Cyber incidents tops the Allianz Risk Barometer for only the second time in the survey's history (44% of responses), Business interruption drops to a close second (42%) and Natural catastrophes ranks third (25%), up from sixth in 2021. Climate change climbs to its highest-ever ranking of sixth (17%, up from ninth), while Pandemic outbreak drops to fourth (22%).
The annual survey from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) incorporates the views of 2,650 experts in 89 countries and territories, including CEOs, risk managers, brokers and insurance experts.
"'Business interrupted' will likely remain the key underlying risk theme in 2022," AGCS CEO Joachim MUELLER summarizes.
"For most companies the biggest fear is not being able to produce their products or deliver their services. 2021 saw unprecedented levels of disruption, caused by various triggers. Crippling cyber-attacks, the supply chain impact from many climate change-related weather events, as well as pandemic-related manufacturing problems and transport bottlenecks wreaked havoc. This year only promises a gradual easing of the situation, although further Covid-19-related problems cannot be ruled out. Building resilience against the many causes of business interruption is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies."
Cyber incidents ranks as a top three peril in most countries surveyed. The main driver is the recent surge in ransomware attacks, which are confirmed as the top cyber threat for the year ahead by survey respondents (57%). Recent attacks have shown worrying trends such as 'double extortion' tactics combining the encryption of systems with data breaches; exploiting software vulnerabilities which potentially affect thousands of companies (for example, Log4J , Kaseya ) or targeting physical critical infrastructure ( the Colonial pipeline in the US ). Cyber security also ranks as companies' major environmental, social and governance (ESG) concern with respondents acknowledging the need to build resilience and plan for future outages or face the growing consequences from regulators, investors and other stakeholders.
Business interruption (BI) ranks as the second most concerning risk. In a year marked by widespread disruption, the extent of vulnerabilities in modern supply chains and production networks is more obvious than ever. According to the survey, the most feared cause of BI is cyber incidents, reflecting the rise in ransomware attacks but also the impact of companies' growing reliance on digitalization and the shift to remote working. Natural catastrophes and pandemic are the two other important triggers for BI in the view of respondents.
In the past year post-lockdown surges in demand have combined with disruption to production and logistics, as Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia closed factories and caused record congestion levels in container shipping ports. Pandemic-related delays compounded other supply chain issues, such as the Suez Canal blockage or the global shortage of semiconductors after plant closures in Taiwan, Japan and Texas from weather events and fires.
Pandemic outbreak remains a major concern for companies but drops from second to fourth position (although the survey predated the emergence of the Omicron variant). While the Covid-19 crisis continues to overshadow the economic outlook in many industries, encouragingly, businesses do feel they have adapted well. The majority of respondents (80%) think they are adequately or well-prepared for a future incident. Improving business continuity management is the main action companies are taking to make them more resilient.
The rise of Natural catastrophes and Climate change to third and sixth position respectively is telling, with both upwards trends closely related. Recent years have shown the frequency and severity of weather events are increasing due to global warming. For 2021, global insured catastrophe losses were well in excess of USD 100 billion - the fourth highest year on record. Hurricane Ida in the US may have been the costliest event, but more than half of the losses came from so-called secondary perils such as floods, heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornados and even winter freezes, which can often be local but increasingly costly events. Examples included Winter Storm Uri in Texas, the low-pressure weather system Bernd, which triggered catastrophic flooding in Germany and Benelux countries, the heavy flooding in Zhengzhou, China, and heatwaves and bushfires in Canada and California.
For a more detailed look at this year's top risks, click here for the Allianz Risk Barometer 2022.