Ignoring them is not an option

Swiss Re's SONAR report helps shape the debate around emerging risks and how they can best be tackled

Helping drive the dialogue necessary to create a pro-active, pre-emptive risk management culture across the industry

Some are already with us and others only just discernible on the horizon. But all of them could potentially impact not only the insurance industry but also society as a whole. Swiss Re's latest SONAR report draws on the company's unique in-house risk management expertise to chart the progress of evolving risks which could spell both opportunities and dangers for the insurance industry in the future.

Almost every day we read about intelligent or even autonomous robots. The importance and capabilities of robotics, artificial intelligence and self-learning machines is increasing. Will self-learning machines soon be able to increase the number of human tasks, will they learn and adapt, and ultimately make decisions for human beings and what does that mean for legislation? Should we continue to treat them as inanimate objects? And who will then be liable?

Emerging artificial intelligence legislation is not the only emerging risk cited by the report. There are others such as growing water stress and the underestimated impact of infectious diseases. Then again, SONAR also analyses risks more prosaic in nature such as the up-creep in inflation, regulatory fragmentation or the growth of protectionism.

What these risks all have in common, however, is their relevance for life and non-life insurance areas as well as for asset management, whether this be an uptick in workers' compensation medical claim costs, increasingly difficult market access or  pressure on insurers' profitability. At all events, the report's goal is to help industry players prepare for new scenarios through adapting their behavior, market conduct and product portfolios.

Swiss Re's Group Chief Risk Officer, Patrick Raaflaub comments: "Ignoring emerging risks is not an option, either for political decision-makers, the insurance industry or society as a whole. The earlier we adapt to these changes, the better prepared we'll be. Sharing knowledge through a proactive risk dialogue across stakeholders can help the insurance industry create a pro-active and pre-emptive risk management culture that enables disciplined risk-taking. That is an important step to help society as a whole to become more resilient. "

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