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  • January 2024
  • 4 minutes

Emerging Risks Ahead: An industry view of the future of insurance

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In Brief

According to a new report from the Geneva Association, the very nature of risk is changing and insurers must be prepared to change along with it. Jonathan Porter, ˿ƵAPP's Global Chief Risk Officer, provides key takeaways from the report and explores a path forward.

Insurers pool and redistribute risk to provide protection against unforeseen events, enabling individuals and organizations to pursue their interests with the added assurance that potential threats are covered financially. According to a new report from the Geneva Association, however, the very nature of risk is changing amid a shifting cultural, geopolitical, and environmental landscape, and insurers will need to adapt their traditional business model to keep pace.   

If the past few years are any indication – and we expect they are – the rate of overall global change is only increasing. A worldwide pandemic, wars in Ukraine and Israel, record-setting temperatures, an economic slowdown, political instability, and the emergence of generative artificial intelligence have all highlighted the many systemic risks inherent to our fast-moving, interconnected world. With potentially even more turbulent times and widespread volatility ahead, systemic risks may test aspects of the traditional insurance business model of risk pooling and redistribution in some areas. The industry must be cognizant of such threats and take steps now to adapt services and develop protection products that best serve our customers’ current and future needs.

I encourage you to read the Geneva Association report, . ˿ƵAPP is a long-standing partner and supporter of the Geneva Association. We fully endorse the Association’s mission to advance the work of the insurance industry in building more resilient and prosperous economies and societies as we work to advance ˿ƵAPP’s own purpose to make financial protection accessible to all.

Here are a few of the main takeaways from the report:

1. The risk landscape is changing.

Many emerging risks are increasingly systemic, a reality brought into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected virtually the entire world at the same time. As noted above, systemic risks can become so large and so widespread that they challenge insurance’s core mechanism of pooling and redistributing risk – the scale and cost of such risks can be too great for insurers to tackle alone. The global customer survey included in the Geneva Association report found that customers are particularly concerned about the future insurability of natural catastrophes (due to climate change), cyber risk, and longevity. 

The report provides a framework for evaluating emerging risks and their future insurability, based on four categories: novelty of risks, changing characteristics of existing risks, knowledge gaps, and governance issues. It also explores tangible risks (human lives, infrastructure, etc.) vs. intangible risks (reputation loss, instability, etc.). The result is an approach that may prove useful for monitoring factors shaping the risk environment and those areas where insurance can bring value. 

At ˿ƵAPP we have developed our own framework that integrates emerging risks into ˿ƵAPP’s strategy planning and review cycle. We rank emerging risks by frequency, impact, and velocity to develop a scorecard. A group of cross-functional experts partner with the business to build an understanding of these risks through a number of activities, such as pre-mortem exercises, surveys, and education sessions via an online forum for enterprise-wide collaboration and information sharing. 

At ˿ƵAPP, we are eager to engage with clients to better understand and tackle the industry’s most pressing challenges together. Contact us to discuss and to learn more about ˿ƵAPP's capabilities, resources, and solutions.

2. Amid growing obstacles to insurability, we must work to enhance traditional risk transfer.

The report highlights that climate and cyber risk in particular pose a threat to insurability, and the customer survey confirms a shared belief that insurance for these risks may become either unaffordable or unavailable. It goes on to break down the insurability of related risks by applying established risk criteria. 

On the positive side, the authors note that innovative approaches could enhance traditional risk transfer mechanisms to help make emerging risks more insurable. They point specifically to the potential for technological advancements – including rich datasets, advanced modelling, and machine learning – and use of alternative capital to narrow protection gaps. ˿ƵAPP is actively pursuing these opportunities in the life and health space, as evidenced most recently by our partnership with DigitalOwl and launch of Ruby Reinsurance Company.    

3. We need to explore options beyond risk transfer.

To meet market demand, insurers are increasingly focused on developing offerings that go beyond traditional financial protection, such as risk prediction and prevention services. Wellbeing initiatives promoting healthy lifestyles provide a good example. More than 80% of respondents to the customer survey indicated interest in such value-add offerings, while only 30-50% of them currently take advantage of these services – presenting a clear opportunity for insurers. 

The report itself says it best: “The increasing intensity and impact of risks today, from climate to cyber, are creating testing conditions for insurers. Yet the case for the continued value of insurance is clear. By leveraging their expertise to offer services that help to mitigate risk and drive positive change among their customers, insurers can maintain, and even strengthen, their societal relevance.”

The authors also see significant opportunities for insurers to expand their role as promoters of the common good, particularly in the area of sustainability. ˿ƵAPP enthusiastically endorses this idea, and we view sustainability to be central to our success and core to our business model. Learn more about how ˿ƵAPP has integrated sustainability into our operations, governance, and investing practices. 


Risk is our business at ˿ƵAPP, and we see risk management as integral to our culture and the responsibility of every ˿ƵAPP employee. We proudly support the Geneva Association’s efforts to better understand emerging risks. Working together to tackle our biggest challenges, re/insurers can build a better future for our industry, our customers, and our world.

At ˿ƵAPP, we are eager to engage with clients to better understand and tackle the industry’s most pressing challenges together. Contact us to discuss and to learn more about ˿ƵAPP's capabilities, resources, and solutions.

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Meet the Authors & Experts

Jonathan Porter
Jonathan Porter
Executive Vice President, Global Chief Risk Officer, Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated