Terrorist attacks dominated the headlines in 2015. With just over a month passed in 2016, we have already seen three attacks in five days (between the 12th and 16th January). This barbarism looks set to continue. Two of these attacks, in Istanbul and Jakarta, were perpetrated by Daesh, while the third in Ouagadougou was committed by Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.
All of the attacks share similar characteristics; target locations were all frequented by ‘foreigners’, took place in crowded places and were deliberately planned to have maximum effect on the tourism and hospitality sectors. In total, over forty five westerners were killed and dozens injured. All three attacks were combined shooting/suicide bomb attacks; one a lone wolf, the other two by marauding firearm groups. That the UK represents a target for these despicable organisations is indisputable.
The exceptional efforts of our security services have prevented this type of attack on our shores in recent years. We must also be positioned to rebuild in the event that attacks such as those which have already taken place this year or the events of Paris, Mali and Belgium at the end of last year are replicated in Britain. High profile locations in which people congregate, such as sports stadia, entertainment venues, commercial centres and cultural sites are, arguably, most at risk. The insurance industry can do more to support the counter terrorism efforts.
Pool Re continues to drive a number of initiatives, including the Protective Security Improvement Activity (PSIA), in collaboration with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and other government departments. These will increase access beyond the current Crowded Places programme to those businesses and enterprises that are not currently on the NaCTSO list as well as looking at cover for ‘semi crowded places’. Pool Re will also be closely analysing the threats posed by cyber terrorism and how appropriate reinsurance cover might be provided.
However, terrorism insurance penetration, particularly amongst SMEs and outside of the major cities, remains too low. Increasing uptake across the UK and heightening our ability to rebuild without calling on the public purse remains one of the key goals for the Pool Re scheme. This is an effort in which brokers and insurers across the UK have a role to play.