22 July 2020News

US cyber market continues to grow as awareness of risks increases

Direct premiums written in the US cyber insurance market grew by 11 percent year over year in 2019 to $2.25 billion; however, the rate of growth slowed from the previous year, marking the fourth-straight year of this trend.

That is according to a new report by AM Best called: ‘Cyber Insurance: Profitability Less Certain as New Risks Emerge,’. In it, it notes that growth has slowed significantly from 2016-2017 when direct premiums written grew by more than 30 percent annually, as the cyber threat landscape has expanded and the awareness of the risks have increased.

“Protracted litigation has demonstrated that cyber attacks can have a longer tail than expected, underscoring the importance of managing so-called silent cyber. Additionally, the frequency and severity of ransomware attacks have escalated, as have data breaches and kidnaps in the health care industry,” the report noted.

“Given the similarities between a pandemic and a cyber attack, the large-scale global economic and societal disruptions caused by COVID-19 should cause insurers to rethink and enhance their stress testing and focus on greater clarity in their insurance contracts to set transparent expectations for themselves and their clients.”

The report shows that standalone cyber policy premiums were up by 14 percent in 2019, notably outpacing the 7 percent growth in packaged cyber policies and highlighting organizations’ escalating concerns about cyber risk and their strategic choice to purchase policies solely for cyber risk protection;

The total number of claims has doubled since 2017 to approximately 18,000 in 2019, which could create a pricing issue if rates cannot keep up with the rising frequency. Moreover, standalone direct paid loss and defense and cost containment rose for a third straight year, to 32.5 percent in 2019 from 23.1% in 2018.

The report also identified the top writers of cyber. Chubb INA Group remained the top cyber insurer in 2019, ahead of XL Reinsurance America Group (AXA XL) and American International Group, with $356.9 million in cyber direct premiums written, of which nearly all were for packaged policies. Hartford Insurance Group held the most cyber policies in force at year-end, with nearly 543,000.

The report notes that AM Best’s market figures likely are understated given lack of standardization in cyber policies and reporting, as well as a considerable usage of captive and surplus lines insurers to write cyber coverage.

“Insurers are making greater efforts to provide clarity and explicitly exclude cyber coverage in non-cyber policies, to diminish or eliminate silent cyber exposures. Clients and businesses are also becoming more sophisticated and want separate cover for cyber, as they do not want other risks (e.g., directors and officers, property) to eat into their aggregate coverage. AM Best believes that comprehensive risk management practices will help prepare for unexpected shocks when they occur,” the report said.