“Insurance has penetrated all industries except gaming” –CEO
Waffle Insurance on making gaming insurance a North American reality
Gaming is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, yet it remains untapped by insurance companies as an expansive line of coverage. Its risks appear in other traditionally insured fields, which means writing coverage comes with well-established precedents, yet gaming is not traditionally seen as a viable area of opportunity.
“Insurance has penetrated all industries except gaming,” said Waffle Insurance co-founder and CEO, Qunetin Coolen (pictured below). “There are a lot of technical and behavioural prevention methods out there that are useful to gamers, but there is no product to protect against careless mistakes or seasoned hackers. That’s where we step in.”
Insurance Business spoke with Coolen about why Waffle Insurance has launched US gamer insurance, what types of coverage is offered to prospective players and how the role of brokers will evolve alongside changes in consumer expectations.
“There is so much opportunity in gamer coverage”
Coolen and his team at Waffle grew up playing video games, a formative childhood activity that matured and carried into adulthood. “We all played PlayStation and Nintendo as youth and even have a gaming channel on Slack; it’s a world we know a lot about,” he said.
With the industry seeing massive growth, especially over the pandemic years, also came a rise in data breaches, hacking and other malicious activity. However, for gamers, there was not sophisticated or standardized insurance options to help safeguard their assets and finances, an area of great potential that Coolen and his colleagues wanted to enter.
“There is so much opportunity in gamer coverage,” Coolen said.
“More experienced gamers can spend tens of thousands of dollars annually on in-game purchases, which leads to a greater chance of targeted digital larceny and an increased need to prevent attacks or help remediate a loss if it unfortunately occurs.”
Waffle has partnered with Blink by Chubb’s cyber insurance protection to offer this novel form of coverage, which is available in 44 US states.
“A lot of players use headsets and chat with others when they are actively participating in a game, and it is in these conversations that personal information can be leaked quite casually,” Coolen said.
“A more seasoned hacker, who may be posing as an innocent participant, can use this information to hack into an account, change the email address and add multi-factor authentication, making it near impossible to recover.”
There is also the phenomenon of downloading cheat codes to bolster a player’s success rate in a game, which has become quite widespread amongst less-seasoned professionals. These can have malware hidden in its code and can allow a hacker to wreak havoc quite easily.
“There is also the possibility that once these accounts have been taken over by threat actors, that they are then listed for sale online for individuals to purchase,” Coolen said.
While more experienced gamers may be aware of these risks and use preventative measures like a VPN or multi-factor authentication, it does not guarantee that more sophisticated hackers will not be able to catch a them during a moment of vulnerability or evade any safeguards put in place.
As a response, Waffle is offering protection for electronic data that may have been pillaged and can be restored.
“Whether it’s identity theft, financial account protection, ransomware attacks or threats to hardware, our coverage is broad and customizable,” Coolen said.
“It is meant to address current risks, as we have not created a product for problems that are not an actual threat.”
The next steps in preventative action
While Waffle is a relatively small insurtech operation, it has ambitions to further safeguard its clients’ assets through an increased focus on risk prevention methods.
“Our next phase is to partner with cyber security professionals to really strengthen our risk management capabilities,” Coolen said.
“We want to be able to encourage our customers across all coverage lines to take those necessary measures to mitigate any potential threats or vulnerabilities.”
Coolen and his team have been looking into rewarding those who are setting up multi-factor authentication or providing help or resources to install a VPN, which for its gamer clientele, should be standard practice.
Brokers will factor into this equation by understanding the inherent risks of gaming and imparting cyber-specific insight about how these safeguarding measures should be top of mind, further emphasizing the evolution the position is undergoing. “The role of the broker is maturing into a more nuanced advisor on risk management,” Coolen said.
“It is more than just a sales-oriented position, but rather, they need to stay on top of industry trends and the marketplace and be able to offer clients the products based on their unique profile — kind of like an Amazon algorithm.”
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