Our SONAR framework


Total of risk notions and discussions fed into the SONAR process in 2014

With SONAR (“systematic observation of notions associated with risk”), we have a Group-wide framework which has been specifically designed to manage emerging risks. Firmly embedded in the Group’s risk management organisation, SONAR allows us to identify and assess these risks in a timely manner and to factor them into our decisions.

SONAR uses an interactive, web 2.0-based platform, which enables all our employees to share risk notions quickly and easily and to stay up-to-date on new developments. In 2014, 127 risk notions and discussions were fed into the SONAR process, drawing on all main areas of the emerging risk landscape. While many of these early signals will never actually turn into emerging risks, others may well do so. As it is impossible to anticipate which signals will fall into which category, all of them warrant equal attention.

Thus, our emerging risk specialists assessed all these risk notions for their potential impact on our business and subsequently carried out more in-depth investigations of selected topics, for example of electronic cigarettes (see “Electronic cigarettes – curse or blessing?”). To share some of our key insights with external audiences, in 2014 we published the second edition of our comprehensive Swiss Re SONAR report (see “Our SONAR framework”).

The emerging risks we have assessed in more detail and featured in our Corporate Responsibility Reports in recent years include: electromagnetic fields, critical infrastructure, carbon nanotubes, smart grids, cyber attacks, 3D printing and new forms of mobility. Of these, infrastructure and new forms of mobility – or, more specifically, autonomous cars – have indeed emerged as significant topics for our business, creating risks as well as new opportunities. Corresponding follow-up activities are described in “Collaboration with the World Bank” and “The autonomous car: Risks and opportunities for the re/insurance industry”, respectively.

Swiss Re SONAR: New emerging risk insights

The Swiss Re SONAR report features emerging risk themes that have the potential to impact the insurance industry in the future. These topics were mainly derived from our SONAR process and were assessed by our emerging risk management experts.

SONAR 2014

Swiss Re SONAR: New emerging risk insights (cover)