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Pandemic puts risk professionals front and centre

Airmic's annual survey of members has shown that many organisations were caught off-guard by the extreme impact of the pandemic, and risk professionals are now receiving more board time than ever before.

Top risks and megatrends 2020 was published on 2 July and produced in collaboration with AIG, Control Risks, KPMG, QBE and Willis Towers Watson. It is based on 150 member responses and extensive roundtable discussions.

Although governments and organisations have long recognised the likelihood of a pandemic and the risks associated, the geographic spread and velocity of COVID-19 has taken many by surprise.

"It was the debilitating economic impact of the lockdowns and national restrictions that many had not even contemplated," the report states. "Generally, most organisations had prepared to respond to a localised disease, rather a global pandemic. It was even less likely that they had taken into account the near total ceasing of international travel."

Risk professionals have taken a central role in managing much of their organisations' response to the crisis and, as a result, have achieved greater time in front of the board and senior decision makers.

"The report clearly shows that risk professionals who can combine agility with effective leadership will respond most effectively to the challenges of returning to business as we emerge from the lockdown," said Julia Graham, Airmic's deputy CEO and technical director.

"Risk professionals have been rising up the corporate ladder for some time, and now is a vital period for seizing opportunities. It is the time to innovate, not retreat - both for organisations and individuals."

The report also includes a detailed summary of risks associated with the megatrends of Cyber & technology, Climate & environment, Trust & reputation, Geopolitics & populism and Governance, laws & regulation. Articles on each of these megatrends can be found in this month's edition of Airmic News.

As ever, the report contains contemporary insight into the shifting landscape of the insurance market and trends amongst buyers. Airmic members represent an estimated £10.5 billion annual insurance spend, with an additional £75.8 million spent on professional fees for risk management services and £254.2 million for insurance services such as broker's fees.

More than 80% of respondents have noted D&O rates increasing, with 13% saying they have more than doubled. Frustration remains at poor or late communication from insurance partners, and over half of policyholders are only partially satisfied or not satisfied with the service from brokers.

"Today's market conditions are notably different to previous hard markets, which were cyclical and focused on price," says Julia Graham, Deputy CEO and Technical Director at Airmic.

"Today, by comparison, we are also seeing reduced capacity, an increase in exclusions and, in some cases, the complete withdrawal of cover. There are also early signs of changing claims behaviour, which we are monitoring closely. This is a seismic shift.

"To stay relevant, the market must become more customer-centric, make better use of technology to improve service and provide more innovative solutions."

You can read the full Top risks and megatrends 2020 report here.