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When should your clients buy travel insurance?

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When should your clients buy travel insurance?

An expert from Aon Affinity Travel Practice breaks it down

Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press on July 26, 2018

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When you book flights online, you’re typically prompted to buy travel insurance. Same with cruises and tours.

Should you buy the insurance? What will it cover? Equally important, what won’t it cover, and when might it not be worth your while?

Read: Canadians don’t have a good understanding of travel health coverage

The AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here!” got the answers to these and other questions from Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. Aon, a global insurance broker that represents insurance companies, creates specialized travel products, including insurance policies sold by cruises, tour operators and certain online booking sites.

Excerpts from the podcast interview:

TRAVEL INSURANCE: WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Typically travel insurance protects your financial investment in your trip, to “cover penalties and extra costs you would incur” if you couldn’t take your trip or if your trip was interrupted, Godlin said.

Read: Blockchain could affect info sharing in P&C industry, travel claims payments: InsurTech TO

For example, say you need to cancel a trip or head home early because of a death in the family or because a hurricane is headed to your beach destination. This type of insurance reimburses prepaid expenses – flights, tours, hotel – as well as expenses incurred because the trip was interrupted, like rebooking fees for new flights. This type of insurance also covers additional costs incurred if your trip is delayed – for example, you miss a connection because of a storm and need to stay overnight in a hotel before catching the next flight out.

Another type of travel insurance offers health benefits, typically providing “gap coverage for emergency medical expenses and also medical evacuation.”

Read: Cancellation insurance for space tourism

A third category protects “your stuff,” Godlin said, meaning whatever you bring with you or pack that’s not covered by existing insurance, in case of loss, damage or theft.

WHEN WOULDN’T YOU BUY INSURANCE?

Buying insurance should be based on potential losses and what you can afford to lose.

If you’re staying in a hotel that won’t charge you if you cancel, or you’re taking a trip booked with miles but you can get the miles back with no penalty if you cancel, you don’t need insurance because your losses would be zero.

But if you stand to lose your investment should you cancel, can you live with that risk?

Typically, insurance costs 6% of the cost of a trip. So for $60, you can insure a $1,000 trip. What’s your comfort level on the money? Would you rather spend the extra $60 and know that you’re covered? Or can you live with the possibility that if the trip falls through for some unforeseen reason, you could lose most of what you spent on flights and other nonrefundable components?

“You have to do the math,” Godlin said. “What’s the penalty versus what would be the cost to insure it?”

EXCLUSIONS AND TIMING

Risk assessment is also a factor. If you’re planning now for a Caribbean trip in September, that’s prime hurricane season. Insurance would mitigate potential financial losses if a storm disrupted or caused the cancellation of your trip.

Read: 2017 was the costliest year on record for weather disasters: Aon Benfield

But you cannot get insurance to cover specific problems that already exist. So if your trip starts Friday, and a storm is already headed to your destination, it’s probably too late to buy insurance.

“Insurance is designed to protect the unforeseen,” Godlin said.

Similarly, if a family member was just admitted to the hospital, it’s probably too late to buy insurance to cover the possibility that you’ll have to cancel a planned trip if that person’s condition worsens. Godlin advises calling the insurer and asking if reimbursement would be offered in that scenario, “or is that an exclusion.”

Buying insurance when you book your trip is the best way to assure your claims will be covered, but many policies can be purchased until the day before the trip. That said, of course, you can’t sprain your ankle on Monday, buy insurance on Tuesday and cancel the trip om Wednesday.

Typically, exclusions – things not covered by insurance – include pre-existing medical conditions (though you might be covered if your medical condition has been stable and there’s an unexpected, new complication) and work-related issues (a last-minute deadline that the boss can’t handle without you).

Read: The terrorism talk

One option that covers every scenario: cancel-for-any-reason insurance. That gives you flexibility to just say, “it’s just not a good time for me to go,” Godlin said. Typically, though, that type of insurance only reimburses 75 per cent of your cost rather than the 100 per cent with other types of policies.

