Should insurers be doing more to protect us from cyberattacks?

That cyberattacks have risen tremendously during the COVID-era is beyond dispute. How this deluge of attacks can best be rebuffed is another matter. A recent report from consultancy giant Accenture explores the role the insurance industry might play in helping individuals ward off the threats posed by hackers.

"During the first six months of the pandemic, the share of retail consumers who ranked financial security as one of their top three concerns rose from 36% to 50%," the report explains. "Preventing and recovering from losses through personal and group insurance is key to achieving that goal."

Identity and data protection

The report explains that, traditionally, insurers have regarded any kind of cybersecurity-related products to be purely targeted at commercial customers, but it's increasingly clear that this is something consumers are clamoring for too. Indeed, the research shows that over 75% of consumers would welcome support and assistance in dealing with cybersecurity threats.

A majority of the 47,000 or so people Accenture surveyed said that they would welcome some kind of home cybersecurity insurance, where premiums are tied to things like using the latest anti-virus software.

This interest was especially high among younger consumers.

"Insurers who offer proactive identity and personal data protection can help consumers better anticipate and mitigate those risks," the report says. "Protecting the digital infrastructure that allows consumers to work, learn, shop, and more from home broadens and deepens insurers’ relationships with their customers."

For the insurance industry, offering protection of the identities and data of consumers also offers an additional touchpoint that goes beyond the kind of assets traditionally insured and into the very foundations of consumers' lives.

The opportunities presented are being reflected by early moves in the market itself, with Baloise Group one of the first to offer direct-to-consumer cyber insurance products, with the company pledging to ensure safe internet surfing and online shopping.

Similarly, the New Zealand insurer Delta Insurance Group has launched a personal cyber product that pledges to protect people from the threat of things such as data loss and ransomware.

Seeking help

The report highlights the growing specter of cybercrime unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has made more and more of us aware of our vulnerabilities when we venture online.

While traditionally we would have looked after ourselves by downloading various cybersecurity products, Accenture believes that there is a growing desire to have some insurance should our efforts prove insufficient.

"Helping protect consumers in an age of ransomware, malware, and other cybersecurity threats present insurers with a way to grow their business in a new area, deepening and broadening their relationship with consumers," the authors conclude. "As they partner in a new aspect of their policyholders’ lives, they can do good for their customer base while ensuring they can compete even during difficult economic times."

With the coronavirus lockdown measures forcing many of us to work remotely, the authors suggest that long-term changes to how we go about our lives are underway. This is reflected in our shifting expectations around insurance and the kind of protection we’re looking for.

The new normal

“With more people now working remotely, insurers must protect their customers’ homes not just as physical assets, but as digital assets as well,” Accenture explains. “Insurers should play an active role in helping prevent cyber threats in the first place. Consumers tell us they want to be rewarded for good behavior and have their premiums more accurately reflect how they live their lives and stay safe.”

This support will also need to be offered in a cost-effective way, as consumers are likely to be highly sensitive to price and look for value for money in the insurance coverage they secure. It is, in essence, requiring insurers to be deeply in tune with the new world they face, where not only are cyber threats on the rise, but the economic hardship and uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is intense.

As the number of cyberattacks has grown throughout 2020, the popularity of cyber-liability insurance for businesses has grown considerably.

Businesses have sought to protect themselves from the fallout of hacking threats and minimize any disruption they may face during a cyber incident.

That such products have crossed over into the consumer market is a reflection of the changing nature of life during and after Covid-19. With more and more of us working not only remotely but also independently, the ability to ensure our lives are not disrupted by cyberattacks is increasingly important, and the insurance industry appears to be adapting to provide that assurance.

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