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LATEST BLOG STORIES

September 2017

Home Insurance – Your Guide to Managing Trees and Subsidence

The ever changing weather conditions and the increase in hot dry summers and comparatively dry winters in recent years has seen an increase in subsidence in buildings and properties.

Subsidence is the downward movement of the ground supporting the building. Damage occurs because the movement is often uneven, causing cracks in walls, floors and ceilings. The main cause of subsidence in the UK is the shrinkage in dry weather of clay soils which expand and contract with changes in their moisture content. The escape of water from leaking or damaged drains below the ground can also cause subsidence.

Subsidence damage to buildings is generally distinctive in appearance, cracks in walls usually having the following features:

  • Noticeable from both inside and outside the property
  • Tapered
  • Reaching below the damp proof course, this is often results in doors and windows sticking, reflecting the distortion of the building.

Much less common but causing damage of a similar nature are:

  • “Heave” is the upward movement of the ground supporting the building.
  • “Landslip” which is the movement of a mass of ground down an incline or slope trying to find a natural level.

Buildings and properties can suffer minor cracking as a result of a number of causes:

  • Consolidation settlement of soil due to the weight of the building. This normally occurs early in the life of a building
  • Temperature changes of the building superstructure causing expansion and contraction
  • Drying and shrinkage of building materials: cracks arising are generally uniform in width and narrow (hairline to 3mm) and can be dealt with cosmetically by decoration or minor maintenance work.

Common Causes – Tree Types

Research indicates that the majority of subsidence issues in buildings and properties involve trees to some degree. Trees that have fine root structures longer than other species, such as poplars, willows, elms and oaks are the most likely to cause problems.

For example: A safe distance for an Oak tree is 30m from the building.

What actions can you take to help?

If you should reside in a clay soil area there are a number of simple actions you can do to protect your property and alleviate long-term problems:

  • Do not plant trees or large shrubs close to the house, garage or outbuildings.
  • Trees which are older than the structure but within the safe distance can be managed by a programme of pollarding or crown thinning carried out to control the amount of foliage produced, which will in turn reduce the amount of water it requires.
  • Trees which are older than the structure should not be removed as this could cause uplift of the ground and heave
  • Never remove or in any way alter a tree on which there is a preservation order, without the appropriate consent.
  • If in doubt obtain specialist advice from a tree surgeon or similar professional. (Initially the cost involved will normally have to be borne by the policyholder and will only be reimbursed by the insurer if a claim is met.)
  • The tree may be within a neighbouring garden or in the street. If you are worried about the potential subsidence problems that a neighbour’s tree could cause, discuss it amicably and try to persuade him or her to take an appropriate action. Only if your neighbour is uncooperative, or the tree is the property of the local authority, write a letter expressing your concern and keep a copy for future reference.

For more information contact Emma Patrick, Private Clients Manager on 01625 547754 or emmap@riskworksbusiness.com

 

 

August 2017

What are the best jewellery investments to make your money bling?

Jewellery is more than just a luxury accessory. It is a fashion statement which can be held as an investment piece.

Enjoy the sparkle of a gemstones investment

While jewellery fans and collectors should admire key pieces of jewellery for their individual beauty, a key part of their attraction comes from the value of stones set within them and in particular coloured gemstones.  At present they are the biggest growth in the jewellery trade with over a 500% increase in the last 10 years and prices are still rising year on year.

The gemstones of note to invest in are namely rubies, sapphires and emeralds but there are other gems that you may not even of heard of that can add value to your jewellery ie: tanzanite found at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro can sell for £1000 a carat. Other gemstones of note include alexandrite, jadeite and muscovite, with each stone selling for more than £10,000 a carat.

Gemstones are important when pricing jewellery but it is often the skill and artistry used to place them in the jewellery that are paramount. You can also have amazing jewellery that uses relatively modest priced semi-precious gemstones such as amethyst, aquamarine and topaz.

FACT: The most valuable gemstone in the world is the 24.78 carat ‘Graff Pink’ diamond that sold for £29 million in 2010. This works out a more than £1 million per carat!

Examples of gemstone investments

Sapphire: Not just Kashmir sapphires on the rise. In 2004, a 30-carat Sri Lankan sapphire sold at Bonham’s London for £11,950. A decade later, a similar Sri Lankan stone, also weighing 30 carats, sold for a staggering £326,500. An increase of 2,800%

Ruby: Recently a very impressive ruby 10.08 carats of Burma origin and pigeon blood colour, sold for £8 Million! The prices are still increasing every year at a high level making it the number one gemstone to invest in.

