Traveling to Peru – Here’s What You Should Eat

If Machu Picchu is on your mind, then prepare yourself for a one-of-a-kind experience. Peru is one of the most beautiful countries in South America, rich in history and tradition. The people of Peru are warm and friendly. The county houses some of the most iconic Inca temples that travelers must witness at least once in their lives. But the true magic of Peru lies in its cuisine. Here are some the must-try Peruvian specialties.

Ceviche

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If you’re a lover of seafood, then Peru is the place for you. Ceviche, Peru’s most famous dish, is essentially raw fish that is marinated in citrus juice. The citric acid adds a delicate, tangy flavor while giving the meat a slight chewy consistency. The dish is typically served with sweet potato or corn and spiced with pepper and red onions.

Causa

This dish is traditionally a casserole made from potatoes and avocados. It is served cold and in slices. Some people might also add eggs, tuna, or meat.

Cuy

This Peruvian staple meat comes from guinea pigs. It is known to be rather bony and has the same flavor of game like wild fowl or rabbit. The meat is either barbecued or baked. It is served whole.

Aju de Gallina

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Image credits – Pixabay

This is a delicious rich stew made with yellow aji peppers, condensed milk, chicken, and white bread. The vegetarian alternative uses potatoes instead of chicken. It’s called the papa a la huancaina, which roughly translates to boiled potatoes in a creamy yellow sauce.

Lomo Saltado

This delicacy can be described as a stir-fry which consists of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and beef that are blended in a pan with fried potatoes and soy sauce. The dish is normally served over steamed white rice.

Anticuchos

This is basically the Peruvian version of the shish kebabs. These skewers of marinated meat are grilled over coal or open fire and served almost everywhere in the country. Street vendors offer them to you coated in garlic sauce. It is believed that the best anticuchos is made with beef heart.

Rocoto Relleno

This is one for the spice lovers. The dish is a super-hot red bell pepper which is boiled to decrease its spiciness. It is served stuffed with spiced ground beef and hard-boiled eggs. The dish is topped with white cheese and baked.

Peru is an endless treasure trove for people who love and enjoy everything that involves food. Although most dishes involve meat, there are some popular vegetarian dishes as well. Don’t forget to experience all of Peru, from its rich history to the sumptuous local food.

Top Travel Tips from Seasoned Travelers

Travelers who have been around the globe learn a thing or two on their adventures. They pick up tips from fellow travelers or through experiences, some of which may not be very pleasant. So, if you’re looking to hit the road, it’s best to be prepared before than learn things the hard way. Here are some travel tips collected from adventurers who have thousands of miles under their belts.

  1. Always keep your credit card and passport handy

If you ever run out of cash, you can always use your trusted credit cards. Popular cards like Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted almost all over the world. Just make sure that you don’t rake up a large bill by the end of your trip. Use your credit card only in case of emergencies. Also, always keep your passport close. It can get you out of tight spots and help with identification.

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Image credits – Pixabay

2. Make sure you’ve had your shots

Before you travel anywhere, make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Don’t take your health lightly. Other countries can harbor diseases you may not be familiar with that can be easily combated with regular vaccinations. Inform your doctor of where you’re going so they can inform you of potential health risks you could face during your travels.

  1. Say goodbye to checked baggage fees by carrying a backpack

If you intend on being a frequent traveler or already are one, you’ll need to learn to become cost wary. And one trick to help you save some bucks by avoiding baggage fees is by choosing to carry a backpack instead of regular baggage. Make sure you choose a backpack or rucksack that suits your needs best.

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Image credits – Pixabay

  1. Get all your information from hotels

Hotels are great sources of information regarding the local events, cuisine, sights, and landmarks that travelers should try. Even if you’re not staying at a hotel, you can always visit one and ask them for information. They’ll always be willing to guide you to the best places to eat, shop, and visit.

  1. Educate yourself on the local language

If you’re going someplace where they don’t speak your language, it’s always a good idea to learn some pleasantries, words, and numbers in the local language. It’ll become much easier to converse with the locals who can be very helpful.

Follow these simple, useful tips to make your trips easier and more eventful.

Here Are Some Trips that Will Help You Plan a Stress-Free Vacation

When planning their vacations people often become stressed out about the details (the destination, where they should stay, and what they should do during the trip). They forget that vacations are supposed to be relaxing and not stress-inducing.

The key to a stress-free holiday is right planning. Once you have everything set and working right, you have nothing to worry about. Here are some tips that will help you plan and enjoy a relaxing, stress-free vacation.

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Image credits – Pixabay

Create a flexible itinerary

 The key to not becoming stressed out and losing your mind is keeping things loose. The same goes for your vacation’s itinerary. During your holiday, you will come across several unplanned events that will eat away at your time and patience. Don’t let a delayed flight or cancelled tours disrupt your entire vacation. Keep a flexible schedule and allow yourself to relax.

Don’t pressure yourself

 If this is the first vacation you’re taking after several months, you feel pressured to make it perfect. The upcoming trip is the only thing on your mind, so you start planning. But if you try too hard to make your holiday perfect, there are chances that your plans could backfire. Focus on creating good memories and having a good time instead of choreographing them.

Do your homework

 Before you start planning your vacation, spend as much time as you can on researching your destination. Learn whatever you can about the local restaurants, public transport, visa requirements, climate and traditions. The more you educate yourself, the better during the vacation. Your research can help you find the best way to travel and also maybe help you with some discount deals on hotels.

Set a goal for the trip

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 Image credits – Pixabay

If you’re traveling with other people, understand that there are several ideas in everyone’s mind about what the vacation should be like. Some people might want quiet days at the beach while others might prefer treks and weekend parties. When you start planning, make sure your group discusses all ideas so that a collective goal can be set. This also helps with planning your itinerary.

Always pack light

Everybody overestimates the amount of things they assume they’ll need during a trip. If you over-pack, you’ll have to lug around all that baggage, exhausting yourself in the process. Instead, keep all your options easy and pack only the necessities. Make a list of things you want to pack and eliminate the things you will not need during the trip.

These tips are easy to follow and very effective if you’re looking forward to a stress-free vacation. Make sure you follow them and plan your trip wisely so you can have a good time and relax.

Ways your child can deal with bullies at school

Mean kids and bullies are a problem that is not limited only to the middle and high school anymore. With increasing exposure to the media and real world scenarios, the problem has crept into the younger grades as well. Till a few years back the idea of a four-year old getting bullied by his preschool buddies seemed quite ridiculous. However, with the changing times, the kids too are becoming more insensitive and aggressive than ever before. So, today we bring to you a few tricks and ways of dealing with bullies at your kid’s school.

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/child-sad-cry-help-hand-scared-1307653/

Listening to what your child has to say

Many a times, we tend to miss out on the subtle hints that our child might be giving out, in an attempt to connect to with on an emotional level. It is therefore utmost essential to actually listen to what you child has to say, without reacting too strongly to it. Instead of blaming your child for being the victim of bullying, you must try and analyze the actual cause for it. The idea is to stay connected with your child and ensure that he receives ample comfort and support at least within the family. Try not to get too agitated in front of your child as it might scare him away and provoke him to retrieve into his shell.

Train your child on how to react

More often than not, the bullies tend to pick on children that either respond to their teasing by getting upset, or are too weak to retaliate for the former’s questionable behavior. It is therefore imperative to teach and coach your children as to how they need to refrain from responding to what bullies say to them. Also, your kid needs to develop the mental strength of standing up against people who intend on victimizing him. In addition to this, you should also make your kid aware of the people in school whom he can approach in case he feels unsafe.

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/boy-roller-small-child-muscles-610988/

Approach a school teacher or administrator

Whatever the case might be, technically it is the school’s responsibility for any act of bullying that occurs within the premises. It is therefore advisable to speak with a teacher or administrator in your kid’s school and discuss the matter comprehensively. This ensures that your child is under constant supervision and has a safe place to go to when he finds himself in a soup.

In case the bullying or intimidation stays persistent even after your sincere efforts to keep your child safe from it, you should immediately contact the offender’s parents and resolve the matter altogether.

Tips to get your kids to stop biting their nails

Nail biting is just one of those numerous annoying habits of your child that might not only develop into an unpleasant personality trait but also be enormously damaging in terms of personal hygiene. Most of the kids pick up the habit as an unconscious response to boredom, anxiety, curiosity or imitation of someone else’s actions. However, nail biting is a habit that most kids are likely to carry with themselves to their adulthood. And while it might not seem like an out of the world habit for a kid, nail biting can be quite an embarrassing and appalling characteristic trait for an adult, who would most probably witness a lot of raised eyebrows at multiple occasions. Here we bring to a few tips that might help your kids give up on their nail biting.

Address the anxieties

More often than not one of the major underlying causes of nail biting among kids is the fact that they might be nervous or anxious in general or about something in particular. If you are aware of a probable event such as a recent parental divorce, shifting to a new house or school or an upcoming exam that might be causing stress in your child, you can take the lead and urge him to share his concerns with you. Although it might be difficult initially, it will lay down a strong foundation for your bonding as a parent and child in the later years.

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Image Source :https://pixabay.com/en/person-human-girl-child-eyes-face-1205140/

 Try to distract them

If your child’s nail biting is the outcome of some kind of stress you can always help him in channelizing his negative energy in more productive and healthy activities such as outdoor sports. Engaging in more creative activities such as art and craft will not only encourage more positive emotions, but also keep his hand busy for a major part of his waking hours. You can also provide him with a smiley stress ball to clench when he feels nervous about something.

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/child-boy-paint-leave-focused-241749

 

Engage in alternative activities

If the nail biting is more of a boredom induced habit, you can engage your child with a bowl full of dried nuts or crisps to nibble on and satisfy his urge for gnawing. For long journeys by train or car, you can keep your child busy with a toy or an activity book, so that he does not resort to biting and chewing his nails as a means of entertainment.

And lastly, it is important to teach your kids the benefits of personal hygiene and the bad stomach infection and diseases that might come his way if he does not refrain from biting his dirty and germ-laden nails.

Life skills to teach your kids

As doting parents, our love often blinds us to the fact that we need to make our lovely little darlings ready to face the real world and its challenges. However, over-parenting does not only encourage our children to grow up into heavily dependent and spoilt adults, but also mars their ability to take up real world responsibilities. We are here to share with you a few life skills that you must teach your kids while they are still young, in order to mould them into strong and independent adults.

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Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/pancake-face-breakfast-brunch-food-767567/

Preparing a meal

Now, we are not asking you to stop preparing dinner for your kids. The idea is to make your child capable enough of making the breakfast or fixing up a little snack for him if you are at work or too sick to move a limb. You need to build that confidence in your kid that he would not have to go hungry, in case there is a situation where you are just not there to feed him.

Good manners

Teaching your kids the basics of good etiquettes and manners is a sure shot way of helping him develop into a confident and well groomed individual. ‘Thank you’, ‘Please’ and “Sorry’ are simple gestures that go a long way in establishing the sophistication and cultured upbringing of your child. Young kids and toddlers are massively perceptive to their surroundings, and simply exhibiting good manners in front of them, will help them develop similar responses to their interactions with other individuals.

Healthy interactions

As adults, we are no stranger to the numerous conflicts and disagreements that we face in the real world on an everyday basis. Our kids too have tremendous chances of facing similar troubles when they finally grow up. The idea here is to teach your child how to calmly and sensibly resolve disputes and conflicts, in order to have a healthy and fruitful interaction. Sibling conflicts are the stepping stones for your child, where he gets exposed to quarrels and disagreements. However, he needs to develop the quality of avoiding arguments by maintaining self-control and respecting the other individual’s opinions as well.

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Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/kids-girl-pencil-drawing-notebook-1093758/

Healthy lifestyle

Healthy habits begin at home. Nearly 80% of all adults still follow a similar lifestyle and habits that they have probably lived through in their childhood. We cannot, therefore, stress enough the unprecedented value of teaching your kids the importance of inculcating healthy habits such as a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and personal hygiene.

Childhood is the most suitable time for picking up habits and skills that will probably last a lifetime, and tremendously impact your kids’ adulthood.

Mouth Watering Pork Stir Fry with Black Beans and Spring Greens

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Image credits – Pixabay

The incredibly delectable black beans have their roots in Chinese cuisine where they are referred to as Douchi. The black bean sauce is made by a process called fermentation, which along with salt, turns the soybeans black in color due to a reaction with the enzymes released at high temperatures. It is a cooking sauce, rather than a condiment and is used in a variety of meat, vegetable and seafood dishes to add a unique earthy flavor and texture to the food. The Douchi not only provides healthy addition to your favorite pork dishes, but also adds a subtle savory flavor which is highly reminiscent of the Asian culture. So let’s have a look at one such amazing pork stir fry dish made with the help of black beans and spring greens.

The ingredients

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Image credits – Pixabay

For this recipe you would be needing two tablespoons of dry sherry or shaoxing wine, I tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp castor sugar, 3 tsp corn flour, 4*100 gram pork shoulder steaks, 2 garlic cloves, a piece of ginger, 5 spring onions, 400 gm spring greens, 1 tbsp fermented black beans and some groundnut oil for cooking.

The recipe

 You can begin at least 30 minutes or even a day before, by preparing a mixture of dry sherry or shaoxing wine with corn flour, sugar and soy sauce in a bowl and letting it sit for some time. After the marinade is ready, you can toss in sliced and trimmed pork into the bowl and mix well. While the marinade stands on the side for half an hour, you can peel and chop the green veggies, garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilies. Rinse the fermented black beans with running water and drain. Place a wok on the flame and heat some groundnut oil in it until it starts to smoke. Toss in the drained pork strips into the steaming wok and stir fry them for a minute. Add ginger, garlic and chilies to the wok and stir fry the ingredients for one more minute. Next, you can throw in the spring onions, black beans and spring veggies into the wok and continue stir frying at high flame for a couple of minutes. Once the vegetables start to soften, you can take them off the flame and serve on a bed of steamed rice with some soy sauce on the side.

The lip smacking dish is not only rich in flavor and aroma, but also loaded with several nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates, both of which are great for the growth and development of your body.

How to Make Lip Smacking Turmeric Chicken

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Chicken is one of the most nutritious meats in the world, and carries abundant supply of protein that can single handedly fulfill your body’s daily required dose of essential amino acids.  In addition to this, poultry is low on calories and fat and is loaded with scores of other vital nutrients, both of which make it one of the top choices for individuals looking for weight regulation. On the other hand, turmeric is one of the most nutrient rich spices which area jam packed with manganese, iron, potassium copper, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. The recipe which we are going to share with your today is a perfect blend of these two nutrient laden foods, which will not only be enormously healthy for you, but also effectively satiate your taste buds with its incredible taste and aroma.

The Ingredients

For preparing two servings of seared turmeric chicken, you would need 2*120 gm skinless chicken breasts, 200 gm of seasonal green veggies, 150 gm of whole wheat couscous, 15 gm of fresh mint, 1 tbsp of blanched hazel nuts, 2 large roasted and peeled red peppers in brine, homemade humus, fresh oregano, 1 tsp of ground turmeric, olive oil and lemon.

The Method

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Image credits – Pixabay 

Mix finely chopped oregano leaves in a bowl with turmeric, sea salt, black pepper and 2 tbsp of olive oil to prepare the marinade paste. Toss the chicken pieces in the marinade and set aside for a while. In the meanwhile you can blanch the green veggies in boiling water until they turn a little tender, and then drain off the excess water. Submerge the couscous in a bowl full of boiling water and leave aside for a couple of minutes. Next, you can toss into the couscous bowl, the finely chopped mint leaves and add a dash of fresh lime to it. Roast the hazelnuts in a nonstick frying pan till they turn golden brown, and then grind them using a mortar and pestle. Cook the chicken on both the sides, by using the same pan on the flame and adding a teaspoon of olive oil to it. Add the peppers while the chicken is still on the flame. Cook for about four minutes and remove from the flame. Garnish your chicken with the crushed hazelnuts, peppers, couscous, green veggies and humus, and serve with a wedge of lime on the side.

The amazing seared turmeric chicken can be prepared within half an hour and can be served as a healthy yet super delicious main course for dinner or lunch.

Ditch the Mayo: Go for Avocado in your Favorite Chicken Salad Instead

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Our prolonged affair with the creamy luscious mayonnaise has been both profound and enviable. However, as much as we drool over it, we all are aware of its unhealthy and damaging effects on our overall health and weight. As per the latest studies, our beloved mayo has beaten the tomato ketchup in the battle for the number one condiment across America. Then why is everyone raving about the evil side of the delectable white dip?

Why is mayo bad for us?

 Statistics exhibit that a single tablespoonful of mayonnaise contains approximately 10 grams of fat and 94 calories without providing any essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber or protein. The fact, that it is loaded with empty calories that do you absolutely no good, puts mayo on the top of the checklist of foods-to-avoid for health conscious people. Despite the fact that mayo is one of the most beloved foods for millions of Americans, there are several individuals who do not even like the sight or smell of it. If you fall under either of the aforementioned categories of health conscious individuals or the anti-mayo brigade, there is no reason for you to fret.

