Computers and Law: Journal for the Australian and New Zealand Societies for Computers and the Law
DEDICATED CYBER INSURANCE OR BUST –
LESSONS FROM INCHCAPE
BENJAMIN DI MARCO[*] AND ANTHONY KUMAR[†]
Blended insurance products commonly used to cover emerging specialist risks such as cyber are increasingly likely to leave insured organisations without adequate protection.
The recent decision of Inchcape Australia Limited v Chubb Insurance Australia Limited  FCA 883, demonstrates that organisations must purchase specialised cyber insurance policies, to effectively cover the losses and exposures caused by cyberattacks and ransomware threats.
In this case Inchcape sought cover for ransomware losses under an Electronic and Computer Crime (ECC) policy. This blended insurance covers commonly found in crime policies for funds transfer, redirection, and push payment frauds, together with insuring clauses for direct financial loss arising from computer viruses and the modification of electronic data and electronic media.
Unfortunately, the ECC policy did not include any of the core insurance clauses found in market standard cyber liability insurance policies. Because it lacked proper cyber insurance coverage, the court found that Inchcape was unable to use the policy to recover losses sustained after a major ransomware attack.
Blended insurance products like Inchcape’s ECC policy are common in the market and often attempt to cover both traditional risks as well as emerging specialist risks such as cyber liability.
By their nature, blended products contain narrower insuring clauses, when compared against comprehensive risk specific wordings. Despite this, blended products can be attractive to organisations, and in some cases are more cost-effective than pursuing specialist risk policies such as a cyber insurance policy. They may also be easier to obtain than specialist products, as they often require fewer underwriting questions to be answered.
However, as the Inchcape decision demonstrates, blended products can leave significant uninsured gaps in insurance programs, unless they are carefully analysed against an organisation’s key exposures and matched to specific insurance needs.
In this case, Inchcape sought coverage for financial loss sustained following a ransomware attack which included:
1. repairs and/or replacement of hardware, software, and data, including investigation costs
2. hardware and data recovery costs
3. resource and additional staffing costs.
All of these would have been affirmatively covered under a specialist cyber liability insurance policy and are losses commonly sustained after many ransomware attacks. The court found that Inchcape, in relying on an ECC policy, was not covered for the ransomware losses.
Where other organisations have included blended wordings in their insurance programs or have failed to procure a specialist cyber insurance policy, they will be exposed to a similar uninsured fate. Given the Inchcape decision, each organisation should carefully investigate whether they hold sufficient insurance that appropriately addresses their realistic cyber exposures and consider the need for specialist cyber insurance.
The Inchcape decision also highlights the need to examine how an organisation’s entire insurance program collectively responds to cyber and technology risks. WTW’s recent Global Directors Liability Report identified that cyber-related issues were the top risk concerns for respondents for 2022 with 65% saying the risk of cyberattacks was “very significant” or “extremely significant,” and 59% saying they fear a “very significant” or “extremely significant” exposure to cyber extortion attacks.
In handing down the Inchcape decision, Justice Jagot highlighted that cover under the ECC policy was limited to the “direct financial loss” sustained by the company. While this language is common in crime policies, it is immediately problematic for claims caused by a cyber event, because the nature and extent of a cyber loss is determined by:
• the intervening steps taken by the insured after the attack including how they investigate the suspected incident
• any decisions taken to shut down and isolate parts of their IT environment
• the extent of engagement with the malicious actor
• the type of restoration work performed.
These intervening acts reduce the proximate cause, and add an element of indirect or consequential losses, which make wordings like those under the ECC policy significantly less likely to respond.
Some cyber events will however create direct financial losses, particularly where an authentication compromise or fraudulent instructions result in the organisation losing or transferring funds to an incorrect party.
Similar tensions can also arise in situations where an organisation’s cyber and technology exposures may also create liabilities under Directors and Officers, Professional Indemnity, and Property Insurance. In some cases, covers may be impacted by specific cyber exclusions which are commonly being added to traditional wordings. This makes obtaining overall coverage for technology risk more difficult, and often requires a higher level of expert advice so that the organisation is properly advised on best-in-class insurance options and potential areas of risk that are not insurable. Without this advice, it is difficult for the organisation to make an informed risk management decision.
For large and complex organisations, there is often strong benefit to engage with your broker to examine how all the relevant wording interplays, and the extent to which technology exposures may require multiple insurance policies to address key exposures.
The Inchcape judgment demonstrates that cyber risk management and cyber insurance are complex matters. Indeed, in parts of the ruling, it appears that even the Court struggled with the intricacies of cyber incident response management and misunderstood how certain triage tasks were conducted directly following the ransomware event.
Cyber security and risk management is a new industry, and few experts know how to properly bridge these topics. Cyber insurance is particularly complex, as it requires knowledge of both the cyber risk landscape and rapidly evolving insurance products created to meet this risk.
In the current market there is significant variance between the insurance policies offered by different carriers, and the underwriting information required to obtain cyber insurance. Those wordings which seem cheaper or easier to obtain, and often deliberately drafted to reduce the insurer’s exposure. These solutions may be suitable in some instances, but if they are not properly scrutinised, can result in the insurance program failing to meet cyber risks.
Had Inchcape obtained support from a dedicated cyber insurance expert it is unlikely an ECC policy would have been recommended as:
1. It contained extremely narrow causation language requiring both that Inchcape suffered direct financial loss, and further that this must directly arise from a small numbered of covered incidents;
2. The wording did not properly call out the incident response costs and steps which Inchcape would need to perform following a major cyber event, or the key ransomware losses that the organisation would suffer;
3. The insuring clauses in the policy did not address the range of malicious acts which are commonly employed by modern ransomware and cyber threat actors;
4. Hurdles in the policy that required damaged or destroyed electronic data, electronic media, or electronic instruction, do not reflect how most modern cyberattacks and cyberextortions are performed. This created further coverage uncertainty; and
5. General conditions in the wording imposed significant limitation of the covers in the policy relevant to cyber events.
[*] Cyber and Technology Risk Specialist, WTW.
[†] Senior Associate, Cyber and Technology, WTW.
 See Inchcape Australia Limited v Chubb Insurance Australia Limited  FCA 883,  –  (Jagot J) (‘Inchcape’).
 Ibid 7.
 Ibid 43 – 47.
 John Moran and Marc Voses, Directors’ Liability Survey 2022 April 2022 (Report), p 33 <https://www.wtwco.com/-/media/WTW/Insights/2022/04/directors-liability-survey-2022.pdf?modified=20220523170432>.
 See Inchcape (no 1)  (Jagot J).
 Ibid 43.