Consumer Privacy Insurance: A Privacy Enhancing Financial Product?

Kami Vaniea, Daniel Woods, Rachitya Jain – University of Edinburgh

Consumers use insurance to smooth finances following incidents including fires at home, car accidents, theft, travel disasters and more. In recent years, insurers have started to sell privacy insurance products marketed to consumers, in addition to a bigger market for corporations. This creates potential benefits, for example history has many examples in which insurers established support-services that protect policyholders and help them recover from losses. For example, fire brigades were initially created by insurers following the Great Fire of London, which provided the blue print for the public fire service. However, history also shows that financial markets can exploit vulnerable consumers, which creates the need for public oversight.

With this in mind, our research project provides an interdisciplinary first-look at privacy insurance for consumers. We will answer questions like: (1) what privacy harms are covered and which are excluded, (2) which risk management services are offered by the insurer, (3) does privacy insurance address the harms that consumers experienced and anticipate in the future, and (4) how affordable is consumer privacy insurance.