Thankfully, the latest IT security breach story to hit the news wire -- that the computer system at Hannaford Bros., a Scarborough, Maine-based supermarket chain, was hacked, resulting in the theft of 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers and about 1,800 fraud cases to date - had nothing to do with the insurance industry.As I wrote a few months back, I think there's an opportunity for a few insurers to establish themselves as IT security leaders, and maybe leverage such a reputation to built brand awareness and increase customer loyalty. While some insurers agree with this assertion, the experts I spoke to for the story couldn't identify any insurer that had really established itself yet in this area.
However, while no one in the industry has truly set themselves apart via their own internal IT security strength, many insurers are looking at opportunities to offer security-related "value adds" to policyholders.
Case in point: the more than 100 insurers that have contracted with Identity Theft 911 to offer identity theft resolution services to policyholders. Included among those insurance carrier clients are Chubb, Amica and more recently, MetLife Auto & Home.
"It's not a security measure so to speak. It's an after-the-fact service provided to the insured should something happen," explains Ben Kaplan, director of operations, Identity Theft 911.
Essentially, the service allows victims of identity theft access to an Identity Theft 911 advocate who helps get them back on track. "It's a manual process, really, to remove the fraudulent activity off of one's credit file and dealing with the creditors that are affected by the situation," Kaplan says. "We are really a rather low-tech company, very brick and mortar."
So, in one way, perhaps insurers already are viewing security as differentiator -- just from a different point of view, where security piece-of-mind is offered to customers as an added service, rather than as a feature of company's IT operation (not that you couldn't do both).
"It's essentially a value add to their services. It has a nice fit to it," Kaplan says. "The insurance companies are out there to help their customers, that's the nature of the business. This is just an additional way that the insurance industry can assist and help the general public out there."No insurer has emerged from the pack as an IT security leader -- at least not yet -- but many are looking at identity theft resolution as a way to provide an added value to data security-conscious customers.