Plumeri: Managing Risk Requires Long-term Sustainability

NU Online News Service, Feb. 1, 3:12 p.m. EST

In an environment of rapidly evolving risks, just anticipating risk is not enough, as organizations also need to focus on building resilience to effectively manage risk and position themselves for long-term sustainability, says the chief executive of Willis Group Holdings.

Speaking at the 2012 World Captive Forum, Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive officer of Willis said hallmarks of a resilient organization include acknowledging the difficulty of predicting the future or so called “black swan” events. Organizations need to operate in a dynamic fashion to make adjustments in real-time when a catastrophe strikes, while simultaneously preparing for the future, he noted.

“In order for companies to build resilience, they need to ask themselves, will we be here in 10 years? Will we be here in 50 years?” he said.

The forum convened this year inMiami, the site of the costliest disaster inU.S.history. The greatMiamihurricane of 1926 resulted in severe loss of life and steep economic losses, which, adjusted for 2010 inflation, would total $169 billion, according to data released by NOAA. The storm wiped out the city, largely due to a flawed response, Plumeri said.

A leading catastrophe modeler estimated that this storm today would cause an estimated $101 billion in insured losses drawing down a significant portion of the global-insurance capacity, he said.

“Traditional property and casualty risks endure, but the nature of risk is changing,” Plumeri said.

The top risks on the minds of business leaders today are not easily solved by purchasing insurance, he continued, citing examples such as loss of customers, regulatory investigations, and reputational risk. Meanwhile, the global marketplace continues to drive other risks including political, supply chain, cyber, and balance-sheet risk, he said.

“As the risk landscape evolves and includes both natural and man-made catastrophes, organizations need to build resilience against the unpredictable. Insurance serves as a powerful ally for organizations to tackle these new risks and in many ways, insurance is the bridge between anticipation and resilience,” he said.

The captive-insurance industry, he noted, was born out of the insurance-liability crisis of the 1980s, and began as an “exercise in anticipation” as risk managers needed solutions when they found the insurance marketplace unreliable. Now, captives stand as a testament to resilience, Plumeri said.

“The captive-insurance industry has evolved and now offers a robust and effective approach to help firms become resilient in the face of unpredictable risks. Captives play a key role in the insurance industry, offering creative solutions for critical risks,” Plumeri said.

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