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Cyber Savvy Broker: Matt Patterson

Cyber Savvy Broker Matt Patterson

As technology transforms the economy, businesses of all sizes have to navigate a new kind of risk: digital risk.

The most successful brokers will need to be prepared to help their clients navigate these complex risks. Our "Cyber Savvy Broker" series highlights forward-thinking brokers with the knowledge and skills to help their clients navigate this digital transformation.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Matt Patterson, Vice President, Professional, Management, and Cyber/Tech Liability for CRC Group. Matt emphasized the changes he’s seen in the industry over the last 10 years and why portal quoting has improved the cyber broker experience.

How did you become a cyber insurance specialist?

I started my career in insurance fresh out of college in 2012, and it was initially just a full-time job that would allow me to pay my bills. However, like many other people in this industry, it pulled me in. 

I began at a specialty wholesaler that only sold professional and management liability. They were on the front end of the cyber liability push. We connected to many new carriers looking to sell new cyber and tech products. We cross-sold cyber, and pushed the coverage at a time when it wasn't very popular to purchase. Professional, management, and cyber liability is my wheelhouse as it's all I've ever done. 

How did you learn the nuances of cyber coverage? 

I’ve sent thousands of cyber quotes answering the same question thousands of times. The repetition of selling the same product over and over again has been a tremendous help. 

Many people who sell tech and cyber are not tech experts; we're insurance experts that sell technical products. We had to learn the terminology on our own. I accomplished this by reading our carriers' forms in their entirety and reading many tech articles to figure out what new exposures mean, how they are interconnected to a network, how networks operate, and how our insurance solutions provide coverage for these exposures. 

Ultimately, this helped me better understand why cyber insurance is important, and rethink the intent of the insurance. 

What are the biggest changes compared to when you started selling cyber?

The whole underwriting process has changed immensely. The amount of information required to get a quote is very different. We used to take the name of the insured, their revenues, and their address to generate a viable quote. We could bind with no further questions asked. Today, multiple applications need to be completed. Insureds need multi-factor authentication (MFA), EDR tools, dual approval on wire transfers, routine backups, and many other controls for many carriers to have an appetite to cover their exposure. In addition to the insured's controls, insurers are conducting deep scans of clients' networks to discover their vulnerabilities which can increase the insured's probability of experiencing a cyber incident. These scans can strongly impact the carrier's ability to quote certain risks. A negative scan can result in a hard decline from insurance carriers. 

We've seen a shift from data breaches to ransomware attacks that lock up critical systems on an insured's network. The business interruption costs associated with a total shutdown are where the exposure lies today. It can cost a business an immense amount of money to have its operations shut down for the time needed to negotiate, pay a ransom, or totally rebuild its systems. 

What are key skills you think are essential for a cyber broker in today's market?

Patience and resilience are two skills you need to have. Only some deals will go your way. You'll get a lot of submissions, and you'll win some of them. Unfortunately, you're also going to lose some of them. Some of them you can't quote at all. This industry is a marathon, not a sprint. 

What do you look for when you're recommending an insurance partnership for your clients

Service and responsiveness, as well as claims handling. If a carrier is unresponsive and mishandles a claim, I don't want to work with them again. I tell my clients that sometimes it's worth paying a little bit more to save money at the end of the day in breach response and claims handling.

What has the industry done well to evolve?

Using a portal to quote is one of the best things that's happened to cyber insurance. The ability for carriers to ask a certain number of questions and then provide us with instantaneous quotes has been incredibly beneficial. It also helps our clients because they want quick, accurate quotes that are close to binding. 

Improve your cyber knowledge with Coalition

Cyber insurance is one of the fastest-growing insurance products and a huge opportunity for brokers to grow their book of business. Coalition's Cyber Savvy program equips you with the tools and knowledge you need to deepen your cyber risk expertise and advise (and protect!) your clients. 

You can access more free Cyber Savvy Broker resources to continue your learning journey.