Insurance Executive

Six Questions for Grace Ries

Risk & Insurance® caught up with FM Global's Grace Ries to discuss the insurer's latest cyber products and its approach to helping clients manage their cyber exposures.
By: | February 7, 2017 • 3 min read

In July 2016, FM Global announced that Grace Ries, assistant vice president and manager of cyber risk insurance products, would lead a dedicated unit to develop an underwriting approach and coverage capabilities to meet clients’ needs for first-party cyber solutions. We caught up with her to ask her about the initiative and FM Global’s approach to the market.

R&I: Grace, part of your background is providing risk management support to the chemicals industry. What lessons learned will you be bringing forward as you underwrite this pressing issue of cyber risk?

Ries: My background is in chemical engineering and material science engineering. Many clients in the chemical sector have global exposures, and in my mind that is similar to cyber. Cyber is a global risk. Our clients’ data can be anywhere in the world. The solutions we provide for cyber need to be applicable globally. Both cyber and chemical risks also are high hazards. High hazards require a specialized risk management and underwriting approach, which is how we are approaching cyber.

R&I: How does FM Global plan to bring its engineering expertise to bear in managing cyber?

Ries:  We are treating cyber the same way that we approach any other risk. We always start with the science and research to determine what kind of standards, tools and methodologies are needed to help our clients address their risk at a location level and at a corporate level. We expect to offer some new cyber products and services in 2017. I am working closely with Mel [Carmelina] Borsellino, FM Global’s vice president and manager of cyber hazards, on this.

R&I: With so much insurance product now out there targeted at cyber, how is FM Global going to be able to differentiate its product?

Ries: Three things come to mind. First, FM Global is a specialty company. We focus on commercial and industrial property only. Cyber policies are usually driven by third-party liability. We focus solely on first-party exposure.

Our current FM Global cyber offerings address five areas: malware, denial of service, off premises data services, resultant damage and we provide a cyber optimal recovery endorsement. There’s more to come in 2017.

Second is that cyber is offered as part of our all-risk FM Global Advantage policy, in contrast to the marketplace, where cyber policies are usually a stand-alone offering. Also, FM Global has been providing coverage for cyber for more than 10 years.

And third, our insurance product is linked to our loss prevention engineering expertise. We look for ways to help clients access, quantify and improve their risk and to help them stay resilient.

R&I: Can you give us an idea of the traits you are looking for as you seek candidates to build your underwriting team?

Ries: To keep up with this rapidly evolving risk, you’ve got to have some fun! The people that we’re looking for on the FM Global cyber underwriting team are people who share the belief that the majority of loss is preventable and are focused on enhancing FM Global’s leadership in the industry.

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We also are looking for people who are visionary, forward thinking and client-focused because, as a mutual insurance company, we are owned by our policyholders. And lastly, they’ve got to be passionate about always seeking ways to better protect the value our clients create and keep them resilient.

R&I: Can you tell us what some of your products will address specifically?

Ries: Our current FM Global cyber offerings address five areas: malware, denial of service, off premises data services, resultant damage and we provide a cyber optimal recovery endorsement. There’s more to come in 2017.

R&I: What’s the most challenging aspect of this new assignment, the one that keeps you up at night?

Ries: I work with a talented and dedicated team and believe our organization has the right people in place to address cyber. So, I sleep well at night and so should our clients. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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