Factors which impact on a gemstones investment

There are five key factors to take into consideration when considering making an investment in gemstones:

  • Colour; hue, tone and saturation properties.

Colour statement stones set within jewellery can have a major impact on the overall value of pieces

  • Clarity
  • Origin
  • Carat and treatment of gemstones.

Regarding treatment there are various ones applied to improve the quality of a gemstone from:

  • Colour irradiation, heat, diffusion and dyeing.
  • Transparency – heat and fracture filling
  • Strengthen and stability – impregnation with organic filler ie: Oil

Keeping your jewellery and valuables safe and insured

Jewellery will be covered by your home insurance but high value items should be individually listed.  It is important to have your pieces regularly valued at least every 5 years with some items requiring annual valuations.

It may be a hassle to do this and be without your jewellery but in the unfortunate instance of a claim some insurers will reimburse full cost within a 24 hour period with an up to date valuation in place.

Call Emma Patrick – Private Clients Manager to discuss ways to protect and insure your precious portfolio in more detail on 01625 547754 or email: emmap@riskworksbusiness.com

June 2017

Cyber – Are you constantly transmitting data?

From your 6.15am alarm call to lights out and head on the pillow, you’re transmitting and sharing data throughout your day. Just take a moment to think about a day in the life of your data journey and how quickly personal and business information is shared going about daily routines:

7.30am – Catching up on Facebook

Along with authentication information, Facebook will track how long you dwell on posts and of course log which posts you ‘like’ and comment on in order to optimise your experience. When you upload an image you can also tag the location

9.13am – Sending an email

The email header will track the IP address of the sender, as well as all the computers the email has been sent through

10.43am – Check your bank balance

Banking apps / websites are usually fairly secure. If using an App some authentication maybe stored on your device of access.

1.14pm – Doing some online shopping

A large number of sites use tags or cookies to track searches and then display adverts from other sites.

6.04pm – Using a health recording App

Types of data that may be collected and transmitted include heart rate, steps and location

8.43pm – Reading an online article

Some sites use adverts to help support them. Adverts showing your previous browsing history and behaviour may appear. Others may track how many articles you read and ask for your to subscribe to read more.

Tracking back through your day indicates a large amount of data leaked into the world. Not only personal information but some accessed through company equipment and systems.

What could be the consequence of your normal daily routines and do you have a cyber liability plan and insurance in place?

Speak today with Jon Davies at Riskworks Business Services 01625 547754 or email jonathand@riskworksbusiness.com

March 2017

Architects Know How – Your Insurance Tool Kit

Keep ahead of your competition with our works insurance tool kit

If you’re an architect working on a high-value domestic renovation, you need the knowledge and skills to give your client the very best advice on a spectrum of issues. By adding a little insurance know-how to your toolkit, you put yourself ahead of the competition and can speak with authority on a topic that’s both a grey area and an afterthought for many.

Riskworks can advise you on JCT compliant insurance for large domestic renovations projects including:

  • JCT Contracts
  • Existing Structures & Works

Insurance is often a last-minute inclusion to a JCT contract. In a market where things can often run over time and budget, we’re confident this information will help avoid unpleasant surprises for your client Works on existing structures are often the backbone of a practice. Though the differentiator between you and your competitors could boil down to your creative spark, its also good to develop a reputation for smooth running projects. Good insurance knowledge can help make that happen.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON INSURING EXISTING STRUCTURES

Existing structures were a challenge to insure in the context of JCT. The contract works insurance market is well established for builders, but property owners are often unaware of their insurance obligations under the contract you specify for them. Their experience of properties undergoing building works is often limited and they need your advice.

Insurers find unoccupied properties that are subject to a JCT a problem. The good news is that we can now insure both the existing structure and the works under one policy, against ‘All Risks’ and importantly in the joint names of your client and their contractor. This keeps your client in control of their insurance and protects them from the complexity of dealing with a contractor’s insurer in the event of a claim.

As the creative and technical leader of a high value renovation project, your clients look to you for guidance so knowing the right way to insure the project is important.

THE BASICS OF JCT JOINT NAMES & SUBROGATION

The JCT joint names requirements under the 2011 suite of contracts causes problems for a number of UK existing structure insurers and their re-insurers. With the Employer and the Contractor named as insured it means that the existing structure insurer cannot recover their outlay if the Contractor causes damage to the property insured.

With losses historically infrequent but often very large standard property insurers are reticent to get involved in providing existing structure insurance during projects. Our supporting underwriters understand this type of insurance, are relaxed about JCT and look to support clients who are undertaking JCT based projects.

HOW CAN RISKWORKS ADD VALUE TO YOUR SERVICE?

