Steve Coates, CUO, Pool Re

What is Pool Re doing to facilitate better understanding of the terrorist risk and the ways in which the market offers products to help manage the risk? Do SMEs in particular understand the product? Can the market do better?

Understanding the contemporary terrorism landscape is a core objective for Pool Re and has been since we created our risk analysis team in 2017. It was also one of the key drivers behind the formation of the Pool Re Solutions division in 2019. This provides regular analysis and assessment both to members and wider stakeholders as well as thematic reports and bespoke incident and sector assessment.

Cascading this understanding through the insurance industry to policyholders is vital if businesses – including SMEs – are to make informed judgement on what cover to buy. Moreover, as government considers new legislation that will bring terrorism within the risk framework of many more businesses (the ‘Protect Duty’), requiring formal consideration of terrorism exposure, business will require a more rigorous understanding of the terrorism exposures in both their locality and within their industry sector.

To what extent should we fear low-cost, low-tech individuals carrying out terrorist attacks?

If the past decade has taught us anything about the intent and capability of terror actors, it is that they are creative, adaptable and dynamic. Where spectacular attacks become more difficult they shift tactics and either create new attack pathways, such as driving vehicles at people, or use whatever weapons come easily to hand such as knives. All attacks generate the oxygen of publicity their cause demands so we should expect attacks both simple and indeed new, such as CBRN or cyber.

Should we be concerned about a proliferation of extreme right-wing, or racially and ethnically motivated, terrorism?

Terrorism has never just been about religious fundamentalism and we have seen attacks motivated by left wing, right wing, racism, anarchism and indeed other extremist views such as animal liberation. Future attacks could be motivated by any of these or indeed new vectors such as climate extremism where individuals decide peaceful protest is insufficient.

RMS recently suggested that Terrorism is a potential systemic risk because of the disruption to supply chains. Do you agree or is this going too far?

Supply chain risk is very topical in the UK at present given post COVID issues as well as Brexit driven issues. Modern supply chains are complex and sophisticated and, as we have seen, more fragile. They are therefore vulnerable to external shocks whether caused by terrorism, pandemic or shortage of key materials. The modelling of supply chain exposure is a developing art and is one of the vital elements if we are to improve our management of supply chain risk.

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