What are the healthier alternatives for your regular mayo?

There are several substitutes for mayonnaise that can be effectively switched for the devil’s ingredient in your meal, without compensating on its texture or taste. You can use mashed, pureed or processed avocados as a healthier alternative to mayo in your chicken salads, and replicate the sumptuous appeal of the dish, while providing your body with the essential nutrients at the same time.  The avocados are a storehouse of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin E, potassium, copper, pantothenic acid and numerous such nutrients that are great for your body. 

Avocado Chicken salad

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 Image credits – Pixabay

So now, let’s have a look at the lip smacking recipe for avocado chicken salad by using avocados as a replacement for mayonnaise. All you need is four cups of shredded chicken, diced bell pepper, halved and pitted avocados, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cayenne pepper and pita bread, and you are good to go. Just mix all the seasoning ingredients (apart from the chicken, bell pepper, and bread) in a mixer and toss it in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. After mixing the chicken in the avocado paste, you can spread it onto a slice of pita bread and serve.

The avocado chicken salad is not only extremely healthy and nutritious, but also enormously palatable as well.

Ways to Reduce Sibling Jealousy

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Image credits – Pixabay

Most young parents assume that having more than one child would mean great company and emotional support for each of their kids. Little do they know about the horrifying sibling jealousy that comes along as a part and parcel of having more than one child. Sibling jealousy or rivalry can be defined as a kind of animosity or competition between siblings which can acquire its roots at the earliest of stages. To be frank, sibling jealousy is not an easy thing to deal with. Apart from causing undue frustration and anxiety among the parents, sibling jealousy can become a foundation stage for bigger conflicts later in the years. Although, there are no sure shot ways of miraculously terminating the problem in its entirety, there are certain ways in which you can significantly reduce the impact of bringing a new baby home.

Refrain from comparison

Comparing one of your kids to his/her sibling can be a major root cause of sibling rivalry. Sentences like ‘why can’t you be more like your sister’ or ‘why can’t you be lesser troublesome like your brother’ will only instigate feelings of inferiority and jealously among your kids. Your children will most probably interpret your concern for their development as better human beings, as an indication that you love and favor the other sibling more. 

Be neutral in dealing with clashes

Your kids are bound to have arguments and fights over petty issues in the family. It is however utmost essential to refrain from taking sides in resolving the issues. Expecting the elder child to make all the compromises on the mere premise that he is older in age will provoke negative feelings in him/her. You need to remember that although one of the siblings is elder than the other, he or she is still a child that needs consideration. 

Nurture a positive environment

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Image credits – Pixabay 

It is quite inappropriate to expect your older child to suddenly learn the art of sharing his toys, room and love with another child in the home. Most of the children develop a sense of having lost the love of their parents, by the arrival of a new baby in the house. You need to understand and acknowledge their change of behavior and work proactively towards making them feel special and valued, just like before. Try to compensate for the older kid’s lost time by arranging special one-on-one outings with his father or grandparents. This way you make the child realize that the lost time with his mom is being compensated for by other people in the family.

And last but not the least, you need to encourage and appreciate your child when he or she shows his compassion and concern for his younger sibling.

Tips for Moving Homes with a Toddler

Moving homes can be quite a daunting task for most individuals. However, it can be exceptionally overwhelming for young kids and toddlers to leave their roots and settle in another part of the country. In addition to this, it is even more stressful for the parents to try and make the experience lesser complicated for their child. Here are some useful tips and tricks to ensure that a move is smoother and more manageable for both you and your kid.

Involve your kids in the process

The idea of leaving their old friends and moving to an entirely unknown and unfamiliar part of the town can be quite unsettling and even downright horrifying for your little toddlers. However, you can ease much of their stress by trying to actively involve them in the moving process. By letting your child express his choices in picking the color and decorations for his room, you can help him exercise some level of control over the transition. 

Unpack and settle your children’s rooms first

It is utmost essential for you to make your child feel settled in their new home as soon as possible. Unpacking all of their familiar belongings and furniture will not only make them feel at ease, but also give you ample time to decide upon the decor and setting of the rest of the house.

Stock up on the groceries

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Image credits – Pixabay

Moving houses will mean that you would have to get rid of many of your condiments and kitchen essentials. However, cleaning out that refrigerator does not mean that you have to end up devoid of any eatables at your home. It always helps to make a list of all the essential grocery items which you will need in your new home, and shop for them as soon as you reach there. This will ensure that your toddler does not end up bringing the roof down with his constant wailing over some missing ketchup.

Get acquainted with your neighbors

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Image credits – Pixabay

Moving to a new place would obviously mean that your child will be upset over leaving behind his beloved friends and familiar surroundings. It is therefore extremely important to explore your new neighborhood at the earliest possible. If there are any families that have children the same age as your kid, you can try to get them acquainted with each other. Making new friends will help your toddler in dealing with the negativity of moving to a new and unfamiliar place.

Apart from the aforementioned guidelines, it is absolutely essential for you to stick to your original routine in the new house, since children tend to thrive on it.

Ways to Reconcile with Your Toddler After an Argument

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Image credits – Pixabay

Despite you genuine efforts to maintain a peaceful environment at your home with kids, there are several instances wherein it becomes almost unavoidable to control your temper. Juggling between daily household chores and trying to deal with a bunch of rowdy kids, are bound to make you frustrated and anxious. However, it is important for you to understand and acknowledge the fact that such arguments can at times have a serious negative impact on your toddler. The best approach here is to follow a few guideline of reconciling with your kid after an argument, in order to ease the tension in your home and bring life back to normal.

Watch out for a re-trigger

In most cases, after a parent has yelled at a child, the latter becomes keener on staying engaged with the argument. Under such circumstances, it is easy to lose your temper at the drop of a hat and get worked up once again. Practice self restraint and try to avoid any further conflicts by taking a deep breath and giving it time to subside.

Take the responsibility

A situation such as this is a great platform for teaching your kids the value of refraining from playing the blame game. Accept your mistake in front of your child by saying sentences such as ‘I am really sorry for shouting at you’ and teach them the importance of dealing with conflicts in a calm and composed manner.

Try to make amends for the harm

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Image credits – Pixabay

It is easy to fire away at your toddler with harsh words and punishments in the heat of the moment. However, it is utmost essential for you to make amends for the wrong you did and try to repair the relationship with your child. It is obvious for your kid to feel disconnected and harbor feelings of negativity for you after a serious argument. However, by engaging in fun activities such as playing a video game can significantly eliminate the negativity of the dispute and get your relationship back to normal.

Practice patience

One of the major challenges of reconciliation after an argument is not having any control over the thought process of the other person. You might be genuinely interested in trying to resolve the issue, but your child might be skeptical of your intentions. The idea here is to practice patience and take your time in showing your compassion towards your child.

Never hold grudges

Many a times, the parents are so frustrated with something that their child did, that they keep withholding resentment which manifests itself in several ways later on. It is important to let bygones be bygones and move ahead with a positive mindset clear of any anger or grudges.

A little anger can actually promote discipline among your kids and teach them how to distinguish right from wrong. However, it is also imperative to reconcile your differences after an argument and move ahead with a positive attitude.

Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for your Little Champ

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Image credits – Pixabay

Bored of packing the same old peanut butter sandwich for your toddler day in and day out? Tired of your child returning home with half eaten tiffin almost every other day? Given the morning rush, it is quite difficult to prepare a lavish meal for your child’s school lunch box on a regular basis. And it is even more challenging to come up with new snack ideas everyday which are both healthy as well as appealing to your toddler’s taste buds. We bring to you a few amazing ideas that would help you think outside the box and prepare sumptuous midday snacks for your little champ.

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Image credits – Pixabay

English muffin with strawberry and goat cheese

Lightly toast two split halves of an English muffin and spread them with whipped cream cheese or highly nutritive goat cheese. You can further add a topping of that yummy strawberry jam on each of the slices and finish off with a layer of sliced strawberries. The cheese will replenish your toddler’s daily requirement of calcium and protein and the fruit topping will provide him with an adequate amount of potassium, folate and dietary fiber.

Turkey and lettuce pin wheels

Just add a dollop of hummus on a whole wheat tortilla and top it with a thin slice of turkey and a few lettuce leaves. Roll up the tortilla in the form of wrap and cut across the edges to obtain bite size pin wheels. You can add on to the fun element of the meal by packing a small serving of baby carrots or vegetable chips as sides.

Egg salad sandwich

The good old egg salad sandwich is a delicious option for a midday snack, and is loaded with protein and carbohydrates. All you need to do is mix two mashed hard boiled eggs with a little bit of mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and spread the paste on slices of whole wheat bread. You may pack the sandwich with a small serving of orange slices or pretzel sticks to add a little crunch to the meal. 

Chicken salad

You can add a kid friendly sweet twist to your regular chicken salad by garnishing it with cubed apples or sliced grapes. You can add a little crunch to the snack by sprinkling crushed peanuts or cashews on the salad. Serve the salad with a side of flatbreads or whole wheat crackers.

You can keep you little champs’ hunger at bay with these easy to make nutritious midday snacks, and ensure that they return home with empty lunch boxes, the next time you send them to school.

Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier with these Cooking Tips

Who doesn’t wish to gorge on their favorite foods and not experience a guilt trip later? Most of us are aware of what’s healthy fro us and what’s not. The fact is that most of what is healthy for our bodies is not appealing to our taste buds. But what if we told you that there are ways of retaining the nutritive value of your favorite foods without compromising on its taste? Read on for a few simple tricks to cut down on those extra harmful calories from your favorites dishes.

Avoid the cream

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Image credits – Pixabay

Pasta dishes such as lasagna and Mac and cheese are churned up in rich creamy sauces that are loaded with high calorie dairy products such as cheese and butter. The idea is to switch the calorie laden cream with a mixture of low fat milk and all purpose flour, which effectively mimics the smooth and velvety texture of regular cheese. A single bowl of thickened milk and flour contains relatively lower amounts of calories and unsaturated fats, and can serve as a healthier alternative for you regular cream sauce.

 Cut down on your sodium intake

 Excessive consumption of salt increases the level of sodium in your body and can have several harmful effects such as high blood pressure and fluid retention. However, by replacing salt with healthier alternative seasonings such as lime juice, spices, herbs, mustard or vinegar, you can significantly cut down on your sodium intake and make your favorite savory dish, healthier.

 Replace refined flour with whole wheat grains

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Image credits – Pixabay

Most baked recipes instruct you to use all purpose or refined flour as the base. You can however ditch the refined version and make use of whole wheat flour instead. The whole wheat flour is rich in dietary fiber which improves digestion and makes you feel satiated for long after you have finished your meal. In addition to this, it is also loaded with phytochemicals and several nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and selenium.

 Ditch the mayo

 You can significantly cut down on your calorie and fat intake by replacing regular mayonnaise in your sandwiches and wraps with low fat French cheese called fromage frais or thick yoghurt. In addition to this, you must use either butter or mayonnaise for your burgers and sandwiches, instead of using them both and adding extra calories to your snack.

So now you know that a healthy diet does not imply that you need to give up on your favorite foods. All you need to do is follow these super easy tricks and transform your greasy comfort food into a nutritive yet palatable meal.

Become a Master of Heart Healthy Cooking with these Tips from Celebrity Chefs

With the modern age lifestyle and cooking habits, our hearts have become more prone to life threatening ailments and disorders. However, by keeping a tab on our regular intake of cholesterol and unsaturated fats, we can significantly reduce their damaging impact on our ticker. Here are a few cooking tips from popular celebrity chefs that would help make your regular diet more heart-friendly.

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Image credits – Pixabay

Switch the sour cream with yoghurt

 There are several recipes which require you to incorporate sour cream as one of the major ingredients. However, since sour cream is derived from whole milk which is high on fat content, it can significantly notch up the calorific value of the dish. According to a leading dietician Ellie Kriegr, you can make use of thick hung yoghurt as a replacement for sour cream and cut down on the saturated fat content of the meal. The yoghurt not only effectively replicates the taste and texture of sour cream but also acts as rich source of calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

 Adding flavor not fat

 The host of ‘Everyday Italian’, brought to you by the Food Network, Giada De Laurentiis provides a healthier alternative to making your regular foods tastier and lower on sodium and fat content. She outlines the significance of incorporating natural flavors such as vinegar, lemon juice, herbs and spices in your favorite foods, to not only add a tangy flavor to the dishes, but also make them enormously nutritive and heart healthy.

 Taking inspiration from Asian cuisine

 The first ever winner of the television series Top Chef, Harold Dieterle runs a restaurant, whose menu is heavily inspired by the healthy and nutritious recipes of the far east. The Asian cuisine comprises of ample veggies and fruits, and can be touted as one of the healthiest low fat cuisines in the world. The Japanese employ the usage of lots of pickled veggies with bold and zingy flavors in their meals. In addition to this, the Japanese diet majorly comprises of fish as a staple, which is an extremely rich source of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

The nutty crunch

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Image credits – Pixabay

Francois Payard who is a reputed pastry chef from France makes a generous usage of nuts in his baked preparations. All kind of nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans are loaded with poly and monounsaturated fats that are actually good for your heart. In addition to their high fiber content, certain nuts such as walnuts are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids as well.

By following these simple rules of health cooking you can not only significantly lower the risk of heart diseases, but also manage existing ailments effectively.

NCAA: Week 3 Recap

Week 3 of the NCAA saw some spectacular performances from the Top 10. The most impressive performance was from the Louisville Cardinals who beat Florida State 63-20. Florida State are No. 2 on the college football rankings table. Everyone who doubted if Louisville could perform against the big guns, should have no doubts left in their minds after that thumping. Alabama and Miami also registered wins while Kansas and Northern Illinois lost.

Winners

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Image credits – Wikimedia

Louisville:  After their performance on Saturday, no one will be surprised if Louisville go on to win the ACC. The Cardinals thrashed Florida State and handed the worst defeat in Jimbo Fisher’s career. 63-20 is not a small defeat, and achieving this against a team that’s ranked No 2 is even more admirable. Everyone from critics to fans to experts have to give it up for The Cardinals and quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson scored 5 touchdowns combined with 216 passing yards and 146 rushing yards. It’s no surprise that he is up for the Heisman Trophy.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide played Ole Miss on Saturday and made a great comeback to seal the victory. Ole Miss looked like they were heading for a routine win when they were leading 24-3. Alabama then completely turned the game around with their special teams and defensive touchdowns. After the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third. They ended the game with 14 direct points. Freshman Jalen Hurts has a long season to go but it’s safe to say that he’s a great player.

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Image credits – Wikimedia

Miami: The Hurricanes are now 3-0 this season as they had a commanding victory over Appalachian State to the tune of 45-10. They were not expected to win the match, let alone is such great fashion. Mark Richt will be pleased to the start of his first year as the Hurricanes’ coach and although it wasn’t a big win, team morale will be boosted.

Western Michigan, Nebraska, South Florida, Tennessee and Penn. State also registered wins during week 3.

Losers

Florida State were the biggest losers last week as they fell to Louisville. They are 1-2 this season and could still make it to the playoffs. The loss will definitely leave a mark and they have tough games against South Florida, North Carolina and Miami coming up. Kansas, Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame,  and Auburn also lost their games.

Try these Hair Color Ideas for a Whole New Look this Season

 

 

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Image credits – Pixabay

With a new season just round the corner, you have more reason to update the look and color of your hair. As the dried leaves wither away and you finally feel that nip in the air, you might want to go for some warmer and deeper hues for your luscious locks. You got it right. It is time for you to try new colors and highlights for your hair and welcome the winters with open arms. Here are a few cool new ideas for coloring your hair this autumn/winter season.

Pumpkin spice

The beautiful brown color derives its inspiration from your favorite pumpkin spice latte. The style, also referred to as the ‘gingersnap hair’ incorporates a copper base with multidimensional highlights of blonde, chestnut and gold. The gorgeous look is fondly reminiscent of dried orange leaves shimmering against the vermillion of the autumn sun.

Dip dye

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Image credits – Pixabay

The dip dye look can be achieved by simply getting the tips of your hair strands dipped in a different shade altogether. You can combine your natural blonde with a light pink or baby blue dye at the tips. For a more radical transformation you can get your entire head colored in platinum blonds and get your strand ends dipped in black and purple.

 Ronze

 A relatively updated version of the previous ‘bronde’ trend for blondes, the ronze trend is designed for our lovely redheads. The Ronze color is a mixture of several shades of bronze brown, red and copper. The reason for the ronze to gain instant popularity is the fact that it is an extremely versatile hair color that works for all different skin complexions. In case you have an extremely pale skin, you can go for brighter and more vibrant undertones.

 Smoky lilac

 This one is for all those ombre lovers who do not hesitate from trying more unnatural and unconventional shades on their hair. The gorgeous smoky lilac incorporates soft and subtle transitions from a rich shade of grayish purple fading down to a foggy and pale lavender. The result is a somber and mysterious color that looks absolutely incredible on long wavy tresses.

