Sharon Fox-Slater: what happens when a real estate business makes a cyber attack claim

Last month, I wrote an article for Elite Agent looking at the impact of cyber attacks on real estate businesses and how agents can ultimately safeguard themselves and their data with the right insurance.

For those who still believe ‘it will never happen to me’, this month, I want to share a claim example and really drill down into the value of adequate cyber cover.

The reality is that cybercrime is becoming increasingly common.

According to the latest Annual Cyber Threat Report 2021-2022, the Australian Cyber Security Centre recorded an astonishing 76,000 cybercrime reports, representing a 13 per cent increase from the previous financial year.

The same report made the distressing revelation that one cybercrime report is made every seven minutes in Australia, indicating that the issue is not going away.  

As a managing director, I am aware of the alarming impact a cyber attack can have on a company’s finances and reputation.

Of course, implementing robust security measures and training staff on ways to prevent and deter attacks are a must.

However, the truth is, it doesn’t matter how prepared you are. Sometimes, the unexpected happens.

When it does, it is important to be protected. 

Imagine this… 

You head into the office on a Saturday morning only to discover you have been locked out of all your systems. There is a message requesting a $10,000 ransom payment to release the system, stored files and data. 

For one real estate business, this was their reality.  Thankfully, they had cyber insurance.

So, what followed on this Saturday morning?

Well, the real estate business immediately called their broker, EBM Insurance & Risk (EBM)*.

As cyber events are often time sensitive, EBM reached out to the insurer’s Cyber Incident Response Centre and Team (available 24/7, 365 days a year). 

From there, the response team were put in contact with the real estate business to arrange a site visit and arrived later that day.

They worked Saturday night and Sunday and the business was back operating unrestricted on Monday morning. 

The real estate business was able to claim for the emergency IT costs to rectify the issue, forensic IT costs to review what data had been accessed and if they would need to adhere to notification legislation, and business interruption costs covering the lost revenue for their Saturday trade.

The contractors later invoiced the insurer directly and provided detailed reports to the claims team and client directly.

This means the real estate business did not incur costs directly (and didn’t have to pay the $10,000 ransom – although, there was cover under the policy if it was required).

The business did, however, need to substantiate their business interruption loss, which was negotiated based on the revenue of previous weeks and months. 

Interestingly, these kind of ransomware attacks have increased by nearly 500 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (according to the Annual Cyber Threat Report 2021-2022). 

Now the big questions: If you found yourself in this same situation, how would you respond?

Would you have the expertise and resources available to navigate the situation and would it be rectified quickly (in this case, less than two days)?

If you are considering cyber insurance, but are not sure where to start, you first need to understand what an insurer can offer in terms of taking a proactive approach to managing cyber risks.

You should also look at what is covered in the event of an attack and how the insurer will assist you with managing through that situation.

Ultimately, a good cyber insurance policy should cover your risk exposures and, at the very least, include cover for things like business interruption, loss of data, legal expenses and data recovery. 

If you want to chat about cover and claims relating to cyber protection, contact EBM Insurance & Risk. They can arrange a cyber insurance policy which offers cover for a range of losses.

Suffering a cyber attack can compromise your financial and reputational viability.

Cyber insurance is designed to complement your IT efforts to deter cyber attacks, and if the worst happens, respond promptly and efficiently. 

*EBM RentCover (headed by Sharon Fox-Slater) is part of the EBM Group, which includes EBM Insurance & Risk – a division that provides insurance and risk solutions by qualified brokers, some of whom specialise in cyber insurance.

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Sharon Fox-Slater

Sharon Fox-Slater is the Managing Director of EBM RentCover, which protects more than 165,000 rental properties across Australia. For more info, visit