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Emerging risks cloud the horizon

Emerging risks cloud the horizon

Drought is the biggest risk to property, and cloud computing risk is the greatest exposure in liability, according to a report released Tuesday by Swiss Re Ltd.

The reinsurer’s Sonar Emerging Risk Insights Report features six emerging trend spotlights and highlights 20 more emerging risk themes identified by the company’s SONAR tool, an internal crowdsourcing platform that collects input and feedback from underwriters, client managers, risk experts and others within the insurance sector.

Increasing migration to cloud-based computing systems exposes business to new risks, Swiss Re said.

“Should an event bring down or severely impair,” cloud services from a single large provider, for example, “the financial loss could be immense,” said the report.

Water shortages and related problems also pose numerous threats.

Losses in agricultural, energy and forestry, risk of large-scale wildfires, drought-induced soil subsidence and water pollution events in the energy, mining and agricultural sectors are just some of the rising exposures related to drought, according to the report.

The report also identifies rising inflation and regulatory fragmentation as near-term risks, while tapping “underestimated infectious diseases” and “emerging artificial intelligence legislation” as longer-term threats.

“Ignoring emerging risks is just not an option. We need to prepare for the risks of tomorrow,” Patrick Raaflaub, Swiss Re’s group chief risk officer, said in the report.

Source: BusinessInsurance

The Internet of Things and corporate risk management

The Internet of Things and corporate risk management

Last year, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) was covered by mainstream and tech trade media almost as closely as the U.S. presidential election.

As consumers saw the potential for their myriad devices to become smarter and more tightly connected, businesses began investing in developing IoT capabilities. For example, refrigerators in connected homes are fitted with internal cameras so that homeowners can see how much milk is left, even while standing in the supermarket. For parents of teen drivers, the Hum “connected vehicle” device from Verizon Wireless provides text or email alerts if a vehicle exceeds a maximum speed, or if it moves outside a preset boundary area. Such devices aim to make consumers’ lives easier and more efficient — and, in the case of the Hum, safer — while saving time and money.

Just as the universe of IoT devices, services, wearables, handhelds, and cloud-based software solutions is transforming the consumer experience, it’s also beginning to transform the insurance marketplace. Old-line carriers and startup web-based insurers alike are pursuing new technology offerings.

So far, startup insurers have focused mostly on the consumer and small commercial marketplace, disrupting the agent/broker model to go direct to consumers. One of these is Lemonade, an insurer focusing initially on the homeowners and renters marketplace in New York City that has the backing of Google, Sequoia, and XL Innovate. Lemonade has raised more than $34 million in initial funding, bringing the company’s total funding to date to more than $60 million. In 2011, another online startup, Esurance, was acquired by Allstate Insurance for nearly $1 billion, although it has yet to earn a profit.

Many of these startups, and some more mainstream insurers, are including some type of hook with IoT devices, driving reductions in premium costs based upon use. The Snapshot plug-in from Progressive Insurance monitors a driver’s actions in order to reward good drivers with lower premiums. And Nest has partnered with a number of carriers to give a discount to policyholders who use its safety and security devices in their home, similar to discounts for having hardwired smoke/heat detectors and central station alarming.

Attacking the biggest costs

As carriers from Berkshire Hathaway to State Farm to Allstate battle it out in the consumer marketplace and the small commercial marketplace, many corporate risk managers for midsize to large enterprises are quietly seeking out IoT services that can attack their biggest risk management expense. They are using IoT technologies to reduce employee and customer accidents and the associated costs.

For the past 50 years, commercial property/casualty insurers have competed primarily on price. Although carriers do try to differentiate themselves as experts in specific industries, their focus on competitive pricing has conditioned corporate risk and finance managers to focus on the fixed costs of their programs, which account for only 20 to 30 percent of their total cost of risk. Through this competitive bidding process, agents/brokers have been able to fully commoditize the fixed-cost components of a company’s total cost of risk.

The fixed cost of an insurance and risk management program will become more and more irrelevant as brokers, insurers, and other service providers bring IoT solutions to rapidly and permanently address the other 70 to 80 percent of a company’s total cost of risk.

