AM Best

Best’s Special Report: Climate Change Seen as Top Insurance Industry Risk; Ranking Highlights Need for ERM


Christopher Lewis
Industry Analyst,
Research and Analytics
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5065

Sridhar Manyem
Director, Industry Research
and Analytics
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5612

Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644


OLDWICK - MARCH 11, 2020 08:38 AM (EDT)
AM Best examined more than 60 potential risks on U.S. insurance companies claims frequency and severity, and ranked them by level of impact, with a look at how well-prepared insurers are for each risk. The analysis, contained in a new Best’s Special Report, elevates the importance of emerging risk management as an essential part of the enterprise risk management (ERM) toolkit.

The report, “The Growing Importance of Emerging Risk Management,” also provides an expanded look at the top 10 emerging risks insurers likely will face over the next decade. In AM Best’s view, climate change represents the largest of these risks. With frequency and severity of weather-related events on the rise, insurers have been impacted severely by related losses, and pricing based on past experience remains challenging as catastrophe models have not yet fully considered the new normal. Because of this and other considerations such as reserving and reinsurance, AM Best also views the industry as having low readiness to the complex challenges climate change presents.

Other leading emerging risks discussed in the report include:

  • The cyber insurance market is likely to offer significant growth opportunities for insurers. However, the rising risk of loss creep from silent cyber coverage, the evolving nature of the risk and the lack of a stress event to test the market make this a leading operational challenge for insurers given the vast amounts of data that need to be protected.

  • The current geopolitical, interest rate and equity market environment offers increased potential for additional economic volatility and potentially significant risks to insurers’ balance sheets and asset performance, placing market, economic and financial risks near the top of AM Best’s ranking.

  • Technological advancements such as wearables, telematics and the Internet of Things are reshaping the insurance industry. Insurers that do not adopt technology judiciously will see the gap between them and those that do widen, making them vulnerable to adverse selection.

  • Rounding out AM Best’s top 10 of these emerging risks are legacy IT systems; legislation/regulation; infectious diseases and pandemics; environmental, social, and governance principles; political and geopolitical concerns, including terrorism; and demographic changes.

The report notes that some of these risks—such as terrorism or climate change-related catastrophes—may hit quickly and abruptly, while others—such as negative interest rates, legacy systems and social inflation—may lead insurers to a slow and painful death. In AM Best’s view, insurers are better prepared to deal with the aging workforce, terrorism and low interest rates, but just moderately prepared for most of the other risks. Insurers need to continually scan the eco-system for risks, quantify the impact of emerging risks, and be proactive in designing mitigation plans in the event that these risks manifest themselves.

To access the full copy of this special report, please visit .

To view a video discussion of this report with Sridhar Manyem, director, industry research and analytics, and Christopher Lewis, industry analyst, research and analytics, both of AM Best Rating Services, please visit .

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City.