Risk Management

Hybrid Cyber-Risk Solutions May Lower Cost of Insurance

Requiring businesses to buy certain IT products to get better cyber insurance coverage may be an idea whose time has come.
David KatzMarch 12, 2018
Hybrid Cyber-Risk Solutions May Lower Cost of Insurance

Going beyond simply adding coverage to existing policies, Allianz Group, an insurance company seeking to gain a bigger share of the U.S. cyber market, made news along with Cisco, Apple, and Aon by announcing that the four companies would be offering “a new cyber-risk management solution for businesses.”

The solution, focused on malware and ransomware protection, is “comprised of cyber resilience evaluation services from Aon, the most secure technology from Cisco and Apple, and options for enhanced cyber insurance coverage from Allianz,” the companies boasted in early February.

Since the announcement, more details have emerged about the offering.

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To obtain the enhanced and sometimes cheaper insurance, companies will have to buy Cisco’s ransomware product (which defends companies against “cloud-delivered malicious internet site-blocking” and other malware) or purchase Apple iPhones, iPads, or Macs for their employees. Corporate applicants must also undergo a cyber security assessment administered by Aon specialists.

The brainchild emerged when Cisco, whose insurance broker is Aon, approached Allianz, according to Jenny Soubra, the insurance company’s U.S. head of cyber. The idea was to “capture and tie together services which are considered new and cutting-edge with insurance, which people don’t think of as new and exciting,” she recalls.

“Apple got wind of this and they wanted to get involved,” she added.

Acknowledging that one of Allianz’s major goals for the effort is to “increase the purchase of cyber insurance,” Soubra maintains that limiting insureds to Cisco and Apple clients provides Allianz with the underwriting assurance it needs to offer more generous coverage.

Depending on the amount of products companies buy from the two tech providers, Allianz will offer “lower deductibles all the way down to zero,” according to Soubra. In a departure from its usual practice, the underwriter might also decrease to nothing the number of hours a company must wait after a cyber event occur before the insurance kicks in. Also rare, she contends, is the coverage the solution offers for hardware damaged in the wake of a cyber event.

The solution is one of a number of hybrid efforts launched recently, although most of them are being offered by startups and small tech firms.

Eight days after the four companies launched their solution, for example,  Coalition, a small cyber insurance outfit, and HackerOne, a firm of “white hat” computer hackers aiming to detect bugs in company systems, “announced a partnership to bring hacker-powered security and lower cyber insurance premiums to small and midsize businesses.”

In such combined offerings, the security side must provide a solid basis for insurers to underwrite company risks and offer clients better-quality coverage, according to XL Catlin’s Elissa Doroff, whose company often partners with Clarion, a security monitoring firm.

Commenting on the Allianz arrangement, Doroff says that while it seems “great in theory, until these partnerships and agreements go through some lifecycle for a number of years, I don’t know how good overall the insurance is going to be. It will be interesting to see what plays out.”

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