The Insurance Industry’s Fear of Global Warming Spikes

Respondents to a survey by AXA indicate that they are growing increasingly concerned about the impacts of climate change and the inability of global leaders to stop it.
By: | February 5, 2019 • 3 min read

The insurer AXA has been surveying risk professionals for five years on their key emerging risks. Climate change has always ranked high.


But this year’s survey produced a stunning result: Of the 1,235 risk professionals, including 1,060 AXA employees all over the globe who answered the survey, the percentage of respondents pointing to climate change as their key concern rocketed up from 39 percent to 63 percent.

“It was a huge jump from what we observed in the past year,” said Helene Chauveau, head of emerging risks for the insurer.

Adding to the stress on the part of risk professionals, according to Chauveau and her co-researchers, was that risk professionals are unhappy with the slow pace world leaders are adopting to climate change.

“Another point that was striking for us is that the risk respondents felt that the level of awareness associated with this risk is not satisfactory; meaning that people don’t take enough global action that is needed to fight this climate change, ” she said.

“Fifty five percent of the respondents are not satisfied with the level of awareness surrounding climate change risk, I would say,” Chauveau said.

Even More Reason for Worry

The survey respondents are also concerned about the increased volatility of the geopolitical landscape and how that impacts the ability of governments to work together to combat global issues, such as climate change. Geopolitical volatility ranked third on AXA’s survey list of most troublesome emerging risks.

“This trend is closely related to another topic that gained visibility in the past few months, the decline of multilateralism and international governance,” the survey authors wrote.

Helene Chauveau, head of emerging risks, AXA

The percentage of survey respondents who viewed geopolitical volatility as an emerging threat also jumped significantly this year. In 2017, 20 percent of AXA respondents listed geopolitical volatility as an emerging threat. In 2018, that number jumped to 31 percent.

“This can be significant in terms of global policy making and regulation, which can affect the way global challenges — such as climate change and cyber risks — are tackled.”

Back in 2017, as part of the magazine’s ongoing coverage of emerging risks, Risk & Insurance® associate editor Katie Dwyer wrote about U.S. Economic Nationalism.

A companion piece by staff writer Juliann Walsh examined the threat of Foreign Economic Nationalism.

Other Key Findings

Rounding out the top five emerging risks as identified by AXA and its survey respondents were cyber security risks (cited by 54 percent of survey takers); natural resources management (listed by 26 percent of survey respondents); and social discontents and local conflicts.


Survey takers also pointed to the interconnectivity of all of these risks as adding complexity to the challenges risk managers face.

“The greatest risks [come] from the combination of the risks identified,” wrote a survey respondent from the United States. “For example, climate change driving migration driving changed employment driving changed health profiles; cyber and PSYOPS attacks undermining faith in institutions and national identity leading to weakened security/inadequate defenses.”

Learn More

For more information on the topic of emerging risks, we recommend checking out, in addition to the AXA survey:

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

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.


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.


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]