Suppose, for example, that a retailer incurs and retains losses of $3 million annually as a result of customer slip/fall claims. Meanwhile, it pays a $300,000 premium to an insurance carrier to access the insurer’s claims-adjusting services and to provide excess coverage in the case of a catastrophic claim. Corporate finance and risk managers have traditionally focused mostly on reducing the fixed costs in a program — the premiums. But even if the retailer in our example can reduce the fixed costs of its program by 20 percent, through carrier competition coordinated by its broker/agent, the program will cost $240,000 in fixed premiums and will have the same $3 million in claims. Ultimately, therefore, the retailer’s total cost of risk will fall by only 1.8 percent.

Significant reductions in the cost of risk

With the advent of IoT, insured clients, brokers, and carriers are beginning to bring a laser focus to the largest piece of the liability pie: claims that result from their own number-one cause of loss — customer slips and falls, in the example above. If a company’s broker can embed a proven IoT loss-reduction solution in a policy, then even if the insurance premium costs more, the insured company may realize significant and permanent reductions in its total cost of risk.

In the example of the retailer, suppose that its insurance premium actually increased 10 percent, to $330,000, but that the new policy included a carrier-deployed IoT strategy that produced a 20 percent reduction in customer accidents, to $2.4 million. Even though the premium was higher, the total cost of risk for this client would be reduced by 16 percent, to $2.73 million with the IoT solution, versus $3.24 million in the traditional broker-led carrier competition. Thus, in this example, paying an additional $90,000 in premium to a carrier with an IoT solution would result in a dramatic and sustainable reduction in total cost of risk.

Insurers are applying a host of different IoT-related technologies to reduce the number of claims their clients face. Sensors are simultaneously growing more complex in their application, far less expensive, and more easily adaptable to everything from machine vibration to the working height of a construction worker. Applications that are just now emerging will enable corporate risk managers to quickly and permanently reduce their total cost of risk by monitoring the activities and/or employee behaviors that lead to their desired outcomes.

Sensors & IOT in retail, food industry

Sensors and IoT tools are also rapidly expanding their footprint in the retail space, particularly in the food industry. Supermarket and restaurant-industry operators are searching for ways to become more efficient in complying with record-keeping and food safety laws driven by the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and local and state health agencies. Software vendors have recently begun to emphasize the chain of custody of food. Sensors placed in trucks, rail cars, and airplanes can create a record that shows whether freight carriers have handled the food in an environmentally safe manner. And sensors placed directly in the shipping containers can measure the temperature of the product throughout its life journey.

Unfortunately, safety monitoring often stops at the back door of the restaurant or supermarket, because operators do not have the required skills to use sensor-based technology indoors. This is where insurance carriers and brokers can provide a value-added service to their clients: As specialists in risk-mitigation strategies, carriers and brokers need to help companies integrate sensor-driven data, in real time, into actionable operational information that corporate management can use to monitor desired behaviors and imperatives. Measuring employee compliance with inspections that are business-critical, required by law — or both — can help an organization achieve an immediate and sustainable reduction in the number and severity of customer and employee accidents.

Simplify regulatory compliance

For the food industry, technology vendors are working to simplify regulatory compliance through platforms that automate alerts for problematic temperature conditions in food-storage areas, and that document compliance with all levels of required inspections. Businesses that monitor employee and third-party practices in real time can enforce and document compliance. This means that restaurants, for example, are less likely to face foodborne-illness claims—claims that are not only costly in terms of lawsuits related to food poisoning, but also highly damaging to the corporate brand. Just ask Chipotle.

Recently, Hartford Steam Boiler, a provider of equipment-breakdown insurance, invested in Augury, a predictive machine diagnostics company. Using vibration and ultrasonic sensors, Augury’s platform “listens” to equipment and uses proprietary analysis and algorithms to determine whether a machine is working properly or has a malfunction. Augury is starting with diagnosing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial buildings. By identifying maintenance needs and areas of vulnerability in insured machinery, the Augury technology has the potential to save billions of dollars for insurers like Hartford Steam Boiler and their clients.

