Zurich (May 26, 2016) – Turmoil in emerging markets, increased localisation of internet networks within country borders and financial repression are some of the key risks identified in this year’s SONAR report. The publication is based on the SONAR process, an innovative crowdsourcing tool drawing on Swiss Re’s unique internal risk management expertise to pick up early signals of what lies beyond the horizon.
The report offers insights into emerging risks, those newly developing or evolving risks whose potential impact and scope are not yet sufficiently taken into account. Among these, the report also highlights a “crisis of trust” in institutions, the “legal and pricing risks of the sharing economy” and technology-related topics, such as the rise of “precision medicine” and “distributed energy generation.”
“Risk management is not just about managing risks in the present. It is about anticipating future ones to make sure we will be in a position to deal with them,” says Patrick Raaflaub, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Risk Officer. “These risks may only fully reveal themselves to future generations. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t act today to reduce uncertainty and alleviate their burden.”
The identified risks are relevant to life and non-life insurance areas and are presented with the goal of helping industry players prepare for new scenarios by adapting their behaviours, market conduct and product portfolios.
Detecting early signals of looming threats allows for a proactive approach to risk mitigation and is an important step to help society as a whole to become more resilient.
Overview of the 21 new emerging risks and their potential impact over time (Click for higher resolution)
Three top risks with the highest potential impact
- Emerging markets crisis 2.0: Turmoil in emerging countries could hinder the market entry and the penetration strategies of global insurance companies and even result in higher underwriting losses, especially in property, personal and commercial lines, for example in the case of riots.
- The great monetary experiment: The long-term costs of negative interest rates and unconventional monetary policies are still unknown, yet they might lead to a broader loss of confidence in the monetary system. Short-term benefits are limited as the policies are unlikely to boost economic growth.
- Internet fragmentation: Firewalls, special software to filter out unwanted information and isolated IT infrastructure detached from global networks: disconnected nets could soon become a reality. Their potential impact includes increased costs and disrupted business models for insurance companies and other businesses operating across borders.
About Swiss Re
The Swiss Re Group is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer. Dealing direct and working through brokers, its global client base consists of insurance companies, mid-to-large-sized corporations and public sector clients. From standard products to tailor-made coverage across all lines of business, Swiss Re deploys its capital strength, expertise and innovation power to enable the risk-taking upon which enterprise and progress in society depend.
Founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1863, Swiss Re serves clients through a network of about 70 offices globally and is rated “AA-” by Standard & Poor’s, “Aa3” by Moody’s, and “A+” by A.M. Best. Registered shares in the Swiss Re Group holding company, Swiss Re Ltd, are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and trade under the symbol SREN. For more information about Swiss Re Group, please visit www.swissre.com/.
Cautionary note on forward-looking statements
Certain statements and illustrations contained herein are forward-looking. These statements (including as to plans, objectives, targets, and trends) and illustrations provide current expectations of future events based on certain assumptions and include any statement that does not directly relate to a historical fact or current fact.
Forward-looking statements typically are identified by words or phrases such as “anticipate”, “assume”, “believe”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “foresee”, “intend”, “may increase”, “may fluctuate” and similar expressions, or by future or conditional verbs such as “will”, “should”, “would” and “could”. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the Group’s actual results of operations, financial condition, solvency ratios, liquidity position or prospects to be materially different from any future results of operations, financial condition, solvency ratios, liquidity position or prospects expressed or implied by such statements or cause Swiss Re to not achieve its published targets.
Such factors include, among others: instability affecting the global financial system and developments related thereto; deterioration in global economic conditions; the Group’s ability to maintain sufficient liquidity and access to capital markets, including sufficient liquidity to cover potential recapture of reinsurance agreements, early calls of debt or debt-like arrangements and collateral calls due to actual or perceived deterioration of the Group’s financial strength or otherwise; the effect of market conditions, including the global equity and credit markets, and the level and volatility of equity prices, interest rates, credit spreads, currency values and other market indices, on the Group’s investment assets; changes in the Group’s investment result as a result of changes in its investment policy or the changed composition of its investment assets, and the impact of the timing of any such changes relative to changes in market conditions; uncertainties in valuing credit default swaps and other credit-related instruments; possible inability to realise amounts on sales of securities on the Group’s balance sheet equivalent to their mark-to-market values recorded for accounting purposes; the outcome of tax audits, the ability to realise tax loss carryforwards and the ability to realise deferred tax assets (including by reason of the mix of earnings in a jurisdiction or deemed change of control), which could negatively impact future earnings; the possibility that the Group’s hedging arrangements may not be effective; the lowering or loss of one of the financial strength or other ratings of one or more Swiss Re companies, and developments adversely affecting the Group’s ability to achieve improved ratings; the cyclicality of the reinsurance industry; uncertainties in estimating reserves; uncertainties in estimating future claims for purposes of financial reporting, particularly with respect to large natural catastrophes, as significant uncertainties may be involved in estimating losses from such events and preliminary estimates may be subject to change as new information becomes available; the frequency, severity and development of insured claim events; acts of terrorism and acts of war; mortality, morbidity and longevity experience; policy renewal and lapse rates; extraordinary events affecting the Group’s clients and other counterparties, such as bankruptcies, liquidations and other credit-related events; current, pending and future legislation and regulation affecting the Group or its ceding companies and the interpretation of legislation or regulations; legal actions or regulatory investigations or actions, including those in respect of industry requirements or business conduct rules of general applicability; changes in accounting standards; significant investments, acquisitions or dispositions, and any delays, unexpected costs or other issues experienced in connection with any such transactions; changing levels of competition; and operational factors, including the efficacy of risk management and other internal procedures in managing the foregoing risks.
These factors are not exhaustive. The Group operates in a continually changing environment and new risks emerge continually. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Swiss Re undertakes no obligation to publicly revise or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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