MUNICH (Reuters) - Europe's biggest insurer Allianz is expecting to cash in on growing corporate demand for insurance against computer hacking and internet breakdowns, it said on Wednesday.
"We see cyber insurance as a big growth market," said Hartmut Mai, board member at Allianz's AGCS unit for global corporate and special insurance risks.
Insuring against cyber threats is seen as a potentially lucrative market for Europe's insurers, particularly now that lawmakers are promising bigger fines for companies that lose data.
"If my production lines are silent because my cloud (computing) provider cannot make the data I have stored there available, then that could threaten the company's existence," Mai told a press briefing.
While cyber insurance products in the United States are already well developed, generating premiums of around $1.3 billion per year, they are drawing premiums of only around 150 million euros ($192 million) in continental Europe, including between 50 million and 70 million in Germany, Mai said.
That leaves room for the market outside the United States to grow by double-digit rates.
"We see the overall market in Europe at between 700 and 900 million euros in 2018," Mai said, adding that Allianz aimed to grow with the market and hold a share of around a fifth.
Allianz has brought several types of risk cover, including some existing insurance products, into a single package for its cyber offering, which it expects will be of interest to telecoms companies, software houses, online retailers and banks.
Annual premiums would range from roughly 50,000 euros to 90,000 and would offer between 10 and 50 million euros of protection, Mai said.
The insurer is rolling out the package in western Europe, Australia and New Zealand this year and will target several Asian countries in 2014. It does not plan to offer it to U.S.-based customers, where the liability rules make the market particularly tough. ($1 = 0.7821 euros)
Reporting by Joern Poltz; Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Holmes