800 risk experts from 40 countries identify the top global business risks

The risk landscape for businesses is substantially changing in 2016. While businesses are less concerned about the impact of traditional industrial risks such as natural catastrophes or fire, they are increasingly worried about the impact of other disruptive events, fierce competition in their markets and cyber incidents.

Business interruption trends

These are the key findings of a survey on corporate risks by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), which surveyed over 800 risk managers and insurance experts from more than 40 countries.

Business and Supply Chain Interruption (BI) remains the top risk for businesses globally for the fourth year in succession. However, many companies are concerned that BI losses, which usually result from property damage, will increasingly be driven by cyber-attacks, technical failure or geo-political instability as new “non-physical damage” causes of disruption.

Market Developments, which consist of market volatility, intensified competition and market stagnation, together with Cyber Incidents, debuted in the top three global business risks; Cyber Incidents also was cited as the most important long-term risk for companies in the next 10 years. In contrast, Natural Catastrophes dropped two positions to fourth year-over-year, reflecting the fact that in 2015 losses from natural disasters reached their lowest level since 2009.

In the U.S., BI was cited by 39% of respondents as the top business risk, followed by Natural Catastrophes (33%) and Cyber (32%).

“Business interruption continues to be the primary concern of risk managers and how well a company responds will determine how well it survives to compete,” said Hugh Burgess, global head of mid-corporate and head of corporate lines, North America. “As global supply chains continue to grow and increase in complexity, the threat of BI continues to incubate in numerous and increasing areas, which in turn, continues to weigh on the minds of risk managers today.”

Impact of increased digitization

Rising sophistication of cyber attacks

Another area of increasing concern for businesses globally is the threat of Cyber Incidents, which include cyber crime, data breaches and technical IT failures. Cyber Incidents gained 11 percentage points year-over-year, to move from fifth position to debut into the top three risks (28% of global responses). Five years ago, Cyber Incidents were identified as a risk by just 1% of responses in the inaugural Allianz Risk Barometer; Loss of reputation (69%) is cited as the main cause of economic loss for businesses after a cyber incident, followed by BI (60%) and liability claims after a data breach (52%).

While the cyber insurance market is still in its infancy in Europe albeit developing quickly, the U.S. market has already reached maturity and has experienced substantial losses.

“The U.S. is unique in that we have already paid losses in the hundreds of millions to cover cyber loss. Breaches happen everywhere, but the U.S. has complex regulatory regimes and an extremely active plaintiff’s bar. These dynamics have driven the price of loss higher in the U.S. than anywhere else,” said Emy Donavan, national practice leader – cyber. “Boards and C-suites in the U.S. are acutely aware of the individual risk they may have if a cyber event occurs on their watch. Litigation trends and case law are developing so quickly that potential liability associated with clients’ normal operations can change literally overnight.”