Meeting of the minds - Summary of the Swiss Re Institute EMEA Symposium

Rapid technological change has given rise to new types of companies and business models. Technological innovations can provide opportunity and new ways to mitigate risk.

The increased use of data and data analytics can be helpful in improving risk management. Technology affects almost everything we do.

Experts discuss the tech impact on the risk insurance landscape

The Swiss Re Institute Symposium on 6 and 7 November in Rüschlikon/Zurich saw over 100 senior representatives from the worlds of re/insurance industry, academia and public services discuss the impact of technology on the risk and insurance landscape.

Jean-Jacques Henchoz (see interview), Chief Executive Officer Reinsurance EMEA, set the scene by explaining how the Swiss Re Institute (SRI) enables us to remain at the forefront of industry innovation by merging high-quality in-house research and outreach capabilities with input from leading external experts.

Yves Daccord, Jean-Jacques Henchoz and John Dacey


The Swiss Re Institute's role

Jeffrey Bohn (see interview), Director of Swiss Re Institute, said that SRI facilitates research within Swiss Re, contributes to internal decision making and supports all stakeholders in the use and dissemination of expertise and knowledge.

A panel of experts, chaired by Jeffrey Bohn, discussed how to foster resilience both in developing and developed markets. Among other things, it was stressed that collaboration – starting at community level – is essential to solving global challenges such as climate change. The importance of closing the insurance protection gap and placing a credible price tag on risks were subjects also taken up in the panel discussion.

Transformational impact

On the second day of the conference, Swiss Re's Head Group Digital & Information Service, Rainer Baumann, explained how an interconnected digital world transforms all aspects of insurance, including customer interaction, the risk landscape, claims management and risk assessment. In his presentation, Roland Siegwart (see interview), Director Autonomous Systems Lab at the ETH Zurich, gave examples of what robots can currently achieve and what their limitations still are.

Noel Gorelick (see interview), co-founder of the Google Earth Engine and Swiss Re's Martin Bertogg, Head Cat Perils, presented the second keynote presentation of the day, entitled "Using planetary data analysis to manage natural peril risk." Google Earth Engine is a planetary scale platform for geospatial data processing and analysis. Martin Bertogg explained how Swiss Re has collaborated with Google Earth Engine to develop new means of understanding and modelling catastrophe risk.

The impact of technology and the related opportunities and challenges were further debated in breakout sessions, covering topics including cyber risk, renewable energy presented by Joan MacNaughton (see interview), Chair of The Climate Group and of the Energy Academy of Europe, the new age of genome editing, machine intelligence, blockchain and how big data impacts the treatment of diabetes.

Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at the Alzheimer's Society, provided insights into demographic changes of developed societies. He and Francis Blumberg, Head L&H Products Solutions at Swiss Re, pointed out that only 5% of the total annual spend for everyone over the age of 65 comes from insurance.

In closing, John Dacey, Head of Strategy at Swiss Re, said the ability to mitigate risk and to manage it requires us to move even faster in the future. He described how the SRI will deliver powerful insights on all issues affecting the re/insurance industry, which will ultimately help make the world more resilient.

Summary of the Swiss Re Institute's Symposium (EMEA) in November 2017. Summary written by Nicole Egger, Senior Communications Business Partner, Swiss Re.