Cyber and supply chain risks top the list of major emerging risks threatening French business, says Zurich France chief executive Anne Charon in an interview about the French market

Cyber attacks are one of the major threats to French businesses, according to Zurich France chief executive Anne Charon.

She said: “We are only starting to offer cover for this risk, but I believe that it has the potential to cause severe economic damage. At the moment we are not in a position to fully assess and respond to this type of threat.”

She added: “If we consider the French market today, some insurance companies are able to cover cyber risks, but only with a maximum capacity of €25m per insurer and a total aggregated capacity of €100m on the French market. With that in mind, I’m not sure that if such attacks take place, the market will have sufficient capacity to cover the insured companies.”

Another challenge that French businesses need to get to grips with is the growing risk of insider attack involving data theft and security breaches.

“Businesses are becoming more vulnerable to insider attacks by disgruntled members of staff. Over recent years, the number of IT attacks and data theft by a company’s own employees has been rising.

“For large corporate and multinational businesses, their employees – and how they behave – have become ever more crucial to their business and it is fair to say that companies are actively investing in employee engagement.”

“It is very difficult for risk managers to assess the need in terms of cyber because they do not know enough about the risk yet.

“Nevertheless, some insurance companies are quite advanced in offering services such as risk analysis. Even if the capacities are still limited, this is the first step in helping risk managers to better understand the different types of existing cover.”

Another emerging risk threatening businesses in France is supply chain failure, which has become increasingly expensive to cover. Charon said: “Over the years, supply chains have become very complex, consisting of a number of components and suppliers which are often in areas that are vulnerable to floods and other natural catastrophes.

“This means that cover is very expensive, especially if a business wants to insure its entire supply chain. Recent events have shown us just how vital it is to insure the entire supply chain, and with serious repercussions to a company’s brand it is not enough to provide solutions to cover the default of one supplier.”

Looking ahead, Charon believes the key to mitigating these emerging risks is innovation and central to that is a client-focused perspective: “As a result we at Zurich, are able to provide direct damage and third-party damage cover for cyber attacks; and solutions that cover the entire supply chain.”

She added: “We dedicate a lot of time to understand our customers’ needs, their strategy and their aims and objectives. We develop market intelligence about each and every customer so we can identify their strengths as well as their constraints and weaknesses – and subsequently provide them with the solutions to match.”