By increasing internal and external compliance rates, lowering risk, and minimizing claims, IoT technologies have the potential to substantially reduce the total cost of risk for companies in the food industry, the retail sector, manufacturing, and beyond.

Next steps

For corporate finance and risk managers, here are some next steps in determining how the IoT might benefit your risk management practices:

  • Begin a conversation with your broker regarding the rapidly evolving practice of using IoT solutions to solve specific risk issues. Ask what IoT solutions are available to bring down risk management costs for businesses like yours. Consider requesting a similar briefing from insurers that profess to be experts in your industry.
  • For any proposed IoT solution, get true empirical evidence that it works. It’s best if the evidence comes from an independent third party or university-supported study.
  • When evaluating your insurance and risk management program, consider seeking service-level agreements that target specific reductions in your number-one cause of losses, based on your successful commitment to — and execution of — an IoT-based loss prevention program.
    Consider asking your insurance carrier for a multiyear commitment based on successful implementation of its IoT-based strategy.
    Speak with your peers about innovation within your industry and about what they may (or may not) be doing in the deployment of risk mitigation solutions.
  • Speak with your industry association to find out what they are seeing in the way of risk mitigation strategies.
    Remember to focus on solutions that solve the big problem, such as general or workers’ compensation claims. You may want to pay more for a turnkey solution that is proven to reduce losses.
  • As sensor costs fall and the flexibility of data analytics software advances, IoT solutions will become increasingly prevalent in the insurance market. The challenge for everyone involved in an insurance transaction — broker, carrier, and insured client — is how to evaluate the IoT solutions that are part of an insurance offer.

Originally published on Treasury and Risk. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Source: Property Casualty 360
Source: Treasury and Risk

 

Atlantic hurricane season may bring more storms than normal, according to NOAA

Atlantic hurricane season may bring more storms than normal, according to NOAA

(Bloomberg) — The Atlantic hurricane season will likely churn out an above-average 11 to 17 named storms, in part due to fading odds than an El Nino will form in the Pacific.

Of storms that emerge during the six-month season that begins June 1, five to nine will reach hurricane strength with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

Two to four may become major systems reaching Category 3 or stronger on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Vulnerability to losses

The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

The U.S. hasn’t been struck by a major system since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. In September, Hurricane Matthew killed at least 585 people, most of them on Haiti, making it the deadliest storm since Wilma. Matthew went on to graze the U.S. East Coast, causing widespread flooding across the South before making landfall in South Carolina.

Season average of 12 storms

In an average season, the Atlantic spins off 12 storm systems. A year ago, the U.S. predicted 10 to 16 would form while the season eventually saw 15 storms.

Last month, Colorado State University predicted the Atlantic would produce 11 named storms. A system is named when winds reach 39 mph and it becomes a tropical storm. The university, which pioneered seasonal hurricane forecasts, will update its outlook next week.

Meanwhile, the specter of a Pacific Ocean El Nino hangs over all hurricane forecasts. El Ninos can make it harder for hurricanes to form across the Atlantic by increasing wind shear that weakens storms. Earlier this month, the the U.S. Climate Prediction Center lowered the odds of El Nino forming to 45 percent from 50 percent in April.

Weak El Nino and above-average water temps

A weak or nonexistent El Nino and above-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic is driving the above-average storm forecast, Friedman said.

In addition, warm water provides fuel for budding storms, said Gerry Bell, hurricane seasonal forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“Right now, there is not much of an indication at all that the season will be below normal,” Bell said. “It really is a combination of factors this year that point to a more active season.”

Storms can wreak havoc on agricultural markets in Florida, the second-largest producer of orange juice behind Brazil, and the top domestic grower of cane sugar.

And while energy traders also closely watch forecasts, a surge in onshore fracking for natural gas has lessened the impact of bad weather on markets. Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will account for 4.1 percent of total U.S. gas production this year, down from 14 percent about a decade ago, Energy Information Administration data show. In addition, storms Katrina and Ike destroyed many old drilling rigs and platforms, which were replaced with equipment better able to withstand storm forces.

