Insurance Banana Skins 2019

What are the top risks facing the insurance industry?

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What are the risk concerns at the top of the boardroom agenda?

Together with the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI), we interviewed 927 practitioners, regulators and observers of the insurance industry across 53 territories, to understand what they see as the biggest threats and how they are prioritising them.

The overall tone of the responses this year was more negative than the previous survey in 2017. This pessimism is due largely to a rise in operating risks; most notably advances in technology, and political and regulatory risk which could impose constraints on the industry.

Insurance Banana Skins is a piece of research conducted by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI), an independent think tank, in association with PwC. It's a survey of insurers and seeks out their views on current risk and future trends.

Top global risks

  • The urgent need for business and technology modernisation poses the greatest threat to the global insurance industry over the next 2-3 years.
  • This is the first year that technology risk has topped our rankings.
  • It is also a pervasive theme, underpinning other high-ranking risks including cyber risk, change management and competition.

  • The threat posed by cybercrime narrowly misses the top spot in our rankings for the second survey in a row.
  • Concerns from past surveys have intensified.

  • Overtaken by technology in the number one spot.
  • The risk that inadequate response to change will damage insurers continues to be seen as urgent.

 

  • A continuing heavy agenda of regulatory change is driving regulatory risk up the rankings.
  • Respondents expressed frustration with the cost and distraction of compliance, and warned of the potentially damaging effects that disproportionate requirements could have in areas such as capital, consumer protection and product availability.

 

  • Concern remains high, though the risk score has slipped slightly because insurers are taking action to mitigate it.
  • Many respondents made the point that investment income is a key contributor to profits, though the low returns of recent years have forced insurance companies to earn more from their underwriting activities

 

Big movers since 2017

This year’s survey has produced striking changes in the ranking of some 'Banana Skins' or risks, reflecting shifting perceptions of risk in a difficult market.

Up 

  • Regulation (up 2 places) - a heavy regulatory agenda including IFRS 17 and consumer protection increases compliance risk and implementation costs.
  • Reputation (up 4 places). Data security, populist politics and “declining social relevance” could all damage insurance.
  • Climate Change (new entry at 6) - The spate of natural catastrophe events has increased the urgency of this risk, and is undermining insurance pricing models.

 

Down

  • Interest rates (down 6 places) - the industry has learnt to live with low interest rates, and the next move may be up.
  • Guaranteed products (down 4 places) - products which offer guaranteed returns appear less problematic.
  • Social change (down 2 places) - the industry is preparing for the challenge of meeting social demands created by greater longevity, growing medical and care needs etc.

 

Contact us

Stephen O'Hearn

Global Insurance Leader, Partner, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 89 38 00 69 688

Andy Moore

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7702 677 654

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