Why insurers and businesses need to work closer together than ever before

Operations manager on the permacrisis environment impacting UK businesses

Why insurers and businesses need to work closer together than ever before

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

In his capacity as London operations manager for FM Global, Bill Bradshaw (pictured) is tasked with leading the business in the UK, Ireland, the Nordic region and the Middle East to long-term growth and profitability. It’s a role that gives him a birds-eye view of what’s happening across each of these markets and how the external risk environment is impacting how the firm’s clients are interacting with insurance.

“At the core of this role is the commitment to ensuring our clients receive exceptional risk management and risk transfer services,” he said. “This strategic approach emphasises client satisfaction, with the continuous delivery of valuable services, fostering partnerships, and addressing the evolving risk mitigation needs of our clients. In my leadership role, I’m constantly striving to maintain FM Global as a trusted partner in safeguarding our clients' interests – protecting today to drive prosperity tomorrow.”

Assessing the perma-crisis risk environment facing UK firms

During the launch of the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Global Risks Report, Marsh McLennan’s Carolina Klint revealed that the perma-crisis environment shaping the global risk landscape in recent years is showing no signs of abating, and Bradshaw agrees with this prognosis. Events in early 2024 are already suggesting that the perma-crisis environment is here to stay, he said, with a clear example in the management of global supply chains.

“Here the complex interplay of climate risks, cyber threats, and geopolitical tensions continue to disrupt businesses – as we move from one crisis to the next,” he said. “Dealing with this situation will be a key challenge for the year ahead, necessitating a shift in the insurance industry from a reactive to a proactive mindset. Businesses and insurers need to collaborate and develop strategies that acknowledge and address these interwoven challenges as disruption persists.”

Bradshaw noted while every business has a unique risk profile, some clear trends are emerging, particularly with regard to how hazards, such as climate change, are impacting the UK. Recent severe flooding events are a good example of this, he said.

Understanding the need for proactive resilience measures

These events underscore the need for proactive resilience measures, location-specific exposure assessments, and alternative risk mitigation strategies beyond traditional insurance coverage. Businesses must adapt to the reality that relying solely on insurance may prove insufficient in the face of unpredictable climate events, Bradshaw said. This necessitates a strategic shift towards coupling insurance coverage with robust prevention and risk minimisation measures.

“Such an approach is made all the more important as one key factor continues to indirectly influence the risk profile of companies – inflation,” Bradshaw said. “As ongoing high rates put a strain on companies, it is vital that risk management isn’t sidelined as companies deal with increasing costs in a perma-crisis environment.

“Collaborating with loss assessment experts from insurance companies can assist businesses in verifying the accuracy of values, enabling the provision of insurance coverage tailored to their unique needs and risk profile. This partnership streamlines the process and mitigates the risk of discrepancies between nominal values and actual losses, thereby minimising the potential for unforeseen costs.”

What’s been interesting in recent years is how the external factors impacting businesses have become increasingly interconnected.

“We now live in a truly globalised world,” he said, “as companies utilise networks of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors spanning across continents, collaborating to produce, transport, and deliver goods and services on a massive scale. This heightened interconnectedness poses a considerable challenge for the insurance industry, as traditional risk models designed for tangible and localised risks struggle to comprehend the intricacies and global reach of these interconnected disruptions.”

A time for collaboration between businesses and insurers

Bradshaw emphasised that close collaboration between businesses and insurers will become even more important when it comes to tackling these challenges. He added that both parties should come together to utilise data to develop risk management strategies that recognise and adapt to the intricate web of issues we’re observing.

With that in mind, there are a number of ways in which FM Global is working to support its clients, underpinned by a data-driven risk management approach.

The business’s suite of climate resilience products offers a good example of data guiding decision-making and how it can help clients become more climate resilient. In addition, he said, FM Global works closely with its clients to implement and provide capital for risk improvement measures.

“Our Resilience Credit, now in its second year, supports eligible clients with additional resources to invest in climate resilience,” he said. “In 2022 we provided US$300 million to eligible clients; in 2023 we provided US$350 million.”

Do UK businesses recognise the need for greater collaboration?

Bradshaw said he’s seeing a “palpable increase” in recognition of the need for collaboration. This heightened awareness is not only influenced by the impact of the pandemic, he said, but also by escalating systemic risks.

He believes that decision-makers and stakeholders across various industries are becoming more attuned to the intricacies of the current risk landscape.

“As businesses grapple with uncertainties, this collaborative approach supports a comprehensive and adaptive response to the evolving risk environment,” he said. “Clients increasingly recognise that working closely with insurance and risk management partners is not merely a transactional need but a strategic imperative.”

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