The following topics have featured as focus points for previous events and issues of the Risk Dialogue Magazine.
Biotechnology in its many manifestations is as old as civilization itself, and continues to play a vital role in our societies. From personal health to cleaning industrial waste, the use of biological agents in modern treatments and technologies remains a cornerstone of society.
Food is insured along the value chain, from agricultural risks in the field to product recall in the supermarkets. Yet typically different departments underwrite food risk at different stages of the supply chain. Food is also a key indirect factor in other lines of insurance business, notably the effects of nutrition on mortality and morbidity within a population. Moreover, food is an important sustainability driver.
There are already around 800 million people in the world suffering with hunger and a similar number malnourished. Tight food markets are not helped by an increasing global population, largely unfavourable climate change and a loss of agricultural land to growing cities.
Demographics are a notoriously difficult field in which to make projections. Apparently small changes can make a big difference two or three decades later. The major influence on demographics in modern industrial societies is behaviour and medical progress. The insurance industry needs to pay careful attention to trends and breakthroughs in the medical sector which have an influence on morbidity and mortality.
The World Bank began using the term 'emerging markets' in the 1980s, when it became apparent that countries such as Thailand, Chile or Saudi Arabia could not accurately be described as 'less economically developed.' Now the term has almost come full circle; with the financial crisis in 2008, the world has become dependent on growth in China, India, Brazil and others.
Health care inflation has consistently outstripped conventional inflation in developed economies. The technologies available to the ill have been transformed over the timeline of a single generation. Health breakthroughs represent considerable opportunities; but can also contain new risks.
Integrative risk management starts with the premise that no measure of exposure can be taken in isolation. It is a view that is well established in a corporate context, with stress being placed on a more holistic understanding of risk management. This integrative approach is only beginning to make initial headway into the strategic management of risks at a societal level.
Political risk is a liability underwritten by (re)insurers covering a range of perils from terrorism to state appropriation. Political risk also poses an indirect risk in many other lines of business. This was clearly illustrated by the rise in Somali piracy that commenced in 2004-2005.
Sustainability is a topic of crucial importance for Swiss Re, given the Company’s position at the apex of the risk transfer industry. The subject touches on many of our lines of business. Most prominent among those are natural catastrophes.