very real examples of a rapidly warming, increasingly energized atmosphere. In fact, as the Earth warms, the amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest one percent of storms has risen nearly 20 percent on average in the United States—almost three times the rate of increase in total precipitation between 1958 and 2007. And here in Chicago, according to the National Climate Assessment Report, the number of very heavy precipitation events since 1991 is 30% above the 1901-1960 average.

While companies have always navigated a changing business environment, they now face a changing natural environment that will impact facilities and operations, supply and distribution chains, electricity and water, communities where they are based, and their employees and customers.

In The Economist’s 2016 Global Resource Challenges Report, 66% of executives surveyed said climate change had already contributed to resource challenges – namely in the area of water scarcity. The report lauded Nestle for its implementation of a system to recover water vapor generated from milk processing at its plant in Mexico to reduce the facility’s overall water-use footprint and ensure ground water supplies weren’t over-drawn. In the same report, however, only 11% of executives said they had altered their resource management procedures, which suggests that those businesses that think ahead will gain a significant edge over their competitors.

The key to gaining this competitive edge will come from moving beyond sustainability alone to a holistic approach to climate resiliency. Climate resiliency is the capacity of a business to maintain function in the face of stresses imposed by climate change. It means continually evolving to withstand future climate impacts all the while taking advantage of new market opportunities tied to a changing climate.

Because it is difficult to know exactly how dramatic the effects of climate change will be, it is hard to know just how it will affect your business. So, what can you do to prepare your business to weather, and even prosper, in a more volatile climate? Here are some tips:

Recruit and hire people with skills to help your business become more resilient.

For example, when interviewing supply chain professionals, ask what experience they have in setting up emergency/alternate supply sources in the event a natural disaster takes out a key supplier. Or, ask building manager candidates to explain their philosophy for disaster preparedness. According to sustainability author Andrew Winston, “Everyone is going to need to understand climate change the same way you’d assume everyone in business needs to have some fluency in social media today.”

Partner with businesses that provide similar products/services on whom you can rely should you experience climate-related shutdowns of your operation.

For example, a Florida-coastal manufacturer might enter into a manufacturing agreement with a Midwestern-based company with similar capabilities to provide back-up supplies in the event a hurricane shuts down their coastal operation. The upside of these sorts of arrangements is you may also market them as extra capacity during times of peak demand, in addition to buffers against disruptive climate events.

Research and quantify climate change impacts and create strategies to mitigate risk.

A useful tool to help guide this process is the guidelines published by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Formed in 2015 by the G20, and chaired by Michael Bloomberg, the TCFD’s recommendations are designed to help companies disclose decision-useful information which will enable financial markets to better understand climate-related financial risks and opportunities.  At the same time, the process can help lead companies to adjust their strategies and processes to be more sustainable and resilient.

For example, as a result of its own assessment using the TCFD guidelines, Bloomberg increased the number of disaster recovery sites, enhanced network functionality to enable employees to work remotely, created full redundancy across data centers and moved out of a waterfront data center in New York City. The company also took proactive risk-mitigation measures including resource utilization reduction and renewable energy procurement.

With an eye toward “when,” instead of “if,” and a cross-functional dedication to climate resiliency across your entire operation, you will be better positioned to weather climate changes than your less-prepared competition.

4 Tips To Protect Your Holiday Jewelry Purchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

For many holiday shoppers, jewelry is the go-to gift. But if you’re like many and wait until the last minute, you’ll want to make sure you’re not skipping key steps in choosing and protecting that important purchase.

  1. Ask the right questions. Before committing to a big-ticket jewelry purchase, do your due diligence. Get a certificate of authenticity, especially if buying online. And, make sure you can return it, in case your gift wasn’t exactly what he or she had in mind.
  2. Don’t show off. Many jewelry designers have well-known brands, that are easily recognizable by their packaging. To reduce the likelihood that you’ll be the target of theft, put your jewelry purchase in another, less conspicuous bag before you leave the store.
  3. Find a safe storage place. Store your jewelry in an off-site safety deposit box or permanently mounted combination lock safe when it’s not being worn. That way you’ll know where it is and it’ll be protected in the event of a burglary.
  4. Verify your insurance coverage. Your homeowner’s insurance may not fully cover an expensive jewelry purchase. To provide peace of mind, consider purchasing a valuable articles policy that provides all-risk protection as well as automatic coverage for newly acquired pieces.

