How did you get started at your agency?
I joined First Underwriters in 2017 as an independent broker but I've been in the insurance industry for over 30 years as a broker and consultant.
As I was finishing my last year of college at the University of Washington, my wife had a job as a receptionist for an insurance agency. I met some people at the agency who told me about a personal underwriter position that was open at a company they represented. Since I needed a job coming out of college, I applied and got it. It was an "accidental insurance career," for sure.
I stayed for a little over a year as an underwriter and then took a job as an agent for one of the agencies that I was working with. I never left the industry after that.
Why focus on cyber liability?
It's the biggest peril for small businesses in the 21st century because small businesses don’t have the financial and technological resources to deal with the consequences of a cyberattack, which puts them more at risk than larger companies. Offering them cyber liability offers them protection.
Biggest cyber liability changes?
The volatility itself is the biggest change. The risk and exposure is constantly changing and it's difficult to keep up with. Today, ransomware is the biggest risk. However, other issues like phishing and identity theft have become major issues, as well. To add to that, there is a growing emphasis on criminals stealing a business's identity, which means employers must be on their guard to protect the identities of both their employees and the organization itself.
Biggest cyber liability challenges?
Understanding the risk and educating employees. It's too easy to allow the criminals in, which means education and constant maintenance is essential. From an insurance perspective, we must stay up to date with the appropriate coverages for perils that might not exist today.
The biggest thing you can do is to continually provide clients with educational resources, such as articles and videos, that discuss risk management techniques. Insurers are also doing a better job providing educational resources, as well.
Future of cyber liability?
Eventually, it will become mandatory for businesses to carry cyber liability coverages because of the supply-chain pressure. A cyberattack can have a domino effect that cascades to multiple businesses and partners, which why there is increased pressure from supply-chain partners to have a contingency plan and carry insurance.
Cyber liability advice for a fellow agent?
Don't let your clients get away with saying they don't need it because they are a small business. While you can't make them purchase it, you can offer concrete case studies about the need to protect their business.
Favorite cyber liability success story?
Assuring my clients have protection is a success for me. I've yet to have a major claim involving cyber liability.
Will Jones is IA senior editor.