TERROR ATTACKS

What if a terror attack unfolds somewhere and you’re feeling so nervous that you want to stay home? If the attack shuts down the city you’re headed to, you may be covered. But if the attack is in a provincial capital and you’re heading to a different region, you probably can’t make a case for an insurance claim unless you have cancel-for-any-reason insurance.

And if insurance doesn’t cover your situation, or you don’t have insurance, it’s always worth contacting the airline, hotel or tour operator. Sometimes travel providers are sympathetic to individual problems or when the public feels skittish following a major event. Even if you can’t get a refund, you might get credit toward a future trip.

Canadian Insurance Top Broker is now on Facebook (facebook.com/TopBrokerMag) as well as LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/citopbroker) and Twitter (twitter.com/CITopBroker). Follow us for easy access to the top P&C news you need to know.

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U.S. Charges Chinese Tech Giant Huawei, Top Executive

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is filing charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei.

A 13-count indictment was unsealed Monday in New York charging Huawei, two of its affiliates and a top executive at the company.

The charges include bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

A separate case filed in Washington state charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1. Prosecutors allege she committed fraud by misleading American banks about Huawei’s business deals in Iran.

Prosecutors charge Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies.

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24 Million Mortgage And Bank Loan Documents Leaked Online

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A trove of more than 24 million financial and banking documents, representing tens of thousands of loans and mortgages from some of the biggest banks in the U.S., has been found online after a server security lapse.

The server, running an Elasticsearch database, had more than a decade’s worth of data, containing loan and mortgage agreements, repayment schedules and other highly sensitive financial and tax documents that reveal an intimate insight into a person’s financial life.

But it wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone to access and read the massive cache of documents.

It’s believed that the database was only exposed for two weeks — but long enough for independent security researcher Bob Diachenko to find the data. At first glance, it wasn’t immediately known who owned the data. After we inquired with several banks whose customers information was found on the server, the database was shut down on January 15.

With help from TechCrunch, the leak was traced back to Ascension, a data and analytics company for the financial industry, based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company provides data analysis and portfolio valuations. Among its services, the Ascension converts paper documents and handwritten notes into computer-readable files — known as OCR.

It’s that bank of converted documents that was exposed, Diachenko said in his own write-up.

Sandy Campbell, general counsel at Ascension’s parent company, Rocktop Partners, which owns more than 46,000 loans worth $4.4 billion, confirmed the security incident to TechCrunch, but said its systems were unaffected.

“On January 15, this vendor learned of a server configuration error that may have led to exposure of some mortgage-related documents,” he said in a statement. “The vendor immediately shut down the server in question, and we are working with third-party forensics experts to investigate the situation. We are also in regular contact with law enforcement investigators and technology partners as this investigation proceeds.”

An unspecified portion of the loans were shared with the contractor for analysis, the statement added, but couldn’t immediately confirm how many loan documents were exposed.

TechCrunch has learned that the vendor is New York-based company OpticsML. Efforts to reach the company were unsuccessful. Its website is offline and its phone number was disconnected from service.

In a phone call, Campbell confirmed that the company will inform all affected customers, and report the incident to state regulators under data breach notification laws.

From our review, it was clear that the documents pertain to loans and mortgages and other correspondence from several of the major financial and lending institutions dating as far back as 2008, if not longer, including CitiFinancial, a now-defunct lending finance arm of Citigroup, files from HSBC Life Insurance, Wells Fargo, CapitalOne and some U.S. federal departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Some of the companies have long been defunct, after selling their mortgage divisions and assets to other companies.

Though not all files contained the highly sensitive and personal data points, we found: names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and bank and checking account numbers, as well as details of loan agreements that include sensitive financial information, such as why the person is requesting the loan.

Some of the documents also note if a person has filed for bankruptcy and tax documents, including annual W-2 tax forms, which are targets for scammers to claim false refunds.

But the database stored documents in a random order, and were not easily followable or presented in an easy to read or formatted way, making it difficult to follow from one document to another, said Diachenko.

We verified the authenticity of data by checking a portion of names in the database with public records.