 Strawberry blonde

 Lovely shades of strawberry and apricot added on to a full blonde head is the new in-thing this season. The warm and vibrant strawberry blonde is an amazing way to tone down the paleness of your complexion and provide a radiant illumination to your face. In addition to this, the color can be further customized by a professional colorist to go with deeper skin tones as well.

So just pick a shade that speaks for you, and get ready to rock the new season in style!

The 2021 Apple iCar – What Is The Buzz About?

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From computers, through iPads and today to a whole lot of products, right since its inception, Apple has carved a niche for itself. The company is something of a legend, and their products are brands unto themselves – each speaking for itself, and none needing any introduction.

After conquering the world of digital technology and retaining its hold over the market, Apple has now dared to think about venturing into the world of automobile-manufacturing. Of course, no cars have been manufactured as of now, and the idea is still at its inception stage. However, do not let it shock you if by 2021, the current craze of iPhones is replaced by a craze for iCars!

What we can expect

icar-2 Image credits – Pixabay

Ever since the rumors have surfaced, Apple loyalists worldwide are excited beyond limits as to what exactly Apple is going to do. Ever since they released the iconic iMac G3 back in the 90s, the company has never failed to leave the market spellbound by their products. It is only natural, then, that the iCar is going to set a new standard when it comes to automobile engineering.

While it is difficult to speculate right now as to what technological marvel Apple is going to bring to us in 2021, what we do know for now is that the car is going to be an all-electric machine. This is an important point to note because today the automobile world is moving towards an era of electric machines, leaving behind the traditional fuel-engines. As such, it is very clear that Apple intends to build a car that will be highly futuristic and technologically advanced.

While other car manufacturers are thinking of ways to shed the fuel-based engines and move towards electrification, it looks like Apple intends to actually start its new venture by incorporating this new trend. Naturally, this means Apple fans can expect really awesome upgrades on the iCar, along with never-seen-before-technology. If we go by the rumors, we can also conclude that this car will be equipped with highly advanced autonomic features.

Apple seems to be all set to take even the automobile market by storm, and give other giants tough competition.

Nothing concrete yet

Rumors about the iCar are increasing by the day, and are even coming from reliable sources. In fact, Apple has never denied these rumors and are subtly indicating that they actually are planning on such a venture. However, current CEO Tim Cook insists that the company has no concrete information to publish as yet.

Until Apple tells us more, all we can do is wait patiently and expect the best.

Brief Review of Top Five Cars in Performance Motor Segment in the Paris Motor Show 2016

Here are five performance vehicles that car enthusiasts are excited about seeing at the Motor Show in Paris this year.

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With an output of 550bhp, the Mercedes GT C’s V8 engine simply shouts performance. With an extremely futuristic-looking body, the GT C is an upgrade of the iconic AMG GT model. What makes everyone so excited about the car is the fact that it can touch 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds! Thank the 502lb-ft torque for this mind-boggling speed. With its awesome looks, power and speed, this is one model that everyone is craving to set their eyes on.

The Bentley Muslanne Speed

The Bentley Muslanne is another car that boasts of touching very high speeds. With a 6.5 liter twin turbocharged V8 engine, the Muslanne promises to touch a speed of 60mph in 5 seconds and a top speed of 164mph. The name is taken directly from VW’s legendary Bentley that was the ultimate name in sportscars back in the day. VW has brought back the Bentley, upgraded to the most advanced technological features that exist.

LaFerrari Aperta

Formerly called the ‘Spider’, this car by Ferrari is another highly anticipated model at the Paris Motor Show. Set to be launched for sale in 2017, the car comes alive with a V-12 6.3 liter engine. Hitting a speed of 60mph in just a little over 2 seconds, this can be one of the fastest cars in history. The Aperta will have a total output of 950 horsepower and a torque 664pound-feet. This vehicle is one of the most futuristic cars set to be presented in the Paris Motor Show.

Audi RS7

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Image credits – Pixabay

With a sleek, dignified appearance that is also subtly suggestive of its sporty nature, the 2016 Audi RS7 has a V8 Turbocharged machine that can produce up to 560hp. Audi is known for equal power distribution among all four of its wheels. This car is undoubtedly going to be a steady, balanced and powerful model that promises to provide a driving experience that is both elegant, as well as aggressive.

Lamborghini Asterion

The Asterion is a go-green concept, a hybrid model with three electric engines at its heart. With a top speed of 897hp, the car is a special model for its two main features- for being eco-friendly, and for promising a high speed driving experience too.

Autonomic Vehicles – 5 Things You Must Consider

It wouldn’t be wrong to think that with time, autonomic technology will be the norm of the automobile industry. However, before we head towards this automated future, there are certain things we need to consider: 

How reliable is technology?

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Image credits – Pixabay

How much can we really rely on a car’s judgment? Sure, the vehicles will be equipped with sensors that offer give a close to accurate judgment about driving conditions. However, the question is to what extent are these features reliable? The reason one would be apprehensive about relying on technology entirely, is because driving is a highly unpredictable experience. No two driving situations are the same. As such, there is no saying what you can expect on the road at any given time.

Are humans responsible enough?

Manufacturers may issue guidelines that the autonomic technology is just a feature that a driver can rely on when he is mentally distracted. However, to what extent can we trust ourselves to not rely on the technology entirely just because it makes things easier for us? Chances of accidents are definitely high if human judgment is absent because technology has its limitations.

How flexible will the car be?

When you drive your car yourself, you know exactly where you want to go, where you want to stop and where you want to take a detour. But if the car is autonomic, how far can technology understand these things? What if the car takes you a few yards ahead of where you actually want to get off because that spot has been programmed to be the destination point? This is another difficult question to answer.

Whose fault will accidents be?

In case of accidents where one party is an autonomic car while the other is a car driven by a human, how can anyone decide which party is to be blamed? As it is, things are complicated even when both cars are driven by humans. Naturally things will be more difficult to figure out if one car is a automatic one. 

Can the car deal with changing weather conditions?

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Image credits – Pixabay

This may seem like a minor issue, however, it is still a good point to consider. How will the car figure out road markings in snow? How would the car determine driving conditions in thick fog or rain? Can the autonomic technology ensure a safe drive even in storms or tough terrains?

That being said, it should be understood that this does not mean autonomic technology is a bad idea. In many ways, it is really good. However, drivers will have to remember that having autonomic technology does not mean their carefulness and driving skills can take a backseat.

The Internet of Things: Benefits and Risks

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Ten years ago there were about 500 million devices connected to the Internet. Today, that number has grown to between 10 and 20 billion. By 2020, there will likely be 40 to 50 billion. Many of these will be devices we are familiar with today: laptops, tablets, smartphones. But far more will be physical objects whose main function, without any human intervention, will be to capture data (typically via sensors) and then transmit it elsewhere over the Internet where it can be stored and analyzed to enable better decision-making.

In short, we will have an Internet not just of computers, but of things. Any thing – even a human body, if equipped with the right electronic parts – can become part of IoT, so long as it can collect and transmit data through the Internet.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is in fact already with us, but it has not yet reached a point where everyone feels its impact. That is about to change. Soon every industry, and virtually every company, will be not only affected, but transformed by IoT. In combination with other developments such as cloud computing, smart grids, nanotechnology and robotics, IoT will usher in a period of greater economic efficiency, productivity, safety, and profits. And its impact on the global economy will be enormous. RAND Europe, for example, puts the global annual economic potential of IoT across all business sectors at between $1.4 trillion and $14.4 trillion.

Two advances have put IoT on the cusp of a breakthrough. One is mobile technology – both mobile devices and the widespread availability of wireless connectivity. The second is the rapidly falling price of sensors. In the early 1990s, a solid state sensor cost $20 to $25. By the end of the decade, it was $5. Prices for sensors of all types have continued to fall.

The typical smartphone, for example, has between five and nine sensors that monitor constantly for such things as ambient light and sound, movement, attitude (via gyroscopic sensors), temperature, humidity, etc. Yet the total cost of all these sensors is less than $5. As prices continue to drop, they will be imbedded in more and more objects that will connect to IoT.

What can inexpensive data-collecting sensors connected to the Internet do for us? As it turns out, quite a lot.

IoT benefits – a few examples

A number of industries are already finding that IoT offers improvements in areas safety, efficiency, data-driven decision making and infrastructure.

One obvious example that is much in the news is the development of autonomous (“driverless”) motor vehicles. The World Health Organization has put the annual number of auto-related deaths worldwide at well over one million. The majority of these deaths are due to human error. IoT technology, especially the rise of safety-focused sensors in automobiles, has the potential to dramatically reduce motor-vehicle related accidents and deaths, especially when embedded in autonomous cars and other vehicles.

In manufacturing, IoT is helping keep workers safe through wearable technology equipped with embedded sensors to warn workers of unsafe conditions (e.g. the presence of toxic gasses) or over-exertion. And IoT devices placed strategically throughout even the most complex global supply chain can give managers deep, real-time insight into any problems, even before they arise.

IoT also enables healthcare workers to keep much closer tabs on patients. Paramedics, for example, can use IoT devices to capture critical patient data and transmit it instantly to the ER, so that by the time a patient arrives, the doctors already have a plan of action in place instead of wasting vital time trying to understand the patient’s condition from the ground up.

Such examples can be multiplied almost ad infinitum. But as always, there is no free lunch.

IoT Risks

From what we can see today, the three biggest risks related to the broad use of IoT lie in the areas of privacy, cybersecurity and liability.

Privacy concerns and the Internet date back at least to the advent of tracking software or cookies, and the addition of billions more devices constantly monitoring data, much of it personal, will only aggravate these worries for many people, both in their private lives and at work. Since no single federal law governs the collection and use of personal data, it is likely that laws and regulations will continue to evolve that attempt to strike an acceptable balance between the benefits of IoT and privacy-related concerns.

Cybersecurity is also a risk we are already familiar with and one that is likely to be exacerbated by IoT. Since any node on a network is a potential point of entry for a hacker, overall network security will become an even bigger issue than it is today.

Finally, on the liability front, IoT devices can quickly generate legal and ethical conundrums that no one currently has any idea how to resolve. Just one example: Should a driverless automobile take every action it can to protect its occupants from harm, even if that means “deliberately” harming other motorists or pedestrians? If the car does crash and injures someone, where does the chain of liability start and end?

The Internet of Things promises enormous benefits to consumers and businesses over the coming years. But to enjoy them fully, we will need to find effective ways to deal with the risks that will ride along with them.

 

 

1. RAND: Europe’s policy options for a dynamic and trustworthy development of the Internet of Things, 2012 p. 14

2. For comparison, in 2013 US gross domestic product was about $16.8 trillion. Seehttp://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD

3. http://www.who.int/gho/road_safety/mortality/en/. In 2010, according to the WHO report, the number of motor-vehicle related fatalities was 1.24 million.

Date Published: 8/1/2016

 

Cyber Security is a Board-Level Issue

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“Girly, tough ain’t enough.”

– Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) in Million Dollar Baby

A research study by AIG conducted in the UK indicates that 84% of company directors believe that their IT department is able to protect their company from a cyber attack. And they are surely not alone, as most of us probably still associate the task of safeguarding valuable data with the IT function. Commercials for security products often use metaphors and imagery to suggest that their IT product/service’s tough-guy approach will get the job done. But as Clint Eastwood’s Frankie Dunn, the curmudgeonly boxing coach in Academy Award winner Million Dollar Baby tells wannabe fighter Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), sometimes “tough ain’t enough.”

While day-to-day responsibility for cyber protection may lie with the IT and security teams, strategy and response need to have ownership across silos and functions. Hence they need board-level engagement.

The changing landscape of cyber risk

Despite the high level of confidence in the (obviously essential) role that the IT department plays in cyber defense, the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly, prompted by society’s ever growing dependence, socially and economically, on all things digital. Originally viewed as primarily a threat to data breach/loss, the impact of cyber attacks has widened considerably to include business interruption, theft of intellectual property and other issues. This rapid escalation in threat levels has prompted the evolution of cyber risk from being primarily an IT threat to an enterprise wide management issue needing board-level attention.

Four themes emerged from AIG’s research that highlight the need for many large companies to take a closer look at how they are managing cyber risk – and at how they might decrease that risk even further.

Cyber security issues should be more prominent in discussions at the board level

The issue among board members at large companies is not a lack of awareness of cyber threats. More than four out of five (82%) senior business leaders in the UK said they know at least a “fair amount” about their company’s cyber security governance and risk management framework. However, barely a quarter (26%) of UK companies said they discuss cyber security policy on a regular basis in board meetings, and more than half (52%) either rarely or never discussed it. This is potentially a recipe for disaster.

Part of the problem is that companies are split over where responsibility for cyber security lies. Less than one in ten (9%) UK companies maintains overall responsibility for cyber security at the board level. Fortunately, an additional 43% do give ownership of the issue to a key board member. Nevertheless, almost half do not, and more than a third (36%) still designate maintenance of cyber security as an IT department function. However, what we have learned from large breaches is that it takes an enterprise-wide effort to minimize the number of attacks and to mitigate damage from attacks that do occur.

The legal implications of a cyber breach is not well understood among directors

A very high percentage (86%) of the UK executives interviewed felt they had a strong understanding of the financial implications of a digital breach for their companies. However, roughly one-third said they were not very confident about their grasp of the legal ramifications for the company – and themselves – subsequent to a breach. This is problematic since, depending on a country’s regulatory environment, boards and management may potentially be liable for this kind of risk. In the US, for example, shareholder lawsuits have been filed against boards following large scale data breaches.

High levels of stated confidence in company IT departments vis-à-vis data breach protection may be misplaced

As noted earlier, 84% of UK company directors and executives believe that their IT departments alone can protect their company from cyber attack1. Nevertheless, almost half (45%) of the UK companies surveyed have already experienced a cyber security breach. And 62% believe it likely that their company will suffer an attack within the next 12 months. So even on an empirical basis it’s clear that the IT department alone is not providing as much protection as would be desirable from cyber attack. Again, the only way to strengthen security is by implementing a company wide cyber risk management program with top-down ownership at the board level.

Internal company threats cause a significant number of serious breaches

When most of us think of cyber attacks, we have in mind criminals and hackers, and indeed, these groups form the highest cases of perceived threats to data security among those interviewed. Nevertheless, in a recent study by the European Centre for Media, Data and Society2, over half (56%) of European data breaches from 2005-2014 involved company employees or other areas internal to the organization (administrative errors, hardware issues, theft, etc.). Criminal hackers accounted for the remaining 42% of cases.

Implications

Of the UK companies surveyed, only 44% had cyber insurance in place. But as the results of the survey suggest, cyber security risk management and associated insurance need to be a central point of discussion at the board level for large companies. It is only at this level that broad policies can be put together that work synergistically to provide protection. And it is only at this level that gaps in insurance coverage can be found and rectified systematically, so that maximum protection is provided.

A tough, robust IT department will always play an important role in the cyber security management matrix. But as threats continue to evolve, tough will no longer be enough: board level involvement in managing cyber risk and related insurance coverage is essential.

1 “Cyber: Joined up?”  AIG CyberEdge white paper. The paper was authored by Mark Camillo, Head of Cyber and Professional Indemnity, EMEA at AIG Europe Limited. Results based on more than 100 face-to-face interviews with respondents from very large companies in the UK. Respondents were C-suite members and other executive board directors. Interviews were conducted between September and December 2014.

2 Data Breaches in Europe: Reported Breaches of Compromised Personal Records in Europe, 2005-2014 – Center for Media, Data and Society, 2014.

Date Published: 7/18/2016

Cyber Risk: How to Stay Smarter

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In 2014, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 250,000 complaints of cybercrime. In total, the individuals making these complaints reported over 800 million dollars in losses.

When you think of cybercrime, you may envision someone stealing your credit card number. However, there are other forms of cyber risk, including clicking on an unknown link: today, the average person—with good intentions—can accidentally download malware that harms his or her computer.

At AIG, we’re here to help reduce fear of the future and empower our clients through our risk expertise. To boost your cyber intelligence, read on:

4 Common Cyber Risks for Individuals and Families

  1. Identity theft: The cybercriminal steals another person’s personal information in order to access money or credit.
    Did you know: Young adults make nearly 1/3 of identity theft complaints.2
  2. Phishing: The cybercriminal tricks an email user into revealing personal information that the cybercriminal can use unlawfully.
    Did you know: These attacks can look like personalized emails that include links or attachments.
  3. Cyber Bullying: Posting damaging messages about another person online. Cyber bullies often post anonymously to avoid responsibility.
    Did you know: Damaging messages can go viral, causing serious harm to the victim’s reputation and well-being.
  4. Cyber Predators: These criminals search the internet for other people in order to manipulate, control, or hurt them.
    Did you know: Cyber predators regularly target young adults. It’s not only children and teenagers who are at risk.3

There are many ways you can reduce the risk of a cyberattack. To help protect yourself and your personal devices, consider these 7 cybersecurity actions:

7 Tips to Increase Your Personal Cybersecurity

  1. Set up strong, unique passwords for all of your devices and accounts.
  2. Password protect your Wi-Fi.
  3. Read emails and information online with a healthy dose of caution: if a deal or offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  4. Install an anti-virus/anti-malware security suite from a reputable company.
  5. Make sure to regularly update your software and operating systems.
  6. Limit how much personal information you share online.
  7. Use a file scrubber to remove your files before you sell or recycle your old devices.

