Buyer Beware – The Cybersecurity Flaw in the Instant Online Insurance Quote World

By: Denise Koslowsky

cybersecurity flaw


The effects of the pandemic have been innumerable. One of the things we have seen across the United States is in the efforts of cybercriminals to steal nonpublic information such as bank account, social security, and driver’s license numbers. Recently, the Department of Financial Services released an alert to all executives across the insurance industry regarding cyber fraud in the instant online quote world.

The alert revealed an increase in the efforts of hackers to steal nonpublic information in order to obtain pandemic-related benefits such as unemployment. Notably, there seems to be a concerted effort to steal from New Yorkers which coincides with the enhanced identity requirements put in place in order for New Yorkers to obtain pandemic benefits.

The cyber theft campaign was first revealed in late December 2020 and early January 2021 when reports were received from two auto insurers that provide instant online quotes for Auto Insurance. The insurance companies first noticed that something was amiss because of an unusually high number of abandoned quotes or quotes not pursued after the estimated insurance premium was revealed.


How this cyber theft campaign works

On an instant auto quote website, a criminal would enter a name, a birth date, and an address into the required fields. The site would then display an estimated insurance premium along with partial private information including a driver’s license number. The attackers captured the driver’s license numbers without going any further in the process and abandoned the quote. In some cases, the criminal would go as far as purchasing a policy, then using fraudulent payment methods in order to view the policy owner’s information, including his or her driver’s license number.


How widespread is the threat?

By January of 2021, approximately 12 insurance companies with instant online insurance quote websites had reported that they were likely targets of hackers. That was followed by 6 additional insurers reporting malicious activity on their auto quote websites. At least 4 insurers have reported that the hackers were able to gain access to private information or that they were continuing their investigation into the potential breach.


What this means for you

We understand that everyone wants to save money on their insurance. It is a message that seems to be everywhere – taking 15 minutes to save money on your auto insurance – makes it sound so easy, anyone can do it however that is no substitute for developing a relationship with your insurance agent. Having an insurance advocate by your side who knows about you and your family’s lifestyle can be an invaluable resource. Not only will they go out of their way to make sure your family is protected, but they will also be able to talk to you about things you can do to reduce the cost of your insurance. If you are looking to save some money, use your time wisely and have a conversation with a trusted advisor like us.

Many of our preferred carrier partners have added cyber coverage as part of their personal insurance offerings. Both PURE and Chubb have cybersecurity and fraud policies that could make a nice addition to your insurance portfolio. If you would like more information on these types of coverage, we can help.

We pride ourselves on the education we provide to our clients. Keeping you in the loop on things that are occurring within the world of insurance – including cybersecurity flaws – is important to us. Not only do we want you to have the best possible coverage for your individual needs, but we also want to be able to help you understand your risks. If you have a question about anything relating to your insurance, we encourage you to please give us a call!

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