More safety concerns and warnings over the festive season

I received an email from a reader of my blog sharing an article relating to the banning of ‘decorative alcohol-fueled burners’.

An alcohol fueled burner. Image: Sydney Morning Herald

An alcohol fueled burner. Image: Sydney Morning Herald

Further to our message of ensuring you are checking your Christmas lights to be safe, we also encourage you to take caution and be aware of the ban that has been put in place as well as the danger of using these items.

The temporary ban is in place and recommends everyone who owns a burner of this type either seek a full refund or not use it, for safety.


Have a safe and joyful festive season everyone.

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Buying quality pays


Each week I post the products that have been recalled and it staggers me just how many “good quality” brands require a recall.

I strongly believe that any company that imports or manufactures product, needs to consider a quality product recall program.



The piece of the dishwasher that caught fire in the Westinghouse dishwasher

A friend of mine had a fire in a Westinghouse dishwasher, but fortunately it was one of the few times where they let it run while they were awake, their normal procedure is to turn it on at night as they go off to bed.

On this occasion, they walked into the kitchen to turn on the kettle and smelt smoke and my friend quickly determined it was the dishwasher. He turned off the power, pulled it out and extinguished the fire.


The dishwasher was manufactured by Westinghouse and it had been subject of a Product Recall and in fact, it had been serviced twice by Westinghouse at no cost prior. Even though the unit was 10 years old, Westinghouse have agreed to replace the dishwasher at no cost. Fortunately, there was no resultant damage other than a bit of smoke damage which the owners cleaned up themselves.

Despite it being a consumer age it is quite refreshing to hear there has been no attempt to rely on fine print or some other reason, not to do the right thing and here Westinghouse have stepped up and replaced the unit as mentioned.


When I watch the advertisements on Television now where I see some insurers are trying to induce people to buy insurance through offering them incentives such as ‘company dollars’ or ‘theater tickets’. I would much rather they stick to their knitting and simply pay valid claims – fairly, promptly and with a minimum of fuss.Open dishwasher with clean glass and dishes

This is how you build and maintain your brand, not by cheap gimmicks like a free set of steak knives.

Well done Westinghouse.


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Warning over the Festive Season

Beautiful Christmas lights display.

Beautiful Christmas lights display, but remember to check the safety of your lights and ensure your home and contents insurance is up to date.

As I have been travelling around of late I have caught the morning news. It seems that every morning are the same stories. 2 house fires followed by a car crashing into a house.

With candles and Christmas tree lights causing many fires over this month, it is yet another of my reminders to ensure you have paid up both your home and contents insurance.

I know some will say they cannot afford it. I say, you cannot afford to be without it not only for the protection it gives to your property but also the comfort of having liability insurance.


In addition to this, while I was out at a fire recently I asked the senior officer if I could arrange for Steve Manning and the team from LMI Media to video what happens when even a tea spoon of water is thrown on to a kitchen fat fire.

The officer was happy to arrange something for me as he had only a few days ago been to a house fire where the homeowner had thrown a cup of water on a pan of oil that had caught fire and it had exploded all over her causing life threatening burns.

A fire blanket is a far far safer option and I plan on doing a more detailed article on a simple solution for restaurants.

So remember no matter how tempting it is, never ever throw water on any fat fire. fire

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Having a bit of festive season fun with a serious message

I worked with my son Steve on developing a video spoof of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year but with an underlying serious message. I hope you get a laugh out of it and join the campaign.


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Product Safety Update 16/12/2016

This week’s product safety recall update includes the following:

Recall word on a barrier or blockade warning sign to illustrate

Fashion Factory Outlets (Trade Secret) Pty Limited — Home Xmas 7INFT Copper wire LED lights

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Happy Go Ducky — Wooden Beaded Rattle

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Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific Pty Ltd — Mercedes-Benz “S” Class passenger Car

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Volkswagen Group Australia — MY2017 Tiguan

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BRP — 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 Side-by-Side Vehicles

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Volvo Group Australia Pty Ltd — Volvo FH(4) Trucks

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Mazda Australia Pty Ltd — Mazda RX-8

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4WD Supacentre — Adventure Kings model AKF60 Portable Compressor Fridge/Freezer

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Mazda Australia Pty Ltd—Mazda 121, Mazda 323, Eunos 30X, Mazda 626, Mazda 929, Mazda MPV

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Penske Commercial Vehicles (PCV) — Dennis Eagle Elite 2 Truck

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For more product safety recalls please visit 

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Survey confirms that Advice not Price is what drives customer satisfaction

good-protectionI read today an article that I share with you written by Jordan Reabold an assistant editor with the US based IA magazine which I supports the message I have been delivering at conferences and professional development days for the past 10 years. It was good to see that this message is confirmed by customer survey.

In relationships with brokers, what drives customer satisfaction among large commercial clients?

The most important factor is quality of advice, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Large Commercial Insurance Study. Across the industry, brokers receive an average rating of 8.34 on a 10-point scale for this metric.

Reasonableness of fees is the second most important factor, followed by ease of the renewal process; effectiveness of risk control services; variety of program offerings; effectiveness of program review; price and given services received; billing and payment process; and lastly, claims process.