Smart parents share cybersecurity strategies with their children to keep the whole family safe online. You can help to protect your kids from cyber risks by taking these 5 steps:

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Kids Safer Online

  1. Place a dedicated computer for your kids to use in an open area of your house.
  2. Filter and monitor your children’s online activities as you see fit. Parental controls can help you maintain a presence in your child’s online life.
  3. Create technology rules and post them where they’re visible. Modify these rules as your kids mature to reflect their changing online lives.
  4. Cultivate an interest in your kids’ online activities. Don’t be afraid to ask your children who they are talking to online and what they’re talking about.
  5. Model safe behavior when using technology. You can show your kids how to use technology safely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 2014 Internet Crime Report, Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center, 2014, p. 8.

2 Stop Think Connect Resource Guide, (download as PDF), Department of Homeland Security, 2014.

 3 Stop. Think. Connect. Brochure, (download as PDF), Department of Homeland Security, 2014.

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

Publish Date: 5/13/2016

3 Ways Crowdsourcing Is Changing the World

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We live in an increasingly networked world, where information flows freely through internet and mobile technologies. Online networks make sharing ideas and data faster and easier, improving communication and transparency. These shifts encourage collaboration, as well as competition, and have led to crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing combines the creativity of individuals and the strength of communities. Individuals work together to accomplish tasks may not be able to accomplish alone, and organizations recognize, promote, and scale the best ideas of individuals.

Limited time, manpower, and resources no longer have to hold individuals and organizations back from innovation. Sometimes, all it may take is an internet connection and an ‘open call’ to invite in the power of the crowd. Here are 3 ways that crowdsourcing is transforming the world:

1. It’s helping solve important problems in science and medicine

The right mix of collaboration and competition can produce major scientific advances. In fact, organizations have been solving challenging scientific problems through crowdsourcing for centuries. In 1714, when the British government hoped to find a simple, reliable way to measure the longitudinal position of a ship at sea, they offered financial incentives to anyone who could come up with a solution. The competition inspired participants to develop numerous new technologies, from marine timekeepers to lunar telescopes.i

Today, organizations working to find cures for deadly diseases are using crowdsourcing to speed up data analysis and move more quickly towards a cure. The need to perform simple tasks thousands of times, such as noting the color and severity of cancer cells in tens of thousands of slides, can cause bottlenecks in cancer research. By building an online application that engaged users to identify cancer cells in images, one charity was able to rapidly analyze over a million images of molecular markers in breast cancer tumors with a high degree of accuracy.ii Similarly, by setting up an online puzzle, scientists were recently able to solve a crucial problem that had stumped them for fifteen years: it took only ten days for players of the online game to discover the structure of a key protein involved in the reproduction of the HIV virus.iii

2. It’s helping individuals and governments share data to create change

Today’s cities are becoming more and more like crowdsourcing platforms, as local governments open up their data and challenge citizens to contribute their skills for the public good. After making its data on its terrain and transportation publicly available, the city of Rennes, France put out an open call for apps that could make the city more accessible. The winning team used Rennes’ data on tens of thousands of sidewalks to build an app that maps accessible routes for people with disabilities.iv The app also uses a crowdsourcing approach to continuously improve the city: users of the app can edit and comment on the accessibility of places of interest, from streets to bus stops to parking spots, helping the city evaluate its compliance and take tangible steps towards greater accessibility.v

This emerging concept of the city as a platform, where citizens can ‘log in’ to share their data, provide feedback on city conditions, and work to create improvements, is empowering a new population of citizen data scientists, citizen journalists, citizen app developers, and more. Through crowdsourcing, individuals are contributing their talents to help solve pressing social challenges in collaboration with elected officials. Soliciting input and innovations from the public through crowdsourcing is also helping city governments to solve pressing problems more quickly and transparently.

3. It’s empowering everyday people to become innovators

By connecting individuals with the institutional support that can translate ideas into impact, crowdsourcing can open new opportunities for innovators of all ethnicities, genders, and ages. Working alone, individuals may not have the resources to translate bright ideas into action. Today, organizations can provide the resources and financial backing to help innovators reach their potential.

Organizations who crowdsource new ideas, publicize these ideas, and help translate them into real-world action are seeing that innovators exist in many places and defy all stereotypes. When we look at the winners of the world’s crowdsourcing challenges, we see advanced prototypes of new technologies coming from high school students, breakthroughs in science and engineering coming from women, and strategies to improve communities in crisis coming from the people within these communities themselves.

At AIG, we’re inviting eligible participants to translate their ideas into action to help us build a safer future. We’re giving eligible college students with an innovative idea that can improve safety or reduce risks a chance to join our challenge. Develop an app, design a game, or create a new IoT device that can make the world safer. For a chance to join the University Challenge, click here. For more information on the challenge, eligibility, rules and judging criteria, see the AIG University Challenge Official Rules.

To learn more about how crowdsourcing is changing our world, read Part II of our series on crowdsourcing and innovation. Next up, you’ll discover how crowdsourcing is enabling organizations to incorporate more diverse perspectives, how crowdsourcing is bringing new opportunities—and new risks—to startups and investors, and how crowdsourcing is helping companies like AIG leverage great ideas and bring them to life.

 

 

 

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

i “Longitude rewards.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 5 Sept. 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longitude_rewards. Accessed 8 Aug. 2016.

ii Candido dos Reis, F. J., Lynn, S., Ali, H. R., Eccles, D., Hanby, A., Provenzano, Elena,…Pharoah, P.D.P. “Crowdsourcing the General Public for Large Scale Molecular Pathology Studies in Cancer.” EBioMedicine, vol. 2, no. 7, 2015, www.ebiomedicine.com/article/S2352-3964(15)30016-5/pdf. Accessed 8 Aug. 2016.

iii “Foldit.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 25 May 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foldit. Accessed 8 Aug. 2016.

iv “What is the purpose of Open Data?” Brussels Smart City. The Smart City Portal of the Brussels-Capital Region, 24 March 2016, smartcity.brussels/news-121-what-is-the-purpose-of-open-data. Accessed 8 Aug. 2016.

v Handimap.org – La ville accessible à tous. Handimap, 2016, handimap.org. Accessed 8 Aug. 2016.

Date Published: 9/13/2016

Firms Leading the Connected Economy

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The pace of change that innovative technology brings is everywhere we look. Just 10 years ago, no one had heard of an iPhone®.1 Today, over 700 million devices and eight versions later2, we are using them to track our health, monitor the kids, control the air conditioner at home while we’re at work, and much more. To call it a phone understates its value; I don’t know what I would do without mine. Six years ago, Uber did not exist. Today it’s providing more than 1 million rides per day3, is valued over $50 billion4, and doesn’t own the vehicles that its users share. For us as consumers, it’s exciting.

Less evident, but more impactful, is how innovative technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT), is adding value to commercial businesses. To understand this trend as something that solely impacts consumers is a myth. In a recent AIG poll of global risk managers from large multinational companies, disruptive technology and cybersecurity were ranked one and two, respectively, when asked what keeps them up at night. Understandably so, they are two sides of the same coin. While some companies may be losing sleep, others are capitalizing on the fact that twice as many U.S. consumers were optimistic about the IoT than were fearful.5

The benefits to business are real and here today, as outlined in these case studies. Daimler’s driverless truck is licensed for tests on the open road now. ABB’s tunnel drilling machines are wired for preventative maintenance, and have already saved their users millions of dollars in unplanned downtime. The farms that John Deere’s equipment serves are connected to the cloud at this very moment. Work sites like CitiField are experimenting with Human Condition Safety’s sensor technology now. Just to name a few.

In 2016, we’ll witness some companies move beyond IoT in the abstract to concrete implementation. Those with their heads still “in the cloud,” so to speak, risk falling behind. Just look at the speakers invited for the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show — IBM, General Motors, Samsung and, for the first time, AIG — for further evidence that some commercial businesses are using technology to innovate quickly.

In our conversations with AIG customers around the world, one common thread emerges when we talk about how to successfully implement IoT technologies: The only way to keep up is to learn from each other.

This is true within companies, where keeping pace with rapidly evolving technology and customer demands requires better communication and collaboration. It’s no longer sustainable for departments overseeing research and development, product lines, information technology, financial operations and risk management to operate independently of one another.

It is also true at the enterprise level. The IoT is breaking down the barriers that once stood within and between industries. New tools, bigger data sets and changing customer expectations are requiring companies that have never seen each other as partners — even companies that historically have competed with one another — to start sharing information and working together to create innovative solutions for the modern digital age.

Our hope is that by highlighting AIG customers that are implementing innovative technologies including those tied to the IoT ecosystem, we can foster discussion and collaboration within and among previously disconnected industries. It’s all part of our vision to become our customers’ most valued insurer — not just by providing valuable insurance products and high-quality services, but by bringing our clients together to share insights and learn from one another.

When the solutions are just as innovative and connected as the technology itself, we all win.

 

 

 

 

1 iPhone® is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. This publication is independent of and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

2 http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/9/8164357/apple-watch-event-700-millioniphones-sold 

3 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2014/12/17/uber-says-its-doing-1-millionrides-per-day-140-million-in-last-year/ 

4 http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/27/investing/uber-ford-gm-70-billion-valuation/

5 AIG poll

Date Published: 6/24/2016
Author: Rob Schimek

Haka 360° Brings the Fan Experience to Life

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Until now VR wearables have primarily been the domain of gamers, but the head tracking and interactive gesture recognition they offer is starting to see broader industry experimentation and application.

 On the Pitch with the All Blacks

Combining a love of rugby with a passion and commitment to innovation for its customers, AIG is pleased to bring Virtual Reality (VR) innovation to All Blacks fans through our branded Haka 360° campaign. The virtual Haka 360° experience app directly connects fans with dynamic All Blacks content which can be brought to life with the use of VR headsets. Imagine standing on the pitch amongst the All Blacks pre-match, watching the team performing the traditional Maori Haka up close. This is the thrill the Haka 360° app and headset delivers.

 The Reality of VR

Until now VR wearables have primarily been the domain of gamers, but the head tracking and interactive gesture recognition they offer is starting to see broader industry experimentation and application. Facebook was one of the first large companies to envision the future, featuring in daily headlines with their rumored interest and eventual acquisition of VR champion, Oculus VR, for $2 billion in 2014.1

For clarification, it’s worth pointing out the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (AR). A VR user is completely removed from the external (or “real”) environment, usually with a fixed headset and compatible headphones. However, AR users exist simultaneously in the “real” and virtual environments by way of information layered on an external screen, for example with a handheld smartphone or AR wearables.

Today’s VR is not altogether new. With a legacy tracing back to the 1950s, the next generation of VR is breaking free from the confines of the 2D frame to bring users a fully integrated 3D immersion experience enlivened by 360 degree visuals, spatial audio, and responsive motion sensors.

 Early Days: Insurance and VR

In varying capacities, some insurance companies have already incorporated VR into their health and financial protection service offerings, most often through simulated road safety, workplace hazard, and disaster preparedness training. VR-enabled drones are further prospects for quick deployment, expediting steps to claims fulfillment. VR can additionally function as a therapeutic wellness aid, facilitating physical and mental recovery. While it remains early days for insurers to fully engage VR as standard practice, viewing publicly available footage displayed on VR headset quickly showcases the new pathways to possibility opened by these frontier technologies.

This article originally appeared on www.haka360.com. To learn more about how AIG was able to give All Blacks fans the ultimate Haka experience with 360° video technology click here.

AIG Haka 360° Experience

For the optimal 360° viewing experience please view in Google Chrome, or the updated YouTube app on Android/iOS and select the highest available quality.

 

 

1 The Wall Street Journal: Facebook to Buy Virtual Reality Firm Oculus for $2 Billion; Social Network Agrees to Pay $400 Million Cash Plus Stock for the Goggle Maker, March 25, 2014.

Publish Date: 6/14/2016

4 Ways to Recognize Aviation & Aerospace Risk

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Recent man-made losses within the aviation sector have been trying for the industry. However, according to the International Air Transport Association, total global air travel demand increased nearly 6 percent year-on-year in 2014. Emerging risk management issues, like supply chain risk, are important given the continued increase in air traffic.

To help you recognize the real risks for aviation and aerospace companies, Mark Heath, Head of Aerospace and Security, UK, and Richard Powell, Regional Head of Aerospace Claims, EMEA, offer this advice:

1. Rotables Risk: Take it Seriously

Aerospace and aviation companies should proactively manage the risks of ‘rotables’, the aviation term for components and inventory items that can be repeatedly and economically restored to fully serviceable condition. Crucial questions to answer include: Which rotables should be taken out and replaced? How often? And when?

2. Working Lifespan Risk: Take it Seriously

Aviation and aerospace companies must keenly understand each component’s working lifespan, also referred to as the “mean time between failures.” It’s important to stay ahead of the game when it comes to maintaining, repairing, and replacing components given how many different products make up today’s aircraft. It’s not just the engine or the cockpit instruments—it’s the whole plane, from the passengers’ seats to the aeronautical data needed for a successful flight.

3. Supply Chain Risks: Take them Seriously

Supply chain issues can lead to rotables risks—and to liability risks as well. If a rotable manufacturer goes out of business or loses production capabilities, this can affect the supply chain. Often, the rotable, such as a fuel control unit, is made up of smaller components. So the little guy with a problem impacts the entire supply chain. It’s important to remember that airline management is held responsible when a component or components fail. There may be a degree of culpability lower down the supply chain, but it’s up to airline management to put a contingency plan in place to ensure they can function in the event of a supply chain issue.

4. Product Liability Risk: Take it Seriously

Demand for air travel has increased over the past two years, straining aviation capacity and components. Surprisingly, while insurance protects aircraft operators on a ‘per occurrence’ basis, manufacturers of aviation products have to live with aggregate limits on their policies. This means that manufacturers may not be protected by their insurance if a number of liability losses erode the coverage limit over time. To provide true protection for manufacturers, AIG has recently introduced an innovative aerospace liability product that offers up to $50M in coverage per occurrence, with no aggregate limit, for manufacturers of non-critical aviation components. To learn more about Non-Aggregated Aerospace Product Liability from AIG, click here.

AIG aerospace specialists partner with our clients to provide products and services that can help reduce these risks.

 
The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.
Date Published: 6/22/2016

Drones: A New Way to Help

2169D Drone Safety Tip 5 Resize

When Typhoon Goni hit Japan, causing catastrophic damage, AIG deployed drones to more rapidly help clients in the danger zones. In the aftermath of the typhoon, one of our Japanese clients was experiencing water damage from the ceiling of their factory. Our client needed to determine the source of the leak quickly, but it was too dangerous for anyone to venture onto the roof to perform an inspection. We knew it was important to act fast to protect our client’s property and give them the financial support they needed to recover from the typhoon. We used a drone to help locate the source of the leak. By flying the drone over the factory rooftop, our team identified the cause of the damage quickly, safely, and accurately.

By rapidly gathering imagery, information, and data after a disaster, drones can help organizations deliver assistance sooner to the people who need it. Watch the following video to learn more about how drones can help people and businesses achieve greater resilience in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster:

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

AIG deploys drones globally for risk management and disaster response

AIG has acquired and implemented drones to assist, augment and accelerate inspections for risk assessment, risk management, loss control, and surety performance for our customers. Since receiving permission from the FAA to operate drones in the U.S. in April 2015, we have successfully deployed our highly trained drone team to live risk and loss inspections both in the U.S. and abroad. Our pilots have flown at stadiums, hotels, office buildings, private homes, construction sites, energy plants, and more, bringing valuable new insights to our customers.

Date Published: 8/10/2016

Rise of the Cobot: New Robotics Risks

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An Interview with David Kennedy, Esq., Product Development Manager, AIG

You can tell a technology is an important one when people begin to address the risks. Today, as humans and machines work more closely together than ever, the safety of collaborative robots, orcobots, is of vital concern for manufacturers, end users, insurers, lawyers, and lawmakers alike.

Cobots are clearly on the minds of forward thinkers who seek to manage and reduce risks. The law firm Littler Mendelson P.C. recently sponsored this Robotics Business Review webcast on cobots, safety, and liability.  In addition, the insurance credit ratings and information provider A.M. Best recently hosted this webinar on managing the risks of the shifting robotics industry.

Lighter weight, more easily programmable, and more flexible and affordable than traditional industrial robots, cobots allow humans and machines to work alongside each other on complex tasks ranging from lifting and placement to assembly and packaging. For businesses, the benefits of cobots are already becoming clear. Cobots give human workers new tools to accomplish tasks more quickly, efficiently, and with greater insight than ever before. Especially for small and mid-sized businesses, cobots can generate rapid improvements in productivity and growth—and even make workers’ jobs safer and more engaging by automating dangerous, rote, or monotonous tasks.

