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Unlucky 13: Swiss Re names emerging risks 

The latest key risk trends have been identified in Swiss Re’s annual Sonar report.

There are 13 risk themes this year, plus three “trend spotlights”: insurance fairness: challenge and opportunity; next-generation nuclear; and FemTech: bridging the gender gap in healthcare. 

Swiss Re chief risk officer Patrick Raaflaub says extreme weather events, war, terrorism and social discontent, and cost-of-living rises are creating a complex risk environment. 

“One crisis nourishes others, a chain reaction of greater uncertainty, risk accumulation and loss potential,” he said. "The question for insurers is ... how insurance solutions can help alleviate negative outcomes. In other words, how can we make the world more resilient?” 

The report is based on discussion with in-house experts, scientists, clients and industry peers. Here are the thirteen risks identified this year:  

  • Underfunding of public health – harmful to morbidity, mortality and GDP 
  • Smart drugs – wrong fix for cognitive enhancement? 
  • Social isolation and loneliness – a growing health crisis 
  • Climate change – an evolving threat to international security 
  • Global supply chains – resilience against business interruption risk is weakening 
  • Big tech – a dependency risk 
  • No room left – competition for space generates infrastructure accumulation risks  
  • Risky bets – democratising financial information through social media  
  • Beyond broken infrastructure – the cascading effects of natural catastrophes 
  • Cyber-enabled fraud – a new era for organised crime 
  • Alluring abyss – deep-sea mining’s murky future  
  • Recycling – when energy infrastructure becomes hazardous 
  • AI – unintended insurance impacts and lessons from silent cyber 

See Analysis.