Interview With Jay Byrnes

Jay Byrnes
Byrnes Agency, Inc.
Dayville, Connecticut

How did you get your start at Byrnes Agency?

I am the third generation in our family to work at Byrnes Agency.  My grandfather founded the agency in 1932.  Then, my father worked for the firm.  Finally, after graduating college, I joined.  We currently have two offices in Northeast Connecticut.  I am also currently the chair for the Agents Council for Technology Committee and a member of the Big “I”.

Why is cyber liability important to everyone?

Even though a company may not be a multinational corporation, the threat of cyber liability still exists.  Cybercriminals target small businesses and individuals, too.  We all have exposures.

What are the biggest cyber changes?

The process of underwriting has changed drastically.  The product that a client was presented in the past was complex and tedious.  The specifics regarding different routers and servers, along with the entire delivery system has gone from clunky and clumsy to streamlined.

With just a few questions, the agent can present the product to the client, even if the client has been intimidated by technology in the past that seemed exotic or confusing.

What are the biggest cyber challenges faced today?

Most people assume that since they are not a large company, they are not at risk for cybercrime.  However, as agents, we should see ourselves as advocates of coverage to ensure that our customers understand that they are vulnerable.  The last call a business owner wants to make is the one to notify clients of a breach in security.  The reputational damage can be unforgiving.

Another challenge faced by agents is regulatory issues.  Most states have general cyber protection laws that protect consumers.  However, states such as New York and South Carolina are requiring that sensitive information such as date of birth, Social Security numbers, and driver’s license numbers be protected.  As good stewards of that personal information, roadblocks and obstacles should be in place to thwart these high-value targets.

What is the future of cyber?

Many companies are putting cyber sublimits on non-cyber policies.  This is similar to what is seen in the EPLI space.  Even though it is better than no coverage, it is not “true” cyber insurance.

With cyber extortion being one of the biggest risks in cyberspace today, a true cyber policy will be more expansive and include these types of coverage.  In a base product that may be included as a freebie coverage, customers should be aware that many of today’s threats are not covered with a limited package.

We are getting more and more calls from clients with cyber issues who are looking for insurance solutions.  Although unfortunate that this is now commonplace, it is shedding more light on cyber liability.  For an independent agent, this means being a good, consultative risk manager for any client, since these threats aren’t going away any time soon.

Do you have any cyber advice for a fellow agent?

Definitely.  Take advantage of any Big “I” resources, and get familiar with the Coalition product.  As part of the Big “I” membership, there are a number of tools available from the Agents Council for Technology.  This is a good place to start.