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Taking the Fear Out of Cyber

Resources are available to help insureds assess and manage their cyber exposures.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 7 min read

Cyber risk is everywhere. Embedded in the hardware of every computer system, in the cloud, in the headlines of national newspapers, and in the worries of risk managers across every sector.

It’s not a new risk, but its constantly evolving nature makes it tough for companies to stay up to speed on exposures, and to know how best to mitigate and transfer the risk.

“While the market for cyber coverage is maturing rapidly, it’s still less developed than other lines,” said Tim Marlin, Head of Cyber Underwriting, The Hartford.

“We hear a lot of clients say they want cyber coverage, but often they aren’t really sure what that means.”

“There’s no uniformity of cyber products on the market,” said Marlin. “That complicates conversations about exposures and cyber coverage.”

Oftentimes insureds may not understand the full extent of their exposure, so they don’t know what kind of coverage to ask for.

Without industry-wide standards, it’s a real challenge for brokers to advise clients on what good cyber coverage should look like. Just because a coverage is available in the market doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for the client. A lack of understanding makes insureds more likely to buy improper coverage, or buy nothing at all.

“As an industry, we need to do a better job of talking with our clients about cyber in a clear and concise way. We have to remove the fear around the risk,” Marlin said.

Demystifying Cyber

Cyber becomes less scary when it’s broken down into the exposures and coverages that insureds already are familiar with.

“The coverage is much simpler than many people realize.  Do you understand coverage for third-party liability? Do you understand coverage for the first-party costs related to notification and credit monitoring in the event of a breach? If you have a firm grasp of those, then you already have a basic understanding of cyber coverage,” Marlin said.

“It’s the cryptic term ‘cyber’ that throws people off. It conjures up images of bad guys in black hats, doing nefarious things over the internet, but the exposure is much older and broader than that.”

Cyber risk connotes computer and network-related exposures. But good “cyber” coverage and advice addresses a much broader range of information risk.

“It has to do with the use and exchange of information; how we move it around; how we process it; and how we store it,” Marlin said.

Digital Era Drives Risk

Tim Marlin, Head of Cyber Underwriting

The dominance of digital media, a richly connected society, distributed processing, and the speed at which information moves amplifies risk.

Compound that with controls that lag behind both technology and threats, a bit of regulatory uncertainty, and you have a rather intimidating risk landscape. It’s our job to help simplify that for clients.

Core business functions are carried out electronically. Paper-based processes, where they still exist, are surely on the way out.

The information housed in digital processes, however, is much harder to protect when buried in an internet server or floating around in the cloud. A locked filing cabinet was a simpler, more easily-understood solution.

Some industries, like health care, financial services and education, are better-versed in the protection of private information in the digital era, simply because they bear greater scrutiny from regulators.  Often, they’re also better resourced, and more focused on the issue making them more likely to buy cyber coverage.

However, other industries have been slower to understand their cyber risk exposure.

In life sciences, for example, the drug discovery process and protection of intellectual property has changed dramatically.

“Generations ago, drug discovery was done more or less in the lab and documented in lab notebooks,” said Mark Silvestri, Sr. Managing Director, Products & Innovation, The Hartford Specialty Commercial.

“Now, it’s often enabled computationally through bioinformatics or computational biology. Molecular models for drug compounds can be built online and scientists can simulate their effect on biological systems on a computer,” Silvestri said.

An early stage life sciences company’s value is primarily its intellectual property. That IP is now stored on a computer system, making it more susceptible to theft or ransomware attacks. There’s a market for that stolen IP too.

Manufacturing faces similar challenges.

“They are relying on information in a number of ways that are critical to their ability to make money and service their clients,” Silvestri said. “Just-in-time inventory supply management, for example, is all done on a computer. Any sort of cyber outage could disrupt the delivery of crucial materials.”

Supply chain or network disruption could disrupt income or delay production and delivery. Manufacturers generally understand these risks in the physical world. Connecting them back to a cyber incident as the underlying cause is a step many just haven’t taken yet —  and where some fall short on protecting themselves.

These are just two examples of industries that may not necessarily think they are in the crosshairs of cyber risk, but they have just as much exposure as any other sector.

“We hear a lot of clients say they want cyber coverage, but often they aren’t really sure what that means.”
-Tim Marlin, Head of Cyber Underwriting, The Hartford

Coverage and Services

In the move to a digital environment, access to data at any given moment is critical.

