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From the Front Lines: Cyber Liability

"Back in the '90s when employment practices liability insurance coverage exploded I knew cyber coverage was going to do the same, but in a more powerful way," says independent agent Sue Miller. "I knew I had to be in front of the market for the benefit of my clients."
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From the Front Lines: Cyber LiabilitySue Miller

Vice President

O'Connor & English Insurance Agency

Dubuque, Iowa

How did you get started at your agency? 

I started my insurance career in 1984 when I moved from Dubuque, Iowa, to Orange County, California, where I worked at a family-owned insurance agency. I moved back to Dubuque in 1986 and was hired by Frank O'Connor of O'Connor & Associates Insurance Agency. Until he retired six years ago, Frank had been my mentor for 30 years. He was a great teacher. I will forever be grateful for his knowledge and friendship.

Why cyber insurance?

Back in the '90s when employment practices liability insurance coverage exploded, I knew cyber coverage was going to do the same but in a more powerful way. I knew I had to be in front of the market for the benefit of my clients. I developed my knowledge of the market through reading and researching. It was a huge eye-opener.

Biggest industry changes?

It seems like every year one type of coverage is more dominant than the year before. Take ransomware attacks for instance, which are becoming more and more regular—this is a threat facing all organizations across all industries.

Biggest challenges?

Knowing what coverages you are selling. You can have a standard market that includes cyber liability and breach coverage as part of the package or business owners policy. However, does that policy include public relations expenses, ransomware, business interruption, cyber extortion, dependent system failure and breach of contract? Does the policy pay on behalf of or indemnify? Everyone needs to be familiar with the policy features they are selling and find a policy designed for their client's needs.

Future trends? 

An increase in claims being turned in for extortion and ransomware attacks. Hackers are becoming bolder and cyberattacks are getting bigger. It's causing a lot of cyber markets to increase rates and decline certain industry classes. I expect to see more and more changes to come as claims keep rolling into the companies.

Cyber insurance advice for a fellow agent?

Know your markets when it comes to which companies have the broadest form and which companies tailor more for your client's needs. Additionally, if you write a standalone cyber policy, does your client also have a package or business owners policy that includes some cyber coverage? If so, which policy is primary? These are questions you need to ask.

Favorite success story? 

I explained to a client I have worked with for several years how important it is to purchase a cyber policy. Unfortunately, even the client's IT manager didn't believe a cyber policy was necessary. But within a few years of making the decision to purchase, the client suffered two losses within the same year.

It's important to explain to clients that even with the best systems, controls, personnel and procedures, everyone is at risk of a cyber breach.

Olivia Overman is IA content editor.

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Thursday, April 29, 2021
Cyber Liability