Sometimes emerging risks are hiding in plain sight. As was the case for the man who was seriously injured when he fell through the floor in a museum in Portugal. The exhibit was designed to look like a hole in the floor and, as he came to discover, it actually was a hole in the floor. Security later installed ropes around the exhibit.
Risk assessment is not always rational or based on facts and information. One classic example is the public fearing nuclear power over driving a car, even though car accidents are responsible for far more deaths and injuries than nuclear plants. Part of the explanation is that the public is familiar with car accidents while nuclear power is not well understood. This same dynamic may be reflected in today’s questioning of fully autonomous driving due to a handful of accidents over human-controlled driving, which accounts for 40,000 fatalities a year.
Experts tend to have more information than the general public when assessing emerging risks but they, too, are human and their approach can also be influenced by social, emotional and cultural factors, not to mention by their field of expertise.
Insurance Journal decided to ask a number of P/C insurance experts about emerging risks. The question was: What do insurance experts see as the most important emerging risk for the property/casualty insurance industry?
Insurance Journal chose to define an “emerging risk” as one that is new and not yet widely recognized or perhaps recognized but not well understood.
The responses were varied. Some saw macros issues; other worried about micro events. To the extent there is any consensus, it is that cyber is the greatest emerging risk — but everyone seems worried about a slightly different aspect of cyber.
In addition to polling hand-picked experts, Insurance Journal looked at its own reporting and at industry white papers and research for ideas. It’s a continuous, not a once-and-done, exercise.
Why attempt to create a list? Because insurance professionals are in the business of advising and protecting people against uncertainty and of transforming risks into opportunities. You have to start somewhere.
The 21 emerging risk results from the experts, and from additional research, start on page 18. We hope you will emerge a more informed and entertained insurance and risk professional.