Sponsored: Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

New Approaches to Risk Transfer Anchored by Customer Focus and Technology

Technology and customer experience will play an increasing role in how insurers and their insureds conduct business. Here’s what the industry needs to know to stay abreast of change.
By: | October 1, 2020

Significant change is on the horizon for the insurance industry.

Even before the uncertainties and unknowns of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, the industry was already gearing up for a hardening market in many lines. With less available capacity and higher premiums, many are looking toward the future with an eye on alternative risk transfer solutions.

“We’re really paying attention to that right now because of the hardening market,” said Allen Kwan, head of customer management for North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions (SRCS).

Climate change, natural catastrophes, civil unrest, the pandemic and more. Each have played their part in how business is conducted and, subsequently, how insurance responds.

“There’s been change in capacity. People are looking to protect against these potential risks, and they know that won’t be through soft market solutions,” Kwan said.

Added Dan Combes, head of distribution management for North America at SRCS, “The pandemic, coupled with Nat Cats from the last three years, has really opened the eyes of many clients. They know they need to address the protection gaps, whether through tech innovation or alternative risk solutions. Insurance has to be able to respond and work in this current environment.”

The industry is becoming ever more digitized thanks to a steady growth in technology and data. Clients are also looking to partner with insurers that have an understanding of their risk profile in these changing times. They want to get the best added value possible from their insurance partners, and for many, that’s about addressing the customer experience.

Kwan and Combes believe these two areas — technology and customer experience — are going to have an impact on how clients look for alternative risk solutions moving forward, further shaping the future of insurance.

Here’s how.

Technology Will Continue to Be a Predictive Gamechanger for the Industry

Allen Kwan, Head of Customer Management for North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

The adoption of technology in insurance is no longer in the abstract. Data collection, machine learning, blockchain — each have found a home in the industry.

“When you think of the history of risk and the data collected over time, there is so much added potential there to analyze and predict what might come next,” Kwan said.

Take climate change as an example. As a 150-year-old company, Swiss Re has 150 years’ worth of global Nat Cat data available to work with.

“Technology enables us to review that data quickly and can play an active role in predictive analysis,” said Kwan.

A review on storm velocities over time can show what a hurricane season might look like before disaster strikes, enabling companies in the area to build up a solid risk management plan in advance. Technological tools like precipitation or humidity sensors can continue to collect data in real time to provide further insight into what a future Nat Cat might look like.

“Tech puts us in the location, shows us what’s happened, predicts what might happen next, and then aids us in working toward innovative solutions to combat those risks,” Kwan said.

The client’s assets are at the forefront of decision making, giving a deeper understanding of how an event impacts the asset and helping insurance to respond with effective risk solutions.

In addition to predictive analysis, technology is also connecting insurers and insureds at the click of a button. Sharing relevant information in a matter of seconds can go a long way to not only build rapport with clients, but also enhance alternative risk transfer innovation.

“Being able to predict, uncover and use the tools available to us, and then sharing those tools with our trading partners has opened the door to better implementation of technology,” said Combes.

For him, technology is the way forward.

“Anticipating the market needs ahead of the competition, and providing our broker partners with solutions to address those efficiently, is critical in mitigating risk,” Combes said.

Clients Will Look for a Customer Experience that Puts Their Risk Profile at the Fore

Dan Combes, Head of Distribution Management for North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

As the market hardens, corporations are looking at their insurance purchases in a different light.

Companies want to look at their risk financing with an ever-present mind on their budget and bottom line.

“Customers increasingly look to protect exposures that are less tangible,” Kwan said.

“Whether that means expanding earthquake insurance coverage to their employees through a parametric policy or protecting locations that have been vacant or shut down.”

The key to understanding the risks a client is looking to mitigate is building a true partnership that identifies and manages those pain points before it’s too late.

A good partnership with a focus on customer experience is looking at the client’s worst-case scenarios and building out a program to address those needs. Kwan added that a part of that custom-tailored program is the idea of sustainability.

