Cyber — Changing the Mindset

January 10, 2022

Mark Brandt, Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lines, Smart Choice

From the Front Line

Mark Brandt is the Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lines for Smart Choice.I’m going to do this.

I’m going to go where no author has gone before….writing an article about Cyber with no mind-boggling statistics that would scare you, no prattling on about coverages, sublimits, and first or third party exposures. No “inside baseball” talk about loss prevention and breach response being key to every business’s cyber security strategy. Frankly, you’ve heard it all before. There are articles literally every day recounting the latest horror stories of businesses large and small falling victim to cyber attacks and phishing scams. The pandemic-driven work from home experiment has become mainstream, but that flexibility has brought new cyber exposures. The size and scope of the Cyber landscape can certainly be overwhelming.

This very edition of the Smart Choice magazine provides plenty of content and commentary from every source imaginable about the importance of businesses to craft and implement a data security playbook, including a strong prevention plan of employee training, breach response checklist and protocols, and yes, insurance coverage. From our carrier partners to our CEO, you will hear about the importance of cyber security in this magazine and beyond. You have been relentlessly bombarded with statistics and compelling arguments and warnings, including your own E&O exposures as “full service” agents if you don’t embrace it. And yet, Cyber continues to be a coverage that is still not generally perceived as compulsory. Why not?

There are some simple answers here, including cost and lack of product and exposures expertise, and then there’s our biggest nemesis: inertia. Considering cost, yes Cyber coverage can be expensive, especially when our small business clients have already shelled out plenty of money for their BOP, Auto, and Workers Comp policies. An additional premium for Cyber is a difficult sell. Do you know what costs more than Cyber coverage? A Cyber loss. Without a comprehensive security plan including a Cyber policy, a single phishing scam or ransomware attack can put our clients out of business. 

Regarding our own resistance to change and lack of acumen around Cyber, there is a cause-and-effect relationship here. There was a time in our careers where we had to learn about the other products we could sell blindfolded today. It was intimidating at first, but through practice we navigated the learning curve and developed muscle memory and expertise. Our clients rely on us as their trusted advisor.

  • Do we want to jeopardize that trust by not even offering coverage for a claim they are now most likely to have, because we’re not willing to learn it?
  • Will our customers be angrier at us for offering them coverage (whether they accepted or declined), or not offering them coverage that could have saved their business?

Our carrier partners are more than willing to educate us on their cyber offerings and provide advice on how to successfully close more accounts, earning revenue for an additional vertical. Let’s take them up on it! A New Year’s resolution we have a true obligation to keep. However, we must first change our mindsets that it is not optional to offer Cyber coverage to our business clients. 

Cover of the 2022 Issue 1 Smart Choice Magazine titled "Cyber-Security: More Important Now than Ever!"Cyber-Security: More Important Now Than Ever!

In this business, we handle so much sensitive personal and private financial consumer information that we have to be vigilant about staying on top of cyber security. From phishing attempts to identity theft to ransomware attacks — everyone is a viable target and should be prepared. Check out the 2022 Issue 1 of Smart Choice Magazine for tips on protecting yourself and your clients from cyber threats.

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