Cyber Insurance

A Solution to Cyber Risk Assessment

A new schema will create a standard way for insurers to gather data on cyber exposure.
By: | January 25, 2016 • 5 min read

The insurance industry is about to have a clearer idea of just how much exposure it has to cyber attacks on its customers.

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Ahead of the February launch of its new suite of cyber risk management tools, RMS has released its recently developed Cyber Exposure Data Schema. The ‘open standard’ data schema will provide the insurance industry with a systematic and uniform way to capture cyber exposure data and manage cyber accumulation risk.

Many insurance companies have created cyber insurance products that are providing useful coverage, but their true exposure in the relatively new product line is still unclear, London-based RMS senior vice president Andrew Coburn said.

“Carriers appear to be getting decent profitability on writing cyber insurance, but the problem is that they don’t know how much they could lose in a bad year – what their ‘cyber catastrophe’ exposure is,” Coburn said.

“Clearly there is a lot of demand but not enough capacity in the market because carriers are nervous about accumulation – what happens if thousands get hit by a cyber attack at one time?”

In conjunction with the new schema, Verisk Analytics in Jersey City, N.J., announced the industry’s first global cyber exposure data standard “to help create a uniform method for data transfer across the insurance value chain.”

Verisk’s catastrophe modeling business AIR Worldwide has also developed a preparer’s guide to assist companies in collecting and storing the necessary cyber exposure data in an open format suitable for modeling.

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Scott Stransky, manager and principal scientist, AIR Worldwid

“It’s important to lay the foundation – you can’t build a model until there is a standardized way to put it in a framework for capturing cyber risk,” said Scott Stransky, manager and principal scientist at AIR Worldwide in Boston.

Currently, some insurers just collect information on the potential insured’s industry and revenues, Stransky said.

Other insurers spend a lot of time talking to the company’s information technology staff about their recovery plans, whether they have network intrusion testing, and which devices they actually use for intrusion testing.

RMS created an accumulation management system to help carriers organize and structure their data enabling them to determine how much exposure they have, he said. RMS has also developed detailed scenarios to illustrate the five key cyber events that could occur and cause carriers to lose a lot of money.

“The schema is data architecture – how to organize exposure information in the insurance company to make sure they’ve got their data in the right structure,” Coburn said. “This enables them to report to senior management the exact picture of exposure, and how it’s segmented across the market in different architectures.”

The new data schema for cyber insurance provides firms with a standardized approach to identifying, quantifying and reporting cyber insurance exposure.

The Cyber Exposure Data Schema, developed in collaboration with the Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge University and with support from eight leading insurance and reinsurance companies, provides firms with a standardized approach to identifying, quantifying and reporting cyber insurance exposure. The schema is both model agnostic and compatible with any exposure management system and will enable firms to:

    • Share and transfer information about exposures in a consistent and standardized format for risk transfer transactions, benchmarking exercises, and regulatory reporting;
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  • Report exposure aggregates by different types of coverage and potential loss characteristics to a level of granularity that can inform risk appetite decisions;
  • Assess and monitor an insurer’s risk appetite, by estimating losses from accumulation scenarios or other types of risk models to the exposure recorded;
  • Clarify silent or affirmative covers by identifying insurance policies that may have ambiguity in whether they would pay out in the event of a cyber incident.

The Cyber Exposure Data Schema was developed by the Centre of Risk Studies at Cambridge University and supported by RMS, Amlin Plc, Aon Benfield, AXIS Capital, Barbican Insurance Group, Canopius Managing Agents Ltd., RenaissanceRe Holdings, Talbot Underwriting, and XL Catlin.

To develop the Cyber Exposure Data Schema, the Cambridge Centre of Risk Studies consulted with a broad range of organizations seeking to harmonize cyber exposure reporting, including cyber risk experts, cyber insurance writers, and industry organizations such as the Lloyd’s Market Association, U.S. rating agencies, the Reinsurance Association of America, and the Chief Risk Officers Forum.

In the London market, Lloyd’s has mandated that all companies within its syndicates or under its management need to report their cyber exposure by the end of the first quarter in March.

In addition to making its Cyber Exposure Data Schema available to all industry participants, RMS has also collaborated with Lloyd’s of London and AIR Worldwide to help the growing cyber insurance market quickly establish the core data requirements for managing cyber risk common to both modeling firms.

By using similar terminology and precise definitions, in addition to highlighting the common elements across their data schemas, the initiative will make it easier for companies to code existing account data to identify their potential cyber accumulations.

“Cyber insurance is an important new area of coverage, and it is essential that we have good-quality standardized data to track exposures,” Tom Bolt, director, performance management, Lloyd’s of London, said in announcing the new schema.

“I am delighted that RMS has collaborated with us to help standardize some common data requirements and that their new data schema incorporates this.”

Bolt noted that Lloyd’s also collaborated with AIR to “help standardize some common data requirements and … their new data schema incorporates this.”

In the London market, Lloyd’s has mandated that all companies within its syndicates or under its management need to report their cyber exposure by the end of the first quarter in March.

“That was one of the drivers for getting the RMS schema published now,” Coburn said. In early February, RMS will release its cyber accumulation management system which includes the five scenarios.

“While the problems are the same in every region, the U.S. is further ahead of other markets in writing cyber risk; the large majority of cyber insurance premiums are written in the U.S.,” he said.

“There are still many more companies in the U.S. market that are very keen to expand their capacity, so it’s a universal problem.

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“Our purpose is not to stop insurers from collecting this information or force insurers to collect more – the guide is really a framework for how companies can think about which fields are more relevant than others,” he said.

In addition, AIR Worldwide has developed an SQL implementation to allow organizations to begin to use the standard in their enterprises. In the coming months, the firm aims to provide SQL scripts that can be used for deterministic scenario analysis and accumulation analysis.

One example would be finding out what types of encryption that insureds are using, Stransky said. The firm could use a query to find flaws that could impact the carrier’s book of business.

“We want to make this practical so carriers can use this right away, but also flexible to allow growth within the framework – something that adds value,” he said.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in California. She has more than two decades of journalism experience and expertise in financial writing. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now an where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]