All hurricanes are dangerous

“The point is just because it is not a major hurricane doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous, doesn’t mean it isn’t deadly, doesn’t mean we don’t need to be prepared for it,” Friedman said.

The U.S. is using a new hurricane model this year that has delivered more accurate tracks and intensity forecasts in tests, Friedman said. The newest geostationary weather satellite, GOES-16, launched last year, will be moved to watch both the Atlantic and the eastern U.S.

In another change, the National Hurricane Center will issue storm surge watches and warnings, as well as time-of-arrival graphics to better alert people to pending storm conditions, said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service.

Flooding, the deadliest part of hurricanes, “is often overlooked because folks are focused on wind,” Erickson said.

Separately, the U.S. also predicted 14 to 20 named storms would form in the eastern Pacific, mainly off Mexico. The eastern Pacific storm season began May 15.

Source: NOAA
Source: PropertyCasualty360

Understanding the Organization’s Risks

Understanding the Organization’s Risks

Financial disaster preparedness begins with a thorough understanding of the risks facing the organization. As an organization grows and its operations become more intricate, its risks change and tend to become more complex. Accordingly, risks need to be assessed continuously, an exercise typically orchestrated by the risk manager with support from throughout the company.

Beyond the many challenges of physical recovery following a catastrophe, additional problems affecting financial recovery often occur because key areas of risk were overlooked or their potential impacts were not fully understood. For example, a real estate services provider had adequate liability coverage for cyber breaches but did not anticipate the potential financial impact of an interruption of its IT systems. The company experienced a cyber intrusion that shut down its servers for 24 hours, resulting in a multimillion-dollar loss that was only partially covered by insurance.

Risks that are not identified or clearly understood in advance are difficult to manage in a cost-effective manner following a catastrophic event. Such risks expose an organization to unexpected and often avoidable financial losses. The process of risk identification, analysis, mitigation and transference is a critical part of the financial preparedness process.

Once risks have been identified and analyzed, seven key areas of financial preparedness must be addressed:

1. Planning for business continuity

The foundation of financial preparedness, business continuity planning entails understanding how, and to what degree, your organization will be able to service its customers and maintain solvency in the event of a major shutdown of operations or other catastrophic event. This can include a variety of actions, such as fulfilling orders using existing inventory, receiving support from other company locations, outsourcing production and/or services, and setting up a temporary location. These actions help ensure continuity of operations and, in doing so, also help mitigate the loss.

In planning for business continuity, it is important to consider unexpected occurrences and challenges. Catastrophic losses can occur in ways that were not anticipated or previously experienced by an organization. For example, as a result of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a company lost two of its major data centers, one located in New York City and a backup center located miles away in New Jersey. The company’s management never anticipated the possibility of a hurricane impacting both data centers at the same time. Organizations must explore a wide range of possible causes of loss and the resulting impacts when assessing both the maximum possible and the maximum probable loss.

2. Understanding employee retention

Retaining key employees and other members of the workforce following a catastrophic event is essential to the continuity and restoration of a company’s operations. Organizations must assess whether or not insurance will be necessary to cover labor costs following a catastrophic loss.

3. Understanding and mitigating costs

In addition to labor, there are many other costs that will continue following a catastrophic loss. The key to managing these costs is assessing the organization’s (and each facility’s) structure of variable and fixed costs and determining how they will likely be impacted following a partial or complete shutdown of operations.

By understanding and assessing continuing costs, the organization can better plan for mitigation of those expenses and required insurance coverage. The preparation of a simple business interruption values worksheet does not typically go deep enough—the process requires a detailed understanding of operations and related costs, and ways they will be impacted following a loss.

4. Identifying other sources of potential funding

Insurance is typically the first line of defense following a catastrophic loss, but other sources of funding may also be available. For example, if the president formally declares a disaster, state and local government entities, eligible nonprofits (including hospitals, colleges and universities) and Native American tribes may qualify for federal disaster relief, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program grants, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery grants, and Federal Highway Administration disaster grants.

