Swiss Re has published their latest SONAR (Systematic Observation of Notions Associated with Risk). Many of the risks mentioned are specific to the northern hemisphere but some of them will be of interest locally in South Africa.

  • Medical advances lead to longer life expectancy creating new insurance opportunities; but they create more difficulty in predicting mortality and morbidity rates, and possibly more medical malpractice and product liability claims arising from new therapies and treatments.
  • A recent outbreak of Avian influenza that has killed millions of birds globally is a reminder of the possibility of an epidemic or pandemic, which needs to be underwritten against.
  • Anxiety and distraction from social media bingeing is being linked to poor mental health outcomes as well as more sedentary lifestyles with co-morbidity such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Claims against companies profiting by encouraging overuse are possible.
  • The growing use and capabilities of machine learning systems can lead to new liabilities and the risk of fraudsters targeting insurers’ own systems.
  • Targeted data poisoning could lead to high failure rates for instance with automatic cars, medical diagnosis software, and other internet-of-things disruption.
  • The increased use of digital payments including online shopping will see a shift from theft and burglary claims to money-transfer crimes and cyber insurance losses. Complaints regarding e-shopping are already flooding consumer ombuds.