Willis Warns Directors D&O Policies May Not Cover Some Cyber Risks

August 6, 2012

Willis Group Holdings latest Executive Risks Boardroom Guide warns that, as the online universe expands it has “introduced new financial risks that may not be covered under general and professional liability insurance, including standard directors’ and officers’ (D&O) policies.

“As a result, corporate directors and risk managers must ensure that they buy appropriately tailored policies that provide protection against the rapidly expanding risks to which they are vulnerable, both personally and professionally.”

Willis explained that in 2011, “companies of all sizes struggled with ‘cyber incidents,’ ranging from malicious intrusions to employee negligence. Indeed, big corporations are not the only ones that are vulnerable to hackers. Half of all US companies that have experienced data breaches have fewer than 1,000 employees.”

The bulletin pointed out that in October 2011, “in response to the increasing dependence on digital technologies and associated risks, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued ‘Disclosure Guidance,’ which recommended that public companies disclose, among other things, cyber incidents.”

Mark Wakefield, Executive Director of FINEX Global, Willis’ Financial, Executive Risk and Professional Liability Business, warned: “The risks and dilemmas posed by serious data breaches apply to board directors of all businesses. Courts generally are likely to take the view that directors have a duty to gain a sufficient understanding of the nature of the risks facing their businesses, including cyber risks. Ignorance is still no defense.

“Against this backdrop the D&O policy has had to move with the times, as buyers and brokers seek cover for new and previously untested areas of liability,” he continued. “Willis has responded with the introduction of DARCstar in 2011, which provides ‘all risks cover’ that responds better to today’s quick-moving environment,” he added

Overall, Willis said that the “global D&O insurance market has grown in capacity, while a number of new insurers have entered the market for international excess. The effect of this has been to keep pricing of D&O relatively stable in most areas, despite the economic turmoil and the heightened threat of litigation.”

Wakefield indicated that the “overall the market has so far weathered the economic storm if not intact, then without any major disruption.” explained Wakefield.

Executive Risks: A Boardroom Guide was produced in connection with White Pages, it has 18 chapters focusing on legal developments for directors in key jurisdictions, and a further six special focus chapters addressing issues with global reach. It provides up to date information on the risks and responsibilities that accompany the role of a director. Copies are available from Willis.

Source: Willis Group Holdings plc

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.