“Quality of advice and reasonableness of fees are primary in part because people are looking at the relationship with a broker as a value proposition,” explains Greg Hoeg, vice president of the U.S. insurance practice at J.D. Power. “The quality of the broker’s advice, coupled with the price of what they’re offering, should go hand in hand.”

This is the second consecutive year in the three-year study that customers are most satisfied with brokers who cultivate consultative relationships. Among the 20% of large commercial clients that indicate their broker doesn’t understand their business needs, satisfaction decreases by an average of 136 points.

To combat this divide, Hoeg advises brokers to learn more about the overall market in which their large commercial customers are competing. “It doesn’t directly impact their risk, but it gives you context in order to understand what the client is asking for and why they’re asking for it,” he explains. “Understanding their business means you can speak their language and help as their ally. It also proves your expertise when you’re able to propose risk solutions that the client might not think of on their own.”

On the insurer side, profitability is the most significant driver of large commercial customer satisfaction. The study reports that the correlation between customer satisfaction and insurer profitability is .67, as measured by total commercial combined financial ratios. The highest-performing companies in the study are also among the industry’s strongest when it comes to combined ratios.

“The reason satisfaction relates to profitability is that large commercial insurers tend to retain more risk than small entities, and the pricing is more sensitive to risk this year as they look ahead to next year,” Hoeg explains.

When a large commercial client receives a high level of service with valuable products, “all that ties into the insurer’s book and the pricing impact it may have,” Hoeg says. “All those components come together and are made clear through an insurer’s profitability.”

Five factors contribute to a commercial client’s satisfaction with insurers, in order of importance: service interaction, program offerings, price, billing process and claims—and service interaction is where independent agents play a crucial role.

“If I own a business, the person I think of as my insurance expert, my risk manager, is going to be the person who sells me the business,” Hoeg explains. “An independent agent’s opinion is highly valued by large commercial clients.”

Part of an independent agent’s role as trusted adviser lies in their role as liaison between the client and the carrier: “If an agent sees that an insured is not being properly serviced,” Hoeg points out, “they will intervene to make sure their client gets the best service, which helps boost the insurer’s credibility”—thus contributing to a higher satisfaction rating.

Since the study is only in its third year, long-term trends are difficult to detect. But heading into 2017, Hoeg predicts that the property-casualty insurance industry should continue to focus on customer satisfaction if it wants to thrive.

“In a competitive marketplace, the insurance industry in general is one of the most highly ranked industries for customer satisfaction, particularly in the claims function,” Hoeg points out.

However, the fact that we have a new American Administration coming in, and the anticipated impact on the world economy, can make a big difference. If the economy picks up, I would expect rates to level off or increase.

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Fake Android apps are a genuine cyber threat to avoid

Melbourne, Australia - May 17, 2016: Browsing the Google Play Store on Android smartphone. It is an app store for the Android OS, allowing users to download app, music, movies and TV shows

Browsing the Google Play Store on Android smartphone. 

As I carry our research to up date Mannings Guide to Cyber Security, I found this warning regarding apps for Android mobile phones provided by CFC Underwriting in London. It read:

“Never, ever download apps outside of authorised app stores. Never. Attackers are using Gooligan malware as a launch pad for rogue Android apps aimed at stealing users’ data. According to security researchers, the best way to avoid being stung is by steering clear of dodgy app stores and sticking religiously to Google Play Store. There, at least, a number of controls are in place to detect fake or hostile apps.”

To read more please go to this link to Wired Magazine.

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“Watch out for this scam!” – Guest Post by Adam Courtenay from INTHEBLACK



Author: Adam Courtenay

Scammers are using social media sites to research you and your company, but there are ways to fight back.

Melbourne-based insurance claims expert Allan Manning was out of town recently when his wife received an unexpected email that appeared to come from him. A project needed to be funded and “could she please process a payment urgently?”

As financial controller of Manning’s company LMI Group, his wife, Helen, promptly replied that she would arrange payment as soon as he sent her the details.

A second email purportedly from Manning followed, seeking a payment of A$42,947 and saying a tax invoice would follow shortly. The instruction was to transfer the money directly to a bank account in Cranbourne, Victoria. Helen duly complied.

Just before 5pm when Manning returned to the office, his wife casually mentioned she had processed the remittance.

“What remittance?” When they realised what had happened Manning says they were both in shock.

LMI’s chief executive officer and financial controller had been hit by what some call “business email compromise” – also known as a whaling or spear-phishing scam.  The fraudster had successfully impersonated Manning and the money had been sent six hours earlier.

“At the time we were doing renovations in the Melbourne office, as well as renovations on our home and an upgrade of one of our web-based products,” Manning explains.

“The ‘project’ could have been payment for any number of things and the email looked like it came directly from me.”

By sheer luck, the fraudster had made an error in his own bank account number and the payment was stopped at Cranbourne. Manning then tried to lure the fraudster. Why not come to the office and pick up a cheque, he asked, writing as Helen.

The fraudster was having none of it. In the end, three fraudulent bank accounts were uncovered and details provided to the authorities.

