What’s at Risk During COVID-19 for Successful Individuals and Families

By Sandy Leon, Senior Vice President, Private Client Group

What’s at Risk During COVID-19 for Successful Individuals and Families

In this time of pandemic successful individuals and families are adjusting to a new normal largely bereft of frequent travels and lavish gatherings but teeming with new risks.

From preserving million-dollar art collections and protecting vacant primary and secondary homes, to creatively insidious cyber attacks, let’s break down some of the risks they are facing today.

The Art of Disaster Planning

During mandatory lockdowns, many families fled primary homes in urban areas, like San Francisco, for a more spread out and quiet countryside settings, like the Napa Valley. In fact, prices on homes listed in rural areas rose 164% in May and June, refinancing, licensure, and renovations of homes ticked up, as well. Additionally, West Coast yacht sale leads are up 218% YoY as people sought out safe and secluded vacation experiences.

Isolating from the virus in secondary homes and on boats means leaving assets behind, and that can be risky. Now is a good time to look at appraisals on estates and assets to ensure policies reflect current value.

Sudden relocations or displacements happen, and we advise our clients have an action plan in place to protect themselves and the things they value.

This plan should identify which items take precedence, how to best handle them, and where they are to be shipped for storage. It should also address other key issues: Who will package, transport and store artwork? Do you have a refrigerated truck ready to transfer your wine collection to a temperature-controlled warehouse? Where will collections be stored in the event of an emergency? Is your staff trained to execute the plan?

Cyber Attacks

While cyber attacks have always been a risk, they’re looming even larger now with everyone home for extended periods of time and spending more time on online. App stores remove over 24,000 harmful apps daily and ransomware is up 180% since 2018.

Over 91% of cyber-attacks start with a phishing email. They’ve become more sophisticated over the years, with nary a Nigerian prince seeking a wire transfer in sight.

Today’s phishing emails often look like they’re coming from a trusted source, someone you know and email frequently. It may simply include a link to an article or an attachment claiming to be an invoice. But clicking on the link or opening the document triggers harmful malware that can spread quickly through your technology and steal your sensitive information. Always double check email addresses, be wary of misspellings and grammatical errors, and, when in doubt, call your contact and ask them if they just emailed you.

Vigilance is also the watchword on social media, as it can give bad actors a glimpse into the lives of successful individuals and family, especially during the pandemic. Instead of posting photos of one’s travels and gatherings, social media users have created a new niche of content: life during lockdown. However, what you’re posting on your social channels can provide sensitive information about your wealth status, property ownership, investment status and whereabouts to attackers or thieves.

If you’re posting frequently about being isolated in your vacation home in the Midwest, it’s possible that someone close to your primary home in New York City may be watching and ready to break in. After all the photos of your expensive jewelry posted online, burglars now know what’s inside your home and that you’re not currently there.

Insurance underwriters have taken to checking out your social media pages as part of their risk assessment. In fact, your follower count may serve as a metric for writing risk. Over 100,000 followers on Instagram? That’s a much bigger risk than someone with 1,000 followers. More eyes equal more risk, and more risk equals more liability exposures.

During COVID-19, it’s important that successful individuals and families know what their current day risks are and how they can be protected. The world has been shaken by this virus, leaving you potentially more vulnerable than ever before. When was the last time you reviewed your insurance program to ensure your wealth is adequately protected and in sync with your estate planning?

Want to learn more?

Find me on LinkedIn, here.

Connect with the Risk Strategies Private Client team at

Email me directly at sleon@risk‐