We have products that allow joint names and overcome these issues. By working with us, you’re keeping your client in control of their project whilst still ensuring they get comprehensive cover.
To help you get ahead of the competition call Emma Patrick at Riskworks Business Services Ltd on 01625 547754 Or email: emmap@riskworksbusiness.com

 

November 2016

Hi-tech car thieves’ access to your vehicle is evolving at a fast rate.

Watch out for the hi-tech car thieves. Technology has made vehicles safer and more efficient but thieves are exploiting weaknesses in the latest systems to compromise security and steal high-performance cars to order.

Car hacking

One of the most common hi-tech thefts, widely known as car hacking, targets vehicles with keyless ignition systems:

  • Thieves use a hand-held radio jammer to block the signal to remote locking car keys
  • This renders them useless and, although the driver will think they have locked their vehicle, it will remain unlocked
  • Thieves are then able to gain access to the vehicle and, within minutes, can re-programme a blank electronic key to start and steal the vehicle

Even if vehicle has a more traditional key-operated ignition. Thieves are still able to gain access to the vehicle and steal any valuables.

Access through the infotainment system

This latest potential threat is even more sinister. This exploits the infotainment systems that are becoming increasingly popular in vehicles. These systems allow drivers to play music, make phone calls and view vehicle information but technology security experts have demonstrated that it is possible to hack into them by sending data through the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals. This is particularly concerning as these infotainment systems are often connected to the same computer systems that manage the vehicle’s steering and braking. This means a hacker could take control of a vehicle and potentially put the occupants’ lives in danger.

Manufacturers and Cyber protection

Vehicle manufacturers are taking these threats seriously and are looking at ways to improve security and deter the criminals. In the UK, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, Thatcham Research, is also looking at ways to combat these hi-tech forms of vehicle crime. As well as using its position to influence vehicle and product manufacturers to take a coordinated approach to developing security solutions, it is also a member of the Cyber Security Consortium for Connected Vehicles.

How implementing some of the old basics of car protection could deter thieves

Reviving some of the security measures that were commonplace in the 1990s will also help to reduce the risk of theft from car hacking:

  • Park vehicles in a secure, well-lit area, preferably in a locked garage or compound if possible
  • A range of security devices are also available to deter thieves including alarms, immobilisers and tracking devices as well as steering wheel locks and locking wheel nuts

We can’t stop these unfortunate events from happening, but the insurance cover you have in place to protect you will have a huge impact on the outcome and can bring normality back into your daily life. Call our experienced insurance team on 01625 547754 or email info@riskworksbusiness.com

November 2016

Why specialist motor insurance is far from the ordinary

You may have chosen to drive something a bit more special than a standard vehicle or you may have a fleet of family vehicles parked on your drive. It’s therefore important to consider an insurance cover that includes features you wouldn’t find in ordinary standard cover. Detailed below is an overview of the features and benefits you can expect:

The benefits of fully comprehensive cover

Whatever car you are driving, even those not owned by you. As the policyholder you could drive someone else’s car fully comprehensively, with the added advantage that anyone over 30 years old can also drive your cars – fully comprehensively with your permission. Ideal if you need to move cars from one location to another or if you require transport to the airport in the comfort of your own car, making the art of delegation that bit easier.

A guaranteed value

In the unfortunate event your car is written off, a specialist motor insurance cover will pay you up to the agreed value or replace it with a brand new car if less than a year old and one is available.

Your individual choice of garage

Specialist motor cover insurance enables you to choose the garage where repairs are carried out, thus making the whole experience as convenient as possible for you. Some options also offer a three-year guarantee on repairs carried out by an approved garage.

A courtesy car similar to your own

Should you have the need to borrow a courtesy car for the duration of repairs, we will arrange a like for like vehicle. It is no use providing you with a small car that doesn’t match up to your needs or expectations.

An unlimited number of foreign trips

If you travel abroad your car will be covered for an unlimited number of foreign trips, up to a maximum of 90 days per trip. This includes European breakdown cover.

Peace of mind

You can rest assured knowing you have cover in place for your personal plates, lock replacement and audio system. You will also be protected in the unfortunate event you can’t drive due to ill health or if you lose your licence.

Regular information on the process of any claim

We will provide you with access to a 24/7/365 helpline so you can keep track on the status of your claim and find out when you’ll be back on the road in your car.

All of the above linked to competitive premiums and a product that keeps you in the manner in which you are accustomed to. There may of course be cheaper quotes out there but they certainly cannot offer you the benefits detailed above provided by specialist insurance covers – so why not talk to Emma Patrick at Riskworks Business Services Ltd today on 01625 547754 or email emmap@riskworksbusiness.com

September 2016

What is Ransomware?