“These documents contained highly sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers, names, phones, addresses, credit history and other details which are usually part of a mortgage or credit report,” Diachenko told TechCrunch. “This information would be a gold mine for cyber criminals who would have everything they need to steal identities, file false tax returns, get loans or credit cards.”

Although the documents originate from these financiers, one bank — Citi, which helped to secure the data — said it had no current relationship with the company.

“Citi recently became aware that a third party, with no connection to Citi, was storing certain mortgage origination and modification documents in an unsecure online environment,” said a Citi spokesperson. “These documents contained information about current or former Citi customers, as well as customers from other financial institutions. Citi notified law enforcement, initiated a thorough forensic investigation and worked quickly to ensure the information could no longer be publicly accessed.”

Citi confirmed that “third party is a vendor to a company that had purchased the loans and we have found no evidence that Citi’s systems were compromised.”

The bank added that it’s working to identify potentially affected customers.

Dozens of other companies are affected, including smaller regional banks and larger multinationals.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson said the data was obtained by Ascension from other entities that purchased Wells Fargo mortgages. HSBC said it was investigating if any of its customers’ data, including past customers, and confirmed it had “no vendor relationship with Ascension since 2010.” When reached, CapitalOne did not comment at the time of publication. A Housing and Urban Development spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. The department is currently affected by the ongoing government shutdown. If anything changes, we’ll update.

It’s the latest in a series of security lapses involving Elasticsearch databases.

A massive database leaking millions of real-time SMS text message data was found and secured last year, as well as a popular massage service and, most recently, AIESEC, the largest youth-run nonprofit for working opportunities.

Updated at 5pm ET: with comment from HSBC and additional details regarding OpticsML.

Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755–8849. You can also send PGP email with the fingerprint: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

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Brandon Truaxe, Founder of Deciem Skin Care Company, Is Dead At 40

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Brandon Truaxe, the former CEO and founder of the skin care company Deciem, has died at age 40.

An executive at the company confirmed Truaxe’s death in an email to Vox, which also obtained the email sent by acting CEO Nicola Kilner to Deciem’s staff.

“I can’t believe I am typing these words. Brandon has passed away over the weekend. Heartbroken doesn’t come close to how I, and how I know many of you will be feeling,” read the email, which also indicated that the company’s “offices, warehouses, factories and stores” would all be closed Monday to “take the time to cry with sadness, smile at the good times we had, reflect on what his genius built and hug your loved ones that little harder.”

A spokesperson for the Estée Lauder Cos., a minority investor in Deciem, told HuffPost: “Brandon Truaxe was a true genius, and we are incredibly saddened by the news of his passing. As the visionary behind Deciem, he positively impacted millions of people around the world with his creativity, brilliance and innovation. This is a profound loss for us all, and our hearts are with Nicola Kilner and the entire Deciem family.”

Representatives of Deciem did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but they did post a heartfelt message about Truaxe on their Instagram page.

“Thank you for every laugh, every learning and every moment of your genius. Whilst we can’t imagine a world without you, we promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision. May you finally be at peace. Love, (forever) your DECIEM,” they wrote.

The Toronto-based company, nicknamed “The Abnormal Beauty Company,” was called Deciem after Truaxe’s intention to launch 10 lines under the brand’s umbrella, though the brand has now exceeded that. Arguably its most famous line, The Ordinary, has gone on to achieve near-cult status for its affordable prices and ubiquity. The line is currently sold at Sephora.

As for Truaxe, he has had a multitude of highs and lows with the company. On the heels of a near-rave review in The New Yorker in early 2018, Truaxe began to appear erratic on social media and use the company’s pages to post bizarre messages and videos. By the end of the year, Estée Lauder took legal action against him, and Truaxe was ousted by a judge as CEO. Kilner has been the acting CEO ever since. Additionally, Truaxe was issued a restraining order by several executives at Estée Lauder.

While the cause of Truaxe’s death is currently unknown, a report published in Canada’s Financial Post in December 2018 indicated that he’d been previously hospitalized for mental health issues several times and had problems with drug use. 

The response on social media has been widespread, as many fans of his skin care brand mourn his death:

This article has been updated with comment from Estée Lauder Cos. and a message posted by Deciem.

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