More Insurers Opting to Form EU Subsidiaries

A growing list of insurers are choosing to form subsidiaries in the European Union to ensure continuous coverage for their European clients following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU in June 2016. They wish to protect themselves in case Brexit impacts their ability to sell insurance policies and products across the EU from bases in Britain.

FM Global recently announced it is opening an office in Luxembourg, noting that the license allows it to “continue to deliver seamless insurance coverage to its policyholders” throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), where it has operated for more than 50 years.

“We chose Luxembourg as our EEA hub because it’s a multinational business-friendly financial center with regulatory expertise that enables us to remain true to our mutual insurance company business model,” Chris Johnson, executive vice president who will serve as its managing director said in a statement. “Most notably, Luxembourg is a hub that permits EU passporting—which fits our business model perfectly.”

Lloyd’s said in March it will establish an EU base in Brussels that will allow its markets to continue to write risks from all 27 EU and three European Economic Area states post-Brexit. “It is important that we are able to provide the market and customers with an effective solution that means business can carry on without interruption when the U.K. leaves the EU,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive Inga Beale said in a statement. She added that Brussels met the critical elements of providing a robust regulatory framework in a central location.

Lloyd’s said its intention is to be ready to write business for the Jan. 1, 2019, renewal season.

U.S. insurer AIG also announced recently that it is moving its headquarters from London to Luxembourg; and Lloyd’s insurer Hiscox said in May that it has decided to establish a subsidiary in Luxembourg, after debating between Luxembourg and Malta.

Luxembourg has said that as well as insurers, it is in talks with firms including asset managers, banks and financial tech companies.

Planning for Extreme Floods

Flooding

Companies in the United States should begin preparing now for climate change, which is predicted to cause extreme weather conditions, according to FM Global’s report, The Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Precipitation and Flooding. As the climate warms, areas that are dry will become drier and moist areas will see higher precipitation. The characteristics of precipitation will also change. “We feel cli­mate change not so much through subtle changes in the mean, but through changes in the extremes,” MIT Prof. Kerry Emanuel said in the report.

While the overall amount of precipitation might remain the same, it will become less frequent but more intense. A specific region of the country that has historically seen 10 inches of rain each May might see the same volume that month, for example, but those 10 inches may occur in a much shorter period of time, increasing the risk of flooding, according to the study.

By the end of the century, as temperatures rise, it is possible for precipitation to change by 8%, which could exacerbate wildfires in some areas and flooding in others. The danger is that, because these extreme events are infrequent, they lack urgency, so planning can easily be put off. Risk managers are advised to check their facility’s resilience in terms of the building’s ability to withstand flooding, focusing on 500-year flood levels rather than 100-year.

Extreme wet or dry conditions can affect a company’s buildings, machinery, data centers, transportation networks, supply chains, people and sales. Organizations should focus on water management—diverting water from property, optimizing drainage and protecting water supplies, and they should consider new weather extremes when managing supply chains.

Flood hazard mapping is increasingly proving helpful as understanding of water risk is improving, Louis Gritzo, vice president and manager of research with FM Global, wrote in “Mitigating Evolving Water Threats,” from this month’s Risk Management Magazine. Advances in technology have led to improvements in weather satellites, geospatial data acquisition and physical model development, making old models obsolete. Anyone working with information from a flood map that is more than 15 years old should consider an update, he wrote.

Those with a flood map should make sure it includes potential coastal flooding areas as well as river flooding, also taking into account the local topography of coastal locations. “Areas along the coast that are surrounded by hills and mountains will likely experience far more wind-blown water (storm surge), as the local terrain directs more water in spaces between steeper slopes,” Gritzo wrote.

Switzerland, Norway Rank Highest in Supply Chain Resilience

Plummeting oil prices, natural catastrophes and political disruption in a borderless business environment are some of the threats to the resilience of countries that can impact supply chains, according to the 2016 FM Global Resilience Index, which aggregates data to help companies identify their key supply chain risks. The Index ranked the resilience of 130 countries to supply chain disruption based on drivers in three categories: economic, risk quality and supply chain factors.

