Demand from businesses for insurance against data breaches is surging, according to one of the Republic’s leading brokers.
Last year's introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) imposed stringent new rules on organisations holding personal information for any purpose.
According to Tim Dooley and Brian Byrne of broker Dooley Insurance Group, growing numbers of businesses and other organisations are now seeking cover against the consequences of data breaches.
Cyber attacks, which mainly target data held on computer systems, remain a threat to enterprise, and the broker says that about half of them target small and medium-sized businesses.
According to Mr Dooley, the firm's managing director, up to 80 per cent of businesses in countries such as Australia have cover for this, but as little as 15 per cent to 20 per cent are insured against this risk here.
Brian Byrne, Dooley Insurance’s commercial director, explained that Government and its agencies and larger companies, now insist that organisations with which they do business to have GDPR insurance.
“It’s very clear that businesses that do not have this cover or are not aware of it are at risk,” he said.
“There are significant volumes of personal data that are sitting on companies’ servers,” Mr Byrne added.
The insurance provides cover against the fallout of attacks that result in a breach of GDPR, according to Mr Dooley.
That includes regulatory fines, reputation damage and restoring IT systems where there has been a breach.
“No small and medium-sized enterprises have high-tech people in place that can respond to a breach,” Mr Byrne explained.
The insurance cover includes access to a company that will help restore systems and manage the public relations fallout, he noted.
Dooley mostly sources GDPR cover in the UK as the firm says Irish underwriters have been “slow off the mark” in responding to demand for it.
However, the broker says that insurers including Zurich are beginning to offer this cover in the Republic.
Cyber crime is the world’s fastest growing illegal activity and estimates of its potential cost to business run to $6 billion (€5.3 billion) by 2021, according to Mr Dooley.
Naas, Co Kildare-based Dooley Insurance is one of the Republic's biggest brokers.
The firm has about 8,500 clients spread through most counties, but with the heaviest concentration in Leinster. Dooley has relationships with Irish insurers and underwriters in the Lloyds of London market.