eAlthough they may not be aware of it, UK businesses...

eAlthough they may not be aware of it, UK businesses have cause to be grateful to AIRMIC's special interest groups, known as SIGs. There are around 16 of them, and they deal with specific industries or areas of interest. When risk management issues become a problem, it is often the SIG which does the detailed work to find a resolution.

Over the last year, for example, the Food SIG under Derek Mason has tackled the punitively high increases in insurance premiums that food producers and distributors have faced. The group has developed the Fire Risk Minimisation Guide, which is well on its way to being adopted as standard by the Fire Protection Authority (FPA). It has lobbied MPs and persuaded the insurance industry to hold a day's discussion on the risks of composite insulating panels. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Health & Safety Executive are also considering the Fire Risk Minimisation Guide.

The SIGs also give members an opportunity to expand their knowledge and share approaches to common problems. The Retailers SIG, under Paul Howard, has conducted a benchmarking exercise relating to public and employer's liability claims and a survey to identify retailers' top ten risks. These were their biggest concerns:

  • reputation/brand
  • fraud
  • information security
  • strategy/investment
  • product liability
  • legal and regulatory compliance
  • pension fund
  • business continuity
  • terrorism
  • insurance cover/market.Topics discussed at the group's summer meeting included policies relating to gifts and hospitality, the possible plastic bag tax and its implications, shrinkage, safety problems of wet terrazzo flooring and work-related stress.

    The Charities SIG has had several meetings exploring areas of common concern, says its chairman John Barton. "The best was a presentation from Susan Wilkinson, the chief executive of Universities Mutual Assurance Ltd, which prompted us to seek advice on the possibilities for charities in this area. We also have meetings planned to discuss resourcing risk management and insurance advice, and a web based system providing insurance information (virtual insurance manager)."

    Over the past year the work of the integrated risk management SIG has focused on the evolution of the way organisations are managing risk following the developments in corporate governance and risk management. The principal activities have included:

  • a review of the Higgs and Smith reports
  • a discussion on the legal and risk management implications with a notable lawyer
  • papers on risk management developments, published on the AIRMIC website and in its publication AIRMIC Express
  • presentation to members of Universities Mutual Assurance Ltd on risk management developments
  • discussion of findings from a benchmarking study on how organisations are managing risk.

    Group chairman Clive Smith says future topics are likely to include developments in risk management practice following the revisions to the Higgs report and a review of risk management practice in the context of D&O insurance.

    The Property SIG is a forum for major property owners, such as land companies and retailers. Its chairman, Sue Allaway, reports that the group is currently looking at people's experience with the siting of mobile phone masts and possible resulting liability issues. Another topical issue is the regulation of in-house brokers. Terrorism risks and insurance renewals, notably the increase in cost for public and employer's liability insurance, have been topics of discussion at group meetings.

    Current SIGs

  • Business continuity planning
  • Captives
  • Charities
  • Construction
  • E-commerce
  • Finance
  • Food
  • Health & safety
  • Integrated risk management
  • International
  • Liability & environment
  • Motor
  • Property
  • Retailers
  • Travel
  • Utilities