IIG News

IIG Insights: Navigating Through Crisis

Darryl Grater, President of IIG kicked-off the session welcoming all in attendance including our main sponsor, Swiss Re, who offered to cover all audience costs for this session. Darryl reminded everyone to secure their CPD certificates via the IIG CPD portal after the webinar. Thereafter he handed the session over to Carli Jacobs, Head of P&C, Southern Africa.

Carli welcomed everyone and advised that usually Swiss Re would have had a full day event but due to the Covid-19 restrictions, they will participate in 3x webinars as part of the IIG Insights Sessions.

  • 25 June – will deal with the fundamentals of sustainable leadership.
  • 15 July – will address and discuss insurance sustainability.
  • 18 August – will conclude with a dialogue demystifying business interruption.



Sustainability & Leadership

Carli introduced the two presenters from Swiss Re for the day: Reto Schnarwiler – Head Group Sustainability and Bernd Wilke – Group Senior Manager. Reto and Bernd engaged the IIG audience from Zurich, Switzerland.

Reto focused his presentation around the pandemic and implications around sustainability as well Swiss Re’s role around this sustainability. A series of virtual events was held with UNEP FI PSI including a panel of senior experts in their respective fields.

Covid-19 will have lasting and social consequences and it has become clear that our long-term response must include responsibility around nature and the planet.  We need to understand where these initial risks emanate from and requires in-depth analysis, as 60% of these risks have been zoonotic which means transferred from animals to humans. The insurance industry needs to be part of this effort as there is an opportunity to increase resilience of humanity and the planet. We need to find a solution to live in a healthy and sustainable way. Nature is part and parcel of our life support system.

There are four aspects of the pandemic worth reflecting on:

  • Behavioural economics
  • A crisis of values
  • The concept of resilience
  • The philosophical debate

Human nature is such that we seem to underestimate events in our history. Societies have reacted very differently to the pandemic and some have demonstrated high levels of resilience and others have been crucially under-developed. We hope that we are transformed in a positive way whereby different nations unite to resolve this crisis together.

There has been a call to action and climate change is back on the agenda. The insurance industry cannot solve this alone but needs to partner with governments. Swiss Re has recently reinforced their sustainability strategy. Through their Group Sustainability Strategy, they aim to reinforce their efforts to make the world more resilient and sustainable, thus helping maintain their competitiveness, today and in the future.

Swiss Re has a historical track record of environmental sustainability and have many milestones including the introduction of net-zero GHG emissions. Part of Swiss Re‘s 2030 sustainability ambitions are mitigating climate risk and advancing energy transition, building societal resilience and driving affordable insurance with digital solutions. Swiss Re also made a public commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 across their entire business. Swiss Re also supports the worldwide reduction of GHG emissions and contributes to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 deg.C above pre-industrial levels.

Reto closed his session and handed back to Carli who introduced Bernd as the Swiss Re inhouse expert on environmental issues.

Bernd Wilke began his session with a poll around a selection of numerous emerging risks such as:

  • Cyber security
  • Carbon removal
  • Intergenerational balances
  • Global pharmaceutical supplies

He then touched on cyber security and its evolution which began around Y2K, 20yrs ago. The business case as to why Swiss Re invests huge amounts of monies in risk mitigation is to reduce costs of claims which began as early as 1927 with asbestos right down to today with pandemics resulting in business and financial losses.

The benefits of knowing what one can expect allows one to:

  • Adapt risk screening for exposed risk
  • Adapt conditions in underwriting
  • Adapt pricing
  • This avoids foreseeable claims
  • Lower claims = Higher profits!

Emerging Risk is about making money for your company by avoiding foreseeable risks. Climate Change is the oldest emerging risk and was first reported in 1989 and today materialises in drought, wildfires, flood and storms. The question now is what is the next big market development? The trend spotlights moving to a low carbon future. Risks and Insurance opportunities will be in:

  • Energy production
  • Buildings and manufacturing
  • Transport
  • Forestry & agriculture

The shift to renewable energy will need insurance solutions to facilitate innovation, infrastructure and operational needs. Many technologies to reduce emissions are in prototype stage. Insurers can partner with industry to establish risk assessment standards and procedures.  According to most climate models, decisive carbon removal together with lower GHG emissions are needed to limit global warming. By 2050, billions of tons of CO2 will need to be stored. Frontrunners will profit from experience gathered over the next decade.

Bernd ended his presentation on this note.

Carli thereafter handled the Q&A session from the Slido app. Some of the questions were around how South Africa can contribute towards being more sustainable going forward. It was suggested that joining the United Nations environmental programmes, can assist with strategies for companies that can adapt these programmes for themselves.

Carli thanked the presenters together with Swiss Re’s Marketing Executive, Beat Strebel, who further provided a vote of thanks to IIG as well as our members in attendance and reminded everyone of their own responsibilities in tackling the challenges of this brave new world.

By Asiya Swaleh