The Climate Risk Forum at InsurTech Live Virtual 2023

Jayakumar Venkataraman, Infosys, Linda Freiner, Zurich Insurance Group and Claire Van der Zant, Shieldpay Explore Climate Risk at InsurTech Live

InsurTech Live Virtual 2023 saw a myriad of industry leaders from pioneering companies around the world join to share insight on topics including the future of AI, insurtech ecosystems and digital strategies.

The Climate Risk Forum saw Jayakumar Venkataraman, Managing Partner, Europe, Financial Services and Insurance at Infosys, Linda Freiner, Group Head of Sustainability at Zurich Insurance Group and Claire Van der Zant, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shieldpay come together to discuss topics including:

  • How the insurance industry is currently assessing and quantifying climate related risks
  • The role of insurer tax in improving risk assessment and underwriting processes in the face of climate change
  • The importance of weather forecasting — including products, solutions and technology — in developing cover
  • Technology developed to address climate related risks
  • Collaborative efforts or partnerships between insurers and insurance companies to tackle climate related challenges
  • The role of data in supporting underwriters for the future of climate related cover
  • Future trends in climate risk

Collaboration and transparency

In his role as Managing Partner, Europe, Financial Services and Insurance at Infosys, Jayakumar Venkataraman leads Infosys Consulting’s European Financial Services practice, helping companies create and implement transformation strategies by leveraging digital, new, and emerging technologies. He has been at Infosys Consulting for over 20 years.

“Climate risk management is becoming centre stage in pretty much most of the

banks, financial institutions and corporates,” shares Venkataraman discussing collaboration and the role of tax.

“But it's got to be the whole ecosystem engaging. One of the things that we picked up speaking to some of our clients about sustainability is that there is a significant amount of education that is necessary. The more educated the end customers are, they are better able to provide information, better disclosures. One of the things that the insurance companies rely on is good quality disclosures on what is the net zero journey or what is the risk of climate related events that impact their business so that the insurance companies may be able to price their insurance better.”

Assessing and quantifying climate related risks

Linda Freiner has been responsible for global strategy development and integration of sustainability as Group Head of Sustainability across the Zurich Insurance Group since 2016, having joined the company in 2013 to set-up the Zurich Flood Resilience Program. 

“I think traditionally insurers have relied heavily on catastrophic risk models and the risk of the property, which has meant relying on 100 years of historical data to give us a view of the future,” shares Freiner discussing how the insurance industry is currently assessing and quantifying climate related risks.

“But the reality is that today the risk landscape is very dynamic, so relying heavily on historic data is creating a blurry picture of current risks. But also, if we focus too much on the future, that can also be problematic. So what we are in the process of doing is to build a better understanding of the near past and the near future to model the more imminent impacts of climate risks.

“That's why I see a pretty big shift in how we are assessing risk and how we are quantifying and we’re moving away from larger, traditional modelling companies that had a one size fits all solution, to smaller and more start-up minded companies offering different types of solutions.”

She also oversees management of the Z Zurich Foundation and is a member of the Zurich Leadership Team alongside her role on the Board of the UNEPFI Principles for Sustainable Insurance. Previously, Freiner was a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum from 2007-2013. She holds a M.Sc. in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

Technology to combat climate disasters

“One of the things to consider is how you actually get compensation into the hands of the people who need it the most,” says Van der Zant in a discussion about technology being developed to address climate related risks.

“But, for example in parametrics, it's the need to get immediate relief funds and support out to people, and the practical application of how you do that is actually quite complicated. 

“Shieldpay tries to solve those complex challenges. We’re building an ecosystem of of tier one partners across technology, banking and payments for global ability to reach anybody in the method that suits them the most, in the moment that suit that the most, with a solution that protects against fraud, that is doing all of the right things in terms of due diligence, of verification and is making sure we are getting money into the hands of the right people, which unfortunately is also something we need to consider today as well.”

Claire Van der Zant is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shieldpay, where she is responsible for developing relationships with financial institutions, legal firms and technology businesses to advance and innovate high-value payment solutions for clients globally. She joined the company in 2021, having previously served as Uniqodo’s Chief Operating Officer and Marketing Director at Forlocal.


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