2017 Most Dangerous Emerging Risks

2017 Most Dangerous Emerging Risks

We focus on the risk mitigation and coverage challenges of climate change, economic nationalism, cyber business interruption and artificial intelligence.
By: | April 7, 2017 • 4 min read

Every year since 2011, Risk & Insurance® editors and writers have set about determining the Most Dangerous Emerging Risks for a package that runs in our April issue. As we’ve monitored which risks have the potential to cause the most damage, one thing is becoming apparent: Most Dangerous Emerging Risks seem to be emerging at a faster and faster rate.

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Just last year, we wrote about the risk that a populace that self-selects information sources, relying mostly on unsubstantiated sources on the internet, could come to erroneous conclusions, with dangerous consequences.

We called that story “Fragmented Voice of Authority.”

Fearful proof of that premise came to life in December when a gunman shot up a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C., after reading bogus information on the internet that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring there.  Fortunately, no one was injured in that incident.

Now it looks like fake news stories emanating from Russia could have played an interfering role in our Presidential election.

Another focus of last year’s issue was our crumbling infrastructure. That topic received terrifying confirmation when heavy rainfalls pushed California’s aged Oroville Dam to the bursting point. Should the dam break, billions in real estate losses as well as potential loss of life would result.

That April 2016 story, titled “Crumbling Infrastructure: Day of Reckoning,” warned that we now face the consequences for too long foregoing spending on important infrastructure upgrades.

We’ve seen that Most Dangerous Emerging Risks can take years to develop and emerge. But in both of these cases, they emerged in a matter of months.

The process of determining the Most Dangerous Emerging Risks begins in January, when we start placing calls to insurance carriers, risk modelers and brokers.

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We ask executives with those companies to engage us in an off-the-record conversation about which risks concern them the most. A defining characteristic of a Most Dangerous Emerging Risk is that it has the potential to cause widespread losses, but might not be on the radar of many risk managers.

Once we pick the brains of industry executives, we compile a list of the risks that look like they could qualify as Most Dangerous Emerging Risks. The editors then meet to determine which of those risks we should focus on for the April issue. It’s at that stage that we go back to our original sources, and if we picked one of their stories, ask them for an on-the-record interview on the topic.

This year, after distilling our conversations with our sources, we came up with five emerging risks that could cause massive losses for commercial insureds and carriers.

The risk that sea rise could wreck coastal real estate values is one. Economic nationalism, both domestically and globally, are two and three.

The layered risk presented by the use of artificial intelligence in manufacturing and other processes is our fourth most dangerous emerging risk this year, and the threat that hackers could take down the internet and cause massive cyber business interruption is number five.

Experts say that trillions in property values could literally be underwater due to sea rise in the next mortgage cycle, or the next 30 years, according to a story by editor-in-chief Dan Reynolds.

Hopes are that public and private sector stakeholders can pull together to devote the thought and the resources necessary to create the infrastructure necessary to protect our ports, our office buildings and our homes from sea rise.

China is doing it and we should too.

The risk that many find most concerning is the fear that a hack could take down the internet.  Business interruption for that kind of event would be so widespread that insurers just can’t cover it.

Check out managing editor Anne Freedman’s story on that risk.

Protectionism is on the rise in this country. Politicians that want to firm up our borders represent a threat to supply chains and the free flow of commerce.

The U.S. tech industry, in particular, fears a talent shortage should the new administration’s efforts to limit immigration become law. Associate editor Katie Siegel’s piece details that risk and others that stem from domestic protectionism.

The fear for multinational companies, according to a story by staff writer Juliann Walsh, is that global business uncertainty will increase unduly; prompted by events such as Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Venezuela’s decision to close its borders with Brazil.

Associate editor Michelle Kerr’s piece looks at the tangle of liability questions created by artificial intelligence.

Our award-winning Most Dangerous Emerging Risks coverage is, of course, intended not to scare people but to advance the thought leadership and dialogue we need to mitigate risk and ensure a more resilient, sustainable economy.

On that point, we can all agree. &

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2017 Most Dangerous Emerging Risks

Artificial Intelligence Ties Liability in Knots

The same technologies that drive business forward are upending the nature of loss exposures and presenting new coverage challenges.

 

 

Cyber Business Interruption

Attacks on internet infrastructure begin, leaving unknown risks for insureds and insurers alike.

 

 

U.S. Economic Nationalism

Nationalistic policies aim to boost American wealth and prosperity, but they may do long-term economic damage.

 

 

Foreign Economic Nationalism

Economic nationalism is upsetting the risk management landscape by presenting challenges in once stable environments.

 

 

Coastal Mortgage Value Collapse

As climate change drives rising seas, so arises the risk that buyers will become leery of taking on mortgages along our coasts.  Trillions in mortgage values are at stake unless the public and the private sector move quickly.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]