The Internet’s Broken, But Cyber Insurers Can Help Fix It. Here’s How

The inventor of the World Wide Web says we can do better with this connective platform. Insurance has an opportunity to do just that.
By: | March 25, 2019 • 2 min read

Thirty years ago, the World Wide Web was born. And since, it has shaped the way humans interact, conduct business and communicate globally.

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However, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, credited with the invention of the web, says the internet needs to be “changed for the better in the next 30” in a recent article with the World Wide Web Foundation. 

Berners-Lee explained that “while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”

What’s Wrong With the Internet

Berners-Lee identified 3 things that he finds particularly dysfunctional about the internet today:

  1. Deliberate, malicious intent, which spans everything from state-sponsored hacking to online harassment.
  2. System design that creates perverse incentives, like ad structures that reward clickbait.
  3. Unintended negative consequences, like rewarding outlandish opinions rather than quality discourse.

“You can’t just blame one government, one social network or the human spirit. Simplistic narratives risk exhausting our energy as we chase the symptoms of these problems instead of focusing on their root causes. To get this right, we will need to come together as a global web community.”

He called on governments to promote policies that allow openness, competition and innovation — and “take action when private sector interests threaten the public good.” He called on companies and tech employees to demand better business practices. He called on citizens to hold those governments and companies accountable.

“The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”

Getting Insurance Involved

Taking that one step further, just as the internet continues to grow and change, businesses and the insurance companies behind them must also evolve alongside it. We are all engaged in some avenue of the internet and its innovation; the insurance industry can make its own mark in driving opportunity and expanding internet best practices.

For starters, privacy needs to be top of mind, and data security is a must. The entire data privacy paradigm has led a prominent insurance broker estimating the cyber market could hit $10 billion by 2020. The cyber threat is big and growing fast, but the good news is cyber insurance is taking off with most stand-alone policies paying out.

“Many countries have a cyber command and a whole cyber strategy,” Ofer Israeli, CEO of Illusive Networks, told Risk & Insurance®. ” … Part of the challenge the world has in cyber is that if something is out, it’s out, and it can be utilized by a different threat actor pretty easily. So if I’m a cyber criminal and I get hold of something that Iran has developed, I can weaponize that very quickly and use it.”

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Meanwhile tech companies — which are being attacked on multiple fronts — must evolve too. 

While 2020 Presidential candidates (like Elizabeth Warren) are calling for the breakup of big tech companies, their “toxic content” could lead to billions in fines by European regulators.

On the other side of things, tech companies seem to be frantically trying to figure out how to protect user data and privacy while simultaneously removing bots from their platforms. It’s a wild ride that shows no signs on slowing down.

But as Berners-Lee sees it, all the heavy lifting now could lead to a future we’re all proud of.

“If we give up on building a better web now,” he wrote, “then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”

Further Reading:

What’s Really Going on With Net Neutrality?

Thinking of Expanding Your Business Overseas? Your Cyber Security Compliance Just Got More Complicated

Top 5 Privacy and Cyber Regulations and Why They Should Concern Risk Managers

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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]