Definition: A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Although ransomware is usually aimed at individuals, security experts have warned that ransomware is the fastest growing form of computer virus and it’s only a matter of time before businesses are targeted as well.

How does it work?

Like other computer viruses, it usually finds its way onto a device by exploiting a security hole in vulnerable software or by tricking somebody into installing it.

The virus then sets to work encrypting the user’s files. Once the computer is effectively locked down, it demands a fee – often in bitcoins because it is less easy to trace – for the return of the files.

The fee is generally one or two bitcoins – the equivalent of about $500 (£330).

Is there anyway to get round it?
Sometimes it is just a threat, but mostly the virus really does encrypt files. The only way to retrieve your files without paying the ransom is to go to a backed-up version.

Who is behind it ?

It tends to be organised crime. They do make millions out of it. It’s opportunistic.

Recent research by Palo Alto Networks and industry partners suggested one family of ransomware known as Crypto Wall had generated about $325m (£215m) for the gang behind it.

In the volume of cybercrime space, ransomware is one of the most prolific problems we face. Credit card theft is getting to the point where the value of each card is very low. As a result, ransomware has stepped into that gap and giving a higher value return for each victim.
To discuss cyber security for your business please speak with Jon Davies on 01625 547754 or email jonathand@riskworksbusiness.com.

August 2016

Love your collections – we do too with specialist covers

It is true that in Britain we are a nation that loves to collect things from fine art to stamps to medals, coins, even comic books or toy cars. In fact, the things we choose to collect are as diverse as those who do the collecting.

Some may be older collectors who have built up extensive collections over many years while others are younger collectors who are just starting out.

There are many different types of collections hidden away in people’s homes, some of which are high in monetary value, and some of which are high in personal value.

Either way, as your collection becomes more important, so does your choice of insurer. It is therefore vital to have the correct cover in place to cover against the unexpected such as fire, flood or theft. Do not assume that your general home contents policy will cover the true value of your collections, as some will only cover a portion of this.  It is imperative to know what is and what isn’t covered.

Standard covers are generally aimed at the mass market so you need a specialist insurer and policy that understands the individual characteristics of your items in greater depth to ensure that the underwriting is accurate.

So, whether it’s a Botticelli or a Banksy, diamond bracelets or doll’s houses, at Riskworks our insurance covers all areas. Some of the special features of collection insurance are detailed below:

  • ‘All Risks’ cover anywhere in the world
  • Risk management advice and assistance
  • High single article limits
  • Agreed values on the collection, making claims settlements much quicker
  • Payment for depreciation following insured damage
  • Defective title insurance
  • Automatic cover for new acquisitions
  • Cost of emergency evacuation of the collection
  • Specialist loss adjusters used with access to top restorers.

Collections can increase in value

As a collector, it is worth bearing in mind that some items in your collections can increase in value quickly and can take you well over a standard content insurance limit. If you have your collection well catalogued with a full inventory and valuation it will make it easier to identify single items and collective limits.

If you need help or guidance on how to protect your collections or indeed just want to know a little bit more about the special features detailed above and how they work for you then, please talk to Emma Patrick, Private Clients Manager on 01625 547754 or email emmap@riskworksbusiness.com

May 2016

Employer’s Liability Insurance – the only business insurance required by law.

What is it?

Employers’ liability insurance protects you against claims made by your employees for injuries and illnesses they suffer at work. It pays any compensation you’re liable for and your legal defence costs, too.

Who needs it?

The policy wording uses a really broad definition of ‘employee’, it’s safe to say that most UK businesses probably do. To make sure as many people as possible are covered, ‘employees’ aren’t just limited to permanent staff under contract. They don’t even have to be paid.

If you are an employer you are legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance. You can be fined up to £2,500 for every day you do not have appropriate insurance

Who does it cover?

Your policy should cover claims brought by:

  • all permanent employees
  • contract, casual and seasonal employees
  • labour-only subcontractors

An employee is someone:

  • who has National Insurance contributions and income tax deducted from their salary
  • whose location, hours and conditions of their work are controlled by their employer
  • who cannot be replaced by their employer if they are unable to work

 

 

Your policy should also cover claims brought by:

Don’t fall into the easy trap of thinking that because they’re not really ‘your’ staff, they’re not really your responsibility. They are – and so is their welfare.

Who doesn’t require this insurance?

Apart from publicly funded organisations, the only businesses that don’t need employers’ liability insurance are:

  • Companies where the owner is the sole employee, owning 50% or more of the issued share capital.
  • Family businesses notincorporated as limited companies where all employees are closely related to the business owner (for example father, son, brother, sister, husband, wife etc).