Yet in working so closely with humans, cobots also represent potential hazards in the workplace. Robots can be large and move quickly, and they often wield dangerous tools. Malfunctioning wires and machinery in the cobot, a software error in the cobot’s program, or even an environmental condition like a slippery floor in a factory can lead to a robot causing serious injury to a worker. And with advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a self-learning robot on the job can learn things and act in ways the manufacturer and end-user may not have intended.

So who is responsible when using a cobot leads to a loss? To learn more about the liability issues involved in the rise of the cobot, we talked with David Kennedy, Product Development Manager for Robotics ShieldSM, AIG’s award-winningi, comprehensive risk management solution for the robotics industry.

Tell us about the current state of the robotics industry. What emerging trends do you see?

Robotics is a rapidly growing market. The global robotics industry in 2015 was a 28 billion dollar industry, and it’s expected to exceed 151 billion dollars by 2020, according to a report from the market intelligence firm Tractica.ii

Robotics is really the next major global innovation. It’s the next general purpose technology to forever transform the workplace. In the coming ten years, the impact of robotics on the way employers and employees operate and interact will be as great as, or greater than, the impact that the internet has had on the workplace in the last ten years.iii

Already, you have advanced robotics and AI systems being deployed across a variety of industries around the world. With the rapidly growing market and the rapidly evolving technologies comes the potential for a rapid expansion of new and emerging exposures.

While industrial robots have been around since the late 1950’s to early 1960’s, these robots have typically been confined to major manufacturing plants, and they have usually been behind cages—to protect human workers from these massive, automated industrial machines. But now, with these rapid advances in technologies and reduction in costs, with new algorithms and with the development of AI systems, you see smaller, more flexible, and more user-friendly robots: you see robots coming out of their cages. You see a huge growth of what people call cobots or collaborative robots.

Robots are working alongside humans in the workforce—on manufacturing floors, in hospitals, and more. When I talk about robotics, I use that term quite broadly. I not only include what you’d consider traditional robots, for example, industrial robots and these more recently developed cobots. I also include telepresence robots that can perform services remotely and even software platforms that can perform a task that’s previously been done by humans.

With the rapid growth in the robotic industries comes this growing risk: the grey area in coverages between traditional product and general liability insurance and professional errors and omissions insurance. What we have seen is the potential for product liability insurers and professional liability insurers to point the finger at each other at the time of the claim. The grey area in coverage can be eliminated by providing a streamlined solution for those robotics risks.

What are some of the new risks that are coming up in the robotics industry?

It’s an emerging area. There’s the potential for high-profile claims that may send robotics manufacturers, integrators, and end-users of robotics systems looking for more guidance and clarity in their risk management solutions and their insurance coverages. It’s critical for companies to consider and prepare for the legal challenges arising from robotics, AI, and automation. When a robot-related accident occurs, the potential for ambiguity is growing, and so is the potential for grey area.

For example, we’ve been talking about these cobots. The affordability and flexibility of cobots means they are especially suitable for small and medium-sized companies, the companies that make up the majority of the global manufacturing industry. These smaller companies may not have as much experience with robotics and may face new risks.

Historically, we’ve had large, industrial, automated robots—think production line robots in auto manufacturing. Now you can easily move these cobots around the workplace, and they can give rise to new employment liability issues. Especially as you introduce sensors and cognitive computing into these cobots, you may see the potential for OSHA, HIPAA issues, and privacy issues in the workplace.

With traditional industrial robots, you have a machine that’s been designed and manufactured primarily for one specific purpose, for one task only. But now, you have developers and programmers who can create programs for cobots and other robotic systems to make them perform different tasks. Couple that with AI and the ability of robots to sense and gather information around them, react to their environment, and act on their own, and the liability issues get greyer. Is it the manufacturer of the robot, vehicle, or cobot who’s liable? Or is it the software developer? Or is it some other component manufacturer that gets involved in those types of claims? So you can see how the liability landscape gets greyer along this path.

You’ve mentioned a grey area between professional liability and product liability. In the case of a cobot, ‘professional liability’ would mean that a human was responsible for the accident, whereas ‘product liability’ would mean that the manufacturer of the robot was responsible?

Yes, that’s actually a pretty precise breakdown of it. A professional liability claim would generally arise from an error made by the software programmer or the robotics services company, whereas a product liability claim would generally arise from a manufacturing problem with the robot.

So how do you determine who is responsible—or what is responsible—for a robotics risk?

That’s an excellent question. Applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards give some guidance. For example, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published their robotics industry guidelines, which specify safety requirements for collaborative industrial robot systems and the work environment.iv

Ultimately, however, the courts will have to parse this out. As is often the case with advanced technologies—frankly, drones are a great example—the law and regulations can be slow to keep up with the technology. You see legislators and governing authorities struggling with these issues about how to regulate emerging technologies and whom blame will be assigned to: whether it’s the manufacturer or the developer or the end user of these systems. It’s a complex question, and it will play itself out over the coming years.

And in the meantime, there is a rapid advance of those systems. For the first time ever, you may see non-industrial robotics—think drones, personal robots, enterprise workplace robots, and service robots—begin to overshadow the more traditional industrial robots in the next few years.v You may see a shifting landscape of risks and potential exposures.

Can you give an idea of some of the different types of robots on the rise today? You mentioned service robots. Are those robots that assist the elderly?

Yes, that’s one example of service robots. Japan is a leader in the space. In Japan, you’re already seeing a huge discrepancy between an aging population and low birth rates, and there is a growing need for service robotics and eldercare robotics. Japan is really on the cutting edge of developing technology like personal service robotics to help the elderly in their homes and with daily tasks and medications. These are incredibly relevant and timely technological advances for aging populations in Japan and, increasingly, for the U.S. as the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire.

In a similar vein, there are companies that are developing exoskeletons, a type of wearable robotics. You can use these types of robotics for the disabled and the elderly to help where there might not be nurses or medical personnel or relatives available. One extraordinary example is Marsi Bionics in Madrid, Spain. 17 million children worldwide are affected by neurological diseases that render them unable to walk and wheelchair bound. These children’s quality of life could be largely improved if walking could be repaired, restored, or rehabilitated. Marsi Bionics is working towards this goal by developing the world’s first child-exoskeleton robotic frame to help children as young as three stand and walk.

You said earlier that robotics is the next internet, in that it’s shifting relationships that humans have and the ways that we work. Why do you think robotics the next internet?

There’s a famous study published in 2013 which suggests that as many as 47% of jobs currently done by workers in the U.S. will be done by robotic machines and software within the next two decades. More recent studies estimate that less than 10% of jobs are at risk.vi So there likely isn’t going to be a 50% unemployment rate. But there is going to be a tremendous amount of technological change in the workplace.

I’m not just talking about a production line at an auto factory or highly rote administrative tasks. I’m talking about legal jobs, financial industry jobs, and other white collar jobs. Many traditional professional service industries will be dramatically transformed by robotics and automation in the next decade or two. And that’s why many suggest, including our colleagues at Littler Mendelson’s Robotics, AI, and Automation Industry Groupvii, whom we partnered with very closely in developing Robotics Shield SM, that robotics is the next innovation that will be as influential in changing the workplace as the internet itself.

Think the steam engine. Think electricity. Think information technology and how great an impact those advances had on our society as a whole, and robotics can dwarf even those. It’s exciting to think about. Think about writing. Recently, a high-profile news agency has experimented with having algorithms automatically write news stories and articles about current events. It’s just fascinating to see some of the changes that can come about.

In my opinion, it reminds the workforce to stay adaptable and creative and continue to learn. You don’t want to stop learning. Creativity is future-proof. Creative occupations are less likely to be automated and replaced by technologies like robotics and machine learning. You have to keep developing your personal skill sets to stay marketable and stay ahead. It’s pretty fascinating!

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

i  Esola, Louise. “2016 Innovation Awards: Lexington Insurance Co. Robotics Shield,” Business Insurance, 13 Mar. 2016. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.

ii  Tractica. “Global Robotics Industry to Surpass 151 Billion by 2020,” Tractica, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Jul. 2016.

iii  Mathiason, Garry et al., The Transformation of the Workplace Through Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation: Employment and Labor Law Issues, Solutions, and the Legislative and Regulatory Response. Littler Mendelson P.C., 2016. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.

iv  International Organization for Standardization. Robots and robotic devices – Collaborative robots. ISO/TS. 2016. Series Number 15066. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.

v  Tractica. “Global Robotics Industry to Surpass 151 Billion by 2020,” Tractica, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Jul. 2016.

vi  The Economist. “March of the machines: What history tells us about the future of artificial intelligence—and how society should respond,” The Economist, 25 Jun. 2016. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

vii  “Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation.” Littler Mendelson P.C. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.

Marsi Bionics and the Spanish National Research Council Are Developing Robotic Exoskeletons to Help Children with Disabilities Walk Again and Improve their Quality of Life

Video by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Date Published: 9/1/2016

How to Safeguard Couture Collections

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While high-net-worth individuals in the U.S. pay around $5 billion in annual insurance premiums,  most are not buying coverage from providers that can adequately protect the full range of their personal property assets.

One frequently overlooked area involves cherished items hanging in a closet at home or packed in a suitcase when on the go: designer and couture (also known as made-to-measure) clothes, shoes, and handbags. These high-value fashions and accessories are wearable art — precious, bespoke, and sometimes one-of-a-kind pieces created with great care and precision in an atelier and moved into a closet to become part of a person’s private collection. With haute couture price tags reaching six figures, the value of an extensive fashion collection can extend into the millions, with a single piece costing as much or more than an automobile.

“Much like collectors of fine art, vintage cars, or wine, customers who invest in their wardrobes can be quite passionate about their acquisitions,” says Ron Fiamma, Vice President and Global Head of Private Collections for AIG Private Client Group.i

Couture wardrobes can leave collectors exposed

Designer or couture items are impeccably crafted by highly skilled hands to meet a person’s specific taste, figure, and stylistic goals, meaning they cannot be easily fixed or replaced if damaged. Many fashion aficionados and collectors mistakenly assume their couture clothing and accessory collection is covered by their homeowners insurance policy. While homeowners insurance may cover some major areas of home damage caused by a flood, fire, or another disaster, it typically does not cover high-value garments and accessories. And wily intruders like moths — capable of inflicting serious damage on delicate fabrics — are usually not covered at all by these policies.

Doug Greenberg,  the owner of Garde Robe Online, LLC, the first museum-quality garment storage service for precious clothing, footwear, furs, and accessories collections, grew increasingly concerned when the majority of his clients declined the insurance policies his firm offered for clothes stored in its facilities.

When Greenberg learned that a client’s home — and the couture collection housed within it — was flooded by Super Storm Sandy, and the bespoke wardrobe was not covered by homeowners insurance, he approached AIG about creating a solution to fill the coverage gap.

AIG Private Client Group had also spotted the need for more precise protection. AIG risk managers often visit customers’ homes to help identify vulnerabilities that could lead to property damage if left unchecked. On one visit, the significant financial risk many individuals unknowingly assume became even more apparent when a risk manager came across a collection of 150  ultra-luxe designer bags, with a price tag of $20,000 or more per bag.

Bespoke protection for bespoke wardrobes

To develop a specialized coverage solution that meets collector realities and concerns, AIG underwriters visited designer studios and ateliers and interviewed Garde Robe’s clients to learn about the skill, craftsmanship, precision, and materials involved in the creation of high-end fashions — as well as the underlying passions and goals of the people who collect them.

“Just as a collection of vintage automobiles has different coverage needs than an everyday car in the driveway, we realized that couture and bespoke clothing needed to be safeguarded differently than ordinary household items,” Fiamma explains. “Very special fashions are wearable art collections that require comprehensive protection.”

In September 2015, AIG Private Client Group launched the first-ever wearable collections coverage — the only specialized insurance currently available to protect and proactively mitigate risks for high-value couture and designer wearable collections.

The comprehensive insurance addresses specific gaps in traditional homeowners policies, covering couture and ready-to-wear garments, shoes, handbags, and vintage and historic clothing, as well as custom, work-in-progress couture and shoes. It covers damage caused by flooding, moths, vermin, theft, and accidents, as well as the cost of moving items to a safe storage facility before an impeding threat — risks that are frequently excluded from a homeowners policy. If a piece is damaged or destroyed by a covered loss, dry cleaning and restoration by a high-end garment care specialist will be covered, a typical prerequisite for acceptance into a secure garment storage facility.

The coverage is in effect worldwide — wherever and whenever the policyholder chooses to travel with or wear their garments or accessories. The policy also includes services such as vulnerability assessments, emergency planning, and referrals to wardrobe-preservation specialists. In addition, AIG Private Client Group’s in-house collection management specialists work with clients to help them preserve the long-term value of their couture and designer collections.

The wearable collections coverage is available to individuals who are eligible for AIG Private Client Group’s solutions and services as an endorsement to the private collections policy, which includes additional advantages such as agreed value coverage, no deductibles, and loss in value payments.ii

To learn more about AIG’s private collections policy — offering distinctive protection for fine art, wine, jewelry, couture, and any other items you prize — visit: https://www-200.aigprivateclient.com/index.php?Page=private-collections-insurance-coverages.

For more information about AIG Private Client Group — serving high-net-worth individuals with innovative, flexible, and customized insurance solutions — visit:http://www.aig.com/individual/insurance/private-client-group.

i AIG Private Client Group is a division of the member companies of American International Group, Inc. (AIG).

ii The wearable collection coverage is available today across the U.S., in all states except Massachusetts.

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

Proactive Protection for Collectors

You may not think of yourself as a “collector,” but even a few pieces of fine art, jewelry or valued objects warrant special attention when it comes to their financial protection. Items often have sentimental worth as well, and preserving value on both fronts requires an ongoing effort. The in-house Collection Management team from AIG Private Client Group, a division of the member companies of American International Group, Inc., is here to help. We share our customers’ passions and are on hand with answers and support. (Eligibility requirements may apply.)  Learn more: http://spr.ly/6053BkZxv.

Date Published: 8/10/2016

How Sensors Can Change Insurance

As the Internet of Things grows, the number of sensors in our world is dramatically increasing. The ability of these sensors to capture and deliver data in real time can create a future where people and companies can observe events and respond with action more quickly than ever before.

Sensors are already a part of our daily lives: the average smartphone contains a variety of sensors, including an accelerometer to measure motion, a pedometer to measure the steps you’ve taken, and a fingerprint sensor for added security. Sensors also enable a range of popular devices, such as bracelets that track our physical activity over the course of the day to help us improve our health and smart thermostats that learn our habits to customize the temperature in our homes. Ultimately, sensors enable us to more fully understand and control the conditions that affect our lives.

Sensor-based devices are also helping insurance companies provide clients with new, customized services that can mitigate risks. At AIG, we recently partnered with one of our clients, a car rental company, to create a pilot project testing whether we could: 1) incentivize smooth driving—that is, maintaining safe speeds, not accelerating harshly, and not using ‘hard breaking’, and 2) find out whether smooth driving was an indicator of safe driving. In this test, sensors in the client’s fleet of vehicles collected data in real-time to help develop a ‘smooth driving score’ for each driver who chose to participate. To further encourage safer driving, we created a contest that rewarded the smoothest drivers with prizes. Not only was this game extremely popular with drivers, (less than one percent of drivers opted out), the contest also succeeded in significantly reducing the number of claims for our client by incentivizing renters to drive more safely. Furthermore, the client was able to engage with its customers in a unique way and further its commitment to road safety in partnership with AIG.

At AIG, we believe the future of insurance is proactive risk prevention. The insights gained through sensors enable AIG to better serve our clients; we can help our clients uncover areas of risk and implement tailored solutions to help prevent losses. In partnership with a major university with cutting-edge research in this space, our research team is testing water sensors that can detect abnormal flows in water pipes. With these sensor systems in place, it can be possible for our clients to receive automatic text-message alerts in the event of a leak, or even have the system automatically shut off the water supply to prevent flooding. By encouraging our clients to use water sensors in their homes, warehouses, and other properties, AIG has the potential to protect our clients’ assets from flood damage.

Alerts sent by sensors can help prevent risks to clients’ property; preventing risks to clients’ health and safety can be more complex. AIG is now working to enable the sensor solutions that can help reduce workplace injuries and deaths in high-risk areas such as construction sites and manufacturing facilities. To help our clients improve their workers’ safety, we’ve invested in Human Condition Safety. This startup is developing solutions, including wearable sensor devices for workers, which have the potential to reduce workplace accidents, improve efficiency, and help AIG and our clients gather real-time data to better predict and prevent risks. Effective feedback based on data from wearable sensors has the potential to help workers learn to adopt safer behaviors. For example, a construction worker who receives repeated input from wearable sensors reminding him that he is lifting heavy objects in a way that causes back strain may, over time, change his habits and move more safely while lifting equipment at work. In addition to helping provide feedback to workers, sensors may also give insurance companies and clients the data needed to learn more about how to prevent common workplace injuries.

