Cyber insurance premiums rocket after high-profile attacks

Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:26am EDT
 
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By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - A rash of hacking attacks on U.S. companies over the past two years has prompted insurers to massively increase cyber premiums for some companies, leaving firms that are perceived to be a high risk scrambling for cover.

On top of rate hikes, insurers are raising deductibles and in some cases limiting the amount of coverage to $100 million, leaving many potentially exposed to big losses from hacks that can cost more than twice that.

"Some companies are struggling to find the money to buy the coverage they want," said Tom Reagan, a cyber insurance executive with Marsh & McLennan Co's (MMC.N: Quote) Marsh broker unit.

The price of cyber coverage - which helps cover costs like forensic investigations, credit monitoring, legal fees and settlements - varies widely, depending on the strength of a company's security. But the overall trend is sharply up.

Retailers and health insurers have been especially hard hit by the squeeze after high-profile breaches at Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote), Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote), Anthem Inc (ANTM.N: Quote) and Premera Blue Cross.

Health insurers who suffered hacks are facing the most extreme increases, with some premiums tripling at renewal time, said Bob Wice, a leader of Beazley Plc's BEZG.L cyber insurance practice.

Average rates for retailers surged 32 percent in the first half of this year, after staying flat in 2014, according to previously unreported figures from Marsh.

Higher deductibles are also now common for retailers and health insurers. And even the biggest insurers will not write policies for more than $100 million for risky customers. That leave companies like Target, which says its big 2013 data breach has cost $264 million, paying out of pocket.   Continued...

 
A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on an Internet Explorer browser in a photo illustration in Paris April 15, 2014.  REUTERS/Mal Langsdon