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Agency tech helps sell small-business clients on cyber coverage


A delivery driver at a local pizza shop gets into an accident. Luckily because of the shop owner’s policies insuring the car, the employee and any loss of business as a result of being unable to deliver pizzas is covered.

But here’s a different scenario. The pizzeria owner clicked a suspicious link in an email on the business’ computer. Now they can’t log in to the point-of-sale system, and their customers’ credit card information is compromised. The shop owner didn’t consider getting cyber insurance when they were buying traditional coverage, so any costs required to regain access to the computer, alert customers to the breach, and work to restore the restaurant’s reputation has to come out of the owner’s pocket.

This scenario is all too familiar for small businesses. The news regularly covers attacks on large companies but rarely touches on breaches of local, small organizations. But small businesses are just as susceptible to cyberattacks and a lot less protected. As the pandemic forced many organizations to go remote, virtual operations opened themselves up to more risk from cybercriminals. If a small business’s employees use email, online payment services, or a variety of other solutions that utilize cloud capabilities, they are exposed.

Independent agents work to make sure their customers are protected from the risks that threaten their businesses. But cyber coverage is not as routine as selling a business owner policy (BOP) or workers’ comp policy. It is a relatively new coverage area without standards. Agents not only have to identify the right coverage but also educate customers throughout the process. They need to be able to delve into why BOP data breach endorsements, which only cover a small number of cyberthreats, are often not adequate and why the business should purchase a standalone policy that is customizable to protect individual needs.

This is where technology can make a big difference. Digital solutions give agents more time to devote to their customers’ individual needs. Technology is also powering some of the newer cyber carriers, making it easier for agents to assess customers’ risks.

Here are three best practices on how technology can help an agency sell cyber insurance to its small-business customers.

1. Partner with tech-forward carriers with clear policies and claims processes

Cyber is new for both agents and customers. Agents should look to partner with carriers that are devoted to teaching agents about the product and addressing any questions they might have about the coverage. Ask carriers if they have materials that compare their policies to BOP endorsements so customers can easily see why they should consider additional coverage.

Identify carriers that are using technology to help better understand your customers’ unique needs. For example, some carriers use AI technology to analyze the client’s data to get a full view of that customer’s risk profile. These carriers can provide the agent with reports on the customer’s cyber exposures so the agent can walk the prospect through their weaknesses.

Review the carrier’s cyber incident response plans. What does the customer need to do if they are the victim of a cyberattack? Recovering from a cyber incident involves more than just collecting money as there could have been harm to the business’s reputation or customers’ sensitive data. Being able to communicate how an insurer can help the policyholder in the event of an incident, beyond monetary reparations, can help persuade the client to purchase additional coverage.

2. Showcase your credentials: Become comfortable with digital tools

Cyber coverage is rooted in technology. It requires agents to identify how the tools clients use, such as email or online payment systems, can expose them to threats. While the agent might be able to talk at length about different cyber exposures, if the agency turns to analog operations, it can dimmish client confidence.

Agents should be incorporating simple solutions that improve agency operations. For example, utilize video conferencing tools to be able to communicate face-to-face even when remote. Explore using electronic signature programs so customers can sign and return policies digitally.

Make sure your agents practice with the different tools and are comfortable with them before taking them live with client interactions. Being able to use the tool confidently is just as important as having it. If the agent seems confused about how to work the platform, this can also make the customer uncertain that they fully understand a tech-forward product like cyber.

3. Leverage tech solutions for administrative processes

Business insurance is complex, and adding a new product to the mix doesn’t make it easier. Implement solutions like email automation to speed up routine processes. This will enable agents to focus on the client’s specific cyber risks and review the product with them in detail.

Incorporate solutions that enable you to easily obtain information on cyber coverage, such as quotes, at the same time you are getting the small-business owner information on BOP or workers’ comp. Some of these solutions enable you to get premium information in a few minutes. Armed with this material, agents can open doors to a conversation about why they should consider this coverage.

Pandemics and other crises will be played out in the digital world. No business, no matter how small, will be overlooked by hackers. As cyberthreats become more commonplace, agents should work with their small-business customers to make sure they have the right protection. Technology can help agents have the time to advise their customers and identify the right coverage for their needs.

This article originally appeared in PropertyCasualty360