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5 Interesting Trends We Heard at RIMS 2024

Prominent and emerging risks were the topic of discussion at this year’s RISKWORLD conference in San Diego. See what risk managers and other experts had to say about topics like social inflation, civil unrest, sexual abuse, the aging workforce, and more at this year’s event.

May 20, 2024

Over 10,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors, and 300 speakers attended this year’s RISKWORLD conference with one goal in mind – to engage with the largest annual gathering of risk professionals. Here are some of the takeaways shared by experts at this year’s event.

1. Social Inflation Keeps Evolving as a Claims Cost Driver

Eye-popping verdicts, high settlements, and litigation funding are driving up the cost of casualty insurance claims. It is important for the risk management community to be acutely aware of social inflation trends because insurance coverage pricing has to be set today, but larger losses take years to settle. The evolution of this loss trend could significantly impact future loss costs, and limits could become inadequate. Zywave studied the economic loss to businesses, analyzing 237,000 records from 2001 to 2023. Their data illustrated the incredible increase in jury awards over 20 years:

  • For the median, $2 million awards in 2001 increased to over $2.5 million in 2023.
  • For the 70th percentile, $3 million awards in 2001 increased to over $8 million in 2023.
  • For the 90th percentile, $5 million awards in 2001 increased to over $20 million in 2023.

View more social inflation trends and contributing factors offered in Zywave’s session.

2. Public Entities’ Approach to Civil Unrest Continues to Develop

Protests and civil unrest are currently top of mind for public entities. All public entities have existing response plans, but it does not mean this issue is not a huge disruptor. It is. Public entities are facing a balancing act between protecting free speech rights and keeping everyone safe at these events. Liability around free speech rights and potential clashes between protestors is a major concern, especially when agitators who are not students attend the protest. It is important to note that this is not solely occurring at higher education institutions. It is happening at high schools as well. These protests are often in the form of walkouts, and many teachers are instructed to accompany the high school students during the protest (both on and off campus) to keep them safe.

View specific mitigation strategies shared by the panel of public entity risk managers.

3. Sexual Abuse or Molestation Claims are Not Just a Risk for Schools

Many organizations could face a serious liability challenge with a sexual abuse or molestation (SAM) claim as nuclear verdicts and defense costs surge and increased/indefinite statutes of limitations change filing requirements. Recent trends show that a variety of organizations need to work towards mitigating this risk:

  • Before reaching the age of 18, 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused. That means, in the U.S., more than 1 million children will be abused this year. Kids are most vulnerable to child sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13, but it can happen at any age.
  • Children with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims.
  • LGBTQI+ youth are even more at risk.
  • Abuse is common with seniors and developmental adults as well.
  • Statistically, over half of cases are peer-on-peer abuse.

Every organization must have a strong commitment to abuse prevention, and it must start at the very top. Safety should be part of every job description, from executive management to every level position. It is crucial to make employees aware that they are all risk managers and educate them accordingly.

View the five criteria necessary to build a complete SAM risk management program.

4. Ergonomics for the Aging Workforce Has Never Been More Important

  • Workers over the age of 55 represent a large and essential segment of the American economy, and their influence is growing.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 4 U.S. workers will be 55 or older by 2030.
  • Between 2000 – 2022, employment rates for people 55 and older have increased by 10% (from 31.5% to 41.1%).
  • Some older workers are not in a position to retire, while roughly 20% of Americans have no plan to retire.

With such a large population of older workers, each organization’s risk management program must address their on-the-job safety. Studies show that when this generation of workers does sustain an injury, their recovery takes longer, and their average cost per claim is higher than that of younger generations.

View 10 ergonomic strategies that can address this risk.

5. A Wide Array of Emerging Risks Continue to Challenge Higher Education

Every day, risk professionals in higher education help find ways to implement new ideas, initiatives, and opportunities, while managing and mitigating potential impacts to institutional resources. Higher education risk managers and members of the University Risk Management & Insurance Association (URMIA) highlighted several emerging risks, which range from a declining opinion of the value of higher education, the use of AI, and the financial and enrollment pressures related to institutional independence – all of which bring a variety of related challenges. Newer operational risks include rising claims from students pertaining to coach abuse, Title IX gender equity law, and hazing culture.

View summaries of 11 emerging higher education risks shared by the panel.