Investors who own conventional securities, like stocks or bonds, can rely on a level of protective regulation and insurance backing, either through the US government or private policies. However, investors in cryptocurrency don’t have the same protections.
While there’s been demand for cryptocurrency insurance to cover everything from deposits to theft, the primary concern is underwriting risks. Major insurance companies don’t feel they can accurately assess risk factors due to a lack of cohesive rules and regulation within the crypto insurance industry. Though newer insurers are diving in headfirst, others are merely dipping their toes to test the temperature.
Given this level of unpredictability in a developing industry, how do you know if your cryptocurrency is safeguarded? And if it isn’t, can you insure it? Here’s everything you need to know about the new world of cryptocurrency insurance.
Is my cryptocurrency insured by the US government?
No. The federal government provides insurance for cash and deposits of conventional securities, like stocks and bonds, but not cryptocurrency assets — at least not yet.
An independent agency of the federal government, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, generally insures up to $250,000 per person, per bank. It covers all checking accounts, savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. It currently doesn’t cover cryptocurrency.
However, the FDIC is considering it. In an initiative called the Crypto-Asset Policy Sprint, the FDIC has partnered with the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller to study cryptocurrency and coordinate “policies for how and under what circumstances banks can engage in activities involving crypto assets,” according to FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams. However, we don’t know how long this process will take or if the FDIC will decide to jump into the space at all.
Insurance on deposits at brokerage accounts for the purpose of purchasing securities currently falls under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Representatives from both the SIPC and the FDIC confirmed that neither currently insures crypto assets.
That means there’s no federal protection for your cryptocurrency. As far as the government is concerned, you’re on your own.
Does private insurance exist for cryptocurrency?
Yes, but it’s still a nascent industry, and protection is extremely limited. “Most crypto assets are not currently covered by insurance, and that’s due to the relative immaturity of the cryptocurrency market,” said Brian O’Connell, an insurance analyst at Insurance Quotes.
The types of private crypto insurance that exist today are not currently targeted for consumers, but are mainly bought by exchanges and crypto wallets. The coverage includes crime and theft, custodial insurance coverage and business insurance, though there are more types in development, according to O’Connell. The future of crypto insurance could include decentralized finance (“DeFi”) insurance, which provides coverage for loss of funds due to lost private crypto keys or service provider shutdown, O’Connell explained.
Since insurance exists primarily on the exchange and wallet level, whether you’re covered as a crypto purchaser depends on the crypto services you use.
Do exchanges like Coinbase and wallets like Vesto insure your cryptocurrency?
Yes, but the coverage is limited.
Coincover, an insurance-backed cryptocurrency protection platform, provides crypto protection for wallets — including Vesto, BitGo and Civic — through policies underwritten by Lloyd’s of London and Aon. This means you’ll be protected (by virtue of using those wallets) from all theft and loss of cryptocurrency resulting from things like brute force attacks, cyberattacks, device theft and hacking.
“Coincover offers protection from as little as $1,000 for consumers up to $10 million dollars plus for corporate wallets,” said Sharon Henley, chief product officer at Coincover.
You may also be insured through the crypto exchange you use. Coinbase, one of the largest US-based crypto exchanges, carries a $255 million crime insurance policy, according to O’Connell.
That coverage kicks in if Coinbase suffers a platform-wide cybersecurity breach. But if a hacker accesses your personal account and steals your crypto, Coinbase’s insurance won’t cover that. And in the event of a platform-wide cyberattack, you still may not get all of your assets back. Coinbase’s website explains that if “total losses … exceed insurance recoveries … your funds may still be lost.”
Likewise, BlockFi and Bitstamp, two other crypto exchanges, carry crime insurance. BlockFi provides theft insurance through its primary custodial wallet, Gemini.
Bitstamp not only has crime insurance with coverage totaling $300 million — its assets are also insured through the wallets it uses: BitGo and Copper. Bitstamp stores 95% of its digital assets offline in cold storage, which isn’t connected to the internet and is more secure from hacks.
Binance.US and FTX, other popular exchanges, didn’t respond for comment.
Can you purchase crypto insurance?
As far as we can tell, you can’t purchase a crypto policy for yourself just yet. We reached out to national insurers such as Allstate and State Farm, who both confirmed they don’t offer crypto insurance at this time.
Moreover, the big players getting into the crypto insurance industry also don’t appear to sell individual policies for consumers, either. For example, Coincover confirmed it doesn’t yet have an offering to consumers (though they are working on it), nor does the Great American Insurance Group, the first insurance carrier to provide crypto insurance. According to O’Connell, the company Etherisc is developing crypto wallet insurance for other insurers to cover crypto assets.
If you sell crypto insurance directly to consumers or know a carrier that does, please reach out to us.
The future of the industry
The 21st century is witnessing the rise of digital assets, and the crypto insurance industry is starting to emerge along with it. Though it has big potential, it’s not quite ripe yet.
“Right now, cryptocurrencies are a major risk for insurers, mostly because of their unregulated status,” O’Connell said. “It’s still a Wild West atmosphere and that’s exactly the coverage environment the insurance industry doesn’t like.”
Given the limited coverage that exists today, you’ll likely want to brush up on crypto security measures and actions to take if your crypto is stolen.
Read More: Is your cryptocurrency insured?