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Risk Insider: Martin Eveleigh

Looking Out For Reputational Risk

By: | March 10, 2017 • 2 min read
Martin Eveleigh is Chairman of Atlas Insurance Management, which he formed in 2002. He specializes in designing alternative risk transfer programs – particularly risk pools – and captive structures. He can be reached at [email protected]

Reputational risk has been rising up the list of strategic risks for years. A 2010 study revealed that, at least once during every five-year period studied, 80 percent of companies lose more than 20 percent of their value due to major reputational events. Reputational damage is like any other source of risk, which can affect the corporate bottom line and growth.

Captives Fill a Market Gap

Reputational risk is one category for which the standard insurance market has offered limited products and coverage. It’s not hard to understand why considering reputational damage is difficult to predict and quantify.

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A captive can be a lucrative vehicle for addressing and covering potential damage to corporate reputation and goodwill. It provides flexibility and coverage and can be designed to meet the needs of the owner. By paying for expenses and compensating otherwise irrecoverable losses, a captive liberates owners to make more intelligent responses to events in real time. By facilitating a company’s ability to defend or preserve a reputation, establishing a captive can be seen as the reverse side of building brand awareness in the first place.

 Specific Risks, Specific Coverage

Considered a secondary risk to a larger primary risk, reputational damage can often be more costly than the primary risk. In recognizing and covering the risk of reputational damage within the captive, a captive insurance manager will help the client quantify the risk and the financial impact to the company.

To assist in the formation of a captive, the manager will interview prospective clients to evaluate their business and assess their customers, regulation and public exposure. They can then design an enterprise risk captive to cover actions, exposure and risks that can lead to reputational damage.

Social Media and PR: Living On The Fault Line

Social media acts as an aggregator of information. Even when allegations can be disproven, the damage is costly and time-consuming to repair.

To fully mitigate the reputational risks social media presents, it is important to develop an effective response plan for any situation. The heart of a crisis management strategy is developing an approach to utilize in the first 15 minutes to one hour following an event. If you aren’t prepared and ready with what to say, someone else will respond for you in a way you can’t control. It’s critical to get that first statement right.

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Providing companies with proper coverage, a well-structured captive program, fortified with a strong crisis communications strategy will recognize and address the potential magnitude of loss from responding to and repairing reputational damage.

Reputational damage isn’t just for big targets. Today’s standard insurance market provides few attractive products for addressing this important category of risk. A captive is a smart solution to the problem of defraying the risk of reputational damage. Unlike standard market models, which often target vertical industries, a captive can be designed to meet the specific needs of its owner or parent company and transfer the risk through a structured approach.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

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Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]