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Equifax's insurance said likely to be inadequate against breach

Though Equifax’s eventual expense may not be known for years, it could be multiples higher than the insurance payout, given what the company has disclosed and the costs at hacking victims like Yahoo and Target Corp. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Though Equifax’s eventual expense may not be known for years, it could be multiples higher than the insurance payout, given what the company has disclosed and the costs at hacking victims like Yahoo and Target Corp. (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Bloomberg) -- Equifax Inc.’s insurance against cyber breaches is likely inadequate to cover the credit-reporting company’s costs tied to one of the biggest hacks in history, according to people familiar with the coverage.

The company holds a policy that would probably cover about $100 million to $150 million, with costs shared by carriers in the London market and elsewhere, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private contract. Though Equifax’s eventual expense may not be known for years, it could be multiples higher than the insurance payout, given what the company has disclosed and the costs at hacking victims like Yahoo and Target Corp., they said.

Related: Uncovering silent cyber risk

“Equifax carries cybersecurity, crime, general-liability and other lines of insurance, and we have begun discussions with our carriers regarding the incident,” a spokesperson said by email Saturday, without commenting further.

Multiple state & federal investigations


Equifax has offered free credit-monitoring to victims after reporting Thursday that a breach affected 143 million people, revealing Social Security numbers, drivers license data and birth dates. The Atlanta-based company now faces multiple state and federal investigations, and a proposed multibillion-dollar class action lawsuit was filed against Equifax.

Representatives for Equifax didn’t return phone messages or emails Saturday to answer questions about cyber insurance, including whether it has additional protection. But the company has addressed the limits of its insurance protection tied to cyber risks.

“Our property and business interruption insurance may not be adequate to compensate us for all losses or failures that may occur,” Equifax said in its annual filing in February. “Also, our third-party insurance coverage will vary from time to time in both type and amount depending on availability, cost and our decisions with respect to risk retention.”

Beazley PLC lead insurer for Equifax


Equifax dropped 14% in New York trading Friday. The company is one of the three major bureaus that maintain databases of consumers’ credit status, payment history and address information. The same banks that furnish much of the bureaus’ credit data also use it to make lending decisions.

Beazley Plc, which has been expanding offerings to protect clients against cyber risks, is the lead insurer for Equifax, according to two people familiar wit the contract. A representative for the London-based insurer declined to comment.

Related: Directors, officers fear personal exposure to 'cyber nightmare'

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