In fact, AIG has a large volume of claims data: our nearly 100-year history gives us remarkable insights into what causes accidents of all kinds, from slips, trips, and falls in the workplace to fires and floods. By applying advanced analytics such as Natural Language Processing and machine learning to our data, we are finding patterns in what is causing common accidents and injuries for our clients. Understanding the core factors that cause accidents and injuries helps us to identify target areas where we can apply sensors and the Internet of Things to create solutions that help reduce risks. In addition, programs such as Client Centric Analytics are accelerating AIG’s capabilities to pinpoint the risks that drive clients’ losses and to offer solutions that improve clients’ safety to help reduce our clients’ total cost of risk.

As sensors and the Internet of Things evolve, they are bringing new data and capabilities that can improve safety and resilience for businesses and individuals. With these technological advances, the next generation will be able to learn from human interactions with our environment, use machine learning methods to predict adverse events, and mitigate losses before they occur.

Date Published: 7/5/2015

Your Custom Home Can Be Your Safe Haven

Home is where the heart is, as the old saying goes — it’s also where people spend a significant amount of their time, and an important retreat and refuge from a frequently hectic world.

Building a custom home is a compelling idea for people and families who are looking to create their own special “safe haven” — a unique home tailored to the nuances of their tastes, needs, and lifestyle, rather than adjusting those preferences to fit an existing structure and layout. Many Americans are opting to build, not just buy; in the first quarter of 2016, custom home building increased on a year-on-year basis, accounting for 22% of total single-family starts.i

Constructing a house from the ground up involves an array of aesthetic choices including size, layout, materials, flooring, lighting, storage, colors, and much more. But beyond these details, there are crucial up-front decisions that can have a direct impact on how safe of a haven a home will be — either enhancing or compromising the safety of the house, lessening or increasing the likelihood of loss, and ultimately translating into insurance savings or additional costs.

Reducing risks before breaking ground

In many instances, home risk mitigation techniques are much easier to implement before and during the building process instead of post-construction. In the early planning stages with an architect, integral risk prevention questions can be discussed and woven into construction plans, including:

  • Is there a smarter way to build the house, making it safer without disrupting design plans? This can include sensors to detect water leakage, and fire sprinklers or gas leak detectors to spare residents and belongings from harm.
  • How can the house be protected against natural hazards, including flooding, wind, lightning, and earthquakes?
  • How can sound environmental practices be incorporated into the project, including green building materials and other choices to maximize energy efficiency?
  • What is the best evacuation plan for residents in the event of an emergency?

Smarter building for worry-free living

Over the years, AIG Private Client Group, a division of the member companies of American International Group, Inc., risk managers — specializing in the protection of luxury and custom homes — have visited tens of thousands of properties to advise on safety measures and other concerns, observing costly home damage that may have been avoided if different decisions were made before and during home construction.

Drawing from a long history of bringing sound risk management practices to the construction of many of the world’s most significant buildings, AIG offers SmartBuild, a solution to help homeowners make smart decisions to manage risks long before they break ground on their custom home.

As a complimentary service for qualified1 AIG Private Client Group policyholders who are ready to begin the construction of a new home or major renovation, SmartBuild incorporates best practices to help homeowners build a smarter and safer home:

  • A pre-build consultation: An experienced risk manager consults with the homeowner, architect, builder, contractor, and other home and design professionals during the design phase to help minimize risks related to water damage, fire and life safety, security, and other construction vulnerabilities — asking crucial risk management questions a homeowner may not know to ask.
  • An outline of safety measures: Once the home is built, a risk management specialist provides an overview outlining the safeguards that were put into place during the build.
  • Potential additional premium savings, which may be available in some instances to policyholders who integrate the suggested loss prevention measures into their home.

To learn more about how the AIG Private Client Group helps policyholders build smarter, safer custom homes, reducing the likelihood of loss before construction begins, read the brochure below. 

1 Typically this translates to a $5 Million new or remodel project

 

i National Association of Home Builders, May 18, 2016: http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/05/slight-gains-for-custom-home-building/.

 

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.  

 

AIG is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty, life and retirement, and general insurance operations of American International Group, Inc. (AIG).   For additional information, please visit our website at www.aig.com. Products and services are written or provided by subsidiaries or affiliates of AIG. Not all products and services are available in every jurisdiction, and insurance coverage is governed by actual policy language. Certain property-casualty coverages may be provided by a surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds and insureds are therefore not protected by such funds.

Smart Build: Risk Management for Custom Homes

 

AIG Private Client Group, a division of the member companies of American International Group, Inc., specializes in the protection of luxury and custom homes. Over the years our risk managers have visited tens of thousands of properties to advise on safety measures and other concerns. We’ve seen what works—and what doesn’t. In many instances, we’ve found that costly damage could have been avoided if different decisions were made from the start. Armed with this experience, we created Smart Build, a complimentary service for policyholders who are ready to begin the construction of a new home or major renovation. (Eligibility requirements may apply.)

Date Published: 7/25/2016

2 Ways to Build your Business with IoT

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There are, even by the most conservative estimates, billions of objects and devices connected to the Internet. Various estimates place the total number of connected devices between 40 to 50 billion by 2020; and these devices together make up the Internet of Things (IoT).

Companies across a multitude of industries are pioneering this technology and demonstrating its long-term potential. According to one forecast, spending on industrial connected objects this year alone will total nearly $870 billion, compared with $546 billion for IoT devices on the consumer side.

The improvements in efficiency, analytics, predictive maintenance, troubleshooting and forecasting that have resulted, even in this early stage of IoT implementation, consistently point toward an economy that is more efficient, productive, safe and profitable.

In our latest report, “IoT Case Studies: Companies Leading the Connected Economy”, AIG found that the companies leading the industrial IoT revolution mostly fall into one of two categories of innovation:

  1. Improving Operations and Processes
    Companies such as Silverstein Properties and U.S. Bank use IoT technologies to improve their internal operations and processes, while companies such as Amec Foster Wheeler, IBM, Human Condition Safety and Ericsson are using it to provide their customers with deeper insights into their operations, their industries and the world around them.
  2. Using IoT to Transform Business Models 
    John Deere is fostering collaboration across the agriculture industry with IoT innovations that impact every aspect of farming from seed to market.

Both categories can provide valuable insight into the challenges and potential of the IoT, which is why it’s so critical that companies and leaders emphasize communication, both within their own companies and with each other. Departments that typically don’t interact with each other will need to collaborate to mitigate new IoT risks. Most notably, risk managers and research and development departments must work together to address potential risks created by new connected products and services. Closer collaboration between different functions within an organization will help risk managers select insurance products and services that best suit the new risks brought forth by IoT technologies.

Ultimately, two things are clear: IoT technologies are here to stay, and its economic impact will be significant.

While it’s impossible to predict all of the details, we know the shape the future of industrial innovation will take. Companies that embrace innovative technologies, including IoT, are already changing the world we live in. With a commitment to innovation and an openness to disrupt themselves, these few will be best positioned to lead their industries, and may even create new markets.

To learn more read “IoT Case Studies: Companies Leading the Connected Economy”, or visit www.aig.com/innovative-tech.

Date Published: 6/10/2016

How to Manage Today’s Aviation Risks

Private jet plane in the blue sky

In 2016, significant safety or security events have posed challenges to the airline industry.  In March, Flydubai Flight 981 en route from Dubai, UAE to Rostov-on-Don, Russia crashed during its second landing attempt. All 7 crew members and 55 passengers were killed. And in May, Egypt Air Flight MS804 mysteriously disappeared, with 56 passengers and 10 crew members on board, while en route from Paris, France to Cairo, Egypt.1 While terrible human tragedies, these events were, statistically speaking, highly unusual.  Indeed, the vanishing of the Egypt Air flight is not what is thought of as a “typical” airline accident.

These tragedies are statistically infrequent and serve as an opportunity to examine the long-term resiliency of the airline industry and recent long-term gains in safety.

More and more passengers are flying every year. Almost 3.3 billion globally in 2014, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).2 That number marked a 5.5% increase over 2013.3Competition for passengers is fierce. Airline margins, even in good years, remain tight, at around 2% to 3%. Despite this year’s major tragedies, the industry’s impressive safety record over the years has helped keep premiums at attractive levels. Given the industry’s tight margins, pricing for aviation insurance will continue to be an important consideration for industry buyers. But it is not the only factor in purchasing decisions. Risk management among airline companies is highly sophisticated, and this sophistication is reflected in their demands for coverage. As Rob Sage, AIG’s U.K. Head of Underwriting Aerospace, points out, “In addition to price, buyers were until recently also looking to broaden their coverage. However, after the spate of recent losses, price has once again become key with some buyers, even though rates are significantly lower than they were pre-9/11. The more sophisticated buyers will always be looking for the broadest cover available even if there is a cost for that.”

Coverage for Cyberthreats

One growing area of interest for many industry buyers has been protection against cyber-attacks.  Cyberthreats have become ubiquitous across most, if not all, industry verticals, and aviation is no exception. It is not difficult to imagine the kinds of damage, and not just financial, that could be caused by a major security breach at an airline or airport. As the rate and sophistication of cybercrimes and the threat of cyberterrorism grow, the risk profiles of airlines and airports are changing, and industry buyers are adjusting their risk management strategies to accommodate those changes. A number of companies in the insurance industry, including AIG, have responded by providing a number of offerings to help meet these evolving needs.4

In addition to cyberthreats, risk managers in the aviation industry are seeking to broaden their coverage in other areas as well. These range from potential liabilities relating to pollution from de-icing and fuel storage to situations involving, for example, the loss of GPS satellite communications data, which airlines rely on for navigation and terrain mapping.

Importance of Claims Handling in Aviation

As the aviation industry grows in both size and complexity, the importance of claims handling has grown. As recent incidents illustrate, when things go wrong in the industry, they can go very wrong – along multiple dimensions. Risk managers in the industry look for insurance partners that can help them navigate the sometimes labyrinth-like claims process as quickly and as painlessly as possible, so that necessary liquidity is available when and where it’s needed. Some providers outsource the claims handling function, while others, such as AIG, handle it with experienced internal claims teams. Buyers should lean toward whichever provider they believe will partner with them best in a crisis.

The aviation industry will continue to evolve in order to meet the ever-increasing demands of the flying public. In the process, industry risk managers will need to continue to regularly assess their organizations’ risk profiles to help ensure they have the breadth of coverage they need.

AIG – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

AIG has established an international research and development program focused on utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles to survey properties after natural disasters and for risk management purposes. Click here to learn more: http://spr.ly/60014RtP.

1 “Recent plane crashes.”  Accessed online on June 28, 2016 at http://www.airsafe.com/events/last_15.htm.

2 “Annual Report of the ICAO Council: 2014 The World of Air Transport in 2014.”  ICAO report, 2014.  Accessed online on June 28, 2016 athttp://www.icao.int/annual-report-2014/Pages/the-world-of-air-transport-in-2014.aspx.

3 Ibid.

4 AIG’s principal cyberrisk solution is CyberEdge PCSM.  For more information, go to http://www.aig.com/cyberedge-pc_1247_593419.html.

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein.

Date Published: 7/15/2016

How to Reduce the Risk of a Cyber Attack

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Cybercrime is on the rise, and the impact can be significant.  In 2015, there were over one million web attacks against people each and every day according to Symantec.1 And, over the past year, Norton reported that consumers lost nearly $358 on average per person.2 The cost to businesses is even greater, and experts expect the cyber crime costs to quadruple from 2015-2019. According to research conducted by Juniper, it is predicted that by 2019 the cost of data breaches will rise to $2.1 trillion globally. 3 And, of course, beyond the dollars, the cost in reputational damage, consumer confidence in the brand, and time to recovery can be enormous.

While major high-profile security breaches, such as those suffered by Target and Home Depot, make the biggest splashes in the global news, the attacks are not limited to national and multinational companies. For example, the largest online breach targeting credit card data in Australia’s history occurred in December 2012, when criminals attacked 46 small and midsize businesses – the majority of which were service stations and individual retail outlets.4

The principle lesson to be learned is that companies of all sizes are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In fact, Microsoft research found that “20% of small to medium sized businesses have been targeted for cyber crimes.”5 Unfortunately, many don’t view themselves that way because they believe they are too small to be targeted. But from a risk management perspective, that is exactly the wrong attitude to take.

Because of the potentially devastating impact that a major breach can have – on both the top and bottom lines, on the brand, and along many other dimensions of the business – and because of the increasing likelihood that such an event may one day occur, it is prudent to rank cyberthreats as one of the three largest areas of exposure for essentially every business. According to Symantec, in 2015, a record-setting total of nine mega-breaches were reported. These breaches exposed 191 million records.1 As such, thwarting cyber attacks, as well as planning for how the company will respond in the event of a successful major breach, should be a C-suite-level concern, and not something relegated to the IT department and then promptly forgotten – until it’s too late.

An Ounce of Prevention

A first step in assessing your company’s exposure to cyberthreats is to conduct a thorough inventory of your data collection and data storage protocols. What kind of data do you have? How is it being protected? In addition, what does the threat environment look like for your company and industry? How frequently are your systems being attacked? Your competitors?

Fortunately, the majority of attacks are not as sophisticated as those that Target and Home Depot in past years. Most cyberthreats do not target a specific company, and they may be stopped by the use of basic IT security measures, including up-to-date antivirus software and robust firewalls. However, as noted above, it is highly prudent to be prepared to defend against more dangerous efforts and think about what to do should a major breach occur.

Business Continuity and Risk Transfer

A key step is to build cyberthreats into your company’s business continuity plans, alongside other kinds of potential major disruptions. How would your business function if it suddenly lost access to critical data? What kinds of plans are currently in place for dealing with a major data breach? Running scenario-based drills to test the impact and response times to various types of breaches will aid in identifying where your company’s greatest weaknesses are, so that they can be adequately addressed. As Home Depot’s example demonstrates, it’s never too early to start.

There may still remain areas where, for various reasons, risk cannot be managed internally. In this case, the best decision may be to transfer the risk via a cyber-liability policy. These policies should be viewed as a supplement to, and not a replacement for, good risk management policies. But they can provide a vital source of liquidity in the days following a successful attack.

By taking cyberthreats seriously and building them into your business continuity plans and practices, your company will be better positioned to survive a major cyber-attack and get back to normal business operations quickly.

1 “2016 Internet Security Threat Report.” Symantec, April 2016. Accessed online on July 7, 2016 at https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/istr-21-2016-en.pdf.

2 2015 Norton report, published by Symantec Corporation.  Accessed online on July. 1, 2016 at http://us.norton.com/norton-cybersecurity-insights-report-global?inid=hho_norton.com_cybersecurityinsights_hero_seeglobalrpt.

3 “Cybercrime Will Cost Businesses Over $2 Trillion by 2019.” Juniper Research, May 2015. Accessed online on June 21, 2016 at http://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/cybercrime-cost-businesses-over-2trillion.

4 Matthew Clarke. “Cyber attacks: It’s not a matter of if but when.”  Insurance & Risk Professional, June/July 2014.  Accessed online on Sept. 12, 2014 at http://content.yudu.com/Library/A2vnli/InsuranceampRiskProf/resources/36.htm.

5 Jennifer Warnick. “Digital Detectives.” Microsoft. Accessed online at July 7, 2016 at http://news.microsoft.com/stories/cybercrime/.

Date Published: 7/15/2016

5 Questions to Ask Before Flying a Drone

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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have nearly unlimited potential applications outside the military including law enforcement, research, filmmaking, and even Amazon deliveries. The commercial drone market was worth $552 million in 2014, and it’s expected to reach $5.59 billion by 2020.

Because many UAVs only weigh a few pounds, some people make the mistake of viewing them as just another business tool —but drones are still aircraft, which means they bring a different set of risks and liabilities.

Drones have the potential to revolutionize business, but just as organizations are becoming aware of their advantages, they also need to be aware of the risks involved. Even if you are abiding by regulations, they could still be open to potential liability.

5 Things to Consider Before Using UAVs

Here are a few things to ask when working with drone clients:

  1. What are you flying? The make and model of the UAV provides insight to its capabilities and how it might be used.
  2. What do you plan to use it for? Is the UAV taking pictures or recording video? What does the drone operator intend to do with that video? Make sure you understand the regulations for UAVs so their usage falls under what’s considered legal in the U.S.
  3. Who will be operating it? The experience of the operator is a key factor when determining whether or not to insure a drone. Does the operator  have an aviation background or training on best practices? Has he or she ever flown a drone before?
  4. Where are you using it? There’s a significant difference between flying aUAV under 400 feet off the ground and flying at higher altitudes, where it may be necessary to engage with air traffic controllers. Operating in an urban environment also poses a greater risk than a rural area, as a higher concentration of people and property increases the possibility of an accident or claim.
  5. Does your business have written policies for operation? If you are using the UAV for business, your company should have rules in place for who can operate the drone as well as where and when. Will operators be flying at night? What about in bad weather? Does your company have procedures for coordinating with air traffic control facilities if operators need to fly near an aviation facility? All these factors are important considerations when looking at the risks involved.