In the case of FEMA Public Assistance grants, the documentation and reporting processes can be onerous, with a multitude of eligibility requirements that address the applicant, facilities, work performed and costs incurred. FEMA also has many insurance requirements, particularly for organizations that have received FEMA funding for previous disasters. Developing an understanding of these and other federal guidelines and implementing necessary procedures and controls before a disaster occurs can help ensure that maximum funding is secured in a timely manner, and can also help withstand audits by federal agencies.

5. Assessing liquidity needs

It is critical to maintain liquidity following a loss event. A careful assessment of the amount and timing of potential recovery from insurance and other sources of funding, consideration of continuing costs and extra expenses to maintain operations, and the need for capital to rebuild operations can shed light on the requirements for cash reserves and access to credit during an extended operational shutdown. While insurers may provide advances following a catastrophe, final settlement often takes longer than expected. Planning in this area can help avoid unexpected cash shortages that put business continuity at risk.

6. Developing a loss response team

Before a loss occurs, it is essential to identify and train the team that will support the organization following a loss event. Internal resources should include a broad spectrum of resources spanning the risk, legal, finance and accounting, operations, sales, engineering, and procurement departments. Additional external resources may include debris removal companies, general contractors, engineers, attorneys, accountants and other consultants. Developing your team and outlining their roles before a loss occurs will help expedite the recovery process, increasing its overall effectiveness and saving costs.

7. Assessing insurance coverage

An organization must conduct a review of its coverage at least annually and even more frequently when faced with significant changes in operations. Often, companies discover too late that their insurance policies do not provide sufficient coverage for property damage, business interruption and extra expenses. Many also discover unclear or ambiguous policy language that creates settlement issues.

An annual policy review should provide an understanding of the risks covered, sublimits, exclusions, deductibles, waiting periods and coinsurance requirements. This process can help ensure that risks are covered in the manner intended by management. Following annual renewals, it is also important to determine if any risks need to be further addressed and mitigated due to changes in coverage that may have occurred during the underwriting and renewal process.

The review should include an assessment of the organization’s covered locations and confirmation that the policy lists (or contains appropriate blanket coverage for) all existing locations, especially recently added ones. It should also include an assessment of the statement of values to determine whether property values are current. Property values may need to be updated as companies add, upgrade or sell equipment, invest in new capital, and change physical structures.

The organization’s business interruption values should also be assessed. This means, at a minimum, assessing each location and operation to determine the organization’s exposure to a loss of net income and expenses that would likely continue following a catastrophic event. As your business grows or declines or margins change, business interruption values will likely change as well. Failing to update these values could result in a gap in coverage due to insufficient policy limits, or potentially trigger a coinsurance penalty if designated in the policy.

In assessing insurance, it is important to pay close attention to sublimits, exclusions, waiting periods and deductibles, all of which can significantly impact an organization’s level of financial recovery. As an example, a large entertainment facility experienced a significant loss when an electrical outage led to the cancellation of a show on a busy weekend. Management was surprised to learn that the loss was not covered due to a 48-hour waiting period for “service interruption.”

The period of indemnity specified in a policy may also have a major impact on recovery. Insurance policies typically define the period of indemnity as beginning on the date of loss and extending through the period during which the property can be repaired, rebuilt or replaced, with reasonable speed, to the condition that existed prior to the loss (or, alternatively, the date business is resumed at a new location). Many policies also provide an “extended period of indemnity” of 30 days or more to give the business additional time to restore normal operations. This extended period can provide critical support for financial recovery.

It is also crucial to understand your needs with regard to employee payroll following a catastrophic loss. Business interruption insurance policies may provide full, limited or no coverage for “ordinary payroll” following a catastrophic loss. Ordinary payroll refers to payroll expenses of employees other than executives, department managers, employees under contract and other employees deemed vital to continuing operations. Companies with a critical need to keep such employees after a loss typically require this type of coverage in their policy.