 

How much cover do I need?

A minimum of £5m for each claim. You’ll find most insurers only offer £10m.

What happens if I don’t have it?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces the law on employers’ liability. If a health and safety officer comes knocking, you could be fined £2,500 for every day you should’ve had cover but didn’t, and £1,000 for not displaying your insurance certificate.

It’s likely you’ll be given a few days’ grace to sort your policy rather than fined there and then. But it’s best not to chance it, particularly when cover costs relatively cheaply in comparison.

Anything else I need to know?

When you obtain your policy documents, place your employers’ liability certificate in an easily-noticed spot on your office wall. If you don’t have a wall, you can store it electronically. Just make sure your employees know how to access it.

Employee claims for injury or illness

If you are an employee and you have suffered an injury at work or become ill as a result of your job, you should speak to your employer who will contact their insurer about making a claim.

If the company you worked for has gone out of business you may still be able to make a claim for compensation directly through the company’s insurer. You can trace your former employer’s insurance provider through the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO)

Not sure if any of this applies to you?

The HSE have a handy guide for employers. It’s everything you need to know about employers’ liability in one document. If that doesn’t cover it, please feel free to give us a call. We’re happy to talk you through it.

 

March 2016

Top tips for educating employees about Cyber Security

Over the last year the world has become well accustomed with the idea of cyber data breaches. It seems like a new huge data breach has been reported week after week. From Talk Talk to Ashley Madison, with each breach exposing more records than the last.

While these threats are most often initiated by outsiders such as programmers writing malicious code designed to grab corporate data, remove confidential customer information and/or raid company financial data – cyber criminals are too often able to gain access due to employees’ ignorance and/or negligence.

It is therefore vital for every business to educate employees about cybersecurity, to train them before a breach occurs. Below is a list of tips that can help you educate your employees and develop policies that will help mitigate ever-growing cybersecurity risks.

Regularly Talk to Employees

It’s important for companies to include cybersecurity training on a regular basis, explaining the potential impact a cyber incident may have on your operations. Employees need to know their obligations, especially when it comes to mobile data. It’s not enough to require an annual review and signing of an “I have read and understand company IT policies” statement.

Remember Top Management and IT Staff

Top managers are often the target of cyber criminals because of their higher level of access to critical corporate and customer data. This increased access has a much bigger damage/financial payoff for the hackers. IT staff are also more susceptible, given their administrative access over the network.

The Weakest Link

Any network is only as strong as its weakest link. Explain to employees that while your company is making its best effort to secure the company’s infrastructure, it’s critical that employees fully engage and do their part in following company policies. Policies should be sophisticated enough to cover all possible attack vectors.

Regular Sessions

Companies should have regular, focused sessions with employees to explore different types of cyber attacks. Threats change, new people come on board, and employees get caught up in their day-to-day activities, sometimes losing focus on the security threats presenting themselves. Consider having regular lunch and learn sessions, and encourage employees to use what they learn at home on their own computers.

Social Engineering

Warn employees to pay special attention to social engineering ploys they will find in social media, blogs and emails. It’s also important to point out that many cyber incidents begin with a phone call from someone posing as a co-worker asking seemingly innocuous questions. Meanwhile, they are actually gathering information about the company and its operations.

Recognising an Attack

Train employees to recognise an attack. It’s essential that companies have policies in place that assume they’ll be infiltrated. Don’t wait to react. Have a documented remediation plan in place and update or review it frequently. Communicate step-by-step instructions about what employees should do if they believe they’ve witnessed a cyber incident.

Training should include specific rules for email, web browsing, mobile devices and social networks. Don’t forget the basics, such as physically unplugging the machine from the network and notifying the admin of any suspicious emails, activity or lost devices.

Regularly Test Employees

Companies should regularly test their employees’ cybersecurity knowledge and tie the results back into the training curriculum. It’s important to make it fun and/or rewarding, with incentives for prompt responses.

Notifications

If an incident happens, give employees a heads-up as soon as possible. A lack of transparency or improper handling of a cyber incident may significantly increase the impact of the event. Issue instructions to employees about how to speak to the public and the press about the incident. Have an internal communications plan and PR strategy in place before anything happens.

Consider insurance for cyber incidents

Internet and network exposures are usually excluded from traditional insurance policies. Riskworks, however, works with leading cyber risk insurers to develop cyber risk insurance protection. Ensure you have it covered:

Call Jon Davies from the Riskworks Business Services Cyber Team on 01625 547754 to discuss further.

 

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Alderley Road Wilmslow | Cheshire | SK9 1RL Telephone:
01625 547 754
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