Insuring against the changing face of global terror

“In my career I’ve seen it go from IRA bombs to 9-11, to IED in Iraq, and most recently lone-shooter events.”

Insuring against the changing face of global terror

Insurance News

By Lucy Hook

In a world where terrorism events are on the rise and global stability looks to be in decline, protecting against a crisis can be tricky business.

Recent research revealed that terrorism is now the second biggest threat perceived by companies, while legislative risks – such as last week’s announcement of a snap election here in the UK, and the growing populism movement across Europe – have for the first time emerged as a concern too. 

When it comes to terrorism and political violence coverage, in today’s climate the key is to be as well-informed as possible, and “hopefully stay ahead of the curve,” Stephen Ashwell, head of crisis management at XL Catlin told Insurance Business.
Speaking at the Risk Management Society’s annual conference in Philadelphia, USA, he talked about a global risk landscape that is constantly in flux.

“If you think about the terrorism risk, that’s evolving and changing all the time,” he said. “In my career I’ve seen it go from IRA bombs, to 9/11, to IED attacks in Iraq, and most recently lone-shooter events like Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the [2016 Nice attack] so on. And with those changes, so the product changes.”

The rising threat of terrorism in Western countries from extremists, often perpetrated by lone individuals, is “much harder to protect and police against,” Ashwell added.

That risk is further complicated by the “blow-back” from jihadists fighters returning from countries such as Syria and Yemen and “using the skills that they’ve learned out there to cause terror and havoc back here in France, America, England and so on.”

Asked what major challenges he faces in his role, Ashwell – who heads up crisis management globally, spanning not just terrorism and political violence but product recall, crime and contingency – named a lack of awareness of what’s happening around the globe as one of the major hurdles.

And in the hyper-connected world, even traditional risks are becoming more complex.

“If I think about extortion risks covered within the kidnap and ransom policy, people didn’t think about cyber extortion 20 years ago when the policy was first evolving, and these are just some of the things that we’ve got to respond to and anticipate on behalf of our clients,” Ashwell explained.

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