Small business and cyber insurance

Risk management services are an important way cyber insurance adds value for small businesses, according to a new I.I.I. paper.

In Protecting Against #Cyberfail: Small Business and Cyber Insurance, I.I.I. co-authors James Lynch and Claire Wilkinson say:

“The provision of these types of services is considered a growth area in the cyber market for SMBs, where price may be a barrier to insurance coverage in the first place. For larger companies, cyber-related risk management services may be offered at a discount or for free.

“For SMBs in particular, offering a risk management or training solution where they can learn more and keep themselves up-to-date on current threats is perhaps most valuable.”

Also heard at the Advisen Cyber Risk Insights Conference in NYC last week: part of the value proposition for SMBs is that cyber policies offer solutions, not just coverage.

Andy Lea, vice president underwriting for E&O, Cyber and Media, CNA, told the conference: “The value proposition is more prominent with SME and middle market companies that just don’t have resources available in-house to manage risks. This is an opportunity for brokers and carriers to add value.”

The challenges to building better after a disaster

The pressures to rebuild quickly after a disaster can pose a challenge to the notion that immediately after a disaster is the perfect opportunity for creating more disaster resilient buildings and infrastructure.

The author of this blog, Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer for RMS, cites several recent examples – “Whether this is to elevate buildings out of the flood zone in Houston or raising wind design code standards in Dominica, the political instinct will be to remove any barrier in the path of rapid reconstruction.”

He concludes that we should try harder to argue for making the transformation at the time of the disaster and not give in to the political arguments where economic recovery is the number one priority.

 

The week in a minute, 10/26/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

  • Hurricane Nate caused insured wind-caused damage totaling anywhere from less than $500 million (Risk Management Solutions) to as much as $1 billion (CoreLogic). Nate made landfall as a Category 1 storm on the Louisiana-Mississippi border on the weekend of October 7-8.

 

Superstorm Sandy

By Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecasting team, and I.I.I. non-resident scholar.

Five years ago this month (October 29), Superstorm (hurricane until a few hours before landfall) Sandy made landfall along the coast of New Jersey just northeast of Atlantic City.  Sandy was one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the northeast United States, causing more than 70 fatalities and $50 billion dollars in damage. It was the deadliest Northeast United States hurricane since Agnes (1972) and the 2nd most expensive United States hurricane on record behind Katrina (2005).  While heavy rainfall and strong winds were part of Sandy’s legacy, the primary cause of the massive destruction and damage that occurred was due to high storm surge levels.

Sandy developed in the SW Caribbean on October 22 (Figure 1). This region is a typical hotbed for October Atlantic hurricanes.  The system slowly intensified, eventually reaching hurricane strength before hitting Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane.  It briefly reached major hurricane strength (Category 3+ on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale) before making landfall in Cuba.

Figure 1: Track of Hurricane Sandy from its formation in the SW Caribbean until its dissipation in the northeast United States.  Figure courtesy of National Hurricane Center.

Landfall in Cuba weakened Sandy somewhat, and the system began to undergo structural changes as it interacted with a large upper-level low pressure area.  This upper-level low caused the inner core to lose intensity, but it also caused the storm to grow considerably in size.  Sandy weakened to a tropical storm, but then vertical wind shear (the change in wind direction with height in the atmosphere), began to abate and Sandy was able to re-intensify to hurricane strength.  The storm, however, retained its large, sprawling circulation. (Figure 2).  Tropical storm-force winds extended more than 900 miles away from the center of the circulation as it approached the United States coast, making it the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (since 1988).

Figure 2: Infrared satellite imagery of Hurricane Sandy on October 29 showing the large, sprawling nature of its circulation.  Figure courtesy of NOAA.

A large blocking high to the north of Sandy caused the storm to track to the northwest (Figure 3).  Once Sandy had finished transiting the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and moved over cooler shelf waters near the New Jersey coast, it completed its transition into a post-tropical cyclone several hours before landfall.

Figure 3: Mid-level weather pattern causing the anomalous track that Hurricane Sandy took.  Strong high pressure to the north of Sandy prevented recurvature and caused Sandy to track towards the northwest.  Figure courtesy of National Hurricane Center.

While the maximum intensity at the time of its New Jersey landfall was 80 mph – equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane – the storm’s large size triggered huge amounts of storm surge.  In addition, tides were running higher than normal, due to the lunar cycle; storm tide values shattered records in parts of New York City.  At the Battery, Manhattan’s southernmost tip, the storm tide exceeded 14 feet, which was more than four feet higher than the previous record set during a winter storm in December 1992.   Many other areas along the coast of New Jersey and in New York City reported storm surge levels of 5-8 feet from Sandy which combined with astronomical factors to cause massive inundation.

