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What is Cyber Liability Insurance?

Ensuring your business is adequately protected from liability is an important consideration for entrepreneurs when starting a new business. All kinds of unexpected events can pose a risk to your business, and the last thing you want is to be on the hook financially or legally should something go wrong. 

The right insurance can provide you with peace of mind and help ensure unexpected events don’t force you to close down your business or pay large sums of money out of your own pocket. Cyber liability insurance is one of the types of small business insurance that should be on your radar. In this article, we’ll dive into what this insurance covers and how it works to help you determine if you need it.

What is cyber liability insurance? 

Cyber liability insurance is a type of insurance policy that offers protection in the event of data breaches or software attacks. Businesses are more likely than private individuals to be the targets of these malicious attacks because they are more likely to have data that attackers value, such as customer login credentials or credit card information. 

If any small business is the target of a cyber attack, cyber liability insurance helps cover costs you might incur as a result, such as legal fees. 

Who needs cyber liability insurance?

Any business that handles sensitive client data should consider cyber liability insurance. While large businesses may handle a larger quantity of data that attackers would find valuable, small businesses tend to be easier targets. 

Most small businesses aren’t fully aware of the risk of cyber attacks, so they may not have robust security in place. Ultimately, even with caution and protective software, any business can find itself the victim of a data breach. It can be as easy as accidentally clicking one phishing email. 

Sensitive client data can include names, contact information, and credit card or banking numbers. This means that any ecommerce business or business that processes online transactions should consider cyber liability insurance coverage. Any business using modern point-of-sale systems should also have this type of insurance.

What is covered? 

Cyber liability insurance covers the following costs associated with cyber attacks:

  • Legal, forensic, and breach management – Legal advice, credit monitoring, and other costs associated with managing the aftermath of an attack.
  • Incident response – Most small business owners require guidance in the event of an attack, and you will be able to access an incident response hotline for guidance on how to respond. 
  • System repair – Repairs for damaged software systems.
  • Business interruption – Recoup a portion of lost revenue caused by system outages that resulted from a cyber attack.

Different insurance policies may vary in terms of the specifics of their coverage, so take the time to understand what is covered before purchasing a policy. A related type of insurance that is usually sold separately is cybercrime insurance, which provides coverage if your business loses funds as a direct result of cybercrime. 

Why get cyber liability insurance for your small business 

A cyber attack has the potential to derail your business. Not only can it be expensive in terms of lost revenues and legal fees, but it can damage your reputation and make it difficult for clients to trust you in the future. 

The ability to access support and act quickly in response to a cyberattack can help protect your reputation and minimize the high costs that can result in the aftermath of an attack.

How cyber liability insurance works 

When a cyber attack is detected, these are the steps you would likely follow if you have cyber liability insurance:

  1. Call your insurance policy’s 24/7 hotline to determine the nature of the attack and how to proceed.
  2. Follow instructions provided by the hotline and obtain any necessary professional assistance, such as legal advice and credit monitoring services.
  3. Assess the extent of damages and costs.
  4. File a claim with your insurance company, providing any evidence and receipts that they request. 
  5. Receive qualifying reimbursements.

Small business claim example

A common method cyber attackers use to successfully target small businesses is phishing scams. For example, an employee may unknowingly click a phishing link in an email that downloads malware that can access the files on that company’s server. 

Let’s imagine a scenario in which this happens to a small ecommerce business. The attackers successfully manage to collect the names, email addresses, mailing addresses, and credit card information of consumers who have made online purchases from the business.

The business would likely incur the following costs:

  1. Notification services to notify customers whose data may have been compromised in the attack.
  2. Legal fees to deal with any potential lawsuits resulting from the attack.
  3. Crisis management fees to ensure they handle the situation as professionally as possible.
  4. Credit monitoring services to compromised accounts.
  5. Fees to restore any software systems damaged in the attack.
  6. Lost revenues for a week while their website is down to ensure it is not compromised. 

These costs might be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and could be crippling to a small business without the appropriate coverage. However, some or all of these costs would be eligible for reimbursement under most cyber liability insurance policies. 

Legal requirements for cyber liability insurance

In Canada, there is no legal obligation to have cyber liability insurance. However, just because it isn’t a legal requirement doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary for many businesses. 