“Risk managers have a job to do every day, and so, if we’re able to help them work out their risk profile and bring clarity to it, they can focus on building out the efficiencies and the capital management on their other parts of the profile,” he said.

“Being able to ensure that the customer feels good at the end of the day, that their risks are protected, is a win-win,” Combes added.

Clients will remember which insurer was able to look at the critical changes in the industry and respond with solutions moving forward that helped them succeed: “It’s full transparency. It’s not just price anymore. It’s more about risk coverage, what we’re supposed to be doing and the risks that have changed. That’s the experience,” said Combes.

Knowing Where to Turn as the Industry Shifts to Meet Changing Times

As the insurance landscape starts to shift in the coming years, clients will be mindful of the best solutions to their growing exposures. Alternative risk transfer solutions are indeed out there but finding them shouldn’t be seen as a laborious task; having the right partner in place will provide clarity and set a client on the right path.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions can help.

“Our innovative risk solutions team has really been involved as the market hardens. What’s made the team unique is their ability to stop, listen to what’s happening and take our innovative solutions and customize them to meet clients’ needs,” Kwan said.

“We have the processes in place that take into account customer experience. We have the technology platforms available for our clients to dig down deeper on their risks,” said Combes. “And we work with the client to understand those risks.”

Many of the solutions in play at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions stem from the company’s extensive research and thought leadership. They’ve put the work in to best serve clients and their appetite for risk.

“We’re not just a trading insurance company,” Kwan said. “We are working to make the world more resilient by providing these solutions and filling in the protection gap.”

To learn more, visit: https://corporatesolutions.swissre.com/.



This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions offers innovative, high-quality insurance capacity to mid-sized and large multinational corporations and public entities across the globe.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Scenario

The Betrayal of Elizabeth

In this Risk Scenario, Risk & Insurance explores what might happen in the event a telemedicine or similar home health visit violates a patient's privacy. What consequences await when a young girl's tele visit goes viral?
By: | October 12, 2020
Risk Scenarios are created by Risk & Insurance editors along with leading industry partners. The hypothetical, yet realistic stories, showcase emerging risks that can result in significant losses if not properly addressed.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.


Elizabeth Cunningham seemingly had it all. The daughter of two well-established professionals — her father was a personal injury attorney, her mother, also an attorney, had her own estate planning practice — she grew up in a house in Maryland horse country with lots of love and the financial security that can iron out at least some of life’s problems.

Tall, good-looking and talented, Elizabeth was moving through her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania in seemingly good order; check that, very good order, by all appearances.

Her pre-med grades were outstanding. Despite the heavy load of her course work, she’d even managed to place in the Penn Relays in the mile, in the spring of her sophomore season, in May of 2019.

But the winter of 2019/2020 brought challenges, challenges that festered below the surface, known only to her and a couple of close friends.

First came betrayal at the hands of her boyfriend, Tom, right around Thanksgiving. She saw a message pop up on his phone from Rebecca, a young woman she thought was their friend. As it turned out, Rebecca and Tom had been intimate together, and both seemed game to do it again.

Reeling, her holiday mood shattered and her relationship with Tom fractured, Elizabeth was beset by deep feelings of anxiety. As the winter gray became more dense and forbidding, the anxiety grew.

Fed up, she broke up with Tom just after Christmas. What looked like a promising start to 2020 now didn’t feel as joyous.

Right around the end of the year, she plucked a copy of her father’s New York Times from the table in his study. A budding physician, her eyes were drawn to a piece about an outbreak of a highly contagious virus in Wuhan, China.

“Sounds dreadful,” she said to herself.

Within three months, anxiety gnawed at Elizabeth daily as she sat cloistered in her family’s house in Bel Air, Maryland.

It didn’t help matters that her brother, Billy, a high school senior and a constant thorn in her side, was cloistered with her.

She felt like she was suffocating.

One night in early May, feeling shutdown and unable to bring herself to tell her parents about her true condition, Elizabeth reached out to her family physician for help.