For questions about your current valuable articles coverage, please contact Mike Jones, Alper’s Director of Personal Lines, at MJones@AlperServices.com.

 

Content provided by Chubb.

Best Practices Win Three-Peat

The term “three-peat” brings to mind vivid memories of Bulls championships for most Chicagoans. That’s why our most recent honor of being voted a Best Practices agency by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America for the third year in a row has us grinning from ear to ear. Just as Michael Jordan relied on his teammates, we acknowledge that this win is thanks to the hard work and collaboration of the entire Alper Team.

The annual survey and Best Practices Study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of the “best” agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices. The study provides performance benchmarks in six categories including income and expense distribution, revenue growth and profitability, staffing and productivity, producer performance and carrier representation.

Thank you to our Team of Insurance Architects who prove that we all deserve the title of MVP!

 

Client Spotlight: The Second City

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a fire ripped through the landmark building, the Alper Team sprang to action

Originating in a small cabaret theater in 1959, The Second City spawned a comedy and entertainment revolution that—to this day—has created an ongoing list of superstars. Alan Arkin, Tina Fey, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Stephen Colbert and a host of other entertainment and comedy legends got their start in the building situated in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. The neighborhood is nestled in an area of multi-million dollar residences, but the history, the laughter and the performances that originated there are priceless.

In August 2015, those laughs were temporarily silenced after a fire in an adjacent restaurant ravaged The Second City building. The property—including its offices—was severely damaged from smoke, fire and water. Once the smoke cleared, The Second City property had several million dollars of damage and remediation work that needed to be addressed. Continue reading

Alper Featured In Top Insurance Workplaces Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading insurance publication Insurance Business America released their inaugural list of the Top Insurance Workplaces in America. “A Top Workplace can encompass many things—great benefits, great resources, great management—but to uncover the roots of what truly makes an organization a good place to work, one must look at its foundations: Its People” says IBA.

“Insurance firms both large and small, from all areas of the industry (carriers, agencies, third party vendors) were invited to participate…and only 51 earned the title of Top Insurance Workplace.” Alper Services is one of them and this award is because of our Team of People!

To earn the award, firms were evaluated—by their employees—on the following four attributes:
Culture: Flexible work options, family-friendly programs, employee recognition, paid time off for community services
Diversity: Gender balance, recruiting/retaining younger workers, retaining older workers, recruiting/retaining minority workers
Compensation: Employee benefits programs, bonus/incentive plans, retirement savings plan, competitive pay
Employee Development: Full reimbursement for continuing education, performance reviews, mentorship/leadership development programs, wellness programs/incentives

We are proud to be recognized as a Top Insurance Workplace by IBA and the votes of our Team, and know we must continue to do what we can to see our People succeed. With that mission driving us, we look forward to seeing our name on the list in 2019!

The Real Threat of Cybercrime for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Cyber Crime

 

 

 

 

 

 

If cybercrime were a nation state, it would be the world’s 13th-largest by GDP, just ahead of Australia. The threat of cybercrime can take many forms – from hijacking sensitive robotics to holding consumer data at ransom – and the impact to your operation (and reputation) can be crippling.