Keep in mind that regulations will vary depending on the country of operation and whether the drone is intended for business or consumer use. For instance, Canada requires UAVs to have at least $100,000 in limited liability insurance for operation, whereas the U.S. has no such requirement. Regardless of where the drone is operated, the main factor when insuring one is going to be the drone’s intended use.

Date Published: 7/14/2016

By Carson Lyons, VP – Global Product Line Manager, General Aviation, AIG

How Drones Can Change Your Business

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By 2020, the FAA estimates about 542,500 small Unmanned Aircraft in the commercial fleet. Did you know, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) were used to provide security during the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil?

Data collection and analysis are among the primary impact areas for UASs because they can quickly reach locations that are less accessible to human beings and share information in near-real time; UASs can be used to assist in the creation of risk assessment surveys and enable more rapid response to disasters.

For example, in 2015, Typhoon Goni hit Japan causing catastrophic damage; over 600,000 people were directly affected by the storm. AIG was able to rapidly deploy drone technology to assess properties affected by the storm, which allowed us to provide a fast and safe assessment of the damage.

UASs are changing the way businesses think about their operations. Another example of how UASs are being used across industries is within the agriculture industry. UASs can help farmers track the quantity and activity of cattle, monitor crop health, maturity, and irrigation; and detect the spread of weeds.

Barriers to Adoption

There are several barriers that need to be overcome in order for the U.S. economy to fully utilize the advantages of UASs:

  1. The first barrier to overcome is within the law enforcement industry.  Procedural hurdles could hold back the use of UASs, including having regulators keeping up with the rapid development of technology and adopting a “constructive, not confrontational” stance.
  2. Manufacturers and operators must adapt as well. To generate the most benefit from UASs, users need to treat them not as add-ons to their existing information-gathering and delivery systems, but as integral to their operating model.
  3. Ensuring the prevention of potential accidents and privacy violations. The Department of Homeland Security has logged over several incidents  in which rogue drones governed over “sensitive sites and critical installations,” including military bases and nuclear plants.
  4. The final barrier that will need to be overcome to fully utilize UASs includes navigating the regulatory environment including the recent “Small UAS Rule” which implements rules around visual line-of-sight with the pilot, weight limitations for the UAS including cargo weight, and more.

However, it is clear that UASs’ economic presence is likely to grow as technology improves and the benefits become more and more evident. To learn more about UASs, and their benefits across a variety of industries, read this whitepaper developed in partnership with the Harvard Business Review.

Date Published: 7/18/2016

This is an excerpt from a whitepaper created in partnership with AIG by Harvard Business Review. To read the paper in its entirety, please download the PDF. 

Equity Crowdfunding: How Insurance Can Help

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You’ve heard of Crowdrise, AngelList, and perhaps you recently invested in a new tech gadget on Kickstarter. But the concept of equity crowdfunding isn’t as simple as clicking a button and investing in a start-up. Simply put, equity crowdfunding is the exchange of a piece of a company for cash.

Recently, the SECreleased the equity crowdfunding law, Regulation Crowdfunding. The law permits individuals to invest in securities-based crowdfunding transactions with some limitations including:

  1. The amount of money an issuer can raise using the crowdfunding exemption;
  2. Imposes disclosure requirements on issuers for certain information about their business and securities offering; and
  3. Creates a regulatory framework for the broker-dealers and funding portals that facilitate the crowdfunding transactions.

One particular challenge presented by this form of funding is that unlike companies raising capital through traditional established channels, many of the issuing companies raising money through crowdfunding have little or no track record. Although they can present exciting growth opportunities for investors, these issuers can also expose investors to unknown risks particularly around the probity of their current and future governance. The key was to build trust in the ecosystem.

Reading about this growing industry, Monica Tigleanu, Senior Underwriter, Commercial Institutions, and Fred Ling, Financial Institutions Practice Leader, EMEA, became interested in the opportunities for insurance that the crowdfunding industry might offer.

“Through discussions with the industry stakeholders, […] we realized that the industry would benefit if we could protect investors from issuer fraud – a major concern not only for the investors and platforms, but also the regulators,” said Monica.

A high profile case in the U.S. emerged where an oil and gas company called Ascenergy raised $5 million from crowdfunding platforms. Around $1.2 million of that was then spent by the founders on non-business items, as well as payments to other companies owned by the founders. In late 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze the assets of the company for fraud.

“This made us realize that issuer fraud risk was a proven risk we could protect against,” said Fred. “But it wasn’t simple as there are multiple parties participating in the contract: the policy is bought by the platform, it protects the investors, but the fraud event would occur within the company that receives the investment.”

Monica and Fred were able to get buy-in from senior members of AIG’s global financial lines team for their new product including Irwin Goldfarb, Chief Underwriting Officer, Commercial. They then reached out to crowdfunding platforms across the UK and Europe and found Eureeca, a Dubai-based platform registered in the UK, who were interested in the solution and were open to collaboration to develop a bespoke product.

“Thanks to the partnership with Eureeca, we were able to conduct due diligence on their business model and their investment guidelines to better understand the risks that were taken in identifying investment opportunities. That meant we could price the risk and validate the coverage,” said Fred.

Crowdfunding Fidelity was recently launched, and Eureeca is AIG’s first policyholder. “The product gives us a great connection to these growth stage companies as it aligns our strengths and customer centric values,” said Monica.

“Crowdfunding Fidelity is a great example of how AIG learns together with the industries and clients it serves to better meet their strategic needs. We are looking forward to building similar relationships with other platforms across the world and to expanding our offering to this sector,” said Lex Baugh, President, Liability and Financial Lines.

1 https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2015-249.html

The content contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only.  Companies and individuals should not solely rely on the information or suggestions provided in this article for the prevention or mitigation of the risks discussed herein

Date Published: 7/1/2016

7 Steps to a Cyber-Resilient Business

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Cyber security is the most prominent risk issue facing company Boards of Directors and executives worldwide. We are inundated almost daily with accounts of major corporate data breaches and compromised networks. Recent high-profile attacks such as the targeting of point-of-sale terminals at Target, Home Depot and Staples, server software at JP Morgan, and employee databases at Sony, demonstrate how vulnerable even the largest and most sophisticated companies can be. In this highly challenging environment, board members and executives are, not surprisingly, unsure of how best to protect themselves.

Proactive prevention with a focus on cyber resilience: A “how to” guide

The first and most important step is to take measures to prevent intrusions from occurring in the first place. Just as a proper diet, exercise, hand-washing and regular flu shots are important to minimizing your odds of developing the flu, maintaining standard systems hygiene is critical to protecting your organization from being infiltrated by hackers. In fact, the Center for Internet Security claims that up to 80% of cyber attacks can be prevented by:

  • Maintaining an inventory of authorized and unauthorized devices
  • Maintaining an inventory of authorized and unauthorized software
  • Developing and managing secure configurations for all devices
  • Conducting continuous (automated) vulnerability assessment and remediation
  • Actively managing and controlling the use of administrative privileges1

Unfortunately, blocking four out of five attacks still leaves open the possibility that a substantial number of attacks might succeed. And today, it’s more a matter of when rather than if you will, eventually, be successfully attacked. What happens then?

Even well prepared companies may not know immediately that they have been breached. But those that have prepared for such an event will be much better off than those that have not. Just as conducting fire drills can save lives in the event of a real fire, preparing for the aftermath of a cyber attack can make an enormous difference in how quickly your company gets back on its feet and how well officers and board members do in the limelight after a major breach becomes public.

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The good news is that building a cyber-resilience action plan is a step-by-step process that any company willing to commit the time and resources can accomplish. And, after ensuring you have good system hygiene, the next step is to put the right group together to work out the details. This working group should include a cross-functional collection of senior managers (Sales & Marketing, IT, Finance, Legal, Risk, HR, etc.) each of whom is willing to meet regularly to discuss cyber security, monitor evolving threats (as seen from his or her unique perspective in the company), and participate in modeling and analyzing hypothetical attacks.

Once formed, the group can begin to map out the plan by, first, assessing the company’s cyber risk profile. A recent study from Verizon has concluded that 95% of all cyber attacks can be analyzed in terms of nine basic patterns.2 A thorough study of the patterns, facilitated perhaps by the help of an external cyber security expert, can help the group determine the types of attacks their company is most vulnerable to; preventive measures can then be tailored to these patterns.

To go deeper, the team should then develop hypothetical scenarios, based on the most relevant patterns identified above, to help identify in detail possible attack modes, targets, vulnerabilities and impacts. There is no need for, and it is in fact a detriment to require, great precision in this exercise. No one can know for certain, ahead of the event, how much damage a successful data breach will cause in terms of lost revenue, reputational harm, or stock price declines. All that is needed are rough estimates that give enough sense of scale and types of potential harm to enable the team to put together a risk mitigation strategy.

Such a strategy will involve steps to mitigate the damage to the most relevant targets in an attack. For example, if a company determines that its greatest threat is malware installations in point-of-sale software systems, directed by domestic operatives, via vendor access rights, then it might consider investments in end-to-end encryption, Application White Listing (AWL), File Integrity Monitoring (FIM), system access software, vendor access controls and regular reviews of all vendor access logs.

It is important to realize that cyber-attacks cannot be fully mitigated. In these instances, having the right cyber insurance coverage in place can make all the difference in how your company performs in the days, weeks and months following a successful attack. Cyber insurance can provide critical capital and expert assistance when a cyber-security event occurs.

Companies may also want to acquire Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance to protect board members company officers against claims of negligence following a breach. In addition, they may want to review their property, casualty and business interruption coverage to ensure that sufficient protection exists in the event of a successful cyber-attack on the company’s infrastructure. Fortunately this type of attack has, to date, been rare. But such attacks are not unheard of, and the potential for them is growing more likely given current geopolitical instabilities, especially for multinationals with exposure in more sensitive countries around the globe.

By taking the steps outlined above, a company can increase its cyber resiliency and be much better positioned to quickly recover from a successful cyber-attack.

Cyber Series: Intro

Constantly monitoring the cyber landscape, we keep insureds at the forefront of the industry as cyber risks continue to evolve. Our preventative tools provide our clients with the knowledge, training, security, and consultative solutions to help them stay ahead of the curve.

Cyber Risk: The Board’s Role

On this edition of NACD BoardVision, Chris Clark, publisher of NACD’s Directorship Magazine and Lou Lucullo, Chief Underwriting Officer, Financial Lines, Americas Region at AIG, discuss what directors can do to mitigate cyber risks, and who are the most vulnerable targets.

Risks for Homeowners in the Sharing Economy

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The sharing economy is growing at a tremendous rate, with more and more individuals participating in exchanges of services and property. Along with car sharing companies, home sharing companies have rapidly achieved high rates of market penetration and now face increasing regulation.

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There are many benefits to peer-to-peer home rentals. A homeowner can transform a spare room into a money-making asset and even fund a whole vacation by renting out his home while he’s away. Travelers quickly and easily gain access to inexpensive, convenient, and informal places to stay—including well-equipped accommodations in unusual places. However, home sharing brings new risks for homeowners and travelers, as well.

In business terms, the sharing economy functions by lowering the transaction costs of more traditional business exchanges—for example, paying a fee to a hotel company or a city taxi commission. However, the sharing economy also creates a trust gap between the two parties in the transaction. Traditionally, it was the business’ established reputation in the marketplace which enabled trust; in order to participate in a peer-to-peer home rental system, the participants must trust one another without this traditional brand of proof. A lack of trust is arguably one of the most significant barriers to individuals participating in the sharing economy today. Innovative insurance coverage can play a vital role in helping to close this trust gap by providing the protection people and companies need to participate in peer-to-peer exchanges.

What types of risks are involved in participating in a peer-to-peer exchange such as a peer-to-peer home rental for property owners? For renters? For the home sharing company? There have been cases of renters damaging and stealing their hosts’ property: hosts have returned home to find closet doors broken and passports, birth certificates, cash, credit cards, jewelry, cameras, laptops, and hard drives missing, leading not only to lost property, but also to the risk of identity theft. Renters can face serious hazards as well: staying in a home without a carbon monoxide detector, first aid kit, or that is not ‘up to code’ when it comes to building safety can be very dangerous and potentially lethal. Regulations surrounding liability in peer-to-peer exchanges are not yet well established; personal injury incidents in shared homes can lead to lawsuits that affect both parties and damage the home sharing company’s reputation in the marketplace.

Insurance can be a valuable solution to help protect all parties involved in peer-to-peer home sharing. In 2015, through our commitment to innovation and our active response to our clients’ emerging needs, AIG introduced insurance coverage to help protect homeowners in the sharing economy. To better understand the risks involved in peer-to-peer home sharing, and to explore the risks involved in other areas of the sharing economy, see this chart:

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Date Published: 09/12/2016
Author: JEFF OBERSTEIN

Style Tips for Women After 40

Once women hit the big four-oh, they believe that they can no longer look attractive. Most of them are married, have kids, and/or neck-deep in their careers. But just because you’re in your forties doesn’t mean that you can’t look good. All you have to do is make a few changes here and there and you’re set to look fabulous. Not to mention years younger. Here are some style tips you should follow.

What are the things women over 40 should avoid?

  1. Unflattering clothes. Even if they are trendy or comfortable, unflattering clothes can make you look much older. To buy the right kind of clothes, learn your body type.
  2. Clothes made from cheap fabrics. They make for unflattering clothes and won’t last you too long. Buy clothes that look great, feel great, and last forever.
  3. Match everything you wear or appear too polished. This is all right if you’re a diplomat and need to keep things neutral, but if you’re not one, then there’s no harm in mixing things up. Add some color to your wardrobe.
  4. Avoid clothes like really short skirts or shorts, mini dresses, ripped jeans, ill-fitting mom jeans, unfitted blazers, and baggy clothes.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/01/08/15/46/woman-593141_960_720.jpg

What are some things women over 40 should focus on?

  1. Identify your style. The key is to dress in a style that represents you while making you look good. It helps to learn about your body type.
  2. Have some basic wardrobe essentials like a white button-down shirt, a beautiful fitting dress that is not necessarily black, a long coat, a well-fitting blazer, fitted long pants, and a pair of flattering denim jeans.
  3. Make sure you’re not overdoing something. Make it your aim to look chic effortlessly. Don’t look too formal, unless you’re heading to a meeting. Don’t look too casual hoping to look younger, either.
  4. Keep an eye on current fashion trends. Choose trends that suit your body style.
  5. The best length for a skirt for a lady your age is just above your knee or on top of it. Anything too long can be unflattering to your calves and anything too short can make it look like you’re trying too hard.
  6. Invest in some shapewear. They always help, especially on special nights out.
  7. Also invest in hats, scarves, belts, and jewelry.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/05/12/14/37/beautiful-woman-764078_960_720.jpg

These tips are great for women who are over 40 and want to look chic and stylish. Make sure you look stylish effortlessly without having to try too hard. Also, take the time to understand your body and style, so you can learn how to manage fashion easily.

Tips on Protecting your Hair during the Winter

Winters are harsh months, especially for your skin and hair. Come winter, you can feel your hair becoming drier and rougher. Now that the cold months are not too far away, it’s best you learn how to protect your hair during the harsh weather. Here are some tips you should keep in mind during winter.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/03/26/09/42/woman-690152_960_720.jpg

  1. If you’re someone who travels frequently, make sure you don’t go over the top with styling, especially with heat-based tools like straighteners or curling irons. Over styling using these tools during the winter can cause serious damage to your hair. Since your hair has already become dry to begin with, the heat from these tools can make your strands weaker and can result in hair loss. Switch to Velcro rollers from flat irons if you want volume and smoothness. Restrict to using your flat iron or blow dryer to just once a week.
  2. During the cold months, it’s very tempting to take a nice, long hot shower. But remember that the heat from the water can damage your locks. Wash your hair with moderately hot water. Also avoid shampooing your hair too frequently as this can dry your hair out.
  3. Conditioners are your best friends. When the temperature drops, make sure your regularly deep condition your hair. It doesn’t matter what type of hair you have, deep conditioning is a must. Apply the conditioner, wear a shower cap, and leave it on overnight. You can rinse out the conditioner in the morning. You can also try leave-in conditioners which offer extra protection against your hair during the winter. Keep your scalp nourished by regularly oiling your hair using coconut, almond, or olive oil.
  4. Keep your hair safely secured using elastic bands or bobby pins. This way, you avoid exposing all your hair to the elements, especially your scalp, which can become irritated due to the cold, dry air. Keeping your hair pinned or tied also helps you avoid getting it wet in case of an unexpected snowfall.
  5. Whenever you head outside during the winter, make sure your head and hair are covered. Use a knit cap or a scarf. You could also try hats that have silk or satin lining. Wear jackets that have hoods.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2016/01/18/20/53/girl-1147431_960_720.jpg

These tips are very useful for ladies living in countries that experience low temperatures and snowfall during winters. Follow them to make sure your hair remains healthy even during cold months.

