High Net Worth Individuals Must Guard Against Identity Theft

High Net Worth Individuals Must Guard Against Identity Theft

You may now add Miley Cyrus, Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried to the pool of celebrities who’ve been hacked and publicly humiliated. No doubt, other high-profile individuals will follow.

It’s a reminder that “high net worth individuals,” or HNWIs, are just as susceptible as ordinary humans to having their digital personas hacked and personal privacy obliterated, perhaps even more so—with, arguably, much more at risk.

I recently had the chance to discuss this topic with Paul Johnstone, senior vice president for Chubb Personal Risk Services, Canada. Chubb is a publicly traded insurance giant, with offices in 54 countries. It is known for customizing insurance policies for wealthy people, and it recently partnered with CyberScout to provide personal identity protection services to its elite clientele. (Full disclosure, CyberScout sponsors ThirdCertainty.) Here are excerpts of our conversation, edited for clarity and length:

Q: To what extent are HNWIs bigger targets for hackers?

A:The scope and scale of their assets and investments likely translates to increased exposure. And many high net worth individuals have higher than average public and online profiles. They also can have multiple individuals helping run their lives.

Their high-value assets can be geographically diverse, potentially outside the country; their investments could be throughout the world, let alone in the country. So the complexity probably does translate into increased exposure. And, again, these individuals also have lots of people touching their lives, so the repercussions of identity theft and fraud is so prolific, and there’s a lot at stake.

Q: So how do you help address this?

A: We start by looking for an individual and a family who really considers insurance—and a solid independent insurance broker—as an important part of managing and protecting their assets and their lives. So our products, our services and our partners are all geared toward servicing these types of clients. Given the evolution of identity fraud and identity theft, it makes perfect sense that Chubb is going to be part of the solution as this kind of issue evolves.

Q: Where do you start?

A: Chubb’s coverage and service journey has been to progressively enhance our coverage to reflect our experience and the changing times that we live in. And we’ve come a long, long way from basic coverage, things like stolen or lost currency and credit cards, and to things like mortgage impairment, to now a robust set of coverages and services that we provide.

That includes partnerships with world-class leaders to help our clients deal with incidences of identity fraud and identity theft. Again, we don’t profess to be the experts, but we can certainly find ways to educate, to be proactive and to protect our insured.

Q: Sounds like a bit more than just signing up new policies and servicing claims.

A: When you look at the evolving relationship between insurance companies and the insured, a topic like identity fraud is a critically important, relatively new coverage. So when we look again at that coverage journey, we’re talking about being proactive with our insureds, to educate them on the exposure, and, ultimately, for them to be protected.

Q: I can see how that might be a bit more complex for a big-name celebrity.

A: Arguably if you are a high net worth individual you may not have the time to resolve the fact that all of your documents may have been compromised. So that’s where a company like Chubb, in partnership with a vender like CyberScout, can respond and take care of that. It’s a different level and tier of service. We would take care of recovering, protecting and monitoring things like credit scores and credit ratings, which is critically important. We would take care of getting your identity back.