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Article | WTW Research Network Newsletter

WTW Research Network Newsletter – Q1 2021

March 26, 2021

In this spring newsletter, you will find a selection of topics showing the variety of research partnerships facilitated by the WTW Research Network.
Climate|Credit and Political Risk|Cyber Risk Management|Medioambiental|Willis Research Network
Climate Risk and Resilience|Risque de pandémie|Geopolitical Risk

Welcome to the spring edition of the Willis Research Network (WRN) Newsletter!

When did you last look up from the screen and let your eyes wander?

More than a year of intermittent lockdowns, less time outdoors and more time on screens are leading to significantly more people suffering from myopia in a phenomenon called “quarantine myopia”. The risk of myopia (“near-sightedness” in Greek) also remains a challenge for risk management. An important mitigating factor is “distance”: we need to look up regularly so that our gaze can wander. Again the same is true for Risk Management: horizon scanning is an essential part of our activities in the WRN and underpins our emerging risks consultancy work with clients.

We are looking forward to hosting our 3-day conference (18-20 May) for our 15-year anniversary. Our online conference celebrating 15 years of Science for Resilience will showcase how the WRN research has delivered deeper understandings of the risks we face every day, celebrate our wide range of partnerships, and show how these insights have been applied. We’ll also use our horizon scanning to look ahead at the next 15 years. Sessions will look to cover themes such as geopolitical risks, natural catastrophes, the future of technology and more (see outline below). Make sure you register for updates as the agenda firms up.

Despite the operational challenges of 2020, the WRN illustrated another remarkable year in scientific collaboration.”

Helene Galy
Managing Director of Willis Research Network

Despite the operational challenges of 2020, the WRN witnessed another remarkable year in scientific collaboration, real-world application and impact across our research themes and geographies, including North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Check out our Annual Review 2021 for updates on our key research partnerships across our portfolio.

We hope that you find a few topics of interest in this newsletter, which will make you think and look up in the distance, in accordance to the ’20-20-20’ rule, which recommends that for every 20 minutes spent using a screen, we should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds…

We look forward to working more with you in 2021.

Hélène Galy

Managing Director

Willis Research Network

Table of Contents

  1. 01

    A new view of South African hail risk for the (re)insurance industry

    Since the 1970s, seven of the top ten insured natural catastrophe events in South Africa have had a hail component, with more than 45% of the total value of insured claims from natural perils caused by hail damage. This frequency coupled with the potential for severe loss accumulations can threaten insurers’ earnings potential.

    The new South Africa Hail Catastrophe Risk Model recently launched by Willis Re has involved an extensive, ongoing collaboration with WRN partners at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany and NASA’s Langley Research Centre, supported by the NASA Applied Science Disasters Program.

    Read more
    Read the press release
  2. 02

    Loss prevention technologies: An untold story

    Simon Sølvsten, based in Denmark, joined the WRN team as Head of Exposure and Vulnerability Research at the beginning of 2021. This research hub will aim to gain a quantitative understanding of three primary loss mitigation drivers: technology, human behavior and risk transfer.

    In a series of three papers to be published throughout 2021 and 2022, the WRN will present new research on how underwriters respond to the use of loss prevention technologies under premium determination, what quantitative effect and net-benefit property owners can gain in damage reduction through investment in loss prevention, e.g., fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, burglar alarms, access control, CCTV, water leaks detection systems etc., and last but not least insight into how risk managers can estimate the need for loss prevention investments, the level of deductibles and the need for risk transfer.

    Part 1
  3. 03

    The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 10 years on: A Willis Research Network perspective

    On Friday 11 March 2011 a Magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake triggered a tsunami off the Pacific coast of Tohoku (Japan) and started a cascading chain of events, including the Fukushima nuclear radiation disaster, which became the costliest natural disaster to date. In this article we show the WRN learning curve on earthquake and tsunami risk over the past 10 years as a leading example of the great progress that applied research collaborations have brought to the (re)insurance and disaster risk management sectors.

