Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance practice head, Walter Andrews, recently commented to the Global Data Review regarding the infirmities underlying an Orlando, Florida federal district court’s ruling that an insurer does not have to defend its insured for damage caused by a third-party data breach.
The construction industry is no stranger to insuring its projects against the risks of physical and natural disasters. Policies purchased to cover these risks, however, often are not broad enough to reach cyber threats, which can be just as damaging and costly as a physical disaster. During the past decade, hacks have targeted the data held by several high profile companies, including Target Corp., Sony Corp., Equifax Inc. and Yahoo Inc. So far, the construction industry has not yet been at the center of one of these attacks. Still, builders are no less susceptible to these risks than any other industry, especially given that these companies often possess sensitive data related to buildings and projects.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Innovak International v. The Hanover Insurance Co., recently granted summary judgment in favor of Hanover Insurance Company finding that it had no duty to defend Innovak against a data breach lawsuit. Innovak, which is a payroll service, suffered a breach of employee personal information, including social security numbers. The employees then filed suit against Innovak alleging it had negligently created a software that allowed personal information to be accessed by third parties. Innovak sought a defense for the lawsuit from its commercial general liability carrier, Hanover Insurance Company. Innovak argued that the employee’s allegations triggered the personal and advertising injury coverage part of the policy, which covers loss arising out of the advertising of the policyholder’s goods or services, invasion of privacy, libel, slander, copyright infringement, and misappropriation of advertising ideas. The court disagreed and found the employees’ allegations did not involve a publication that would trigger coverage under the commercial general liability policy.
A recent article published by Securityroundtable.org highlights the vulnerabilities businesses face in a world of e-commerce and interconnectivity, and how proper planning through a tailored cybersecurity program that includes – among other components – appropriate insurance coverage for cyber risks can help prevent a successful attack and mitigate the financial impact should one occur. Whether the issue is prevention or risk mitigation, cybersecurity should be at the top of the corporate agenda. As discussed in the Securityroundable.org article, Lisa Sotto, chair of the global privacy and cybersecurity practice of Hunton & Williams, explained at a recent briefing and crisis planning exercise in New York City that “it’s been a complete revolution. The cyber environment has just exploded…We could not have predicted this five years ago. There is no question that cybersecurity is a top priority for C-suites and boards. It is now recognized as a basic risk issue by every company.” Walter Andrews, chair of the insurance coverage practice at Hunton & Williams, addressed the insurability of cybersecurity risks, explaining that, “we’ve seen a sea change in a lot of areas in the last two years…There will always be liability no matter what, but cyber insurance has gone from a product a few companies acquired to one held by almost all. In fact, today regulators and boards require it.” For a recap of the entire briefing and crisis planning exercise, see the full Securityroundtable.org article, which can be found here.
Retailer Tesco Plc’s banking branch reported earlier this week that £2.5 million (approximately $3 million) had been stolen from 9,000 customer bank accounts over the weekend in what cyber experts said was the first mass hacking of accounts at a western bank. The reported loss is still being investigated by UK authorities but is believed to have occurred through the bank’s online banking system. The loss, which is about half of what Tesco initially estimated, is still substantial and serves as a strong reminder that cyber-related losses are a real threat to retailers and other industries. According to reports, Tesco Bank spent £500 million (approximately $618 million) building up its technology platform over the past seven years. Even that very substantial expenditure was not enough, however, to prevent the recent hack, further illustrating the need for robust cyber insurance as a component of any comprehensive cyber protection program.
A federal judge in Georgia held last week that a Commercial Crime Policy must cover a $1.7 million wire-transfer of funds precipitated by a fraudulent e-mail, purportedly authored by one of the insured’s managing directors. The decision marks yet another attempt by insurers to improperly narrow the scope of coverage afforded for cyber and technology-related losses.