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Time for resilience and change

COVID-19 has changed reality and created a global crisis many of us haven't seen in our lifetimes. Of course, this situation isn't new to our colleagues in Asia, who have my utmost respect for their spirit over the past several months. When faced with adversity, they persevered. And as COVID-19 spreads around the world, we've all been asked to do the same. Personally, this has meant being unable to see my son, who goes to school in the UK, and I know others around the world have challenges big and small of their own.

In our new normal, balancing professional and personal obligations has grown even harder and many of us are learning different ways of working. Fortunately, from a technical standpoint, this transition has been seamless at Swiss Re. Thanks to our agile culture and diligent IT team, we've remained fully operational and, along with the efforts of our Claims, Operations and market-facing colleagues, are able to uphold our commitment to be accessible and responsive to our customers and brokers. In our changed reality, this means adapting. For instance, we've begun conducting virtual site visits. By using technology, our Risk Engineers can understand the specific details of individual sites to help businesses mitigate their risk while at the same time protecting the health and safety of themselves and others.

Yet as we self-isolate and social distance, we remain connected and, in some ways, grow closer. Shared difficulty brings people together. Over the last few weeks, I've strengthened my relationships and stayed in touch with employees, customers, brokers and industry peers. In these conversations, I take comfort in being part of the Swiss Re Group. Over our 150-year history, the world has seen many crises, yet our strong balance sheet and deep risk knowledge enabled us to support countless customers through them. The challenges we face today are no different.

COVID-19 impacts our industry and highlights the importance of insurance itself. And, as the crisis pushes us to all to be more digital, it also reveals problems the industry faces. Commercial insurance, with its old-fashioned systems, processes and delivery mechanisms, has been slow to adapt to the digital age. The industry also lacks a systemic way to gather and use data as well as a holistic end-to-end view of its value chain. Due to these industry shortcomings, the customer experience is often poor. We must rethink our approach. Let's use the momentum of the current crisis for good – make it a catalyst for change. If we take a more data-driven approach and address industry inefficiencies, we can both improve the customer experience and better plan for and mitigate difficult risks. In short, we can make the world more resilient.

The current situation will not be resolved tomorrow or the next day, but after the world has recovered, there will be a new reality. It's up to us to define what that looks like – as individuals, as societies and as an industry. Let's make it a better one than today.

While COVID-19 is justifiably in focus, other risks remain, and in some cases, are heightened by the current situation. We hope our preparedness guides for corporates will help businesses to protect themselves. For instance, we discuss steps you can take to protect a vacant plant from a fire. We'll share more mitigation guides in the coming weeks.

For now, stay safe and healthy.