Climate Change, War-Related Risks Top Insurers’ Concerns

Climate change remains the top concern for insurance companies, even as Russia's invasion of Ukraine fuels geopolitical and energy-related concerns.

Published on October 24, 2022

Climate Change

For the second year in a row, global warming is regarded as the greatest threat to society in the next five to ten years, according to a report released Sunday by French insurance giant AXA SA. Geopolitical instability has risen to second place from fourth last year.

“It is clear that uncertainties have increased and keep increasing,” Axa Deputy Chief Executive Officer Frederic de Courtois said at a press conference. The current economic and geopolitical crisis creates an “anxiety-inducing environment”, he said.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has focused attention on war-related risks, and 77% of 4,500 insurance professionals polled across 58 countries believe heightened tensions could usher in a new era of world wars. Nonetheless, those risks remained a lesser concern for insurers, who stand to be among the biggest losers as rising global temperatures exacerbate physical disasters ranging from wildfire to flooding.

Energy-related risks are emerging as a concern for insurance professionals as European countries work to secure enough power to get through the winter after Russia cut off gas deliveries. These risks, which were not among the industry's top ten in the previous four years, are now the fourth most concerning.

“Europe should use that as an opportunity to go to a mix that is more sustainable, and is also giving them competitiveness in the long term”, Axa Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl said in an interview on Bloomberg television Monday.