With real estate companies increasingly a target of cybercrime, brokers have yet another responsibility and must be vigilant about protecting the company’s assets, its agents, its clients and its reputation.
Malware, hacks and data loss are real threats in the real estate industry, where high-value transactions and sensitive customer information are a prime target for hackers.
Between 2016 and 2017, cyberattacks targeting the real estate industry increased by 480 percent. In addition, fraudulent real estate transactions increased by 5,000 percent, resulting in losses that grew from $19 million in 2016 to $969 million in 2017.
After all, just one hack can send a real estate company into a tailspin. In fact, 60 percent of small businesses close within six months of a data breach, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Given the costs—both financial and reputational—associated with being victimized by a cyberattack, brokers simply can’t afford to not protect themselves.
Enhanced Coverage & Premium Discounts
Realizing the risks its members were facing, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) sought a solution that would complement E&O insurance policies and provide a greater level of coverage brokerages need to protect their business in the event of cyberattack or fraud.
The National Association of REALTORS® partnered with CyberPolicy® to create a customized cyber liability insurance program designed to meet the unique needs of real estate professionals. It offers members-only features and assistance to help recover quickly from the devastating losses often incurred during a cyberattack or fraud, and allows companies to restore operations and get back to business.
With CyberPolicy, members can compare, quote and buy cyber liability insurance from select first-class carriers through an entirely paperless quoting and binding process. The liability insurance coverage addresses fraud, including hacking, phishing and ransomware.
Among the exclusive NAR member benefits:
– Higher coverage limits than traditional cyber liability policies for third-party/client phishing fraud. If hackers impersonate a broker or agent and set up fake accounts to send false money wiring instructions to buyers, the insurance will cover reimbursement of the client’s losses stemming from that phishing fraud.
– Premium discounts and credits
– Independent contractors: Agents working under a broker are automatically covered under the policy.
– Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Defense covers lawsuits alleging violation of CAN-SPAM and TCPA (“Do Not Call/Text”).
– No retroactive date. Viruses or malicious code could be inactive for months before causing actual damage. Even if they were on the computer before the effective date of the policy and discovered after the policy’s effective date, NAR members are still covered and protected by the insurance policy.
Insurance providers have a step-by-step strategy in place to support brokers throughout the process of recovering from a cyberattack.
For instance, during the first 24 – 48 hours, brokers receive legal support to guide them through the breach, IT forensics professionals analyze the attack, and data recovery experts restore data.
To restore operations and help a company maintain its reputation, public relations specialists step in to rebuild the company’s standing of responsibility and reliability. Brokers can also recoup lost income when a company’s operations are interrupted. In addition, the policies provide credit monitoring to clients who were affected.
For the longer term, brokers can anticipate ongoing legal defense and payments for legal fees; obtain reimbursement for lawsuits, settlements and fines; and receive a cybersecurity plan to prevent future hacks.
Choosing and purchasing cyber insurance is simple and can be done during a short call with licensed advisors. They ask specific questions about the firm and its vulnerabilities, and discuss the saving and exclusive coverage available to NAR members. Within five minutes, they’re able to put together an appropriate policy that addresses a real estate company’s specific needs, and NAR members can receive coverage that begins within 24 hours.
Brokers can visit NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits/CyberPolicy to learn more. To receive the full benefits, REALTORS® must mention their NAR membership when contacting CyberPolicy.
Despite having an insurance policy in place, brokers still need to stay on top of cybersecurity by taking the proper precautions to protect against cyberattacks and by providing ongoing education to agents to minimize risk.
The REALTOR Benefits® Program is the exclusive member benefits program of the National Association of REALTORS®, bringing savings and special offers just for NAR members. In one year alone, over 800,000 REALTORS® gained an edge by leveraging at least one REALTOR Benefits® Program offering, saving $63 million on member benefits from industry-leading companies. Program partners are carefully selected and understand the unique needs of real estate professionals. Learn more and save by visiting NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits.