COVID-19 and the digitising of the economy: Aviva Insight

8 December 2020

Neil Arklie, Head of Cyber Insurance at Aviva, shares his views on the current cyber risk landscape and reflects on how Aviva have responded to this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for both brokers and customers alike. 

How have you coped/adapted during the pandemic overall? 

COVID-19 has been a tragedy for public health and caused significant disruption to peoples’ lives and the global economy. Aviva moved quickly to expand our remote working capability enabling our colleagues on the front line to maintain strong levels of service for individual and commercial customers throughout the period of restricted movement. Aviva has also played a significant role in helping the community, contributing more than £40 million to support businesses and health services and providing significant additional relief and assistance to customers experiencing financial hardship.[1]

Aviva has also been educating our customers about the increased threats of fraud due to the lockdown.  This has been produced by our own internal cyber training team with our financial crime colleagues. These are available here.  This covers the commonly seen scams and has a reporting service if someone is impacted by a fraudster and how to react.

How have you coped/helped brokers cope with the increased cyber threat over this time?

The most important thing was to keep trading and servicing our customers. It was a challenge to transition to home working but we have received positive feedback from our brokers throughout this time. The next stage was training and keeping them informed about cyber exposures. Alongside our Risk Management team, we hosted a series of well-attended webinars focusing on cyber risks and the exposures that have arisen during lockdown and also produced loss prevention standards covering a number of cyber risk issues.  We also ran webinars in October and November, covering data in insurance, the cyber threat, how to protect yourselves and how insurance can help after a cyber incident.

Do you think COVID-19 has changed the landscape of cyber insurance, if so, how?

The pandemic has not changed the nature of cyber exposures per se, but what it has done is accelerate the digitising of the economy with a greater reliance on technology and connectivity. The bad guys will use any event to continue attacks via phishing, business email compromise and ransomware for example and our recent report shows there has been an increase in suspicious activity during the pandemic[2]. This means that the cyber insurance product has become of greater importance for our clients. The need for adequate protection and a breach response service is more important now than ever if they are to get up and running after a cyber incident.

Cyber crimes are amongst the most common in the country[3] and it is key for insureds to have cyber resilience which will come from good cyber hygiene. Measures such as having firewalls, multi-factor authentication, Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC https://dmarc.org/) and good encrypted and separate data back up, will all help them to be far more cyber secure.

What are your predictions for the future of cyber insurance now that businesses have digitised many of their once offline processes?
I anticipate that the cyber insurance market will continue to grow over the next 5 years. At Aviva we are already seeing this demand as brokers and their clients are getting more comfortable with buying the product. They are seeing value in the coverage and associated services, especially the breach response 24/7 claims line.  And we’re not standing still. We are continuing to evolve the coverage to reflect the changing exposures such as social engineering. Also risk management services are becoming more important and we are working with Cyber Smart (https://cybersmart.co.uk/aviva/) who can offer our customers the Government approved Cyber Essentials accreditation and an app that they can use to monitor their cyber hygiene on an ongoing basis. Ultimately, we believe this materially improves our customer’s risk which can only be a good thing.


[1] Aviva 2020 interim results

[2] https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2020/07/almost-half-of-people-dont-report-coronavirus-scams/

[3] DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020  

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