Dr. Johnson had been Elizabeth’s doctor for a number of years and, being from a small town, Elizabeth had grown up and gone to school with Dr. Johnson’s son Evan. In fact, back in high school, Evan had asked Elizabeth out once. Not interested, Elizabeth had declined Evan’s advances and did not give this a second thought.

Dr. Johnson’s practice had recently been acquired by a Virginia-based hospital system, Medwell, so when Elizabeth called the office, she was first patched through to Medwell’s receptionist/scheduling service. Within 30 minutes, an online Telehealth consult had been arranged for her to speak directly with Dr. Johnson.

Due to the pandemic, Dr. Johnson called from the office in her home. The doctor was kind. She was practiced.

“So can you tell me what’s going on?” she said.

Elizabeth took a deep breath. She tried to fight what was happening. But she could not. Tears started streaming down her face.

“It’s just… It’s just…” she managed to stammer.

The doctor waited patiently. “It’s okay,” she said. “Just take your time.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s like I can’t manage my own mind anymore. It’s nonstop. It won’t turn off…”

More tears streamed down her face.

Patiently, with compassion, the doctor walked Elizabeth through what she might be experiencing. The doctor recommended a follow-up with Medwell’s psychology department.

“Okay,” Elizabeth said, some semblance of relief passing through her.

Unbeknownst to Dr. Johnson, her office door had not been completely closed. During the telehealth call, Evan stopped by his mother’s office to ask her a question. Before knocking he overheard Elizabeth talking and decided to listen in.


As Elizabeth was finding the courage to open up to Dr. Johnson about her psychological condition, Evan was recording her with his smartphone through a crack in the doorway.

Spurred by who knows what — his attraction to her, his irritation at being rejected, the idleness of the COVID quarantine — it really didn’t matter. Evan posted his recording of Elizabeth to his Instagram feed.

#CantManageMyMind, #CrazyGirl, #HelpMeDoctorImBeautiful is just some of what followed.

Elizabeth and Evan were both well-liked and very well connected on social media. The posts, shares and reactions that followed Evan’s digital betrayal numbered in the hundreds. Each one of them a knife into the already troubled soul of Elizabeth Cunningham.

By noon of the following day, her well-connected father unleashed the dogs of war.

Rand Davis, the risk manager for the Medwell Health System, a 15-hospital health care company based in Alexandria, Virginia was just finishing lunch when he got a call from the company’s general counsel, Emily Vittorio.

“Yes?” Rand said. He and Emily were accustomed to being quick and blunt with each other. They didn’t have time for much else.

“I just picked up a notice of intent to sue from a personal injury attorney in Bel Air, Maryland. It seems his daughter was in a teleconference with one of our docs. She was experiencing anxiety, the daughter that is. The doctor’s son recorded the call and posted it to social media.”

“Great. Thanks, kid,” Rand said.

“His attorneys want to initiate a discovery dialogue on Monday,” Emily said.

It was Thursday. Rand’s dreams of slipping onto his fishing boat over the weekend evaporated, just like that. He closed his eyes and tilted his face up to the heavens.

Wasn’t it enough that he and the other members of the C-suite fought tooth and nail to keep thousands of people safe and treat them during the COVID-crisis?

He’d watched the explosion in the use of telemedicine with a mixture of awe and alarm. On the one hand, they were saving lives. On the other hand, they were opening themselves to exposures under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. He just knew it.

He and his colleagues tried to do the right thing. But what they were doing, overwhelmed as they were, was simply not enough.


Within the space of two weeks, the torture suffered by Elizabeth Cunningham grew into a class action against Medwell.

In addition to the violation of her privacy, the investigation by Mr. Cunningham’s attorneys revealed the following:

Medwell’s telemedicine component, as needed and well-intended as it was, lacked a viable informed consent protocol.

The consultation with Elizabeth, and as it turned out, hundreds of additional patients in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, violated telemedicine regulations in all three states.

