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Nancy Bewlay


Global Chief Underwriting Officer

Cyber risk is becoming increasingly more important and companies, insurers and governments need to work more closely together on cyber security, according to the findings of the 2021 AXA Future Risks Report.

The global study measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks via a survey of 3,500 risk experts and 19,000 members of the public.

The pandemic accelerated the digitalization of economic activities – including crime, with growing potential for acts of cyber war. The percentage of experts selecting cyber security among their top five has increased from 54% in 2018’s survey to 61% this year. Only 26% of experts believe that governments are prepared for cyber security risks, a figure that has not improved since we first asked the question in 2019. 

Nancy Bewlay, Global Chief Underwriting Officer, AXA XL shares her thoughts around the current state of the cyber market and explains how AXA XL is helping clients to be prepared against this evolving risk.

How is the market for cyber insurance evolving?
In recent years, we’ve seen a sharp increase in cyber incidents, and as a result, a rising demand for cyber insurance. As so many economic activities have rapidly digitalized during the pandemic, companies are increasingly vulnerable to attacks. In response, some insurers limited their exposure to this class of business by reducing policy limits, increasing retentions, offering co-insurance, or restricting their offerings to specific clients or industry segments, while a few exited this market.

As today’s cyber criminals are highly sophisticated actors, generally large, agile, and well-financed criminal organizations, it remains critical for organizations to have a strong cyber security posture and dedicated insurance partner to help navigate an incident. We want to help our clients before they become a target. As a part of our cyber insurance policies, we offer our clients access to expert vendor partners who provide proactive cyber risk mitigation services at negotiated preferred rates.

Are you seeing an increase in demand from firms that have previously done without cyber insurance? 
Yes, we are seeing an increase in demand from organizations which traditionally did not purchase cyber insurance coverage. In these cases, we begin by learning about the security measures the organization has in place already, to assess the extent of their cyber vulnerabilities. From there, we can advise on specific risk management actions to take to prevent a loss, and when a loss occurs, help the client get their organization back up and running.

As cyber-attacks continue to increase and losses mount, clients' prevention and security measures will be a significant focus of the underwriting process. Buyers with poor security hygiene or those unwilling to improve their security posture may have a tougher time finding coverage.

Can you tell us about the unique value provided by AXA cyber experts? 
Immediate post-breach services come to mind first. These services are, arguably, just as important as subsequent financial pay-outs. By providing these end-to-end pre- and post-attack services, we ensure that our clients are following regulatory requirements, as well as protecting their reputation and stakeholder trust in the aftermath of an attack. Of course, we are also there later down the road to call on our breach response vendor panel to assist in the recovery of IT systems and data. Coverage may also include providing compensation of business interruption losses that may arise.

What kind of post-breach services do you have in mind?
These services include setting up a call centre within 24 hours of the attack to field enquiries from clients, enlisting computer forensic experts to determine how the unauthorized access occurred and what data was exposed or compromised, as well as support from a legal team with expertise in disclosure requirements in all relevant jurisdictions. While some clients can handle these tasks themselves, most will need their insurance partners, like AXA XL, to be ready on short notice to help them take the necessary steps and corrective actions.

As the Global Chief Underwriting Officer at AXA XL, what are you most optimistic about/ proud about?
I am proud of the leadership position that we’ve achieved in helping our clients address their growing cyber risk concerns. We’re partnering with and support our clients globally to help them manage their risk profile and ultimately reduce the chances of having a claim. But when things go wrong, we are there to help put them back on their feet and get them back to business. 

Read the report in full here.

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.