Third party liability, business interruption and IP risks may be covered under other policies, but forgoing cyber coverage could leave companies in a lurch if they cannot quickly get to their data or begin the remediation process after a breach.

Partnering with the right carrier means more than getting the right coverage. It means access to the expertise and guidance to help companies actually understand what cyber risk means for them, and what they can do to mitigate their exposure.

At The Hartford, a panel of experts dubbed The Hartford First RespondersSM is available to help insureds assess their information security practices, review contracts with third parties, and get a better understanding of the full breadth of their cyber exposure.

“We negotiated below-market rates with a number of risk service providers and security vendors that our customers can take advantage of to remediate any pre-existing weaknesses they have in their system security,” Marlin said. “They are also there to help companies react quickly in the event of a breach or other cyber incident.

“In addition, we provide a cyber risk services fund, which is rather unique in the industry,” Marlin said.  In the event that an insured has a covered loss, The Hartford provides insureds with a fund, in addition to incident related expenses and costs to help remediate the issues that resulted in the incident in the first place.

“The better off our customers are, the better off we are,” Marlin said. “The bottom line is, we’re here to help you become a better risk before, during and after a loss.”

To learn more about The Hartford’s cyber coverage, visit www.thehartford.com/cyber.

FOR PRODUCERS ONLY. CyberChoice First Response is offered on a SURPLUS LINES* basis. This material is not to be used for solicitation purposes. The Hartford has arranged for data risk management services for our policyholders at a discount from some third-party service providers. Such service providers are independent contractors and not agents of The Hartford. The Hartford does not warrant the performance of third-party service providers even if paid for as part of the policy coverage, and disclaims all liability with respect to use of or reliance on such third-party service providers.

*Eligibility for surplus insurance coverage is subject to state regulation and requires the use of a licensed surplus line broker. Surplus lines insurance policies are generally not protected by state guaranty funds. Policies should be examined carefully for suitability and to identify all exclusions, limitations, and other terms and conditions. Surplus lines coverage is underwritten by Pacific Ins. Co. Ltd (except in CT and HI) and The Hartford Ins. Co. of Illinois in CT and HI. The Hartford® is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Its headquarters is in Hartford, CT. All rights reserved.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with The Hartford. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




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More from Risk & Insurance

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Catastrophe Risk

Material Resiliency

New materials, methods and ideas are empowering property owners to rein in their catastrophe risks.
By: | October 12, 2017 • 11 min read

The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. Rebuilding efforts are underway, with builders working to make insureds whole again as soon as possible … at least until the next storm comes along.

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And therein lies the problem with recovery in disaster-prone regions. It evokes the oft-quoted definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So what if we did it differently? What if instead of rebuilding to make structures “like new,” we rebuilt to make them better, more resilient, less prone to damage?

The reality is, we don’t really have a choice. Climate change is ushering in weather systems that are increasingly volatile. Wildfires are raging like never before. Sea-level rise is threatening our coasts, and there’s no way to dial any of it back.

Nevertheless, people will continue to build homes and businesses along the coast. Real estate developers will continue to nestle luxury homes into wooded foothills.

That means communities need to come to terms with the risk and plan for it intelligently.

Michael Brown, vice president and property manager, Golden Bear Insurance

“Natural disasters are going to happen,” said Michael Brown, vice president and property manager with Golden Bear Insurance. “But if we plan and build communities around the idea that something bad may happen someday, then that community can bounce back faster afterward.”

In any natural disaster, he added, “the property damage is extreme. But the biggest portion of the losses, both insured and uninsured, are the time element pieces. How long was the business closed? How long were homeowners unable to occupy their homes? Those are the pieces that drag on for months — years in some cases — and really drive the economic loss.”

That’s the motivation behind new materials, designs and strategies being implemented in the construction and repair of at-risk residential and commercial properties.

Powerful Flood Solutions

Newer building products move the needle significantly in terms of efficacy.

For new or restored structures in flood-prone regions, Georgia Pacific produces gypsum panels that incorporate fiberglass mats instead of paper facings and comply with the latest FEMA requirements for flood damage resistance and mold resistance. Wall boards made from magnesium oxide (MgO) don’t absorb water at all and have the added benefits of being environmentally friendly and non-flammable.

