Underwriters warned not to ignore emerging perils

Reinsurers and underwriters have been told they cannot ignore a rising number of emerging risks as climate and cyber dominate the risk outlook at the Monte Carlo Rendezvous.

Jeffery Cohen, senior vice president at Zywave said the conversations he has been having in Monaco have focused not only on the big perils but also some which threaten a wave of liabilities in the future.

He told Emerging Risks: “The issues around forever chemicals continue to be an emerging risk that needs to be identified and potentially addressed,” he said.

The so called forever chemicals are found in a wide range of appliances and event foodstuff and while the research is in its infancy initial results say they may have serious effects on the human body, bringing with it a potential litigation crisis in the years to come.

“PFOAs, and PFAs, are well known and there have been some high profile issues in recent past,” he explained. “It is a case of the industry being aware of the potential problems and harm these chemicals could do, as it is likely that if a link to serious illness if proved then there will be claims,

“I think the market has to be aware of the risks and should always be looking for the next asbestos.”

Zywave provides a huge loss data system and Cohen said asbestos losses still had the highest number of events on the system at around 18,000 while COVID has 2,500 loss events in second place.

Cohen says the cyber liability continued to be an issue which US settlements for breaches now in the $5-10 billion mark.

The problem for the market was that while they concentrated on the core risks such as nat cat and cyber there were always emerging risks in the background that while not material today have the potential to be a major headache for underwriters and their clients tomorrow.

“The big issue for underwriters and brokers remains how they enhance the client’s awareness of the risks and how to identify if they may have a current or future exposure,” he said.

As such Zywave had created a content portal which provided expert analysis on the risks, and how they can be identified and potentially mitigated.

“Our underwriters and agents, access the content and will use it to look to educate the clients,” Cohen said. “The best form of risk management is to identify the exposure and manage it before it becomes a problem.”