Filed Under:Risk Management, Corporate Risk

What's on Risk Managers' Minds at RIMS?

As risk managers and insurance professionals prepare to assemble at the RIMS 2014 Annual Conference & Exhibition this weekend in Denver, we reached out to risk mangers on our editorial board to see what issues are on their minds. 

Cyber risk has been a hot topic in the both the insurance trade and mainstream news over the past year thanks to recent high-profile breaches and statements from experts and officials that the risks will likely increase with time. Not surprisingly, most risk managers who spoke with PC360 mention cyber liability as a top concern.

The risk managers also share their thoughts on the state of the market, whether they’d be willing to purchase insurance direct and online and what they hope to get out of RIMS this year.

Q: How would you describe the insurance market for the coverages you buy with respect to affordability and availability — are you seeing more competition for your business or are companies pulling back?  Is there uniformity in the direction of the market or does the pricing/level of competition vary by line of coverage?

Victor Parker, Director of Risk Management, City of Los Angeles

We generally experience healthy competition for our property and casualty placements, in part due to a favorable loss history. Name recognition also attracts multiple carriers to quote for our business. Currently, pricing appears stable and quotes reflect a slight reduction from 2013 quotes with no change in policy terms or conditions. 

Gary Pearce, vice president, risk management group, Kelly Services Inc.

We’ve had very stable and competitive renewals, regardless of coverage line. We haven’t put any programs out to competition lately, but we’re pretty confident we would see a favorable dynamic if we did.   

Sarah Perry, risk manager, City of Columbia, Mo.

The coverages in our upcoming renewal appear to be both affordable and available with the exception of excess workers' compensation. During our last renewal (Oct. 1, 2013) we saw a significant increase in the workers’ comp. premium. This year I am anticipating another increase and/or pressure to raise our retention level. The increased costs is exacerbated by the limited number of carriers writing this coverage.

Michael Liebowitz, senior director of insurance and enterprise risk management, New York University 

The insurance market appears to be competitive. Companies are trying to keep the playing field level. Pricing has been noted to be competitive. Along with pricing I have seen flexibility from insurers to extend terms and broaden conditions. All in all, the market is stable since there is still ample money to drive capital. 

Q: What is the most significant emerging risk on your radar, are you insuring against it and is the coverage available in the marketplace adequate in your mind to address the risk? 

Victor Parker

Cyber Liability is our most significant emerging threat and we do not currently commercially insure the risk. Although coverage is available, discussions with our broker indicate the insurance industry is challenged to provide coverage that addresses the evolving threats presented by cyber criminals.

We are also in the process of internally assessing our risks to formalize our vulnerability to cyber liability. Therefore, at this time we are not quite convinced the right product at the right price is available to us.    

Gary Pearce

This may be more of an emerged risk than an emerging risk, but the collective realm of data privacy and cyber breaches becomes more prominent every month. The cyber exposure concerns both a breach of our own systems plus how we might be impacted should there be some external or societal event. There are very good insurance products out there for this risk, but you have to do your homework to make sure you understand the spectrum of loss scenarios and how various insurance policies would respond to each of them.

Sarah Perry

Three emerging risks are on my radar right now. The first is cyber liability, especially the potential costs associated forensic assessment, third party notification, communication, and credit monitoring. We are exploring the insurance options at this time.  

Second is the potential exposure to otherwise uninsured infrastructure property like fencing, utility poles, signs and park-trail structures. We are exploring the availability and viability of coverage for this exposure, especially as it pertains to potential Midwest weather perils.  

Lastly, the uninsurable risk associated with institutional knowledge loss and succession planning. 

Michael Liebowitz

The most significant risk that I have is theft of Intellectual property. We are not insuring against it because we are unable to find a insurer either domestic or foreign to provide such coverage.

Q: Some insurers have been looking into (or have started) selling some commercial coverages direct and online.  Is this something you would consider?  Why or why not?

Victor Parker

Not at this time. Because of the complexity of various placements we value the input and advice provided by our broker. We also value insight a broker provides regarding the state of the markets and any emerging issues. In addition, broker advocacy during underwriting and claims processes prove invaluable as a means to obtaining favorable results.  

Gary Pearce

We would definitely consider direct online sales.  For large buyers I don’t expect the human aspect to be replaced anytime soon with respect to mainline corporate coverages, but the direct model can make sense for transactional support and for affinity-type programs such as for suppliers or customers.

Sarah Perry

That would depend on a lot of factors including complexity of the coverage, potential price benefit, a clear understanding of the available service and my own familiarity with the coverage in question. I've learned I can never say never to any options, but have also been reminded of the buyer-beware adage if something looks too good or too easy to seem real.

Michael Liebowitz

I would not consider this option because you always need a third party to review the coverages to make sure they are correct. In addition, in a situation where there is a difference of opinion it is always worthwhile to have an advocate on your side.

Q: Is there any topic on your mind that you are hoping to see addressed at RIMS, or anything in particular you are looking forward to at the conference?

Victor Parker

I will not personally be attending the conference this year. In general I always like RIMS because it is the largest risk management conference and the most diverse in size of entities and industries that attend. I always learn something every year I go in the sessions and I enjoy the networking with other professionals and the great exhibit hall. In regard to topics that I would like to see, it would be any emerging risks that could affect our entity (i.e. cyber,legalization of marijuana, drought, terrorism, regulatory changes). I also find ERM an interesting topic but have not seen enough sessions at RIMS that are more nuts and bolts on implementation. Also and more importantly how it reduces cost of risk and how do you simply quantify the results.

Gary Pearce

With so many people in town, RIMS is a great way to see a lot of underwriters and other key stakeholders as well as an opportunity to foster new relationships. 

Sarah Perry

Unfortunately I am not able to attend this year's RIMS conference.

Michael Liebowitz

At RIMS, I am concentrating on bringing our ERM program to the next level. So the solution sharing information and the networking will be most important to me.

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