The pandemic is a catalyst for building business resilience

Bethany Greenwood, Head of Cyber & Executive Risk at Beazley, looks at the results of the insurer’s recent business resilience survey and why insurers need to work with their clients to enhance risk management.

For most industries the pandemic has been the biggest catalyst of operational and strategic change in a generation. To understand how they have responded to this maelstrom and to provide a benchmark for business resilience to and appetite for risk post the pandemic, Beazley surveyed 1,000 senior executives in the US and UK across 10 industries for the first in a series of in-depth reports.

The report gauges sentiment towards four key risk areas: technology, business, environmental and political & economic, and assesses the extent to which insurance is currently providing the safety net and support businesses need.

The research found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, 85% of business leaders consider the current business environment to be moderate to high risk. But at the same time, they feel able to cope – 91% of respondents feel moderately or highly resilient to risk. However, the findings revealed a number of broad areas where there appears to be a mismatch when it comes to risk protection. Respondents viewed these as being high risk but believe they have a low level of resilience to them.

Addressing supply chain is business leaders’ biggest ask of the insurance industry. Coverage does exist in a limited way but it is not considered to be ‘packaged’ in a way that is accessible to buyers. This lack of accessibility means it becomes a complex purchase negotiation with no certainty that risks will not slip between the gaps, which as an industry we need to address.

Climate change is rapidly becoming a driver both of reputational risk and potentially D&O risk. The industry is under intense pressure to drive change through underwriting policy – withdrawing or restricting cover for businesses without a clear plan to manage their CO2 emissions. The industry needs to decide whether to underwrite this risk positively or via exclusion.

Within business risk – the second most important category of risk to leaders – supply chain risk again dominates board thinking, above boardroom, employer and even business interruption risk – which are perhaps viewed as less immediately pressing. Concerningly, it also stood out as a risk that businesses feel ill-prepared to manage, with only 39% saying they felt ‘very prepared’.

Finally, disruption risk remains very challenging from every perspective, however, it is disruption driven by technology that businesses feel particularly ill-prepared to face. Hospitality, entertainment & leisure is the sector that is particularly exposed, with business leaders ranking this both a high risk and an area of poor resilience.

Despite the litany of challenges, one of the key learnings from our research is that, by and large, businesses have survived, adapted and thrived.

Almost half feel more resilient than one year ago and 84% are confident they will be even more resilient in a year’s time.  However, despite the green shoots of economic recovery we are not out of the woods yet.

As lockdowns end and government stimulus packages are withdrawn, organisations will need a clear view of their evolving risk exposures. As risk carriers we must be resolute in our commitment to supporting clients in proactively managing their less predictable and harder to quantify risks to help build overall resilience.

Within business risk – the second most important category of risk to leaders – supply chain risk again dominates board thinking, above boardroom, employer and even business interruption risk – which are perhaps viewed as less immediately pressing.

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