Government agencies, cities and counties, and even the Colonial Williamsburg website have faced cyber attacks in recent weeks, underscoring that potential targets go well beyond private businesses, an Insurance Information Institute industry blog reported.
The trend shows the growing need for public-sector entities as well as businesses to obtain cyber insurance in what continues to be a fast-evolving problem.
Blog writer Claire Wilkinson noted a number of new attacks in recent days. Among the targets: the Florida Standards Assessment testing system; multiple New York City agencies including the mayor’s office; and the city and county computer systems of Madison, Wis.
Wilkinson’s blog also cited a media report in The Virginia Gazette concerning a recent cyber attack on the Colonial Williamsburg website not long after it offered to house vulnerable artifacts from Iraq. Colonial Williamsburg said the terror group Islamic State may be to blame.
Not surprisingly, public-sector entities are increasingly seeking cyber insurance coverage and demand could very well increase, Jonathan Bergner, federal affairs director for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, told Carrier Management via email.
“The growing demand for cyber insurance from public-sector entities demonstrates that the market for this product—much like the threat itself—continues to rapidly evolve,” Bergner said. “Carriers that offer this type of coverage can and do already sell products to the public sector, and it is possible that we will see an increase in take-up rates that correspond with the growing awareness of the risk.”
At the same time, Bergner noted that there could be “inescapable limitations” on the capacity of the market to handle the demand for cyber insurance, for both the public and private sectors.
“From the increasing frequency and cost of data breaches to the incredibly complex interconnections of the digital world and the Internet of things, the challenges of underwriting for this relatively new and constantly changing risk will take time to fully comprehend and overcome, to the extent that they can be,” Bergner said.
He added that NAMIC has been lobbying both Congress and the Obama administration to “support the natural development of the cyber insurance market and not to try and rush things.”
A new Marsh report, meanwhile, points to the continued growth of the U.S. cyber market.
Marsh determined that the number of its U.S. clients that bought standalone cyber coverage for the first time jumped 32 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. As well, the average cyber insurance limits purchased by large U.S. companies grew 22.7 percent in 2014. The percentage of Marsh’s U.S. financial and professional liability clients that snatched up cyber insurance jumped 16 percent in 2014, Marsh said.
Cyber insurance is also inching up in cost. Marsh found that the average price per million of cyber coverage expanded 2.7 percent in the 2014 fourth quarter versus the same period in 2013.