This year’s top-rated country, Switzerland, traded places with Norway—a reflection of Norway’s drop in oil revenue at a time of falling crude oil prices. Rounding out the top 10 in the Index, in descending order, are Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the central United States, Canada, Australia and Denmark.

The lowest-ranked country in 2016 is Venezuela (ranked 130) for the second year in a row. It is followed in ascending order by the Dominican Republic, Kyrgyz Republic, Nicaragua, Mauritania, Ukraine, Egypt, Algeria, Jamaica and Honduras.

For the second consecutive year, Ukraine (ranked 125, down from 107) was among the countries with the biggest drop, reflecting the high degree of tension the remains within the country as well as with Russia (ranked 75).

FM Global also noted:

Venezuela’s position at the bottom reflects its exposure to the natural hazards of wind and earthquake, perceptions of its lack of control of corruption and poor infrastructure and its ill-perceived local supplier quality.

France (ranked 19) and the United Kingdom (ranked 20) retained their positions from last year, while Germany (ranked 4) rose by two places.

The United States is segmented into three regions to reflect disparate natural hazards exposure:

Region 1, encompassing much of the East Coast, is ranked 11 in the Index.

Region 2, primarily the Western United States, is ranked 21.

Region 3, which includes most of the central portion of the country, is ranked 7 in the Index.
FM Global-infographic

FM Global Teaches Explosive Safety Lessons

FM Global Fire Hazard Lab

This week, I ventured up to West Glocester, Rhode Island, home of the coolest place any insurance broker, insurance client, or risk management journalist can visit: the FM Global Research Campus.

Hurricane Force Wind Simulation

Because FM Global is intently focused on prevention of loss as the chief means of minimizing claims, the company maintains a 1,600-acre campus dedicated to property loss prevention scientific research. The biggest center of its kind, the research center features some of the most advanced technology to conduct research on fire, natural hazards, electrical hazards, and hydraulics. Here, experts can recreate clients’ warehouse conditions to test whether existing suppression practices would be sufficient in the event of a massive fire, for example. Fabricated hail or seven-foot 2x4s are shot from a cannon-like instrument at plywood, windows, or roofing to test whether these materials can withstand debris that goes flying in hurricane-strength winds. Hydraulic, mechanical and environmental tests are conducted on components of fire protection systems, like sprinklers, to ensure effectiveness overall and under the specific conditions clients face. Further, in cases where there were not sufficient loss prevention solutions, the company’s scientists and engineers have even designed and patented new, more effective sprinklers and other loss prevention technology, the rights to which are released so anyone can manufacture these improved safety measures.

Fire is the leading cause of loss in every calendar year, and watching a pile of plastic pallets ignite into a 60-foot fire while you feel the radiant heat through the glass of the lab’s observation deck is a powerful reality check for anyone evaluating risk exposure in their facility. As you watch the pallets melt, forming a plastic pool that also catches fire and spreads, you see the fire double in size every 45 seconds. If your strategy is primarily to rely on the local fire station, the researchers note, a minimal response time, assuming decent proximity, no traffic or inclement weather, and full staffing, would probably be at least five to 10 minutes. It only took seven minutes for their sample fire to reach almost three stories high, flickering around the edges of the massive ceiling-mounted calorimeter (which measures heat and the particles and smoke released).

One of the most striking demonstrations comes in the form of a dust explosion. Whether released through product manufacturing, a byproduct of processing, or simply lazy housekeeping, a wide variety of dusts can fill the air in many facilities. Flour, sugar, metal dust, wood and resin are all highly flammable and exceptionally common. To cause an explosion, you simply need a few conditions: fuel (the dust), oxygen, ignition, suspension (in other words, the dust has not settled, increasing the surface area), and a confined space (ie. inside the facility, the dust stays in the environment). What happens then? Check out the video below for a slow-motion look at the explosion that results from just a hard hat full of phenolic resin.