VirtualArmour Team

November 12, 2021

What is Cybersecurity Insurance (& Does Your Business Need It?)

An unfortunate reality of the modern, connected business world is that it is no longer a question of if your organization will experience a cybersecurity incident, but when. In 2020, there was one new ransomware victim every ten seconds, while the average cost of a data breach the same year was $3.86 million.

Those eye-watering numbers have many organizations of all sizes and in all verticals, justifiably concerned. Improving your cybersecurity posture and ensuring you have an effective incident response plan in place can significantly reduce the amount of downtime your organization experiences should an incident occur, as well as minimize or even eliminate damages. However, to help offset the costs associated with cybersecurity incident recovery, more organizations than ever before are turning to cybersecurity insurance.

man calculating cost or cybersecurity risks and breaches

What is Cybersecurity Insurance?

Cybersecurity insurance (also called cyber liability insurance) is designed to cover the costs associated with cybercrime should your technological systems or customer data be targeted as part of a cybersecurity incident. While your exact coverage will vary depending on your insurance provider and other factors, cyber liability insurance typically covers legal costs and damages such as:

Cyber Liability Insurance vs Cybercrime Insurance: What is the Difference?

Some insurance providers also offer cybercrime insurance in addition to cyber liability insurance. This additional insurance is designed to help compensate your organization for funds lost during a cybersecurity incident such as a hack or social engineering attack, including notification costs, data restoration costs, and associated legal expenses.

What Typically Isn’t Covered

Like all forms of insurance, there are a few things cyber liability insurance typically doesn’t cover. While what is and is not covered will vary depending on your insurance provider and policy, typical exclusions include:

  • Potential future lost profits
  • Loss of value due to intellectual property theft
  • Betterment, which is the cost to improve your internal technology systems, including software or security upgrades, after an attack has occurred

Common Types of Cyber Liability Claims

When it comes to insurance claims, most cyberattacks fall into one of three categories: hacking, social engineering, and malware (including ransomware).

Hacking

Hacking (gaining unauthorized access to a computer system, usually by exploiting existing security vulnerabilities) is the most common type of attack that leads to an insurance claim. This is because if an attacker compromises your system or network, your company could be liable for a wide variety of costs related to the attack, including:

  • Third-party lawsuits
  • The costs associated with notifying affected parties and other stakeholders
  • Public relations and reputation management costs
  • Regulatory fines

Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks (including phishing scams) depend on an attacker tricking someone inside your company into helping them. Attackers trick unknowing individuals with access to your system into essentially opening the door for them, usually by impersonating a trusted individual (such as their boss or another superior or someone from accounting or the bank) and asking them to click a link, hand over their login credentials, or grant access to restricted areas of the network. The employee then unwittingly either lets the attacker into the network or downloads malware, which grants access or otherwise allows the attacker to wreak havoc.

Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, comes in a variety of forms and is an incredibly common type of cyberattack. Malware can be difficult to defend against because every program is different and uses different strategies to infiltrate your network. Ransomware is a very common form of malware designed to hijack your system and lock you and your employees out of the network. The attacker then demands a ransom in exchange for releasing or unlocking the system. However, not all attackers follow through on their end and may simply take the ransom money and leave the network locked.

photo of hooded man hacking with his computer

First-Party vs Third-Party Insurance

What type of cyber liability insurance your organization decides to purchase should be based on a variety of factors, including your needs as an organization and what entities you need to protect. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyberattacks, the business originally targeted is not the only party that may be impacted. As such, there are two different types of cyber liability insurance: first-party and third-party.

First-party insurance protects your company or organization and will cover the costs outlined in your policy associated with an attack. Any organization that handles electronic data should purchase a first-party policy to cover the various expenses that organizations face in the wake of a cybersecurity incident.

Third-party insurance is designed to protect organizations that offer professional services to other businesses that could be impacted in the event of an attack. This type of coverage is often compared to professional liability insurance in the sense that the third-party insurance can help safeguard your business in the event you are sued by another organization for errors you may have made that resulted in damages or losses to the company suing you.

For example, let’s say your organization is a law firm. Your law firm’s data security is compromised, and as a result, several of your clients have accused you of failing to prevent the data breach. In this instance, the third-party cyber-liability insurance would cover your legal fees, government penalties and fines, and any settlements or judgments related to these claims.