Coverage for extra expense should also be assessed and considered in light of potential actions following an interruption of operations. This coverage generally addresses expenses incurred during the period of restoration to avoid or minimize the suspension of operations at either the current location or temporary locations.

A variety of special coverages are available to cover other areas of risk and may be appropriate for risks specific to the organization, such as insurance for contingent business interruption (to cover losses sustained by your organization as a result of physical damage occurring at your suppliers’ or customers’ facilities), supply chain disruption and cyber incidents.


Source: Risk Magazine
Author: Allen Melton
Author: Michael Speer

HIPAA Enforcement: A Look Ahead

HIPAA Enforcement: A Look Ahead

So, what’s next for the Trump administration’s handling of health data privacy and security issues now that the 100-day milestone has been reached?

So far, despite the overall anti-regulatory tone of the new administration, it appears that enforcement of HIPAA is moving along at the same or perhaps even a slightly more aggressive pace than what was taken by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration.

“Congress established OCR to adapt to new technology – and to protect it.”

In one of his first speeches, Roger Severino, who last month took on the job of director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, promised to keep HIPAA privacy and security enforcement a top priority.

“I came into this job with an enforcement mindset,” Severino said on April 27 during a session at the Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, according to HealthcareITNews. “Congress established OCR to adapt to new technology – and to protect it.”

Resource Hungry

But will that mindset continue? A lot likely depends on the resources OCR gets for fiscal 2018. The staff has been stretched thin in recent years, especially as OCR has been digesting the findings of more than 200 HIPAA compliance audits of covered entities and business associates. Plans to launch a smaller number of more comprehensive audits in early 2017 have already been delayed until later this year. And who knows if that will even happen?

Privacy attorney David Holtzman, the vice president of compliance at security consulting firm CynergisTek who formerly was a former senior policy adviser at OCR, notes that so far this year, in terms of enforcement actions taken by OCR, the agency could break its aggressive record of 2016, which included 12 settlements and one civil monetary action – not to mention the relaunch of audits.

“OCR has continued its stepped-up enforcement of the HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules. Thus far in 2017, the agency has announced negotiated settlements or levied penalties in seven cases that have resulted in covered entities and business associates paying over $14.3 million,” he says.

“In all but one of these cases, organizations have also been saddled with multiyear corrective action plans in which HHS will exercise oversight of their compliance with the HIPAA standards. At this pace, OCR will eclipse its record-setting performance of 2016, in which there were 13 formal enforcement actions that had covered entities and business associates paying $23.5 million in fines and penalties for HIPAA violations.”

But it’s still unclear how the Trump administration will handle bigger-picture health data privacy and security issues.

“I believe it is important to distinguish between broader policy decisions and the day-to-day operations of the department’s mission,” he says. “While we have not seen evidence of how administration policy on health data security and privacy issues will develop, there is ample evidence that it is business as usual in OCR’s administration of the HIPAA privacy and security standards.”

Beyond HIPAA

While meeting HIPAA compliance requirements doesn’t necessarily equal the kind of robust security efforts needed to effectively safeguard data – including data that goes beyond patients’ protected health information – OCR’s recent enforcement ramp-up likely will help nudge security laggards out of their complacency.

But it’s also important to remember that the OCR enforcement actions we’re seeing have been in the works for years. Looking ahead, will OCR be spending less time investigating major breaches that get reported now? Let’s hope not.

Here’s an updated look at the sobering breach stats: As of April 28, there were 1,921 major breaches affecting nearly 173.4 million individuals reported to OCR since September 2009, according to HHS’ “wall of shame.” And to date, OCR has issued 47 HIPAA settlements and two civil monetary penalties.

So, while there’s been an a slight uptick in the number of enforcement actions taken by OCR over the last year or two, the reality is that there are still slim odds that you’ll end being smacked with a financial penalty related to a breach.

And the odds could grow even slimmer if OCR finds itself with a barebones budget for fiscal 2018. President Trump has proposed big cuts to HHS’ overall budget for the next fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, and he has also instructed federal agencies to plan reducing their workforces near term.

