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APRIL 14, 2000

Insuring Yourself Against Online Mishaps

A look at some policies that will cover you on the Net


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Suppose your Web site is brought to its knees by a virus or a hacker? Will your standard business-interruption insurance protect you? What about your general liability coverage? Probably not.

That's why some small companies are exploring the new Internet-related insurance offerings. You'll still have to buy these policies the old-fashioned way -- through an agent or broker. Comparison shopping is tough, to say the least. Policies and costs vary widely, depending on your particular needs and business. Figure on a range that starts at $10,000 and rises to $100,000 or more.

Here's a partial list of insurers offering various e-policies. This isn't an endorsement. Check out their Web sites for more info, and read the fine print before you sign up:

The Hartford Insurance Company offers additional coverage that you can add on to your basic business owner's policy. It will reimburse you for any physical loss or damage to your computer hardware, or loss of data or computer software.

St. Paul Technology is part of St. Paul Cos., headquartered in Minneapolis. They offer an array of technology insurance programs, including TechFlex, which provides coverage for computer viruses and malicious destruction of data; general liability coverage relating to your technology, such as a software program; and technology-related errors and omissions coverage. St. Paul also offers a media liability policy that covers you against unintentional infringement of another company's intellectual property online and a product called Networker, which provides coverage against denial-of-service attacks and computer-systems fraud.

Chubb Group in Warren, N.J., offers Safety'Net Internet Liability Insurance under its executive-risk program. Chubb provides coverage for all claims that arise out of Internet activities, which it defines as the dissemination or use of content on your Web site or the transaction of business over that Web site. You can add coverage for brochures, CD-ROMs, and other forms of communication. Their insurance will also cover you if you have to sue someone for using your domain name or your metatags -- the hidden codes embedded in Web pages that search engines use to find your page.

American International Group in New York City offers various Internet insurance policies. AIG netAdvantage's basic program covers you against online intellectual property claims. AIG's netAdvantage Pro adds e-commerce coverage to the basic program. netAdvantage Pro+ adds coverage against computer viruses, unauthorized access and use, and other claims that a Net-based business could face. AIG netAdvantage Security products provide additional coverage, including e-business interruption and crisis communication services.


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