To better understand how big the threat of cybercrime is becoming, consider these statistics:

  • In 2015, the cost of global ransomware, one of the fastest-growing pieces of cybercrime, was $325 million

NOTE: By 2017, this number had multiplied to $5 billion. By 2020, it will more than double to $12 billion

  • In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware worm held companies – large and small – to, in many cases, more than $100,000 in ransom
  • More than 4,000 ransomware attacks happen daily – or once every 22 seconds

NOTE: By 2020 a ransomware attack will happen every 14 seconds

  • According to Microsoft, 20% of small to mid-sized businesses have been cybercrime targets

You’re Never To Small For The Threat Of Cybercrime

While Fortune 500 companies have the resources to stay ahead of cybercrime, small to mid-size businesses are often woefully behind in cyber security practices and are increasingly easy targets for criminals. Continue reading

A Student Discount May Apply To Your Car Insurance

Student Car Insurance - Credit J.S. Romeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 20 million students will attend colleges and universities in the U.S. this fall. As you review your freshman’s back-to-school list, add a line item to discuss their auto coverage with your personal insurance agent.

The good news: If your young driver attends college over 100 miles from home, you may be entitled to a discount!

Keeping them on your policy with the discount ensures they are covered while home on break and as a passenger or pedestrian. Also, when they leave your household (hopefully after earning that degree) they will have prior insurance which will make it easier and more cost effective as first-time auto owners.

Contact Deborah Shahpar with any questions regarding your auto coverage or policy structure at,  DShahpar@AlperServices.com.

Phishing Attacks On The Rise

Office Phishing Attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In the last 30 days alone, we’ve seen an increase in cyber crime with more Clients falling prey to phishing scams*. Businesses need to review their cyber security and procedures, evaluate the adequacy of their limits, and certainly add coverage if none is in place. Alper works with carriers who provide cutting-edge protection to our Clients.”

– Bobette Puckett, Executive Vice President at Alper Services


Attacks that target business email accounts continued to increase in the second quarter of 2018, accounting for 23% of incidents reported to Beazley P.L.C. clients, the insurer said Tuesday in a report. This was particularly true for organizations using Microsoft Corp.’s Office 365, said Beazley’s breach response services unit in the Beazley Breach Insights Report. A Microsoft spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

London-based Beazley said in its report that email compromises totaled 184 during the second quarter compared with 173 during the first quarter of this year, 89 in 2017’s second quarter and just 45 during 2017’s first quarter.

“Business email compromises are efficient for the hacker because the compromise of a single account gives the hacker a platform from which to spear phish within and outside the organization. While these compromises can prove very expensive to a company that has been successfully attacked, they are also easily preventable,” says the report.

Read Stu Sjouwerman’s article, in its entirety for KnowBe4, by clicking here.

Contact your Account Manager at Alper to review your current cyber policy. Don’t have one? Email Bobette Puckett at BPuckett@AlperServices.com or call 312-867-7351.


*Phishing Scams – The use of fraudulent electronic communications or malicious websites to impersonate you or any of your products or services in order to solicit personal or confidential information. 

Why Do We Need An Employee Assistance Program?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your people are your most important asset so taking care of their needs beyond nine to five is smart business. Providing employees with an individual, full-service Employee Assistance Program (EAP) affords a more substantial range of services than the embedded EAPs that may be included in your Life and Disability coverage.

These services administer confidential assistance to employees and their families at no additional cost. Plus, they’re typically available 24/7 over the phone, in person and online, which saves employees valuable time not spent researching help for personal problems. Benefits include:

  1. Work Resources – Many EAPs offer professional development tutorials on topics ranging from how to avoid burnout, conflict intervention, project management and valuing diversity in the workplace.
  2. Talent Management – These group services include team building, wellness in your workplace, anti-harassment training, supervisors’ workshops and leadership development.
  3. Life Assistance and Resources – Access to specialists who assist families with finding child and eldercare services. Other issues employees often seek help to address include anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, couple counseling, mental health, divorce and adoption to name a few.
  4. Legal Assistance & Resources – Complimentary attorney consultations on matters such as divorce, contracts and identity theft, plus 24-hour emergency legal aid for arrests or jail.
  5. Financial Assistance & Resources – Financial concerns are often at the top of the list of stress inducers. EAPs offer budgeting help, planning for retirement or college, divorce as well as tax service consulting.

EAPs provide support, counseling and resources for life issues that can take time away from work and family. For more information, please contact Cindi Elstien, SVP-Human Resources at CElstien@AlperServices.com.