U.S. Markets closed

Allianz Identifies Five Risk Trends for Directors and Officers in 2020

Securities group actions are on the rise across the globe (Graphic: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

  • “Bad news” events, impact of climate change, bankruptcies and political challenges have increasing risk implications for D&Os
  • Growth of securities class actions and third party funding globally means litigation against companies and their D&Os is on the rise. US, Canada and Australia see highest activity, but these trends are developing around the world
  • Profitability of D&O insurance sector impacted by increasing competition, growth in lawsuits and rising claims frequency and severity. Further volatility anticipated

The range of risks facing company executives or directors and officers (D&Os) – as well as resulting insurance claims scenarios – has increased significantly in recent years. With corporate management under the spotlight like never before, a new report by insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) highlights five mega trends that will have significant risk implications for senior management in 2020 and beyond. The report, Directors And Officers Insurance Insights 2020”, also examines some of the factors which are driving recent changes in the D&O insurance market after a period of sustained large loss activity.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191204005094/en/

1. More litigation coming from “bad news”

“AGCS continues to see more claims against D&Os emanating from ‘bad news’ events not necessarily related to financial results,” says Shanil Williams, Global Head of Financial Lines at AGCS. “Scenarios include product problems, man-made disasters, environmental disasters, corruption and cyber-attacks.”

These types of “event-driven” cases often result in significant securities or derivative claims from shareholders after the bad news causes a fall in share price or a regulatory investigation. Of the top 100 US securities fraud settlements, 59% are event-driven1. There has also been a spike in claims resulting from the #metoo movement, where it is alleged D&Os allowed a toxic culture to take hold and endure within companies.

Other prevalent types of events are cyber incidents. AGCS has seen a number of securities class actions, derivative actions and regulatory investigations and fines, including from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in the last year, and expects an acceleration in 2020.

2. Climate change litigation on the rise

Failure to disclose climate change risks will increasingly result in future litigation. Climate change cases have already been brought in at least 28 countries around the world to date with three-quarters of those cases filed in the US. There are an increasing number of cases alleging that companies have failed to adjust business practices in line with changing climate conditions. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) failings can cause brand values to plummet.

“Directors will be held responsible for how ESG issues and climate change are addressed at a corporate level,” says Laura Coppola, AGCS Regional Head of Financial Lines in North America. “Increasingly, they will have to consider the impact of these when looking at strategy, governance, risk management and financial reporting.”

3. Growth of securities class actions globally

Securities class actions are growing globally as legal environments evolve. AGCS has seen increasing receptivity of governments around the world to collective redress and class actions, particularly across Europe but also in Thailand and Saudi Arabia. The level of filing activity in the US has been at record highs in recent years with over 400 filings in both 2017 and 2018, almost double the average number of the preceding two decades. This increased activity is impacting both US and foreign companies that have securities listed directly in the US. Shareholder activism is also increasing dramatically.

With global law firm, Clyde & Co, AGCS has compiled a risk map in the report that assesses the risk of a company being subject to a securities group action in a particular jurisdiction, taking into account the availability and prevalence of third party litigation funding, which is regarded as a strong factor in increased group action activity around the globe. While countries such as the US, Canada and Australia see the highest activity and most developed securities class action mechanisms, overall, such mechanisms are developing and strengthening around the world with the Netherlands, Germany, England and Wales showing notable development and increased activity in recent years.

4. Bankruptcies and political challenges impact

AGCS expects to see increased insolvencies, which may potentially translate into D&O claims. Business insolvencies rose in 2018 by more than 10% year-on-year, owing to a sharp surge of over 60% in China2. In 2019, business failures are set to rise for the third consecutive year by more than 6% year-on-year, with two out of three countries poised to post higher numbers of insolvencies than in 2018. “Political challenges, including significant elections, Brexit and trade wars, could create the need for risk planning for boards, including revisiting currency strategy, merger and acquisition (M&A) planning and supply chain and sourcing decisions based on tariffs. Poor decision-making may also result in claims from stakeholders,” says Coppola.

5. Litigation funders spread across the world

All of these mega trends are further fueled by litigation funding now becoming a global investment class, attracting investors hurt by years of low interest rates searching for higher returns.

Litigation funding reduces many of the entrance cost barriers for individuals wanting to seek compensation, although there is much debate around the remuneration model of this business. Recently, many of the largest litigation funders have set up in Europe. Although the US accounts for roughly 40% of the market, followed by Australia and the UK, other areas are opening up, such as recent authorizations for litigation funding for arbitration cases in Singapore and Hong Kong. India and parts of the Middle East are predicted to be future hotspots.

The challenging D&O insurance market

Although it is estimated around US $15bn worth of premiums are collected annually for D&O insurance, the profitability of the sector has been challenged in recent years due to increasing competition, growth in the number of lawsuits and rising claims frequency and severity. AGCS has seen double digit growth in the number of claims it has received over the past five years.

Insurers are facing more legal costs due to increasing activity, as well as more settlements and claims. Another issue is that “event-driven” litigation results in aggregation issues where multiple policies may be triggered. One event could trigger both D&O and either aviation, environmental, construction, product recall or cyber insurance policy claims.

Find out more about D&O insurance

About Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) is a leading global corporate insurance carrier and a key business unit of Allianz Group. We provide risk consultancy, Property-Casualty insurance solutions and alternative risk transfer for a wide spectrum of commercial, corporate and specialty risks across 12 dedicated lines of business.

Our customers are as diverse as business can be, ranging from Fortune Global 500 companies to small businesses, and private individuals. Among them are not only the world’s largest consumer brands, tech companies and the global aviation and shipping industry, but also wineries, satellite operators or Hollywood film productions. They all look to AGCS for smart answers to their largest and most complex risks in a dynamic, multinational business environment and trust us to deliver an outstanding claims experience.

Worldwide, AGCS operates with its own teams in 33 countries and through the Allianz Group network and partners in over 200 countries and territories, employing over 4,400 people. As one of the largest Property-Casualty units of Allianz Group, we are backed by strong and stable financial ratings. In 2018, AGCS generated a total of €8.2 billion gross premium globally.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

_____________________________________
1
Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. Event-driven litigation defense, May 23, 2019
2 Euler Hermes, Global Insolvencies Report, January 2019

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191204005094/en/