Emerging cyber insurance market bridges gap between tangible, intangible assets

Companies of all sizes wake up, realize they need policies that cover cost of restoring data

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More orga­ni­za­tions than ever, espe­cial­ly small and medi­um-size ones, will seek to account for the fast-ris­ing risk of suf­fer­ing a cyber attack in 2017 by buy­ing a cyber lia­bil­i­ty policy.

The gen­er­al state of secu­ri­ty of U.S. busi­ness net­works remains ane­mic when com­pared to the vast and grow­ing capa­bil­i­ties of hack­ers with mali­cious intent. Com­pa­nies are begin­ning to real­ize the val­ue of off­set­ting this risk to an insur­ance carrier—and insur­ance com­pa­nies and under­writ­ers rec­og­nize a gold­en goose when they see one.

The fledg­ling cyber insur­ance mar­ket topped $3 bil­lion in 2015, and ABI esti­mates the glob­al cyber insur­ance mar­ket is swelling at a clip that will top $10 bil­lion by 2020.

Relat­ed: Cyber insur­ance increas­ing­ly includes val­ue-added secu­ri­ty services

Third­Cer­tain­ty sat down with Tim Fran­cis, cyber insur­ance enter­prise lead at Trav­el­ers Bond & Finan­cial Prod­ucts, and Graeme New­man, chief inno­va­tion offi­cer at CFC Under­writ­ing, short­ly after the pair spoke on this top­ic at IDT911’s Pri­va­cy XChange Forum 2016 this fall. Here’s their fore­cast. (IDT911 spon­sors Third­Cer­tain­ty. This text has been edit­ed for clar­i­ty and length.)

3C: Could you frame the emerg­ing cyber insur­ance mar­ket for us?

Graeme Newman, CFC Underwriting chief innovation officer
Graeme New­man, CFC Under­writ­ing chief inno­va­tion officer

New­man: The cyber insur­ance mar­ket has been around for 15 or 16 years now, which in insur­ance terms, is a short peri­od of time, but it’s grow­ing fast. It’s very much U.S. dom­i­nat­ed, and it also falls into some spe­cif­ic indus­try ver­ti­cals. You get a lot of buy­ers in the finan­cial ser­vices, with­in retail and with­in health care. But that’s start­ing to change.

Fran­cis: Part of what’s dri­ving this shift into dif­fer­ent indus­tries, and also small­er-size com­pa­nies, is the recog­ni­tion that cyber is not just a prod­uct for com­pa­nies with large amounts of data. A lot of cov­er­ages go beyond that to things like busi­ness dis­rup­tion, which could affect any com­pa­ny vir­tu­al­ly. For instance, ran­somware has noth­ing to do with the exca­va­tion of data.

3C: What are some of the obstacles?

New­man: The val­ue propo­si­tion has been poor­ly artic­u­lat­ed. But that’s get­ting bet­ter as we get more buy­ers, as we see more claims exam­ples, and as we see many more peo­ple get affect­ed by things like ran­somware. So that leads to grow­ing aware­ness and to devel­op­ment of the product.

Fran­cis: There has been a lack of aware­ness. That lack of aware­ness is start­ing to be erod­ed, large­ly dri­ven by agents who are now rec­og­niz­ing their cus­tomers’ needs and begin­ning to under­stand that there are gaps in tra­di­tion­al cov­er­age. … The agents have got­ten much more com­fort­able in under­stand­ing cov­er­age dif­fer­ences and in sell­ing cyber poli­cies, and I think that’s helped spread the market.

New­man: The insur­ance mar­ket for the past 300 years has focused on insur­ing tan­gi­ble assets: phys­i­cal build­ings, plants and machin­ery. But the world has changed. The val­ue of the world’s intan­gi­ble assets—the infor­ma­tion, the data, the intel­lec­tu­al property—now exceeds the val­ue of the world’s tan­gi­ble assets. And yet the vast major­i­ty of the world’s insur­ance ven­dors are still focused on pro­tect­ing the tan­gi­ble. The cyber insur­ance mar­ket is devel­op­ing to plug that gap.

3C: Cyber threats are com­plex; hack­ers seem to be end­less­ly innovative.

Tim Francis, Travelers Bond & Financial Products cyber insurance enterprise lead
Tim Fran­cis, Trav­el­ers Bond & Finan­cial Prod­ucts cyber insur­ance enter­prise lead

Fran­cis: That’s right. Any com­pa­ny or orga­ni­za­tion that relies on tech­nol­o­gy or col­lects data has some ele­ment of cyber expo­sure that a cyber insur­ance prod­uct of some sort would like­ly be a good pur­chase for. I can’t imag­ine a com­pa­ny in today’s day and age that doesn’t use tech­nol­o­gy, doesn’t have some lev­el of data, that won’t be hurt if that data goes miss­ing or if their sys­tems are inop­er­a­ble for some peri­od of time.

New­man: We’re not try­ing to insure the eco­nom­ic val­ue of bits of infor­ma­tion. I think this is where buy­ers can get con­fused. It’s very much like prop­er­ty insur­ance; we’re insur­ing the rebuild val­ue. If your data gets lost, dam­aged or cor­rupt­ed, we’re pay­ing the cost of restor­ing and repair­ing that data.

3C: If I’m a com­pa­ny in the mar­ket for a pol­i­cy, how should I approach it?

Fran­cis: You should look at it very oppor­tunis­ti­cal­ly. Right now we’re in a buy­ers’ mar­ket. There are lots of dif­fer­ent car­ri­ers that offer some lev­el of cov­er­age regard­less of what indus­try you’re in, regard­less of your rev­enue or your num­ber of employ­ees. There’s like­ly to be numer­ous insur­ance options available.

It’s impor­tant to con­nect with an agent that’s famil­iar with this line of insur­ance, and that pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing dai­ly. It’s also help­ful to under­stand there are cer­tain things you might be able to do up front to help make your cyber­se­cu­ri­ty pos­ture bet­ter going into this process. Talk­ing to a pro­fes­sion­al who can help guide you through this process is important.

More sto­ries relat­ed to cyber insurance:
Chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties ahead for cyber insur­ance industry
As hacks mush­room, all signs point to boom in cyber­se­cu­ri­ty insurance
As threats mul­ti­ply, cyber insur­ance and tech secu­ri­ty indus­tries start to merge