Company Websites, An Underwriting Perspective
August 23, 2016
Author: Mike Jones
The advent of the internet has allowed businesses of all sizes to extend their marketing reach. The increased audience size that a business can reach via the web can be beneficial in terms of growing a client base or selecting qualified employees. Existence of a website however, can also lead to increased liability exposure if not properly maintained and monitored. This article will briefly cover some of the aspects of a trucking company website that underwriters may reference to determine potential exposures which could impact the underwriting process.
A trucking company website with login access for its employees or owners to view personal information or company trade secrets will present a cyber liability exposure. Personal information of employees is considered protected data, loss of this information due to an unauthorized internal or third party breach can be a risk to a business owner. Loss of trade secrets from unauthorized access is also a problem as information could be leveraged against the business in trade for a financial reward or made public knowledge, thus impacting the businesses’ competitive advantage. Underwriters may view a company’s website to see what offerings exist that a hacker or disgruntled employee could potentially access. To ensure such data is secure, business owners should have a thorough understanding of their website and what information is available online. If the website has login functionality for owners or employees to view sensitive information, then consultation with a credible cyber security expert should be pursued to determine if appropriate security measures are in place to act as a safeguard against a breach. Regular website maintenance is critical to protect against potential security threats as hackers and the invasive tools they use are becoming more advanced.
Underwriters can also view a trucking website to gain a better understanding of the general operations of the company. For this reason, a website must be maintained so information presented online is consistent with the current state of the business. For example, if a website indicates that brokerage operations, warehousing, or other services exist that don’t truly exist, this raises a red flag that differentiates from the submission process versus what is publicly available. The underwriter may be less inclined to offer a specific coverage or they may implement additional insurance exclusions if they have less certainty as to the risk they will be insuring.
The ownership history of a company is often available via a company website. Ownership history must be studied to understand the direction and stability of the business they’re offering coverage to. Whether a company has existed 70 years with one owner or existed for 30 years with five owners, this information must accurately match the information submitted during the underwriting process to not delay or impact placement of coverage.
Website sophistication can also be referenced during the underwriting process. If a company website does exist, it’s best to ensure it looks as though it were carefully crafted, rather than quickly pieced together. Although we’ve been told not judge a book by its cover, the look and feel of a website may be deemed a reflection of the operations not only by potential web surfers, but also by underwriters (i.e. sophisticated website = savvy business owner).
To protect your business interest, error on the side of caution and make sure the company website is updated consistently as changes occur. The operations of a business may stay consistent for years, however if there is a change in business ownership, companies should be sure that the globally accessible piece of marketing material (i.e. the website) is updated to reflect the change. Having a web presence is a common part of business ownership, so to ensure unnecessary liability exposure is avoided, owners must be familiar with what information can be found on their website even if it’s not an integral part of the company’s success.
|Education: B.A. Liberal Arts from University of Iowa with Certificate of Entrepreneurial Management.
C&B Role: Account Administrator
Hobbies: I enjoy fishing and boating on the Mississippi. I also enjoy sports and live music.
- “Glossary of Insurance & Risk Management Terms>C>cyberextortion.” www.irmi.com. International Risk Management Institute, Inc. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
- “ Rules and Policies – Protecting PII – Privacy Act.” www.gsa.gove/portal/content/104256. 18 Nov. 2001. Web. 9 Aug. 2016