Numerous practitioners in the system took part in teleconferences with patients in states in which they were not credentialed to provide that service.

Even if Evan hadn’t cracked open Dr. Johnson’s door and surreptitiously recorded her conversation with Elizabeth, the Medwell telehealth system was found to be insecure — yet another violation of HIPAA.

The amount sought in the class action was $100 million. In an era of social inflation, with jury awards that were once unthinkable becoming commonplace, Medwell was standing squarely in the crosshairs of a liability jury decision that was going to devour entire towers of its insurance program.

Adding another layer of certain pain to the equation was that the case would be heard in Baltimore, a jurisdiction where plaintiffs’ attorneys tended to dance out of courtrooms with millions in their pockets.

That fall, Rand sat with his broker on a call with a specialty insurer, talking about renewals of the group’s general liability, cyber and professional liability programs.

“Yeah, we were kind of hoping to keep the increases on all three at less than 25%,” the broker said breezily.

There was a long silence from the underwriters at the other end of the phone.

“To be honest, we’re borderline about being able to offer you any cover at all,” one of the lead underwriters said.

Rand just sat silently and waited for another shoe to drop.

“Well, what can you do?” the broker said, with hope draining from his voice.

The conversation that followed would propel Rand and his broker on the difficult, next to impossible path of trying to find coverage, with general liability underwriters in full retreat, professional liability underwriters looking for double digit increases and cyber underwriters asking very pointed questions about the health system’s risk management.

Elizabeth, a strong young woman with a good support network, would eventually recover from the damage done to her.

Medwell’s relationships with the insurance markets looked like it almost never would. &


Risk & Insurance® partnered with Allied World to produce this scenario. Below are Allied World’s recommendations on how to prevent the losses presented in the scenario. This perspective is not an editorial opinion of Risk & Insurance.®.

The use of telehealth has exponentially accelerated with the advent of COVID-19. Few health care providers were prepared for this shift. Health care organizations should confirm that Telehealth coverage is included in their Medical Professional, General Liability and Cyber policies, and to what extent. Concerns around Telehealth focus on HIPAA compliance and the internal policies in place to meet the federal and state standards and best practices for privacy and quality care. As states open businesses and the crisis abates, will pre-COVID-19 telehealth policies and regulations once again be enforced?

Risk Management Considerations:

The same ethical and standard of care issues around caring for patients face-to-face in an office apply in telehealth settings:

  • maintain a strong patient-physician relationship;
  • protect patient privacy; and
  • seek the best possible outcome.

Telehealth can create challenges around “informed consent.” It is critical to inform patients of the potential benefits and risks of telehealth (including privacy and security), ensure the use of HIPAA compliant platforms and make sure there is a good level of understanding of the scope of telehealth. Providers must be aware of the regulatory and licensure requirements in the state where the patient is located, as well as those of the state in which they are licensed.

A professional and private environment should be maintained for patient privacy and confidentiality. Best practices must be in place and followed. Medical professionals who engage in telehealth should be fully trained in operating the technology. Patients must also be instructed in its use and provided instructions on what to do if there are technical difficulties.

This case study is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be a summary of, and does not in any way vary, the actual coverage available to a policyholder under any insurance policy. Actual coverage for specific claims will be determined by the actual policy language and will be based on the specific facts and circumstances of the claim. Consult your insurance advisors or legal counsel for guidance on your organization’s policies and coverage matters and other issues specific to your organization.

This information is provided as a general overview for agents and brokers. Coverage will be underwritten by an insurance subsidiary of Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd, a Fairfax company (“Allied World”). Such subsidiaries currently carry an A.M. Best rating of “A” (Excellent), a Moody’s rating of “A3” (Good) and a Standard & Poor’s rating of “A-” (Strong), as applicable. Coverage is offered only through licensed agents and brokers. Actual coverage may vary and is subject to policy language as issued. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Risk management services are provided or arranged through AWAC Services Company, a member company of Allied World. © 2020 Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd. All rights reserved.

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