Swiss Re’s risk landscape
The risk categories shown in the table below are discussed on the following pages. Across these categories we identify and evaluate emerging threats and opportunities through a systematic framework that includes the assessment of potential surprise factors that could affect known loss potentials. Liquidity risk management is discussed in chapter Liquidity risk management.
Swiss Re is exposed to a broad landscape of risks. These include risks that are actively taken as part of insurance or asset management operations and are calculated in the internal risk model as part of the Group’s economic capital requirement as well as to allocate risk-taking capacity:
- Property and casualty insurance risk arises from coverage provided for property, liability, motor and accident risks, as well as for specialty risks such as engineering, agriculture, aviation and marine. It includes underlying risks inherent in the business Swiss Re underwrites, such as inflation or uncertainty in pricing and reserving.
- Life and health insurance risk arises from coverage provided for mortality (death), longevity (annuity) and morbidity (illness and disability) as well as from acquiring closed books of business. In addition to potential shock events (such as a severe pandemic), it includes underlying risks inherent in life and health contracts that arise when mortality, morbidity or lapse experience deviates from expectations.
- Financial market risk represents the potential impact on assets or liabilities that may arise from movements in financial market prices or rates, such as equity prices, interest rates, credit spreads, hedge fund prices, real estate prices, commodity prices or foreign exchange rates. Financial market risk originates from two main sources: investment activities and the sensitivity of the economic value of liabilities to financial market fluctuations.
- Credit risk reflects the potential financial loss that may arise due to the diminished creditworthiness or default of counterparties of Swiss Re or of third parties; credit risk arises from investment and treasury activities, structured transactions and retrocession, as well as from liabilities underwritten by credit and surety insurance units.
The risk landscape also includes other risks that are not explicitly part of the Group’s economic capital requirement but are actively monitored and controlled due to their significance for Swiss Re:
- Liquidity risk represents the possibility that Swiss Re will not be able to meet expected and unexpected cash flow and collateral needs without affecting either daily operations or Swiss Re’s financial condition.
- Operational risk represents the potential economic, reputational or compliance impact of inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events, including legal risk and the risk of a material misstatement in financial reporting. Swiss Re has implemented a capital model for operational risk, which is used for Solvency II purposes.
- Strategic risk represents the possibility that poor strategic decision-making, execution or response to industry changes or competitor actions could harm Swiss Re’s competitive position and thus its franchise value.
- Regulatory risk arises from changes to insurance regulations and supervisory regimes as well as from interactions with regulatory authorities and supervisory regimes of the jurisdictions in which Swiss Re operates.
- Political risk comprises the consequences of political events or actions that could have an adverse impact on Swiss Re’s business or operations.
- Model risk reflects the potential impact of model errors or the inappropriate use of model outputs. It may arise from data errors or limitations, operational or simulation errors, or limitations in model specification, calibration or implementation; model risk may also be caused by insufficient knowledge of the model and its limitations, in particular by management and other decision-makers.
- Valuation risk represents uncertainty around the appropriate value of assets or liabilities. It may arise from product complexity, parameter uncertainty, quality and consistency of data, valuation methodology, or changes in market conditions and liquidity. Swiss Re is exposed to financial valuation risk from investment assets it holds as well as reserve valuation risk from insurance liabilities that result from the coverage it underwrites.
- Sustainability risk comprises the environmental, social and ethical risks that may arise from individual business transactions or the way Swiss Re conducts its operations.
- Across all risk categories, Swiss Re actively identifies emerging risks and threats as part of its risk identification process; this includes new risks as well as changes to previously known risks that could create new risk exposures, or increase the potential exposure or interdependency between existing risks.
Some of these risks are reflected indirectly in the risk model, as their realisations may be contained in the historical data and scenarios used to calibrate some of the risk factors. In addition, output from the model is used in measuring liquidity risk under stressed conditions. As separate risk categories, these risks are an integral part of Swiss Re’s risk landscape. They are monitored and managed within the Risk Management organisation, and included in risk reports to Executive Management and the Board at Group and legal entity level.
Reputational risk is not considered a separate risk category but rather represents a possible consequence of any risk type in addition to the potential financial and compliance impact.