What is the Average Cost of Cybersecurity Insurance?

How much your cyber liability insurance plan costs will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of business you run and the level of cyber risk you are exposed to. However, a recent study by AdvisorSmith Solution Inc found that the average cost of a cyber liability policy in 2019 was $1500 per year for $1 million in coverage, as well as a $10,000 deductible.

How much your policy costs will also depend on:

  1. Your size and industry: The more employees you have, the greater your chances of falling for a successful phishing or other social engineering attack, which will drive up your insurance premiums. However, a larger factor is your industry. Different industries are classified as low, medium, or high risk, depending on the type and amount of data your organization stores.
  1. How much data you store, and how sensitive it is: Low-risk organizations, such as small local businesses with limited customer bases, will pay less for their coverage than higher-risk organizations such as retail stores that collect and store customer credit card numbers both instore and online through their website or eCommerce store. Organizations that store large amounts of highly sensitive personal data (such as social security numbers or dates of birth), such as hospitals or other healthcare facilities, will pay higher premiums.
  1. Your annual revenue: In the eyes of most insurance companies, the more money your business makes, the more likely a cybercriminal will target your organization. As such, organizations with higher revenue streams are more likely to pay higher premiums for cyber liability insurance.
  1. How robust your cybersecurity posture is: Most insurance companies reward organizations that take cybersecurity seriously and dedicate significant resources and people hours to safeguarding their digital assets. To help keep your insurance costs low, all organizations (particularly high-risk ones) should invest in robust cybersecurity measures, have sufficient security measures in place, and ensure their employees receive appropriate cybersecurity training.
  1. The terms of your policy: Your coverage limits and deductible also play a significant role in determining your insurance premiums. The more coverage you want, the higher your monthly insurance premiums will be. Your deductible refers to the amount of loss your business is responsible for in the event of an incident that is covered by your policy. Organizations that opt for a higher deductible (absorbing more of the initial costs themselves) typically pay lower premiums but are on the hook for more of the damages in the event of an incident. On the other hand, organizations that opt for a lower deductible will pay higher monthly premiums but will have more of their losses covered in the event of an incident. Organizations with robust security measures in place may opt for lower premiums and a higher deductible, while high-risk organizations that store lots of sensitive data may opt for higher premiums in exchange for a lower deductible.

Does My Business Need Cybersecurity Insurance?

If your organization handles electronic data, you should have at least a basic cyber liability insurance plan in place. Like all forms of insurance, cyber liability insurance is there to cover worst-case, what-if scenarios.

Handing over funds for cyber liability insurance every month may seem like an unnecessary expense, but a large-scale cybersecurity incident can be enough to bankrupt a small or even medium-sized organization and destroy your reputation. Having access to emergency funds to defray costs such as hiring an expert team to help you fend off an attack in progress and limit damages, replacing damaged equipment, paying fines, covering your legal costs, and managing your reputation after an incident could be the difference between your organization weathering the storm relatively unscathed or folding under the pressure.

Take a Proactive Approach

Investing in a robust yet flexible cybersecurity posture will do more than just help keep your premiums low; it can also help your organization fend off attacks in real-time and limit or even eliminate permanent damage to your infrastructure.

Investments such as employee cybersecurity training (both as ongoing training and part of your employee onboarding process) can also help safeguard your organization by giving your team the tools they need to spot suspicious activities (such as phishing scams) and sound the alarm before any damage can be done.

Selecting the Best Insurance Provider for Your Organization

With cybercrime on the rise, more insurance companies than ever are offering cyber liability insurance. As with any insurance policy, it often pays to shop around. Start by finding out if your existing insurance provider offers cyber liability insurance. If they do, you might be able to negotiate a break on your premiums or a better deductible in light of your existing relationship.

However, it also helps to shop around and see what other providers and policies are available. Since the cost of your insurance plan is typically determined in part by your industry or vertical, it can help to reach out to other organizations like yours for recommendations and advice. You may also want to consider consulting with your MSSP (Managed Security Services Provider) to see if they have any recommendations. MSSPs have extensive cybersecurity experience and work with a variety of organizations, so they may be able to help you determine what sort of policy is best for your organization’s unique needs.

For more information about the importance of cyber liability insurance, and cybersecurity in general, please contact our team today.

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