Previously underestimated risks related to pandemics rose from eighth place in 2019 to first in 2020, according to AXA’s seventh edition of the Future Risks Report.
The global study measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks by a panel of risk management experts and the general public, interviewing over 20,000 people.
According to the insurer, this year’s ranking of the 10 main emerging risks was “marked by the Covid-19 crisis”.
Climate change-related risk placed second, dropping from the top spot it has held for years. According to AXA, it remains the number one risk in Europe but falls to third place in Asia and America.
The drop was “particularly marked” in North America, where the share of experts who consider this risk major has fallen from 71% in 2019 to 46% in 2020.
Cybersecurity risk ranked third, but “increased in prominence” due to the new and widespread adoption of technology and “explosion” of cyberattacks during lockdown.
The perception of cyber warfare risk has also increased, and is now seen as the main security threat by 47% of experts compared to 37% last year.
Geopolitical risks placed fourth, with a “significant” increase in the risk of digital warfare between nations, which experts consider to be the top new security threat. Finally, the risk of social unrest placed fifth.
Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA, said: “Understanding and anticipating risks is at the heart of the insurance business. AXA’s Future Risks Report is an essential tool to inform and prepare us for major risk trends impacting our society.
“This seventh edition is of course marked by the exceptional context of the Covid-19 pandemic. It highlights health as a major issue, which we consider a positive shift, as we have considered it underestimated for years.”
He added: “However, this must not affect the fight against climate change, which remains the most significant and pressing challenge of our time.
“In line with last year, this year’s edition highlights the growing interconnection of risks, calling for collective and concerted solutions to strengthen the resilience of our economies and societies.”