Frieder Knüpling: my biggest concern is clearly climate change

Published in: Risk, Risk management, Investment

Companies: Scor

Frieder Knüpling, chief risk officer at Scor, answers InsuranceERM's new year questions

Tell me one thing you have learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic?Frieder Knüpling

That the value our societies place on human lives is higher than most of us thought in the past. We have underestimated the amount of economic pain and the restrictions to our personal lives our societies are prepared to accept in order to avoid an even much larger number of illnesses and deaths from Covid-19. In many ways this is a wonderful insight - but as (re)insurers we need to think through the implications, which are having a profound impact on our risk universe.

What was the most positive ERM development of 2020?

A sudden shift to a much more flexible and agile way of working – transversal and collaborative, sometimes spontaneous and bottom-up, and highly solution-oriented. Maintaining this spirit after the crisis will enable us to achieve goals faster and more effectively than ever.

And what is the biggest ERM challenge in 2021?

Ensuring that we do not lose sight of other developing threats that are difficult to assess and manage, including climate change, mass cyber-attacks and others.

What trend (e.g. political, economic, societal, technological, legal, environmental) is going to have the biggest impact on the insurance industry in 2021?

Dealing with what is hopefully going to be the tail of the Covid-19 crisis: the continued impact on the health and lives of employees and insureds, the immediate economic fallout and recovery, longer-term credit risks and other economic scarring, restoring the public perception of the industry in relation to coverage disputes.

What emerging risks are you most concerned about?

From a personal and societal perspective my biggest concern is clearly climate change. The pathway that societies choose over the next 5-10 years will determine whether we can avoid a catastrophic outcome and leave a habitable earth for the generations to come. (Re)insurers will continue to contribute to the way we deal with this, through our actions and active engagement with science and the public, and by ensuring that we can manage our specific related financial risks. Whilst making this a priority is in my view imperative, we must not lose sight of the many other emerging threats that could cause great problems for the industry.

If you could have one wish for 2021, what would it be?

I hope there will be a strengthening of international cooperation on issues that cannot be solved by individual states, including climate change, hunger, poverty, access to vaccines and other healthcare, and pollution.

Paul Walsh