Sandy’s transition from hurricane to post-tropical cyclone immediately prior to landfall as well as the massive size of the system has helped us to refocus efforts in the five years since the storm to clearly delineate between the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale category and potential impacts that the storm may generate. Just because a system transitions from a hurricane into a post-tropical system does not mean that its impacts have been ameliorated. While it has now been five years since Sandy’s landfall, it will forever be remembered in the northeast United States as an incredibly damaging storm.

Cleanup from the North Bay Fire Storm

The State of California launched the largest wildfire cleanup in the Golden State’s history on Monday, October 23rd, following the unprecedented North Bay Fire Storm.  I.I.I.’s California representative Janet Ruiz attended a press conference hosted on Monday by the City of Santa Rosa where government representatives answered questions about debris removal. Here are a few of the questions and answers:

Q: Who is in charge of the cleanup?

A: The clean-up will be done under unified command with California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), FEMA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Q: What is the timeline?

A: This command structure is expected to expedite the removal of fire debris in Sonoma County, with a deadline of completion anticipated to be early 2018.

Q: What is the first priority?

A: The first phase of the cleanup will be household hazardous waste and debris including propane tanks, burned out vehicles, air conditioners and refrigerators.

Q: Will homeowners have to pay for the cleanup?

A: Cal OES will accept insurance debris removal payouts as full payment. Removal will be free to homeowners who don’t have insurance.

Q: Are homeowners required to participate?

A: Homeowners can opt out of this program and hire their own licensed contractor to do their debris removal if they prefer.

For more information on the recovery efforts visit sonomacountyrecovers.

Northern California Wildfires: Filing a Claim

Now that the recovery process from Northern California’s deadly wildfires is under way, the largest debris-removal campaign in California’s history is in progress. Thousands of insurance claims are pouring in and the state insurance department has issued and expedited claims handling notice for all property/casualty companies.

The Insurance Information Institute has the following resources related to the claims process:

The Insurance Institute for Home Safety (IIHS) also has a series of wildfire related publications.

And to be sure you are prepared in case of wildfire, I.I.I has this article: Preparing an Effective Evacuation Plan.

 

THE WEEK IN A MINUTE, 10/19/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

When a fire becomes a liability accumulation event

Accumulation risk, where a single event triggers losses under multiple policies in one or more lines of insurance, is emerging in new and unforeseen ways in today’s interconnected world, says a post at Swiss Re Open Minds blog.

From Ruta Mikiskaite, casualty treaty underwriter, and Catriona Barker, claims expert UK&International Claims at Swiss Re:

“Accumulation scenarios have always been familiar in property insurance but for casualty lines of business, they have been perhaps less of an issue. However, large losses in recent years show how traditional physical perils should not be underestimated for their casualty clash potential.”

For example, Kilmore East-Kinglake bushfire, the most severe of a series of deadly wildfires in the Australian state of Victoria on Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, led to a settlement of A$500 million—the biggest class action settlement in Australian legal history.

Per Swiss Re’s post, the Royal Commission found that the fire was caused by poorly maintained power lines owned by power company SP AusNet and maintained by asset manager Utility Services Group. The Victoria State government was also held liable for its failure to provide sufficient prevention measures and inadequate warnings during the fires.

“With improved technology and scientific tools available to analyze and simulate scenarios following storms, fires and floods to predict their likely or alternative courses, any action by an individual, corporate body or government now attracts far greater scrutiny. As a result, there can be a greater readiness to sue for alleged nuisance or negligence leading to more casualty claims out of natural perils.”

The upshot: insurers need to look at their reinsurance programs to see how they would respond to liability clash events.

 

What cybersecurity measures do businesses have in place?

In the third week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Insurtech Insights newsletter by CB Insights gives a timely update on the cyber insurance market, and where startups are playing in this growing industry.

It notes the “tremendous opportunity” to sell cyber insurance to small businesses.

A recent Better Business Bureau study estimates that 15 percent of small businesses have cyber insurance. BBB Accredited Businesses are almost three times as likely to include cybersecurity insurance.

Fortunately, about nine out of 10 businesses reported to the BBB they have some cybersecurity measures in place, with the most common ones: antivirus; firewall; and employee education: