Best's Review

AM BEST'S MONTHLY INSURANCE MAGAZINE



At Large
Remote & Resilient

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of continuity, community and cyber resiliency.
  • Tony Kuczinski
  • June 2020
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Until March 2020, few of us could imagine a day when our entire industry, and much of the world, would need to rely almost entirely on technology for virtually all of our day-to-today interactions. The COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing challenges have altered our everyday reality in ways we could never have imagined. Most of all, it has tested our resiliency—on an individual and business level.

Technology has become a lifeline in our current situation, keeping us connected through one of the most trying times. It allows us to maintain “physical distancing” for the sake of everyone's health and well-being at work and at home, and it facilitates the ability to serve our customers and partners safely, effectively and with as little disruption as possible.

I am personally deeply impressed with how our team—and our entire industry—has shifted into this remote work reality. This includes our day-to-day activities, now blended with work and family elbow-to-elbow, requiring major shifts in the way our jobs are done. For example, in our industry, spring is the time when insurers and brokers are negotiating vitally important insurance policy renewals. This is traditionally an activity that relies heavily on personal relationships and face-to-face meetings. Technology has been vital in mediating some of those challenges through videoconferencing and other face-to-face communication platforms.

At Munich Re US P&C Companies, we have considered technology a linchpin in business resiliency for decades. Investments in innovative tools and solutions that lead the industry today—and will tomorrow—remain a top priority for our company and many in our industry. This includes solutions designed to make businesses of all sizes more resilient to cyberthreats, which have increased during this pandemic with cybercriminals seeking new opportunities to exploit weaknesses.

COVID-19 provides an effective smokescreen for launching email phishing attacks, many of which leverage company leaders as the email “senders.” This drives more people to open emails and potentially click on malicious links that download malware. Effective management of these attacks relies on two key factors: communication and secure technology.

IT security for any business is critical. Munich Re US P&C Companies have developed a strong infrastructure to defend against attacks and raise red flags when threats are detected. All companies must focus on having the strongest possible controls and tools in place to help ensure their cybersecurity. However, without communication, we have won only half the battle. Educating all (and I mean all) employees as well as contractors on how to identify cyberthreats is step one. Having open and accessible communication channels to answer employees' questions or make the right choice in the moment can help prevent a data breach, violations of privacy and much more.

In the re/insurance industry, which is in the business of protecting people and businesses from threats, cybersecurity may be one of the most critical areas of focus for years to come. What the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us—and will continue to—is that increasing resiliency must always be a priority, not a luxury. It is critical now more than ever. This need to adapt to change will not disappear, but most certainly will increase with time.

It has also taught us the value of community; helping customers and their clients be more resilient in the face of challenges, to not just survive but thrive. It has taught us to think differently, working with our colleagues in new and often better ways. Finally, it has reminded us to appreciate and reach out to those around us.

As we move forward with getting back on our collective feet, our industry will play an enormous positive role in helping businesses and individuals protect themselves, recover and, ultimately, prosper. I think I can speak for more than myself when I say I am proud to be a part of that mission.


Best’s Review contributor Tony Kuczinski is president and CEO of Munich Re US Holding. He can be reached at bestreviewcomment@ambest.com.


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