In the UK, advanced flood-resilient structures built with water-resilient concrete-block partitions are being fitted with not only MgO wallboards, but also wood-look porcelain or ceramic flooring that’s non-permeable and fire-resistant — without sacrificing aesthetics. Drains are installed in the flooring, along with sub-flooring gullies and submersible pumps that push the water back outside. Outlets and appliance motors are all situated above expected flood levels. Doors are equipped with sliding flood panels.

In the event of flooding that exceeds a depth of two feet, automatic opening window panels (flood inlets) are triggered by sensors to allow flood water to enter the property slowly, to reduce external pressure that could damage the structure.

Carl Solly, vice president and chief engineer, FM Global

Controlled inflow buys time for a homeowner to raise furniture up on blocks, or for a business owner to raise pallets of goods up to higher shelves or move equipment to a higher elevation.

Water intrusion is reduced dramatically, and even when it happens, there is little to no damage. Water is pushed into the floor drains, surfaces are allowed to dry, and then it’s back to business as usual in days rather than months — likely with no insurance claim filed.

Dramatic improvements are happening on this side of the pond as well. For entities that need permanent on-site flood solutions, barriers like flood gates and retractable flood walls are the most sophisticated they’ve ever been.

After suffering $4 billion in damage during Superstorm Sandy, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority invested heavily in flexible fabric flood panels that are made with Kevlar® and can be unrolled quickly and easily. Additional flood gates hinged to air grates are passively activated by the weight of incoming water entering the grates.

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The transit authority is also testing a prototype “resilient tunnel plug” — essentially a giant air bag that can be deployed quickly to seal off sections of subway tunnel. The plug is designed to withstand not only flood but also biochemical attack.

Even temporary solutions are leaps and bounds beyond the days when sandbagging was typically the best option. New as-needed barrier methods include inflatable bladders that can be placed around a building’s perimeter and filled with water to keep floodwater and flood debris at bay.

“People have always said, ‘Well, I’m in a flood plain, it’s inevitable. It’s an act of God,’ ” said Carl Solly, vice president and chief engineer, FM Global. “In the last several years, we’ve really been trying to deliver the message that you can do something about your flood risk.”

Shake, Pummel and Burn

Flood is far from the only problem benefiting from smart engineering. FM Global is working with manufacturers to develop and certify roofing material designed to better withstand the localized hailstorms that often plague southeastern and midwestern states.

Current materials rated for severe hail can withstand hailstones up to 1 ¾ inches in diameter. The new product, rated for “very severe” hail can tolerate hailstones up to 2 ½ inches. The difference sounds small, but it’s far from it.

“It’s about three times the amount of impact energy when it hits the roof [compared to a 1 ¾ hailstone],” explained Solly. “That’s a big difference.”

As for “bouncing back” after a catastrophic fire, Solly said that’s a fairly tall order. But even there, technology is helping to reduce the severity of fires so that disruption is minimal.

FM Global researchers recently pioneered the concept of SMART sprinklers — shorthand for Simultaneous Monitoring and Assessment Response Technology — which can sense a fire earlier than traditional systems and activate targeted sprinkler heads when needed and shut off once the fire is out.

“You’ll catch it with less water, so from a water usage perspective, a water damage perspective and a smoke damage perspective, we think that has an opportunity to be a big difference-maker in the fire protection industry, particular with high-challenge fires,” said Solly.

“You’ve got a better chance of stopping what normally would be a really tough fire to catch.”

In addition, added Brown, smarter sprinkler systems, much like burglar alarms, could be programmed to notify the fire department instantly, even when a structure is unoccupied.

For earthquake risk, said Brown, resilient building efforts are less about new materials than they are about more strategic ways of using traditional materials.

“Here in California we wrap homes in stucco around the wood frame to help the whole building move as a unit. Stucco is concrete so it does crack. I end up with a building that’s got some cosmetic damage … but you don’t have to rebuild the building. It does its job in terms of absorbing a lot of the ground motion before it pushes the building beyond its design tolerances.”

Using stronger, larger steel brackets where the walls meet the roof or the floor or each other, said Brown, “keeps the north wall from moving in one direction while the west wall moves a different direction.”

Those kinds of stress points can push modest earthquake damage to catastrophic levels, he said.

One earthquake innovation still in the beta phase is a project out of the U.C. Berkeley Seismological lab, using the accelerometers in smartphones as virtual seismometers. Participating phones have an app that detects certain types of ground motion. As phones pick up earthquake wave patterns, they ping the server which checks nearby smartphones to see if they sensed the same pattern, all in microseconds. If an earthquake pattern can be confirmed, an alarm will be sent to every cellphone within a logical radius.