Natural Recipes to Protect your Skin from Aging

As people grow older, they notice visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. These normally appear around the eyes or mouth. Lines and wrinkles are usually formed due to age and constant exposure to the sun. Some people resort to cosmetic procedures like Botox or dermal fillers to fight the signs of aging, but this blog will give you some fantastic recipes for naturally young-looking skin.

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Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Facial_mask.jpg

  1. Avocado-honey moisturizer

Blend together some ripened avocado, one tablespoon of honey, and some fresh cream and apply it on your face. Leave the mask on for at least an hour. You can rinse the mask off with warm water.

  1. Acne and spot treatment

If you have blemishes, spots, or acne, try this mixture of some yeast and lemon juice. The yeast fights off the bacteria while the lemon juice dries up the blemish.

  1. Fight age spots with lemon and agave

Create an exfoliating scrub using a half cup of cooked rice, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and one tablespoon of agave nectar. Apply the mixture on your dry hands and scrub well in circular motions. This scrub helps lighten age spots and soften calluses.

  1. Almond sugar scrub

Remove dead skin cells using a scrub made from fresh cream, white sugar, brown sugar, olive oil, and ground almonds. Blend the ingredients together and apply on your face. Rinse the scrub off using warm water. You can make a large amount of this scrub and store it in the refrigerator for later use.

  1. Deep hair conditioner using coconut

Mix a half cup of mayonnaise, one teaspoon of coconut extract, and one tablespoon of coconut oil to create a deep conditioner for your hair. Apply the mixture all through your hair and scalp and leave it on for about a half hour. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

  1. A salad that helps prevent wrinkles

Here is a fruit salad that contains high amounts of antioxidants that help protect your skin from again and sun damage while boosting circulation. Mix together strawberries, blueberries, a kiwi, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and a half cup of organic orange juice to create a delicious salad that keep wrinkles at bay.

  1. Basil toner

This is great for people prone to acne. Crush dried basil leaves and mix into some boiling water. After the solution cools, remove the leaves, and transfer the liquid into a spray bottle. The basil is antiseptic and you can use the solution as a toner.

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Source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4005/4689399092_86a4453e09_b.jpg

Use these easy natural recipes to fight off signs of aging and maintaining flawless, young-looking skin.

Makeup getting under your Skin? Here are some Bold Reasons why you should stop wearing Makeup

 

Let’s face it, we’ve reached an age where makeup is absolutely essential to a woman. But, slowly, the trend seems to be changing. More and more women are breaking the norms and deciding to stop wearing makeup. Is this the beginning of a new revolution?

Whether a new revolution or not, there are plenty of benefits of not wearing makeup. Here are some reasons why you should probably stop wearing makeup.

  1. Your skin is going to be grateful

No matter what’s mentioned on the tube or box, most makeup is toxic. Unlike medicine or food, cosmetic products are often not subjected to inspection before they are released into the market. Unfortunately, most makeup products contain harmful ingredients like propylene glycol or sodium benzoate which get absorbed by your skin, causing allergies or even cancer. Makeup also clogs your pores, making your acne and blemishes worse.

  1. You’ll save a ton of money

It’s no secret, but good makeup is expensive. All those foundations, lipsticks, glosses, concealers, and let’s not forget the brushes cost a fortune. And there’s no point using cheap makeup because they aren’t good. Ditching makeup will help you save a lot of cash.

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Source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6044/6325173370_f312453636_z.jpg

  1. You’ll learn to accept your flaws

So you’ve been wearing foundation and concealer for years to cover up those blemishes and freckles. It’s true that the hardest thing for one to do is love themselves. When you stop wearing makeup, you’ll suddenly feel exposed. But over time, you’ll get used to it and understand that real people don’t care about the blemishes on your skin.

  1. You’ll have way more free time

When men complain that women take a long time to get dressed, they’re not really wrong. Even after years of practice, it takes a while for anyone to get dressed and apply all that foundation, concealer, eye shadow, eyeliner, rouge, lipstick, and whatever else. Now that you’ve stopped wearing makeup, you’ll have plenty of free time on your hands to do more important things like get a new hobby or learn a new language.

  1. You’ll have a confidence booster

One of the biggest benefits of ditching makeup is your confidence will hit an all-time high. You’re no longer hiding behind layers of makeup, and this shows that you don’t care what other people think about the way you look. You’ll reach a whole new level of acceptance and your self-esteem will thank you.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/en/woman-portrait-beauty-face-model-1255321/

The choice to wear makeup or not is a personal one and women are entitled to make their own decisions. However, it’s for your benefit to maybe reduce the amount of makeup you wear or limit it to only special occasions.

How to Clean your Makeup Brushes Properly

Makeup brushes are mandatory tools in a girl’s makeup kit. But after a few weeks of using them, these brushes can collect old makeup, natural oils from your face, and they can slowly cause bacterial buildup. It is important to regularly clean your makeup brushes and maintain them so they remain soft, clean, and bacteria-free.

Here’s how you can clean lightly-soiled or heavily-soiled makeup brushes.

For lightly-soiled makeup brushes

Step 1: Examine your brushes and identify if they were used for powder-based or cream-based makeup. Cream-based makeup brushes need more thorough cleaning.

Step 2: Soak the bristles in lukewarm water or you could run them under a tap. This will help you rinse away most of the collected old makeup. Make sure the handle’s metal clasp doesn’t get wet.

Step 3: Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and add a teaspoon of baby shampoo into it.

Step 4: Dip the bristles into the shampoo water and swirl. Using your fingers, gently massage the bristles to get rid of any clogged makeup.

Step 5: Rinse the brush with lukewarm water while continuing to massage the bristles using your fingers.

Step 6: Don’t squeeze the water out of the bristles. Instead, use a towel to pat them dry. Gently squeeze the bristles between the folds of the towel. Reshape them if they have become crooked. Gently pull and spread the bristles to their original shape.

Step 7: Place the brush on a table or counter with the bristles hanging over the edge. Make sure to not place them on a tower as this could cause mildew.

Step 8: Once the bristles are completely dry, fluff them up using your fingers. They are now ready to use again.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/05/31/11/47/brush-791305_960_720.jpg

For heavily-soiled makeup brushes

Step 1: Brushes used for cream-based makeup are usually more soiled than ones used for powder-based makeup. Before you wash the bristles, you’ll need some oil so that the lodged makeup becomes loose and comes away easily.

Step 2: Soak a paper towel with some light almond or olive oil. Gently run the bristles of the brush across the paper towel. Make sure the bristles don’t become soaked in the oil.

Step 3: Wet the bristles with lukewarm water. Squirt some baby shampoo onto your palm and swirl the brush in the shampoo. Rinse the bristles and follow steps 5, 6, 7, and 8 that are mentioned for lightly-soiled brushes.

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Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2014/06/16/12/18/makeup-brushes-369776_960_720.jpg

It’s important that you clean your brushes at least once in two weeks. Make sure they remain dry and store them in well-ventilated areas or in a makeup pouch. If you want to disinfect your brushes, use a vinegar-water mixture once a month while cleaning them.

Alabama’s Best Beach Destinations

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Alabama’s shorelines stretch hundreds of miles. This can only mean one thing – it is a great place for a beach vacation and water adventure. Here’s a look at the top three beach getaways in the state.

Gulf Shores

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Known for their soft white sands, Gulf Shores’ beaches extend eight miles and provide a host of watersports opportunities. Popular activities include jet skiing, parasailing and banana boat rides. If you’re looking for a unique waterfront experience, head to Fort Morgan Beach, a 19th century military base with divine views and a smaller crowd compared to other beaches in the city.

The Gulf Shores Public Beach is a popular spot for lounging and relaxation. Its turquoise waters and white sands are a big draw for tourists, as are its restaurants, beachside bars and watersports opportunities. It can get quite crowded during mid-day so plan your arrival earlier in the day or during evening hours.

Dauphin Island 

Dauphin Island may very well be Alabama’s best-kept secret. It is home to two beautiful public and privately owned beaches, as well as lush beachfront parks. The island also happens to be one of the best places for bird-watching in the Southeast, home to over 300 species of birds. Fishing is also a popular activity in the island waters.

A major attraction is the Estuarium aquarium housing a stingray touch pool and species native to the state. Another is Fort Gaines, a historic fort with American Civil War exhibits, guided tours and historical reenactments.

Orange Beach

The beach city in Baldwin County has several beach-lined hotels and condos. A popular vacation destination for families, Orange Beach offers dolphin cruises and a range of recreational opportunities. You can take a kayak or boat to Orange Beach Islands comprising of four different islands, which serve as a park/recreational area. Boating and bird-watching are popular activities on the islands. Visitor traffic increases during long holiday weekends, and island parties are common during Memorial Day weekend.

Tips on planning your trip

Alabama’s beaches are teeming with tourists during the summer months. Consider visiting in November or December when the crowds are thinner, hotel deals abound, the temperatures are cooler, and there are a slew of festivals and events, including Snowbird Bratfest, Orange Beach Seafood Festival & Car Show and the Mardi Gras Boat Parade.

What Not To Do When You’re In Las Vegas

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What happens in Sin City stays there….or does it? The temptation to let loose in Las Vegas and take chances often runs high. Problem is, some choices we make may not be in our best interest, and the truth may dawn on us after appropriate ‘punishment’ has been meted out! Sometimes, it’s not the silly risks we take but the stupid decisions we make that can make our wallets lighter or our stomachs sicker (and we’re not talking about the excessive alcohol drinking here!).

  1. Buying bottled water from peddlers on the Strip

There have been incidents were the police have hunted down on dubious vendors re-packaging used bottles with tap water and selling them to unsuspecting tourists. While vendors are must now have a business license to sell water, it is best not to take any chances with peddlers on the Strip, and focus on getting to your hotel as soon as you can.

  1. Trying to get lucky at the AVN awards

Adult-movie fans flock to the ‘Oscars of Porn’ – the Adult Video News awards – to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars, get into the convention’s official parties, attend Q&A sessions with adult stars and even live chat with some of them. If you have plans to attend one as an adult movie watcher or just for a kick, partake in the festivities but avoid trying to get handsy with a starlet. Not only is it bad manners, but you could end up with more than a black eye once the bouncers are done with you!

  1. Being clueless about how to get around

On the Strip, cab drivers are barred from stopping on the street as it poses a grave safety risk. There are designated cab stands at shopping malls, casinos and clubs where you can easily hail one. If you cannot access one for some reason, stand at a place where the cab driver doesn’t have a chance to block traffic.

Jaywalking is a minor offense in Las Vegas, but if it leads to an accident, you could be charged with a more serious offense. 

  1. Not checking the dress rules at the casino you plan to visit 

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Not all major casinos in Las Vegas have a relaxed dress code. Some may not let you in if you’ve arrived in sneakers or worn a casual outfit. It is best to confirm the dress rules in advance to avoid nasty surprises.

Five of the Coolest Outdoor Activities in Sedona

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At the heart of the Arizona desert lies an oasis they call Sedona. The desert town is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. It also attracts bird-watchers, art lovers, and healers. In this post, we will focus on the outdoor activities that make it possible to experience the best of the geological bounty of Sedona.

Off-roading

Sedona is famous for its red sandstone formations, which are unlike anything elsewhere in the United States. The red to orange colored sandstone is particularly intense during the evenings. You will see jeeps basking in the crimson red landscape, ready to take visitors to nooks and corners where the rock formations are particularly unique, to vantage points that promise sweeping views, and Native American ruins. You can also sign up for four wheeled tours that take you on backcountry expeditions to canyons and desert peaks. Wine tasting and wildlife spotting is also included in some  packages.

Hiking

Hikers abound in Sedona for the same reason that jeeps and ATVs are so common – to view the majestically rugged topography in the flesh. A number of well designed trails are accessible to hikers across all experience levels. If this is your first time to the town, consider going on a guided hike that may include a single-day trip or a multi-day backpacking trek. Some of the packages may also include camping, yoga and meditation.

Vortex hunting

Vortexes are natural sources of electromagnetic energy located in certain sites across Sedona. The rock formations are regarded to be spiritual sources of energy that nurture us and balance our bodies’ yin and yang energies. Visitors seeking mind-body exploration set out to vortex sites that can be found in maps at New Age stores. Some of the town’s vortexes are supposedly at Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Spaceship Rock, Munds Trail and Cathedral Rock. The lure of vortex hunting brings healers and spiritualists from all across the country.

Golfing

Interestingly, Sedona also beckons golf enthusiasts who take some time off from sight-seeing and jeep tours to tee off at the top-rated Sedona Golf Resort, one of Southwest’s most beautiful golf courses. The par-71 course enjoys a picturesque desert backdrop, a luxury spa, and an urban chic atmosphere.

Hot Air Ballooning 

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Sedona’s best views may very well be from the top! Many hot air balloon rides are scheduled before dawn to give you a fantastic views of the sun rising over the red rocks and canyons. Some adventures take you close to the waters meandering through red rock formations. Either way, the experience is unforgettable.

Meta description : Blessed with uniquely rugged topography, Sedona is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering hiking, offroading, hot ballooning, vortex hunting and golfing opportunities.

What to Expect from Your 3 Year Old

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As parents, you know for a fact that raising a child isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Nothing you read or hear can actually prepare you for parenthood. Of course, there are books and what not, but, all of them serve as just guidelines. At the end of the day, you just have to take risks and do what is right.

As expected, this causes you to worry because as your toddler ages, he/she changes in a lot of ways. But, there’s nothing to fret about. You’ve already seen your little one through babyhood and anything after that is relatively easier.

Now, coming to the topic of your toddler aging, we’re going to tell you about what to expect when your little one turns 3.

 Behavior

Your 3 year old is going to be quite different after reaching that age. For starters, his/her social skills are going to be finer than they were before. This is because her/his motor and language skills have developed to a certain level. It’s going to differ a fair bit from what he/she was like at 2.

The best part about this stage is that your little one can communicate better with you, which sort of makes your job a wee bit easier. Your boy/girl can tell you what he/she wants or what he/she prefers.

Also, don’t be surprised if he/she has become a bit more independent.  3 year olds are also going to act a little more mature compared to their 2 year old selves. For instance, you can definitely expect a drop in aggressive or hyperactive behavior. They are even likely to act less selfish.

3 year olds also identify better with their gender roles; so, don’t be surprised when your little girl quits trucks and starts playing with dolls.

Physical changes

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Of course, there are bound to be physical changes as your little one grows up. As mentioned earlier, there will be changes with regard to fine motor and gross motor development. Other milestones include an improved ability to balance, move independently (walking up or down the stairs), and to walk in a straight line. They also begin to walk with alternating feet movement.

Another area of development we spoke about earlier is language. Though a 3 year old may still have trouble pronouncing words or forming full sentences, you will not have trouble deciphering exactly what he/she intends to say. To put it simply, his/her way of talking will be far clearer now.

Your 3 year old will also require more nutrition. They can eat up to 50% of a full adult meal and ideally, they should be eating that much. For example, a 3 year old requires at least 2 ounces of protein a day, which should be sourced from both, meat and dairy products.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s best to talk to your child’s doctor to get a clearer picture.

Tips to Help Your Toddler Take His/Her Medication

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As a parent bringing up a toddler, one of the most frustrating moments you can come across is when you have to convince the little one to take his/her medication. In fact, you might just be tempted to give up at one point.

But, don’t quit just as yet. There are a few simple tips that can make the process much easier for you and your little one.

Keep it positive

Taking medication is something that you want your child to do without complaining. But, how do you make it happen? Well, medical experts suggest being positive about the whole process. What you need to do is make sure that “medicine time” isn’t something bad or negative.

Try to make it look like a happy experience. Kids are very intuitive and they can recognize negative tones and negative body language.

For example, Alissa Robinson, a parent from Colorado Springs, hides the medicine from her 10 month old. What she does is play a game of peekaboo with the little one and gently squirts the medicine into her mouth, when she isn’t looking. Alissa’s little girl swallows the medicine even before she knows what happened.

Alter the taste

Let’s face it! Most medicines just taste bad and even adults have a hard time taking them in. So, it’s kind of unfair to expect the same from your little one. In this case, a good solution would be to mask the flavor of the medication.

Some pharmacies have trained pharmacists who can add flavors to the medication upon request. You can choose from a wide range of flavors such as chocolate, watermelon, and strawberry etc. These flavors do have the intended effect most of the time.

Some parents have even tried mixing thee medication with smoothies and surprisingly, things just work out fine.

So, try being a little creative when it comes to masking the medication’s original flavor. Also, do talk to your doctor about mixing flavors or other food items with the medication. There could be side effects. 

Give ‘em control

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 Sick kids are already irritated and the last thing they need is someone forcing them to do something they don’t like. However, you’re the parent and they definitely need the medication. So, one way to go about this would be to give your little one a certain sense of control.

Give them the choice concerning how they would like to take their medication; for instance, through a cup or syringe. This has been known to work.