Changing Terrorism Landscape Calls for Better Defense for Insurers

by Derek Blum on November 1, 2017

I was joined recently by more than 100 insurance industry professionals at Lloyd’s Library to hear the latest about global terrorism and explore some use cases to apply current information related to terrorism and political violence risk. Event attendees represented 50 different companies and demonstrated that terrorism is still very much a topic of interest to the industry. And while we are not in a position to eliminate the existential risk of terrorism, there are at least some things we can do to understand, avoid, and manage it from an insurance perspective.

To that end, I spoke alongside Dr. Meda Al Rowas, Associate Director, Global Analysis and Audit, Country Risk at IHS Markit, and Louise Braybrooke, Client Services Director at SpatialKey. Together, they led a concise and useful presentation about the terrorism threat faced primarily in Europe and North America.


As I listened closely to Dr. Al Rowas discuss the jihadist strategy, it occurred to me that these groups have been successful in inspiring others, building support infrastructure, and executing attacks. And yet, despite understanding many of the motivations and target preferences, counter-terrorism efforts are not 100 percent successful in preventing attacks. It’s not a criticism, but rather an acknowledgment that the scope of the challenge is very large and, as long as terrorist groups exist and are motivated to attack, they will have the occasional success.

Ms. Braybrooke put this in context for insurers, showing use cases that demonstrate the best tools are to stay informed and manage the risk, or at least avoid it when possible. Taking the broad view to limit concentrations of terrorism exposure is prudent. But combining this with smart decision-making at the point of underwriting completes the cycle. So the combination of data, technology, and underwriting experience is really the best defense for insurers.

I was further reminded about my own experience with understanding and modeling terrorism risk. About 15 years ago, I attended one of the earliest post-9/11 terrorism events where the focus was primarily Al-Qaeda and risks posed in the United States. The groups and theaters have changed a bit, but it’s clear that the dynamic nature of terrorism requires constant information gathering. I am proud to be able to continue to facilitate this information sharing through the collaborative solution SpatialKey and IHS Markit bring to market for insurers.

If you missed our event but would like to get up to speed, click here to view the slide deck and event recording. To learn more about how solutions from SpatialKey and IHS Markit can help your business, please contact us here.

Topics: terrorism, terror underwriting, terror data, IHS Markit, Lloyd's Library, Political Violence

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