(Cyber)Bully for You: DBS is now offering an insurance policy against online harassment

A view of DBS Hong Kong’s head office on Queen’s Road. Photo via Deyoadutrys.
A view of DBS Hong Kong’s head office on Queen’s Road. Photo via Deyoadutrys.

Singapore-headquartered bank DBS Hong Kong yesterday launched a novel insurance policy to protect local customers from one of the most toxic and debilitating entities in the world: the internet.

The new CyberOne “microinsurance” policy, which costs HK$1 per day, is meant to insure policyholders against “cyberbullying and cybercrimes, like identity theft, hacking, cyberstalking and harassment,” according to an announcement from DBS.

“The more people, especially young people, connect, communicate and consume digitally, the more opportunities there are for cybercrimes to proliferate,” Terry Li, DBS Hong Kong’s head of bancassurance, was quoted as saying in the announcement.

“Knowing how to protect against cyber threats is the first line of defence, and we believe CyberOne can equip those who are vulnerable with the means to protect themselves for a more safe and smart online experience.”

To make a claim, policyholders must first report the cyberbullying or identity theft to Hong Kong police. Then, depending on the incident, DBS will provide financial support for counseling, legal action, and cyber security services. The policy also allows for reimbursement of lost income in the event cyberbullying or identity theft leads to wrongful termination.

Still, the policy — which can also be purchased for families — raises questions as to how exactly one insures against cyberbullying, which, like death and taxes, is all but inevitable given the pervasively nasty nature of many corners of the internet.

DBS defines cyberbullying as “any act of harassment or intimidation, including defamation of character, invasion of privacy, or threats of violence, first committed against you online via an electronic device.”

However, representatives of DBS Hong Kong — and its underwriter for the scheme, Chubb Insurance Hong Kong — could not be reached today for comment as to what the threshold for a successful claim will be.

DBS says its policy is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, but it isn’t the first to be offered by the bank, which rolled out a similar policy in Singapore last year.

Indeed, cyber insurance schemes have been cropping up around the world in recent years. Chubb offers a version of the protection to some home insurance policyholders in the US, for instance.

And a similar policy was launched by a South African insurer amid widespread concerns there about cyberbullying.

Bullying in all its forms has grabbed headlines in recent years, including in Hong Kong. Just last month, a local secondary school was the subject of a string of viral videos purporting to depict intense bullying on its grounds.

In fact, a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based on a 2015 survey found that, out of the 53 countries and territories surveyed, Hong Kong had the highest reported levels of both verbal and physical bullying, with nearly a third of students reporting being bullied in some fashion “at least a few times a month.”

If that statistic is any indication, DBS might want to start working out its ol’ check-writing arm.

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