Verisk Perspectives

An ISO Emerging Issues Report

In this edition, Verisk Perspectives offers commentary and analyses from experts across multiple Verisk business units on a range of health and safety topics including civil unrest, COVID-19, the environment, oil, gas, and energy, among many others.

What comes next?

Verisk Perspectives

Mark Anquillare
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Throughout the course of history, pandemics have etched a lethal-yet-indelible mark on human civilization. The mass death precipitated by the “Black Plague” contributed to the dissolution of feudalism, while the 1918 influenza outbreak spurred many nations to institute healthcare systems that endure to this day.1

We suspect COVID-19 may be no different.

This year’s Verisk Perspectives report, produced by the ISO Emerging Issues team, harnesses the collective wisdom of multiple Verisk business units to help insurance and risk management professionals focus on a critical question: What comes next? One possibility is a renewed focus on societal health and safety.

Across many industries and fields of research, attention to health and safety brings a number of emerging challenges into sharp relief while amplifying existing concerns. Take the global supply chain. While the pandemic disrupted business-as-usual across a globally-distributed network of suppliers, a longer-term concern with human rights violations at various points in this chain may lead to more systemic changes in how materials are extracted, sourced, and shipped—which may introduce new risks for companies operating and/or sourcing from these supply chains.

The transition to renewable energy also stands at a crossroads. Will the pandemic-induced economic downturn derail the momentum to invest in renewable alternatives? Or will the desire for a cleaner, more sustainable energy economy get a renewed push following the revelatory period in March and April when cars disappeared and the skies cleared?

Those temporarily clearer skies underscore the typically pervasive presence of air pollution, an invisible threat that, while overshadowed by the pandemic, remains a continuing source of long-term climate and health risk. And speaking of climate, Verisk climate scientists and data modelers have studied the patterns of historical droughts and simulated what could happen should a 100-year-drought occur today. For insurers underwriting crop risks, the results of this simulation should be eye-opening.

Food shortages are just one of the inputs that can fuel civil unrest, a growing trend that we analyze as we head into a post-COVID future. Other topics we explore include the potential for COVID-19 survivors to suffer lingering health issues, the obesity epidemic, and why the communication of risk is a vital—but perhaps overlooked—component of the risk management process. 

As you read through this report, I hope you’ll reflect on how awareness of these emerging risks can help create the solutions required to build healthier, more resilient societies.

To learn about these and other risks we research, I urge you to check out our ISO Emerging Issues website on ISOnet (login required), where you can sign up for weekly e-newsletters that can help you keep up with the evolving risks that may be facing your business.

1. “How Pandemics Change Society,” The Week, May 24, 2020, < >, accessed on November 11, 2020.

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