10 Tips to Maximize Cyber Insurance Recovery

Policyholder Advisor & Alert

PUBLISHED ON: October 1, 2014

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This article also appeared in Advisen (October 29, 2014).

Businesses face two enormous challenges when seeking to contain cyber risks and maximize cyber insurance recovery. First, the risks are by their very nature ever-evolving and thus difficult to stay abreast of, let alone contain. Second, the insurance marketplace is in flux and fragmented.

Below are 10 tips for maximizing cyber insurance recovery.

  1. Make sure your insurance matches the way you conduct online business and process data. For example, there are insurance coverage implications if you use cloud computing or other vendors for hosting and processing data. Many cyber-risk insurance policies available today can be tailored to reflect the fact that the policyholder may delegate to third-party data management and hosting.
  2. Do not rule out coverage for a claim under traditional business policies. If a cyber loss occurs, consider D&O, E&O, crime and general liability insurance coverage depending on the claim against your company or the form of loss. We have had success in winning coverage for our clients for cyber-related losses under traditional coverage.
  3. Avoid cyber insurance policy terms that condition coverage on the policyholder having employed “reasonable” data security measures. These clauses are so vague and subjective that they are bound to lead to coverage fights. Further, given the lightning speed of technological innovation and amorphous nature of cyber risks, a cyber security practice that was reasonable just months ago may look reckless with the benefit of hindsight.
  4. If you possess or process consumer or business credit card information, make sure that you have coverage for fraudulent card charges and credit card brand assessments and fines — these can be large exposures when there is a significant data breach.
  5. If you do business with individual consumers and obtain their personal identifying information, make sure you have coverage (including attorneys’ fee coverage) for the inevitable expenses of responding to informal inquiries and formal proceedings that ensue from state attorneys general, the Federal Trade Commission and others when a breach occurs (often implicating residents of several states).
  6. Make sure that your insurance covers breaches arising from mobile devices that may or may not be connected to the company’s computer network. More and more employees can access systems through tablets, smartphones, and PCs. The ever-growing size of hard drives and the ubiquity of portable drives mean that some employees may create security risks, even when the device is not logged onto the company servers.
  7. Complete insurance applications carefully, including D&O applications. Underwriters will be focusing more and more on computer risk areas, and insurance application responses often are used against policyholders to contest insurance claims.
  8. Avoid cyber insurance policies with contractual liability exclusions. Contractual liability claims often are made in conjunction with statutory claims, negligence claims and other forms of relief, and policyholders are best off not enduring a huge allocation fight over what portion of the claim is covered.
  9. If you are buying or renewing specialty cyber insurance policies, make sure you work with a very good and experienced broker. There is not presently uniformity of product in the cyber insurance marketplace, and lots of terms are open for negotiation. A good broker can help get you the best coverage.
  10. Provide notice to your insurance companies quickly after a breach. The cost meter starts immediately. When you have a breach situation, every second counts, and you undoubtedly will incur costs quickly for computer forensics, attorneys and other consultants. Providing proper notices and advising of these costs promptly can increase the odds of recovering these costs from your insurance companies.