In the meantime, OCR likely will keep picking and choosing cases for settlements that highlight common mistakes entities make in safeguarding patient information. Plus, the HIPAA enforcement agency will continue to release guidance that addresses confusing and critical security and privacy issues.

Hopefully, the healthcare sector will continue to learn from these cases and guidance and make it a higher priority to bolster their overall risk management programs to better safeguard all data against evolving threats.

Source: InfoRiskToday
Author: Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

 

6 factors impacting identity theft risks

6 factors impacting identity theft risks

The threats posed by cyber attacks and identity theft continue to grow as cyber criminals always seem to be on offense while consumers and insurers are on defense.

A study recently released by Javelin Strategy and Research found that cyber criminals stole more than $16 billion from over 15 million U.S. consumers last year.

A new risk assessment tool, the Identity Threat Assessment and Prediction (ITAP) model developed by the University of Texas at Austin Center for Identity, provides unique insights based on research into the behaviors and methods of identity threats, and aggregates the information to help risk managers assess dangers and vulnerabilities. The information in the ITAP database is collected from news stories and other sources, and the repository currently holds data from more than 5,000 incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2016. Researchers apply a number of analytical tools to this information in order to compare threats, and identify trends and losses.

As a result of their examination of the information, researchers have identified six key takeaways, as well as other data that help to paint a broader picture of the impact of identity theft on consumers and businesses. Here is a look at some of their findings.

1. People make mistakes

The researchers found that human error is a major driver when it comes to identity theft and that hackers frequently exploit vulnerabilities created by mistakes people make. However, approximately 17 percent of the incidents where personally identifiable information (PII) was compromised were termed “non-malicious” or not instigated by hackers, but by individuals without malicious intent.

2. Impact is usually local

Despite the activities of hackers around the globe, the impact of identity theft where PII was compromised seems to be more localized to specific cities, counties, states and regions. The study found that over 99 percent of the cases were limited to either a local geographic area or a particular type of victim. Only 0.36 percent of the theft incidents actually involved the entire country like the Target or Home Depot breaches.

The states with the greatest number of cases of compromised PII were California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, and Illinois according to the ITAP model.

3. The cost is not always monetary

While there are very real financial costs associated with any type of data breach or loss of PII, a larger number of individuals who become victims suffered from emotional stress than those who had actual monetary losses. The University of Texas at Austin researchers found that the “emotional impact is consistently higher than other types of loss.”

The ITAP model identified four different types of loss and the percentages of loss experienced by victims: Emotional distress (72 percent); financial (57 percent); property (56 percent) and reputation (41 percent).

Annual income of the victims doesn’t really seem to come into play either, although 73 percent of adults had their PII compromised as compared to 8 percent of teenagers and 21 percent of seniors.

4. Insiders pose a serious threat

While unknown hackers or foreign countries perpetrate the majority of attacks (62 percent), the researchers found that one-third (34 percent) of the incidents involving compromised PII originated from company employees or family members of affected individuals.

Perpetrators utilize a number of resources to steal the information including computers, databases, computer networks, malware and stolen credit cards. ITAP also differentiates between the various perpetrators involved in identity crimes. Hackers tend to exploit digital or computer-based vulnerabilities, while fraudsters are usually involved in exploiting the information which has been stolen by the actual thieves.

5. Cybersecurity isn’t always the cause

More than 50 percent of the incidents involving identity theft, fraud or abuse identified by the ITAP did not originate from vulnerabilities that were exploited.

Financial losses were associated with particular attributes as part of the ITAP analysis. These were the top five identified: Magnetic stripe ($28.9 million); ATM pin ($24.2 million); fake identification card information ($15.1 million); financial information ($13.7 million) and age ($11.9 million).

6. Identity crime affects all industries

Hackers are indiscriminate when it comes to choosing victims. The ITAP analysis found that a wide range of public and private sectors are impacted with the top five sectors identified as: consumer/citizen; healthcare and public health; government facilities, education and financial services.