Fraud experts say Manning’s situation is almost commonplace these days. He was a victim of social engineering fraud.

“It’s not about exploiting technology, but exploiting the person,” says Warren Dunn, partner in the fraud investigations and dispute services practice at Ernst & Young. Dunn rates this kind of fraud as among the top three scams globally.

Dunn says the “engineering” comes in three forms, each more sophisticated than the last. The first, like Manning’s, is an email seeking a quick funds transfer. The second asks the victim to telephone external lawyers, citing the remittance as confidential; and the third form is a fake vendor emailing or phoning someone in accounts payable and asking to change a real vendor’s address and bank details. In the last case, scammers have even been known to request updates on monies coming due.

Fraudsters are researching you and your company

All this relies on the fraudster building a picture of company personnel and processes. The fraudster may start with a corporate website, but Dunn says most often they are studying social media such as LinkedIn.

“He’ll know the potential victim is the finance manager, who he or she is linked to, who clicked on that person and who these people clicked on,” Dunn says.

“Then he’ll use Facebook to find out that the person is out of the country or at a conference. That’s when he’ll strike.”

Will a cyber insurance policy cover the loss? One insurance expert, who asked not to be named, says there is confusion on this issue.

“Victims think that since the email system was compromised it’s a network attack – but that’s not always the case. The fraudster has worked on relationships rather than the system. It’s a straight crime and if someone willingly paid the bogus bill there may be a problem on the claim.”

How to combat the fraudsters

Matthew Green, a partner and technology adviser at Grant Thornton, says the solution entails combining people, processes and technology. Not only do people need to be regularly trained to be aware of these frauds, but companies must review their processes so that enough controls are in place and working.

“If in doubt, ring the CEO back on the number you have for them – not the one offered to you in the bogus email,” says Green. He also suggests ensuring “there are multiple authorisations over a certain payment threshold”.

Employees must be trained to be suspicious of requests for secrecy or pressure for immediate action. If a request to transfer funds wouldn’t normally arrive via email, it should be treated with suspicion.

Green also recommends firms subscribe to a cloud-based email filtering service such as Mimecast or SpamTitan, even if some bogus mails will get through.

“You need to train staff to look behind an email and see that it comes from a verifiable source.”

Sometimes the best way to train someone is to show them what phishing emails look like and how convincing they can be. Consider running a phishing simulator such as PhishMe or a similar product.

PhishMe launches a company-wide, fake phishing email campaign, allowing you and your staff to see how many people open the message and click the embedded link or file. When clicked, the link or attachment displays a message explaining that the user has fallen for a fake phishing attack. It shows employees the red flags that were built into the email that can help them identify future attacks.

Extra controls for banking and finance systems

Companies can introduce additional controls for accessing and monitoring critical systems, including bank systems, accounts payable cheque runs and sensitive financial records.

Manning has changed his email system to ensure any emails from outside LMI Group are sent to one inbox, and internal “correct” emails are sent to another. Any payment over A$5000 must also receive a second pair of eyes and verbal confirmation that the request is legitimate.

Segregate responsibilities

Another tip is for companies to segregate approval responsibilities from requesting responsibilities and ensure role changes are reviewed against system permissions. For example, an employee with the ability to set up vendors should never have responsibility for disbursements added to their role.

Dunn advises to always check social media.

“Where you work, who you work for, what your role is – all this information can be exploited,” he says. “I would look carefully at controls on LinkedIn and make sure you know who can see your information.

“Be ever vigilant with all incoming persons. Don’t just click onto anyone who wants to be your friend or colleague. This is the easy pathway in for the smart hoaxer.”


This article was kindly given to us by Adam Courtenay from INTHEBLACK. Please view the original article here.

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Product Safety Update – 9/12/2016

This week’s product recalls include the following: Recall word on a barrier or blockade warning sign to illustrate

Performax International Pty Ltd — Toyota Tundra

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Uniwide Australia Import Export Pty Ltd — Deluxe First Aid Kit

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FCA Australia Pty Ltd — 2016 (WK) Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Penske Commercial Vehicles (PCV) — Western Star 4700 8×4 Tandem Steer Truck

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Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd — XA & XB ASX, QE Pajero Sport, PB & PC Challenger

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Global Ringwood — 49CC 2 Stroke Mini Dirt Bike Off Road Pee Wee

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For more product safety recalls please visit

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Product Safety Update – 2/12/2016

Recall word on a barrier or blockade warning sign to illustrateThis week’s product safety recall notice includes:

Kaiser Pharmaceutical — Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (Tuhuo and Loranthus Combination), Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San (Ligusticum and Tea Formula) and Dang Gui Si Ni Tang (Tangkuei and Jujube Combination)

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Sime Darby Motor Group — Peugeot 308 T9

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Nissan Motor Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd — D22 Navara, Y61 Patrol

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Isuzu UTE Australia Pty Ltd — 15.5MY Isuzu MU-X

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Bakery Lievito — Artisan Handcrafted White Bagels & Artisan Handcrafted Turkish Rolls

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Bar Crusher Boats — Hi Tech Plastics Manual Slider for Fixed Pedestal

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EziBuy — Poppy Lamp

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Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Limited — Toyota Hiace

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