New risks present insurers with an opportunity to develop new solutions

Money, dollars, cash

The emerging market crisis, the great monetary experiment and internet fragmentation are the biggest emerging risks facing the (re)insurance industry, according to a new report by Swiss Re.

In their new SONAR report, Swiss Re outlined 21 emerging risks that should be on (re)insurers’ horizons.

Patrick Raaflaub group chief risk officer of Swiss Re, said that businesses need to look to the future, as well as focusing on the risks of today, in a bid to secure their businesses.

“Risk management is not just about managing risks in the present. It is about anticipating future ones to make sure we will be in a position to deal with them,” Raaflaub said.

“These risks may only fully reveal themselves to future generations. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t act today to reduce uncertainty and alleviate their burden.

“It would be easy to ignore many of these risks and focus on the business that we already underwrite.

“But that is not an option – as an industry we need to help promote a resilient society and sustainable business. Therefore we need to understand these new developments and prepare for the risks of tomorrow.”

On the sharing economy, the report notes that established industry players must be wary of outside entrants, such as Australia-bound Friendsurance, as they could see the face of the industry change.

“For insurers, the rise and increasing sophistication of the sharing economy raises questions regarding the appropriate form of coverage,” the SONAR report notes.

“The sharing economy has also reached the very foundations of insurance.

“So-called peer-to-peer insurance is gaining traction – a model that is similar to traditional mutual insurance, but takes it to another level by using new technology. Early entrants are Friendsurance in Germany and Lemonade in the US. In contrast to other players in the sharing economy field, they have so far followed traditional insurance regulation without calling for new ‘sharing economy’ rules.

“Peer-to-peer insurance raises questions of adverse and self-selection, pricing and reserving adequacy, and its ability to cope with catastrophic events. The incentive to follow strict commercial imperatives may be curtailed by social conventions with a ‘friends’-based risk pool instead of a traditional pool of insureds.”

With a raft of emerging risks to contend with, the Swiss Re report stressed that the industry is presented with a host of opportunities to further develop across the globe.

“Given the breadth of the risk landscape, possibilities for solutions are vast, and the insurance industry could and should expand its role of mitigating risks.