In the ten years since the launch of Bitcoin, billions of dollars in digital assetshave been lost or rendered inaccessible. The majority of these losses are most often caused by the failure of an infrastructure provider such as a custodian or exchange. As the cryptoasset space has evolved and expanded to include more retail investors, funds, and institutional investors, the need—and risk—for infrastructure providers has increased dramatically. Custodians, exchanges, and other concentrated holders of cryptoassets (e.g., funds, corporations with large holdings) are honeypots for bad actorsand represent a significant aggregation risk. Compounding this, most infrastructure providers offer limited insurance protection or none at all. And in some cases,providers may not understand or misrepresent the insurance have: D&O, E&O, general liability, stock cyber, and stock crime policies are not designed to cover theft due to criminal activity. In fact, in 2015, ISO amended the commercial crime policy form to include a specific exclusion for virtual currencies that applies to “loss involving virtualcurrency of any kind, by whatever name known, whether actual or physical including, but not limited to, digital currency, cryptocurrency, or any other type of electronic currency.”
Clearly, specialized insurance providers are needed, and this is need is increasing, as the space has seen dramatic hacks and loss events reducing—and in some cases totally erasing—confidence in cryptoassets as a new asset class; while inviting greater regulation, hampering growth and maturation of the digital assets industry, and reducing value of assets across the entire ecosystem.
Bottom line: To prevent future incidents, the space will need robust insurance products and insurance infrastructure. Insurance provides transfer of risk and generally leads to a rapid professionalization of an industry. What is now needed mostin the industry are specialized insurance products; full-service broker services; the development of captives; and full audit of crypto-related operations, risks, processes, and procedures. There is also an immediate need for rapid response services—companies that can swiftly and effectively engage during or after a loss event with incident response/mitigation, disaster recovery, loss investigations, and asset recovery.
In an effort to further advance these state-of-the-art services, BlockRe recently unveiled its latest tool to fight cryptocurrency loss: a comprehensive underwriting and risk assessment tool designed to aid in the issuing of insurance policies in the cryptoasset and blockchain space. This solution is one of the only comprehensive third-party risk assessment tools for cryptoassets and blockchain systems currently available in the world today. Created in mid-2018, the tool has been continuously refined to cover nearly500 pointsacross18 categories to meet the needs of AM Best A and A+ carriers globally, as well as provide a rigorous third-party assessment for companies operating in the cryptoasset space. Today, the tool is now live and in use.
This assessment framework was recently adopted by the Gaming Standards Association and has led to one of the few actuarial models for cryptoasset loss events to date. The risk tool was designed by the world’s leading experts on cryptoasset risk mitigation, blockchain, security, and insurance, including the first dedicated blockchain hire at two major global banks, who built the blockchain team for one of the world’s largest custodians. Another was the founder of the blockchain practice for a boutique consulting firm—who has previously built and helmed numerous companies—while the third was Chief Insurance Officer for a leading InsureTech company, who wrote the world’s first cryptocurrency insurance policies.
The crypto market has typically been viewed as too risky to make insurance viable, but through significant innovation, all of that is rapidly changing. New advances in InsureTech will ensure that cryptoassets are fareasier to insure, thereby preventing loss and providing confidence in the minds of retail investors and institutions alike. All of these efforts are necessary milestones along the path toward universal acceptance of cryptocurrency as a competitive, thriving medium of exchange.
Raymond Zenkich is President & COO of BlockRe