That might only buy people an extra two to five minutes before the event, said Brown, “but if you are the operators of Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter trains, that’s enough time to slow all the trains down to five miles an hour. If you are Google, that’s enough time to park a bunch of hard drives in your server farm so that they’re better able to resist shaking and not be damaged too badly.”

Raising Standards

Cost, of course, will impact the take-up of resilient materials and tools. If it’s three times more expensive to build a home out of the resilient materials, a lot of builders aren’t going to want to because the home will be tougher to sell.

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FM Global’s Approvals division tests and certifies a variety of products aimed at mitigating disaster peril. That can help increase property owner confidence in these materials, particularly for commercial structures.

“When you’re betting millions of dollars and the future of your business — or at least the near-term future of your business — you really need to know that it’s going to work,” said Solly.

With just-in-time manufacturing, a company may have a few days’ worth of stock on hand rather than three months’ worth.

“So you can’t afford to be out of business for weeks, because your customers are going to go somewhere else for your product,” he said.

Building standards and codes can help drive adoption of resilient measures in both commercial and residential construction. But more work needs to be done to raise standards to meet the goal of resilience.

Effecting real resilience is something leaders across the spectrum should be talking about, including brokers and carriers, government and research agencies, building products manufacturers, and corporate executives.

If lives are saved in an earthquake, but a building is still damaged to the point where it needs to be torn down, said Brown “that building owner, that community, is going to have a much longer path to full recovery. We want the building codes strengthened to an immediate occupancy [goal] — we want people to be able to move right back into that building so there’s a much shorter window of disruption.

“It’s certainly better for me as the insurer,” he said, “but it’s even better for the guy that owns the building or runs his business out of it because now his employees still have a place to come to work and they can still get paid.”

Every single business able to minimize its downtime in this way helps the entire community be more resilient, he added. It creates that snowball effect in a good way. When businesses are able to stay open or reopen quickly, he said, workers don’t lose a meaningful amount of pay. Everybody’s in a better position to continue shopping and supporting the local economy.

“If you just shorten the line of people who are looking for some sort of federal aid, or state aid because they’ve had a massive financial disaster — maybe we can turn those into moderate to small financial disasters. That’s the key, I think, to communities being more resilient.”

Driving Demand

As the likelihood increases that property owners will experience a second loss or even third loss, some insurers are looking at ways to invest in resilience — a smarter long-term business plan than paying to rebuild again and again.

One new initiative is Lex Flood Ready, the product of a partnership between Lexington Insurance and The Flood Insurance Agency (TFIA). Flood Ready is a coverage enhancement for Lexington Private Market Flood clients that will not only indemnify property owners that suffer flood damage but will also provide the funds to rebuild them to a higher standard of resiliency when replacing floors and walls.

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Resilience proponents advocate a variety of approaches to encourage take-up, including tax credits, resilience grants, insurance incentives and other partnerships, as well as encouraging lenders to engage borrowers by making the flood risk assessments part of the mortgage process.

A certification scheme similar to LEED could also help drive resilience efforts. The UK is currently beta-testing a certification program called Home Quality Mark, developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Properties are rated on stringent criteria that considers not just disaster resilience, but energy performance and cost, durability and environmental impact.

“Getting people from diverse perspectives thinking about it and talking about it is going to be the avenue to finding the right answers.” — Michael Brown, VP and property manager, Golden Bear Insurance

That’s something builders would be able to use to add value to their properties, offsetting the cost of building in resilience and driving consumer demand for properties built to the highest standards.

With increased resilience will come questions for insurers, said Brown. “It will open up a can of worms.”

It will create something of an arms race among insurance companies, he said. “Who’s going to be the first one to figure out what’s the right way to insure that? What’s the right price? What are the right terms and conditions?” Admittedly, it’s a good problem to have.

Effecting real resilience is something leaders across the spectrum should be talking about, including brokers and carriers, government and research agencies, building products manufacturers, and corporate executives.

“Getting people from diverse perspectives thinking about it and talking about it is going to be the avenue to finding the right answers,” said Brown.

“That kind of mentality top to bottom in the industry is going to be necessary. It’s not the first time we’ve dealt with disruptive things and we will continue doing it. It’s what keeps the game interesting.” &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]