Cyber Insurance Coverage: a Brave, Uncertain New World for Insurers and Policyholders
Despite the escalating intensity and frequency of cyber attacks, fewer than 1/3 of U.S. businesses have purchased cyber insurance policies. A recent report by Deloitte provides insight into why organizations are deciding to go without cyber coverage, as well as why many insurers are hesitant to offer the coverage on a large-scale basis.
According to a recent report by Deloitte, Demystifying Cyber Insurance Coverage, cyber insurance policies represented only $1.5 to $3 billion out of a total of $505.8 billion in premium revenues generated by U.S. carriers in 2015. Further, only about 29% of organizations had even purchased a policy as of October 2016. Just 40% of Fortune 500 companies have coverage. Even companies that do have policies may have “skinny” coverage that will leave them high and dry if they ever do file a claim; just ask fast-casual restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s, which found out the hard way that its cyber insurance policy did not cover millions of dollars in liabilities to credit card issuers in the wake of a POS breach.
Why is cyber coverage so spotty? It’s easy to point fingers at insurers, policyholders, or both. After all, insurance companies do not make money from paying claims; they make money from collecting premiums and paying claims only rarely. When a policyholder files a claim, whether it’s for a roof repair or a ransomware attack, the insurer will look for every reason not to pay out. At the same time, both the public and private sector are guilty of not taking cyber security seriously; from Yahoo to Major League Baseball to the U.S. Secret Service, organizations keep getting breached, yet they also keep behaving as though a major cyber attack will never happen to them.
While these are valid issues, the cyber insurance situation is not that simple. Deloitte’s report identified numerous obstacles in the path of both insurance companies that wish to sell policies and organizations that wish to buy them. Specifically, insurers struggle with:
- A lack of historical data, making it difficult or impossible to build reliable predictive models.
- The dynamic nature of cyber security, where brand-new threats are emerging literally daily.
- The potential for “catastrophic accumulation” of claims if a nationwide or worldwide cyber attack brings down hundreds or thousands of claimants simultaneously; for example, if cyber terrorists were to strike the nation’s power grid, or a major website host is taken down.
- “Tunnel vision,” which causes insurers to primarily focus on policies that protect insureds against the theft of personal identifying information (PII); not all organizations handle PII, and the threat landscape includes DDoS attacks, ransomware, and other attacks that can cripple an organization but do not involve the compromise of PII.
On the other side, policyholders are plagued by:
- Not fully understanding their cyber risks or insurance options; similar to the situation with health insurance, many organizations feel they don’t “need” cyber insurance or require only bare-bones policies.
- Erroneously thinking that they are already covered because another insurance policy, such as a general liability or business interruption policy, does cover some degree of cyber risk.
- An inability to effectively compare policies due to a lack of standardization, another issue that seen in the individual health insurance market; buyers are unable to make “apples to apples” comparisons.
- A legal landscape that is as dynamic as the threat environment; what is and isn’t covered by an insurance policy can be hard to determine, and insureds fear having to duke it out with insurance companies in court.
Cyber Insurance Is Not a Replacement for Proactive Cyber Security
Organizations that wish to purchase cyber insurance policies cannot go it alone. They must enlist expert help from cyber security professionals, not only to make sense of potential policies but also to evaluate their risk environments and determine what type of coverage they need. Because the cyber risk environment is continually evolving and changing, cyber coverage should be reviewed annually; a policy an organization purchased two years ago may no longer meet its needs.
Just as homeowners’ insurance is not an excuse to keep your doors unlocked or leave food cooking on the stove unattended, even a robust cyber insurance policy is not a replacement for proactive cyber security measures. Insurance policies will always contain exclusions, especially in cases where the insured was negligent in some manner, claim payouts will never be immediate, and insurance policies cannot repair damage to an organization’s reputation.
The cyber security experts at Lazarus Alliance have deep knowledge of the cyber security field, are continually monitoring the latest information security threats, and are committed to protecting organizations of all sizes from security breaches. Our full-service risk assessment services and Continuum GRC RegTech software will help protect your organization from data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other cyber threats.
Lazarus Alliance is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-7580 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help your organization adhere to cyber security regulations, maintain compliance, and secure your systems.