Willis outlines several emerging global risks to watch out for in 2012

Friday, 27 January 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings has published a list of nearly 20 emerging risks, some of which have been brewing for a while, some have not yet resulted in any claims, while others are new twists to well-known risks.

Willis says that these are the “sleeping crocodiles” to look out for in the midst of the current socio-economic and political upheaval.

In its new website, WillisWire, the global insurance broking firm says that one of the most significant emerging energy risks is the growth of the hydraulic fracking process used to extract gas from shale formations.

Fracking is quickly emerging as one of the more significant risks facing the not only the energy market but also the environmental insurance industry too. There is much debate and concern surrounding fracking due to the chemicals used and the massive amounts of wastewater generated. Not to mention the fear of radioactive materials and other contaminants potentially finding their way into water supplies.

The report adds that contingent business interruption/supply chain exposure is the greatest unknown in the insurable risk transfer business because quantifying the exposure is very difficult. This is especially so in the case of unspecified customers and suppliers. The difficulty in assessing the degree of risk, and exposure to it reared its head in Japan after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami and in the catastrophic flooding in Thailand.

Evidence is showing that this issue can only get worse: senior management teams need to ensure that balanced risk management solutions are in place that will bring together supply chain and business continuity management techniques and will ultimately help reduce future impacts on brand and reputation.

In the special feature – entitled ‘What New Risks Will Emerge in 2012?’ – other risks identified by WillisWire include: political-economic turmoil; cyber  terrorism, uncertainty caused by national energy policies; over-reliance on analytical models; and an obesity epidemic.

The feature notes that many of the disorders related to obesity such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea have significantly affected several key industries. Obesity and the related conditions can also significantly affect the rate that an employee recovers from injuries compared to an employee with a normal Body Mass Index.

The healthcare industry has also been significantly impacted by the increase of obesity in the population. Many healthcare providers have noticed that the patients they treat continue to grow in weight each year.  The physical exertion required to lift or transfer an obese patient can often times lead to back, shoulder and neck injuries. These injuries can lead to significant workers compensation costs, reduced work ability and reduced quality of life at home for the injured healthcare worker.