Morphing terror risk turns focus to people risk

01 March 2017

Perceptions of people risk will continue to evolve in 2017, as companies seek to protect employees against a broader range of perils and re-evaluate previously low-risk markets.

Mass casualties

Terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere during 2015 and 2016 have highlighted changing attitudes to people risks. Recent years have seen a notable shift in the global perceived terrorist threat, as the focus has turned away from property damage risk to the safety of people.

Attacks in Europe and the US have seen terrorists seek to cause mass casualties, panic and disruption. In December Islamist terrorists hijacked a truck to target crowds at a Christmas market in Germany, while a shooting at a Turkish nightclub in January left 39 people dead.

A recent threat analysis from UK terrorism reinsurance facility Pool Re predicted similar attacks were likely in 2017. It warned about a resurgent Al Qaeda, as well as the risk of returning foreign fighters as Islamic State comes under increasing pressure in Syria and Iraq.

Pool Re said that the most likely terrorist attack scenario in the UK and Europe involves Islamist terrorists targeting people in attacks using knives or vehicles. It also anticipates an emerging threat of attacks in crowded places using automatic firearms. 

Duty of care

Events like those in France, Germany and Turkey in 2016 have raised awareness of people risk more generally. While many companies are already looking to do much more around meeting their duty of care to employees and bolster resilience against a much broader range of perils.

This has seen a number of organisations enhance and expand their crisis focused insurance covers to include a wider variety of perils, such as natural catastrophes, industrial disasters and infectious diseases. 

Companies are also seeking to extend Kidnap and Ransom (K&R) cover beyond the traditional high risk areas. For example, terrorist attacks in Europe have led some US companies to view the region as higher risk than they once did. Companies are also starting to build K&R and evacuation cover into their programmes to cover natural perils or pandemic risks in Asia.

Part of the growing interest in broader K&R insurance is a desire to access evacuation and crisis management coverages and services. Rather than rely on the response of government to such events, companies want to know that their staff are adequately protected.

Blended solutions

We expect the perceptions of people risk to continue to evolve with the on-going perception of threat, while we also expect clients to increasingly seek broader solutions from brokers and insurers. 

The evolving terrorist threat has highlighted overlaps between coverages, such as personal accident, health, business travel and K&R. Clients do not see people risks in the same way as insurers, which tend to view risks by line of business.

However, JLT has been building covers that blend K&R with other covers while a number of insurers have developed evacuation and crisis management coverages.

For more information, please contact Sam Aiken, Head of Kidnap & Ransom on +44 20 7528 4204 or email

contact Sam Aiken
Head of Kidnap & Ransom