A small business may not prioritize this type of coverage during the early growth stage. However, it should be a top consideration for most small businesses, particularly as they expand and become more valuable targets to attackers.

How to get cyber liability insurance

Many commercial insurance providers offer all types of insurance – and may offer bundled savings if you purchase more than one. If you already purchase general liability insurance or other types of business insurance from your bank or an insurance broker, ask about their cyber liability insurance policies. When researching policies, consider what cyber risks your business is exposed to and look for policies that address those risks. If you aren’t sure, an insurance provider can be a good source of professional advice and guidance. Speaking to other businesses with a similar structure to yours can also be enlightening. 

Be sure to shop around to compare different policy options and costs. You don’t have to purchase all of your insurance policies from the same provider. 

Getting a quote

Most insurance brokers have online tools that provide instant ballpark quotes or will contact you with a quote after answering a questionnaire.  Ask for referrals from other small business owners or local business groups and request quotes from at least three providers.

Once you have a list of insurance providers to contact, take the time to speak with each of them personally. Discuss your level of cyber risk and the scope of their policies. As a small business owner, it’s normal to be unfamiliar with these risks, so educating yourself before purchasing a policy is important. If this is a particularly overwhelming issue, opt for a provider that offers extra guidance and support. This can ensure that you get the best policy for your needs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Quote?

While there will be some variation from one insurance provider to the next, most try to provide quotes quickly since they are in competition with other insurance providers. You can expect to hear back from most providers within one or two business days. Depending on how complex their intake form was, some may be able to provide you with a quote at this time, while others may need an additional day or two to process additional information and get you a quote.

In general, if you send requests to a range of providers, you should have a quote from all of them within a week. 

Questions to Ask Your Provider 

While comparing insurance quotes from providers, ask these questions for clarifying information that will help you make the best choice for your business: 

  1. What is my deductible?
  2. Are any discounts available?
  3. Would I be covered in the case of this specific scenario I am concerned about? 
  4. Do I need to provide information about my current software upfront?
  5. What is the claims process?
  6. What is your typical turnaround time for processing a new claim?
  1. Is there a maximum amount for which I can be covered?
  2. Are there other cyber-related policies that I should know about, and how do they differ?

How Ownr can help 

With Ownr, you can register or incorporate your business easily, quickly, and affordably. If you’re buying cyber liability insurance, you’ll likely want to do so under your business name. Registering or incorporating is the first step. 

If you decide to incorporate your business, Ownr can also help you with the documentation that is required with this business structure, including annual returns and minute books. These requirements can overwhelm new small business owners, but with Ownr’s onboarding pages and timely reminders, you can be confident that you’ll stay on top of it all.

Key Takeaways 

While cyber liability insurance may not be required for every small business, it is often overlooked even by those who need it. Small business owners may not recognize they’re at risk for cyber attacks until they’re on the receiving end of a malicious attack. If any confidential data is compromised, it can lead to significant financial and legal hardships. 

As a small business owner, getting cyber liability insurance can minimize your risk of attack, limit the negative impact and overall costs of a breach should it occur, and provide peace of mind as your business expands.

The cost of cyber liability insurance for small business 

The cost of cyber liability insurance varies according to the insurance provider and the size of the business seeking insurance. In Canada, some professional liability insurance policies include cyber liability insurance up to a relatively low claim limit of $50,000 for an extra couple of hundred dollars annually.

Standalone cyber liability insurance policies may cost more, and businesses at higher risk may pay closer to $1000 annually for this coverage. However, the only way to know the cost for your business is by seeking quotes and understanding your level of risk. 

Small business cyber insurance FAQs 

Legally, do I need to get cyber liability insurance?

No, you do not legally need to get cyber liability insurance. It is an optional form of coverage.

What is not covered by cyber liability insurance?

Ransom costs from ransomware attacks are not covered by cyber liability insurance. Some insurance companies offer separate insurance policies that can cover ransom costs. 

How much cyber liability insurance should a small business have? 

The appropriate cyber liability insurance coverage for a small business will depend on how high-risk it is. The more valuable data it stores on its servers or the cloud, the greater the coverage should likely be. 

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