Assessing risks in the automotive industry

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions hosts exchange forum for clients. How can the automotive industry manage risk in its ever changing and complex environment? What are the key trends that make risk management more challenging for the industry? And how are insurers responding?

Risk managers from leading automotive manufacturers (OEM's) and suppliers recently participated at a client exchange forum to engage in a dialogue about trends affecting risk management for the automotive industry. Hosted by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, almost 50 attendees were immersed into various risk management topics from 22 to 23 September at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue in Zurich.

Participants looked at a real example of a crisis management in a flood event which disrupted production for several days at a major manufacturing plant. The case study demonstrated the various response techniques that needed to be deployed to minimise disruption. Philip Brandl, Risk Engineering Services Manager at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, led a session on flood portfolio analysis and guided the group through a flood exposure assessment while demonstrating Swiss Re's CatNet.

Erich Pfenninger, Expert Property Underwriter at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, led a discussion on supply chain; a complex topic in the automotive risk landscape  which caused headaches for both manufacturers and suppliers in industry after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as consequence of the 2011 floods in Thailand. During breakout sessions participants looked at the relationships between OEMs and suppliers, as well as supply chain optimisation over innovation. The group concluded that OEMs and suppliers have increased transparency; however more collaboration with insurers is needed to improve the understanding of interdependencies in order to provide adequate levels of cover.

Concerning product liability & recall, risk prevention practices were highlighted as crucial. General safety requirements, monitoring product lifecycles, evaluating products performance and disposal of defective products were discussed as key mechanisms in mitigating risk exposure. Josef Zanklmaier, Head of Transportation Casualty for Swiss Re Corporate Solutions emphasised that new processes between OEMs and suppliers, such as value-added transfer OEM to supplier, platform standardisation and stringent warranty agreements, continue to create new challenges for product liability and recall cover. In addition, Senior Claims Experts Nick Clancy and Chris Morrison guided the audience through case studies, recent industry happenings and potential future outcomes.

In looking to the future, Dr. Reto Schneider, Swiss Re Group's Head of Emerging Risk Management, facilitated a brainstorming session looking at potential changes in regulation, workplaces, technology and environmental matters and how they could influence the future of mobility. The benefits and challenges of autonomous cars were highlighted and participants had a chance to view the Rinspeed XChangE, based on a Tesla Model S, which was exhibited during the Forum.

Andre Borschberg, pilot, co-founder & CEO of Solar Impulse, participated in the event as special guest speaker and inspired participants by sharing insights into the risk-taking associated with Solar Impulse. Sponsored and insured by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, the Solar Impulse zero-fuel airplane intends to fly around the world in 2015 powered only by the sun, flying day and night. Borschberg shared the challenges encountered while building the airplane and his plans for the circumnavigation mission which will take off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015.

The Forum provided clients and brokers with an excellent opportunity to meet peers from the automotive sector while taking a deeper look at the risk management challenges for their industry.

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Automotive forum 2014

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