Knowledge beyond re/insurance

Swiss Re publications reflect not only its re/insurance expertise but also the broad industry experience and diverse academic backgrounds of many of the company's professionals.

It's not just re/insurance experts who work for Swiss Re. We also have a host of professionals with backgrounds which, at first glance, would seem to have little or no connection to the insurance industry. But this would be a mistaken impression. For example, many of our risk engineers and indeed client-facing professionals have had years of hands-on experience across a wide range of industries, including the marine, construction, energy, aviation and space sectors. This stands them in very good stead when it comes to assessing and advising on our clients' risk profiles.  The same applies to our underwriters. They, too, have in-depth insights into a whole spectrum of industries, knowledge often gained from work experience in the sector concerned.  

Specialist insights of great benefit

A similar rule-of-thumb also applies to Swiss Re's Risk Management professionals. They combine insurance expertise, for example risk modelling savvy, with sound judgment and niche skills which could cover anything from knowledge of how the regulatory authorities work to mastery of a particular scientific discipline.

Dr Reto Scheneider and Dr Sandra Burmeier, members of Swiss Re's Emerging Risks team and co-authors of the CRO Forum Position paper Endocrine Disruptors

Take the Swiss Re Emerging Risk team, managed by Reto Schneider who has a PhD in Biology. He and colleague Sandra Burmeier, who also holds a doctorate in biology, recently co-authored the CRO Forum Position Paper Endocrine Disruptors.

"Our natural science backgrounds helped us grasp the scientific details around this topic and assess the potential impacts on the industry. Our job is not to be science geeks but rather to understand scientific findings and explain what these could mean for Swiss Re," says Burmeier.

The CRO Forum, chaired by Swiss Re Group CRO David Cole, is a group of professional risk managers from the insurance industry that focuses on promoting industry best practice in risk management, including emerging risks. The publication draws attention to the risks associated with endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) to generate a dialogue around appropriate risk-mitigation strategies.

The specialist insights of the Swiss Re authors meant they were especially well placed to write with authority on this subject.

A significant emerging risk

Behind the paper's rather arcane-sounding title is a compelling analysis of a threat which should concern of all of us, namely how our hormonal systems can be upset by certain chemicals to which we are becoming increasingly exposed. These substances can be found, for example, in some pesticides, pharmaceutical products and certain consumer goods.  According to the study, adverse effects of EDCs could include breast, ovary and prostate cancer, retarded sexual development and obesity.

Although the authors concede that there is no direct proof of a connection between human health problems and EDC pollution, the results from tests on animals do give rise to concern.  The study also points out that when a concrete correlation between human hazard and the discharge of EDCs has been proven, virtually all lines of liability insurance could be affected. 

The gateway to much of the company's knowledge base, its intellectual capital, is through its library of publications authored by in-house professionals. These publications showcase and share our underwriting, risk management and industry expertise, as well as Swiss Re's analytical insights into international insurance markets and global economic trends.

Published 17 December 2012

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