"If you're not selling your client cyber insurance right now, someone else in your office really needs to be having that conversation," says independent agent John Higdon. "Agents need to understand their clients, their point-of-sale system and their software."
Senior Risk Analyst
Midwest Risk Partners
Creve Coeur, Missouri
How did you get started at your agency?
I've spent 16 years in the industry and almost a decade specializing in cyber insurance with technology firms. In 2020, I joined Midwest Risk Partners after spending over 10 years with the Chapman and Hogan Insurance Group.
Midwest Risk Partners represents a wide variety of different cyber risks. I work with our producers and discuss the cyber risks facing the municipalities or manufacturers who haven't pulled the trigger on cyber insurance. I also spend a lot of my time working with technology-based private equity firms that are active in mergers & acquisitions both domestically and abroad.
Challenges in the cyber insurance market?
Knowing the appetite of carriers in the marketplace—and there are a lot. They all have different underwriting criteria for their applications, such as individual pain points where they may have seen a claim in the past.
We're completing a lot more paperwork to get the same amount of coverage today. It used to be that we could take one carrier application, complete it and send it to five or seven carriers operating in that market who we knew were going to be competitive. We can still do that with commercial package coverages, but carriers are very specific when it comes to cyber.
Multi-factor authentication has become a key component of cybersecurity. If you don't have that in place, you can't get coverage—it's an automatic decline. I think we're almost to the point where everyone knows that now.
The amount of information that's available on the dark web and on the internet is leading the way when offering coverage. Underwriters are consolidating this information and are then able to predict how an account will be infiltrated. This kind of data and feedback from cyber underwriters is important in limiting future claims. They're providing the advice that businesses would have to pay for to tighten up their network, providing a roadmap of vulnerabilities.
Advice for a fellow agent in the cyber market?
If you're not selling your client cyber insurance right now, someone else in your office really needs to be having that conversation. Agents need to understand their clients, their point-of-sale system and their software. If their software provider gets hacked, they can't run invoices, they can't order parts, and their business is at a standstill. Explaining their exposure to them and then discussing what they need to do to minimize their risk and transfer that risk to an insurance carrier is a pretty detailed conversation. You have to understand the terminology in the cyber market and then help the client understand it too.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.