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These are the emerging risks that some insurance students are focused on

Wisdom may come with age, but sometimes you need a fresh perspective that only youthful eyes can resolve.

Iso Emerging Issues Weekly Digest

Insurance and risk management students highlighted these emerging risks in a recent collaboration with ISO Emerging Issues.

In an effort to help nurture the next generation of insurance talent, the ISO Emerging Issues team has been collaborating with students and faculty in risk management and insurance departments at several universities. As part of that initiative, students enrolled at Old Dominion University developed research papers for ISO Emerging Issues that give us the opportunity to not simply highlight the work of rising insurance industry talent, but to help us understand what issues are capturing the interest of this youthful cohort.

Here are some of the key issues they focused on:

  1. The cyber risks of virtual school: The sudden, pandemic-induced shift to remote school left many districts scrambling—and many children vulnerable to novel risks, like “zoom bombing.” While many children have returned to in-person school for at least a portion of their day or week, it appears likely that remote learning—and its attendant risks—will endure past the pandemic. (Read the related ISO Emerging Issues Insights article here.)
  2. AI and cannabis: As the market for recreational cannabis heats up, artificial intelligence (AI) may play a larger role in its cultivation and distribution. What’s more, AI may be used to design new and potentially more potent strains of marijuana by using data analytics. This could raise liability questions, including for potential errors in marijuana cultivation if and when they occur.
  3. Humans, cybersecurity’s soft target: Hackers and cyber criminals don’t just target hardware or software vulnerabilities when executing their nefarious exploits—they can also use psychology to dupe or coerce unwitting humans to give them access to critical computer networks. Social engineering cyberattacks, such as phishing or pretexting, can complicate even the most robust cybersecurity efforts.
  4. The promise—and perils—of autonomous vehicles: Fully autonomous vehicles could dramatically reshape the insurance landscape. While autonomous vehicles may hold out hope for safer roadways, they could introduce new dangers, such as hacking. Beyond the engineering challenges, there are also insurance implications for autonomous vehicles, including liability concerns when a robot car gets into an accident.
  5. The alternative energy revolution: Combatting global warming may require, among other things, a significant transition to carbon-free energy sources such as solar and nuclear power. Yet such a transition isn’t without its challenges, as those carbon-free energy sources carry their own unique risk exposures.
  6. Healthcare data breaches: The healthcare sector has long been in the cross hairs of cyber criminals, thanks to the former’s possession of sensitive data and the urgent need to keep systems up and running in the event of a breach or ransomware attack.
  7. Space mining: There’s gold in them thar asteroids, and dozens of other valuable minerals, too.1 Space mining could be a lucrative new frontier for harvesting precious metals used in everything from car batteries to computers, but it may bear astronomical risks.

To learn more about potential emerging risks facing insurers, sign up for the ISO Emerging Issues Weekly Digest.

The ISO Emerging Issues team would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following students: Jacob Schuette, Elias Albarracin, George Barber, Michael Bowles, Peter Gabriel, Derek Lampkin, Edwin Lin, Jessica Sims, Jake Stover, Jalen Dailey, Monica Monroy, Jordan Boyd, Melissa Orozco, Trevor Vick, Keri Buyalos, Andrea Bendig, Trevor Pultz, Skyler Rossin-Dicenso, and Ian Sharkey.

Learn more about the Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) program at Old Dominion University or contact Dr. Michael McShane at mmcshane@odu.edu for more information.


Andrew Blancher, CPCU

Andrew Blancher, CPCU, is director of commercial automobile product development and Emerging Issues at Verisk. You can contact him at Andrew.Blancher@verisk.com.


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  1. Harry Pettit, “NASA headed toward giant golden asteroid that could make everyone on Earth a billionaire,” Fox News, June 27, 2019, < https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-headed-towards-giant-golden-asteroid-that-could-make-everyone-on-earth-a-billionaire >, accessed on May 18, 2021.