Cyber Risks

Covering Fraudulent Impersonation

Specialist insurer Beazley is the latest underwriter to attempt to combat so-called ‘social engineering’ cyber scams.
By: | July 22, 2015 • 4 min read

Impersonating a supervisor in order to fraudulently convince a subordinate to transfer funds is one of a bevy of emerging cyber risks. Getting cover for a loss stemming from the practice is still a dicey business.

Many cyber policies might not cover such a loss, and underwriters disagree on whether more traditional crime/fidelity coverages do either. But attempts are underway to bridge the gap.

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Beazley’s new fraudulent instruction endorsement, for example, gives existing commercial crime policyholders up to $250,000 cover against the transfer of funds as a result of instructions from a person purporting to be a vendor, client or authorized employee.

“Fraudulent instruction scams are so sophisticated that basically any business that transfers funds is vulnerable,” said Bill Jennings, who heads the Financial Fidelity/Commercial Crime Unit for Beazley in New York.

“Existing cyber and crime policies — which cover theft of data and theft of funds respectively — may not cover losses from these masqueraders, who may use authority or endearment to perpetrate a fraud,” he explained.

“Quite frankly, many companies need more than $250,000 of this coverage.” — Kevin Guillet, FINPRO Fraud Advisory Practice Leader, Marsh

This increasingly prevalent type of scam relies on an employee failing to notice a very small error in an email address, as well as their natural eagerness to please and be responsive to a superior or a client.

Victims are often tricked that the instruction is either urgent or confidential, and the instruction usually contains personal information gathered from social media or hacking in order to make it seem believable. Once the transferred funds leave the United States, they are rarely recoverable.

While the perpetrators often use cyber hacking to identify and trick their targets, cyber policies are typically focused on the theft of data rather than money.

That’s why, according to Bob Parisi, cyber product leader at Marsh, it is crime/fidelity underwriters who are “bridging the gap more aggressively” when it comes to covering fraudulent impersonations.

“The cyber markets tend to take a ‘hands-off’ position on crime-related losses as they view cyber coverage as more akin to ‘virtual’ property casualty coverage,” he said.

Bob Parisi Cyber Product Leader Marsh

Bob Parisi
Cyber Product Leader
Marsh

“However, there is some potential overlap between cyber and crime/fidelity, especially in the financial institution space where insureds can enhance their crime/fidelity coverage with damage by hacker or virus endorsements that provide an element of cyber coverage.”

Kevin Guillet, Marsh’s FINPRO Fraud Advisory Practice Leader, praised Beazley for including impersonation of clients, vendors and employees under its coverage.

“Not every form covers all those constituents,” he noted, adding that while he believes certain standard industry forms do already cover against ‘employee’-to-employee instruction, this is often disputed by underwriters.

In an attempt to help protect its clients, Marsh has developed proprietary language introducing ‘computer and telephonic misuse coverage’ — which includes coverage for fraudulent impersonation — into its crime policy standard wordings in London and Europe, and continues to push for acceptance of this wording by U.S. underwriters.

“While subject to underwriting and additional premium charge, another attractive feature of Beazley’s endorsement is that can provide coverage up to $250,000 without requiring ‘out-of-band authentification’ [challenging the instruction through a means other than that by which the instruction was received, such as email verification of a phone instruction],” Guillet added.

“When underwriters build in a warranty whereby there is no coverage unless all procedures are correctly followed, we question the value of that coverage because these scams typically succeed by convincing people to ignore established protocols.”

According to an Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) June 2014 “Scam Report,” the average amount lost in frauds of this nature is $55,000. However, IC3 claimed there has been one report of $800,000 lost, and experts said they have seen losses run into the tens of millions. The total cost to corporate America is unknown.

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“Quite frankly, many companies need more than $250,000 of this coverage,” said Guillet. However, he conceded, “there is real exposure here, so you can understand why Beazley and other underwriters are approaching cautiously,” noting that while there are some underwriters who offer higher limits, some don’t want to cover fraudulent impersonation risk at all.

Beazley’s Jennings recommended that, in addition to buying insurance, companies implement staff training as well as “strong internal controls requiring call-back verification and periodic white-hat testing to confirm that controls are being followed.”

Antony Ireland is a London-based financial journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

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