    Read more
  4. 04

    Willis Research Network Digital Dialogues: Deep dive on flood

    Climate change impacts flood risk in various ways, but the most important ones for the industry are the changing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. How these changes affect losses and portfolio risk profiles are the two main questions: 1) understanding these changes and quantifying them, 2) finding sensible and credible adjustments to existing tools are industry priorities.

    Read the views from our panel of experts
  5. 05

    Emerging risks - are you prepared?

    2020 has shone the brightest of lights on the need to revisit basic assumptions about the way we categorise risks, and how people and organisations think and respond in order to improve the quality and accuracy of decision making. Emerging risks are an essential part of this – and a good risk manager will know that the process of considering them goes beyond the annual process cycle.

    Read more
  6. 06

    Geopolitics of an electrified world: transformative threats to the resilience of the renewable industry

    For the renewable energy sector, exploring geopolitical risks is important not only because the industry experiences the global ripples of geopolitics, but also because the sector is making waves of its own. The desire to increase future resilience and integrate sustainability is becoming a global trend for COVID-19 loans made by governments, and the interruption of planned investments and budget cycles for other sectors of the energy mix could open the door for acceleration.

    Read more
  7. 07

    Bridging the splinternet

    The Splinternet is here. The former Google CEO predicted that the internet would soon be split in two, with one part being led by a unified China and the other by a collection of disparate and often competing companies led from the United States. How an organization works with it can have deep implications for the risks it faces.

    Read more


The Willis Research Network: 15 years of Science for Resilience

The Willis Research Network (WRN) team is hosting a 3-day conference to celebrate the team's 15-year anniversary. Since inception, we have grown to a network of more than 60 partnerships with top universities, research centres and think tanks all around the globe, collaborating to develop practical, applied research that can deliver innovative insights and a deeper understanding of the challenges we face. Over three days we will be looking at how WRN research has helped to develop a better understanding and knowledge across the risk landscape, covering a range of topics from natural catastrophes to geopolitical risks, the future of technology and emergent risks likely to shape the research agenda in the future.

Time and Location: 18 May 2021 - 20 May 2021, 10:00 - 15:00 BST

Tuesday 18 May – Weather, Climate and Flooding

Weather and flood related risks drive significant economic and insured natural catastrophe losses, posing considerable challenges across global insurance portfolios and large complex organisations, especially in the context of a changing climate. Since 2006, WRN partners have advanced understanding of these challenges and supported the development of practical solutions. On Day one we will explore some of the most impactful research on weather, climate and flood, and key themes for the years ahead.

Wednesday 19 May – Earth and Secondary Perils

The 10-year anniversary of Tohoku reminds us that earthquakes have unpredictable and devastating consequences and require in depth understanding of the science and physics behind them. It was also a reminder that so-called secondary perils need more focus alongside traditional risks. On Day two we will discuss key challenges across earthquake, tsunami and volcanic risk and look at how WRN projects on global/local catastrophe modeling are helping to shape industry response.

Thursday 20 May – Emerging Risks, Technology and Geopolitics

The past year has shown the nature of risk is changing dramatically. New insights are needed as risk is recognised as increasingly interconnected and people and technology-driven, with discussions around “digital-first” and societal resilience taking centre stage. Day three will consider this new risk landscape, provide insights on how research can support business strategy and influence policy, and explore what emerging risks are expected over next 15 years.

Register here

Willis Towers Watson Climate Risk and Financial Stewardship Summit - Managing Now for the Future

The summit will examine the evolving stewardship role of financial institutions as the whole economy transitions to a net-zero and climate resilient future. We will explore climate-related business impacts across people, capital and risk, provide insights on the challenges and opportunities in pricing climate risk, and demonstrate the benefits of developing a climate-minded culture across organisations.

Time and Location: 11 May 2021 – 13 May 2021

Register here

Other articles of interest


Hélène Galy
Managing Director of WTW Research Network
Head of People Risks Research
email Email

Stuart Calam
Programme Director of WTW Research Network
Head of Technology Risks Research
email Email

Head of Weather and Climate Risks Research
email Email

Head of Emerging Risks and Business Engagement

Head of Flood Risks Research

Head of Organizational Resilience Research

Contact us