Coverage, Breaches Highlighted at Advisen Cyber Conference

NEW YORK—Advisen’s Cyber Risk Insights Conference, held during Cyber Week, featured risk management professionals and more than 20 panels and sessions on Oct. 26. The keynote was delivered by former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, currently the chair of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Cybersecurity, Privacy and Crisis Management practice. Giuliani used sports analogies to describe the cybersecurity industry, noting that, “the defense trails the offense by about five years.” Comparing the newest waves of protection software to a strong rookie pitcher, he said, “A new pitcher may come along and strike everybody out as he goes through the league a few times. But eventually he gets figured out and [hackers] figure it out,” he said. “It needs at least a year of being attacked for real,” to find the gaps in efficiency, and leads to the “the kind of experimentation that will yield better results.”

In the session, “SME: In A League of Their Own,” moderator John Mullen, CEO and founding partner of Mullen Coughlin, a cybersecurity and data privacy firm, discussed the growing importance of cyber insurance among small- and medium-sized companies. He asked panelists where they have seen productivity. Panelists agreed that growth among small law firms and accounting firms were strong contributors. Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Experian’s Data Breach Resolution Group, noted he is already seeing breaches of W2 tax forms, which he said is worrisome with tax season approaching. “With some of the recent, large incidents and all the information that was compromised, I think W2s are going to come roaring back again,” Bruemmer said.

As for a look into the future, Bruemmer noted that while startups show great potential for growth, they need to make cyber policy purchases while in their infancies. “Any startup needs cyber protection,” he said, adding that this is particularly crucial during the initial financing and hiring stages, as “You see too many of them go out [of business]. They’re great companies with great ideas but they don’t consider cyber.”

Andy Lea, CNA’s vice president of underwriting for E&O, cyber and media, echoed those sentiments, saying that with the thousands of businesses created each year, “there will always be new buyers and there will be opportunity for this industry to provide value.”

During an afternoon panel, Erica Davis, Zurich North America’s senior vice president, specialty products and E&O, highlighted results from the newly-released annual  Advisen Information Security and Cyber Risk Management Survey, which found that risk professionals view cyber-related business continuity risk less seriously than data integrity risk. This was surprising, she said, as business interruption costs have risen and high-profile business interruption attacks have taken center stage.

The survey also found that just 10% of respondents identified business interruption as the primary reason for purchasing cyber insurance and that purchase growth has gone stagnant after a steady six-year increase from 35% to 65%. Davis noted that the survey ended before the Equifax breach announcement in September.

“These findings may indicate that businesses are not up to speed on the magnitude of the impact that business interruption losses are beginning to have,” she said. “Annually, the survey results are critical for understanding how businesses are thinking about cyber risk and what we need to do to help them protect themselves as we watch this issue continue to evolve.”

The study found that corporate concerns about cyber may be waning, even as the nature of cyberattacks has evolved to include ransomware and malware

According to the study:

  • For the first time in the seven years of the survey, there has been a decline in how seriously C-Suite executives view cyber risk.

  • 60% of the risk professionals surveyed said executive management view cyber risk as a significant threat to their organization—down significantly from 85% in 2016.

  • Only 53% of respondents knew of any changes to their companies’ cyber security systems in response to the high-profile attacks that took place in early 2017.

Cyber Insurance Purchasing Up, But Breaches Felt in Prices and Limits

NEW YORK—At yesterday’s Advisen Cyber Insights Conference, Zurich and Advisen released the fifth annual Advisen Cyber Survey of U.S. risk managers, finding a 9% acceleration in cyber liability insurance purchasing from 2014 to 2015. The firm has seen a 26% increase in the number of respondents who have coverage since the first survey in 2011.

Companies are taking cyberliability more seriously, Zurich reports, with the number of organizations developing data breach response plans up 10% from last year. What’s more, companies appear to be better recognizing the sheer amount of value at risk, with two-thirds of respondents saying they have either increased their policy limits or are considering doing so. While Zurich found that more organizations view information security as an organizational challenge rather than the purview of the IT department alone, and respondents said that boards and executive management are taking cyberrisk more seriously, those who have not yet obtained cyber coverage say it is because their superiors still do not see the need. There is also still a considerable difference in take-up rates among large corporations and small and mid-sized businesses, with Catherine Mulligan, senior vice president and national underwriting manager of specialty E&O, telling the audience there is an approximate 20-point spread between the groups.

“This year’s cyber survey shows that demand for coverage and higher limits has increased tremendously and we at Zurich have seen double digit growth year over year,” said Bryan Salvatore, president of specialty products for Zurich North America. “That is why we are heavily invested in identifying risks and delivering solutions and why we are committed to staying at the forefront of this issue.”

Marsh has also seen considerable growth in cyber liability insurance purchasing among its clients. According to the insurer’s new midyear cyber benchmarking report, the number of U.S.-based Marsh clients purchasing standalone cyber insurance increased 32% in the first half of 2015, up from 26% growth during this period in 2014. By sector, members of the education industry made up the biggest growth, with 155% more clients purchasing the coverage, followed by power and utilities with a 100% increase and manufacturing with a 76% increase. The healthcare sector remains Marsh’s largest buyer of cyber coverage, with 41% of all clients in this industry purchasing it by the end of the first half of 2015.

Cyber liability insurance growth rates

Sessions throughout the conference made clear that insurers—and the industry at large—are still struggling with what is also risk managers’ biggest challenge: data. Completely evaluating the true value at risk with cyber liability continues to elude both sides, although many new approaches and consultancy services are emerging. Further, the dearth of actuarial data not only compounds the challenges of the cyberrisk assessment process, but make it hard for the industry to set pricing and limits with confidence.

“It is hard for insurers to be prudent with cyber as risk managers often do not fully understand how to measure their exposure,” Mulligan said.

“Actuarial data is the Holy Grail of the cyberinsurance market: we’re all searching for it and it’s just not there,” said Bob Parisi, cyber product leader at Marsh, who moderated a session on the struggle to quantify and model cyberrisk.

In addition to the actuarial uncertainty, the considerable number of large losses over the past few years is continuing to push up the cost of cyber, forming what Willis executive vice president Peter Foster described as a “hot” market that will have to cool and solidify with time. Parisi chose to describe the market as “brittle” after absorbing several hundred million dollars in losses, and a range of insurers and brokers reported that premiums have increased dramatically as a result. The Marsh study found that price increases across industries averaged 19%, with 32% increases among retailers, the most frequently breached sector over the past few years.

cyber insurance limits purchased

While these breaches and better estimates of the real cost of cyber incidents have helped many companies realize they may be underinsuring for cyber liability, the move to correct this is getting more difficult. Insurers have said repeatedly that there is plenty of capacity in the cyberinsurance market and many buyers have increased the limits purchased, but higher limits of liability are increasingly hard to come by, and none really exist in excess of $100 million. Particularly for businesses that have yet to implement serious efforts to address information security, rate increases appear sure to continue, and simply buying more coverage will not only be unsustainable, but may not even be possible as insurers give more thought to the capacity they are willing to commit to these risks.

“There is just not enough capacity to extend $50 to $100 million limits to every account,” said Greg Vernaci, AIG’s head of cyber in the United States and Canada. “We are looking to reward those companies with a robust information security posture who go beyond and take a multifaceted approach to managing cyberrisk.”