Blockchain Insurance
A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin alongside dollars is seen in London, Dec. 07, 2017. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In the 10 years since the launch of bitcoin, billions of dollars in digital assets have been lost or rendered inaccessible. The majority of these losses are 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 actors and 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 virtual currency 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. Consequently, this is the sole mission of our company. Insurance provides transfer of risk and generally leads to a rapid professionalization of an industry. What is now needed most in 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.

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 insurance technology will ensure that cryptoassets are far easier 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 chief operating officer and cofounder of BlockRe, a company dedicated to cryptoasset/blockchain insurance and risk mitigation.