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Taking the Fear Out of Cyber

Resources are available to help insureds assess and manage their cyber exposures.
By: | November 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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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]