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Employee safety tops pandemic worries for mid-size companies

Nearly 60% of mid-size businesses report having unmet needs related to reducing risk exposure, naming crisis management and customized advice as the top unmet needs for reducing those risks, according to the QBE North America 2020 Mid-Sized Company Risk Report.  

The report, produced in partnership with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), focused on the top concerns among executives at companies with $200 million to $3 billion in revenues. 

The report also captures worries tied to the current environment, including pandemic risks, social unrest and climate concerns. Yet, despite 2020’s unique business landscape, many companies also remain worried about general business risks, citing concerns around financial risks, digital assets, litigation and talent and culture.

“As the country contends with the impact of the pandemic, helping middle-market companies predict, prepare and protect against emerging risks will play a key role in the recovery,” said Tom Fitzgerald, President of QBE North America’s Specialty & Commercial business, which focuses on serving mid-sized customers. We need to look to the future and understand what risks middle-market companies worry about most to design effective solutions to address those evolving risks, whether it’s a new type of insurance coverage or loss prevention or recovery service.”

Most middle-market businesses have risk mitigation strategies for financial and digital risks, but many do not for risks that are driven by external or unpredictable forces. The report found:

  • 37% of mid-sized businesses have a pandemic risk mitigation strategy
  • 30% have macroeconomic risk mitigation strategy (i.e. recession)
  • 40% have a natural disaster risk mitigation strategy
  • 25% have climate change risk mitigation strategy

“The pandemic has no doubt brought the desire for crisis management and recovery services to the fore,” said John Beckman, Chief Underwriting Officer, QBE North America. “This concern highlights the opportunity to help customers develop business continuity plans, guard against supply chain disruption and many other issues that arise in a crisis. It’s a critical part of the customized advice we can give to clients, and we need to help them understand that we don’t just sell insurance—we’re here to help them manage risk.”

Key findings:

  • Among pandemic-related risks, ensuring the safety of employees is most concerning, with 32% rating it as a concern and 22% citing it as a top risk. The impact on cash flow followed as a close second with 33% rating it as a concern and 17% citing it as a top risk.
  • Financial Risks. Among financial risks, operations performance and fraud/theft are cited as the most concerning with 21% of mid-sized companies listing each of them as their top concern.
  • When thinking about business interruption risks, infrastructure breakdown and facility shutdowns are most concerning. While not in the top 5, social unrest ranked the 6th most concerning among mid-sized businesses demonstrating 2020’s unique landscape.
  • Among digital risks, cyberattacks (37%), data integrity (35%), and disruptive technology (32%) rate among the biggest concerns for mid-sized businesses.
  • An increasingly litigious society and social inflation are adding stress and financial pressure for many businesses. Among risks related to litigation, 23% are most concerned about customer lawsuits.

Results of the full report are available at qbe.com/us/riskreport.

The survey was conducted by the independent market research firm HawkPartners from June 24 to July 8, 2020 and included more than 300 decisionmakers at U.S. companies. The report’s findings will be featured in an upcoming special issue of ACG’s official publication, Middle Market Growth Magazine.