“This is the most important risk of the 21st century”

Company chief describes himself as “an insurance person first” after remarkable journey

“This is the most important risk of the 21st century”


By Sam Boyer

He’s at the vanguard of insurance for “the most important risk of the 21st century” – and he couldn’t be happier to be there.

Pascal Millaire, at just 33, is vice president and general manager of cyber insurance at Symantec, the world’s largest cyber security company.

“I’m an insurance person first; I’m a cyber security person second,” Millaire says.

He was recently named one of Insurance Business America’s Hot 100 for 2017, which recognizes the people shaping the future of the insurance industry. And, the way he sees it, his sector of the insurance industry is critically important in everything the future holds.

“The more that I’ve got into it, the more I’ve realized that cyber risk is not important just to cyber data and liability policies – there are few lines of insurance that aren’t going to be impacted by cyber risk over the next 10-plus years.  Therefore it’s an incredibly exciting place to be, and I’m very fortunate to be driving some cutting-edge thinking across disciplinary teams of insurance and technology professionals here at Symantec.”

The cyber insurance industry is expected to be worth $20 billion a year by 2025, and Millaire feels Symantec Cyber Insurance is placed strongly to compete in the emerging market, as it helps secure about 40% of all website traffic daily.

“This is the most important risk of the 21st century – cyber risk will impact health care, manufacturing, office automation, consumer homes, governments, smart cities,” he explained. “It’ll impact all aspects of modern human existence, and where there’s risk there’s a need for insurance.

“By some estimates there will be up to 200 billion everyday objects connected to the internet in the next five-seven years. That’s for applications as diverse as consumer devices, manufacturing sensors, health monitoring, connected vehicles … etc.”

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Global consultants McKinsey & Co estimate the growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) – devices connected to the internet – could generate $11 trillion dollars for the worldwide economy by 2025. But Millaire says that will also “dramatically increase the attack surface” of cyber threats, increasing all industries’ vulnerability to cyberattack.

“Unlike traditional insurance where underwriters and actuaries can spend a lot of time looking at the rear-view mirror, in cyber insurance it’s critical that insurers are looking forward and even looking around the next corner that stands in front of them,” Millaire says.

“I really believe cyber security is one of the most important risks of the 21st century: that cyber risk impacts almost all aspects of human life and certainly will do so even more in the future, as we grow from nine billion IoT devices to almost 200 billion IoT devices.”

Of course, Millaire could never have imagined he’d end up at the forefront of the developing cyber insurance industry when he grew up in New Zealand.

Born in Montreal to French-Canadian and Kiwi parents, Millaire spent his school years in Auckland, New Zealand, before winning a full scholarship to study sociology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

He then cut his teeth in insurance as a consultant with McKinsey – during which time he completed an MBA at Stanford – before joining Symantec, first as a consultant and later as the GM and first employee of the company’s cyber insurance division, where he now has about 60 staff.

“I feel very fortunate that I made that fateful decision [to work in insurance] because it allows me to work on some of the most important topics at the intersection of risk, technology, and insurance,” he said.

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