The research effort was support by several organizations that focus on cyber protection: LifeLock, TransUnion, Safran, LexisNexis, HID, Generali Global Assistance, and Applied Fundamentals Consulting.

Source : Property Casualty 360
Photo:    Shutterstock

Florida wildfires draw attention to climate change

Florida wildfires draw attention to climate change

Forecast Fire Indices

The wildfires burning across the state of Florida this month highlight the increasing danger a changing climate poses in the southern United States for this type of catastrophic event.

Wildfire risk is generally perceived to be a western United States problem, and the majority of major insurance losses caused by wildfires to date have occurred in California; but southern U.S. states have been plagued by wildfires in recent years, including the more than 100 wildfires actively raging across Florida this month.

“Traditionally, we see the wildfire exposures in the western half of the United States, but recently the South is experiencing warmer-than-average temperatures and drier-than-average seasons,” said Jim Clifford, director of safety and prevention programs for insurer USAA based in San Antonio, Texas. “Florida has a history back and forth, having a drought occasionally, and the Everglades have extensive forest — and they tend to burn quite easily when there’s a little bit of a drought.”

Climate change is causing increases in temperature across the Southeast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Heavy downpours have increased in the Southeast, but the region has also experienced periods of extreme drying, according to the agency.

On April 11, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of the wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue this year as forecasts predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in the state during the coming months.

“That’s really peculiar for Florida, because one of the things wildfires hate is humidity,” said F. Douglas Hoyle, Philadelphia-based loss control director at Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual, an insurer of wood and related products. “The humidity has been down significantly in Florida this year, and that’s what experts are saying has led to significant wildfires in Florida.”

Florida wildfires have burned 250% more acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year.

“Three months out, it looks like there might be some hope on the horizon, but the next month in Florida looks to be the worst,” Mr. Clifford said, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. “Central Florida looks really bad as far as the drought persisting for the next month or so.”

The major modeling firms do not currently have plans to forecast insurance losses related to the Florida wildfires. Wildfires tend to be less costly from an insurance perspective than hurricanes, with the largest estimated insurance loss in the United States caused by wildfire being the $1.7 billion due to the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, according to Property Claim Services, a Verisk Analytics business.

However, the Fort McMurray fire in the province of Alberta, Canada, became the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history last year, causing a CA$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion) loss, more than twice the cost of the previous largest natural disaster: the 2013 southern Alberta floods, which cost CA$1.7 billion ($1.3 billion) in insurance claims, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“Wildfire losses are typically dominated by residential properties,” Tammy Viggato, Boston-based scientist at AIR Worldwide, said in an emailed statement. “This is because most wildfires impact the outer regions of an urban area, but don’t penetrate into the center of urban areas where more commercial properties are located, although notable exceptions would be the fires in Fort McMurray and Gatlinburg.”

The 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, caused $842 million in insurance losses, according to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

“The Gatlinburg fire burned into the downtown area, and there were a number of businesses that were lost in that fire,” said Steve Quarles, chief scientist for wildfire and durability, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina. “That was an eye-opener for the business community.”

In addition to the property losses, business interruption losses can be sizable, as the areas are evacuated and roads are closed, meaning both visitors and employees will likely not be able to access the businesses for some time, which could lead them without enough cash to pay their bills, according to experts.

“People don’t think of all those ripple effects,” said Michele Steinberg, wildfire division manager for the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Home and business owners can minimize the risks to their properties by creating setback distances between the properties and burnable fuels such as mulch, which is critical because lit embers can come in contact with flammable material and set the property on fire, according to experts.

“To protect businesses, it’s important to do things that minimize the opportunity for these embers landing on or near the building” and resulting in ignition, Mr. Quarles said.

USAA offers a discount on insurance premiums for communities in seven Western states participating in the NFPA’s Firewise Communities program, which recognizes those that take steps to prepare for and mitigate wildfire risks. The insurer covers the risk in standard property policies with no differences in contractual limitations or deductibles compared to other covered perils, he said.

“Wildfire losses tend to be pretty easy to adjust,” Mr. Clifford said.

Source: Business Insurance