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Zurich's Horgan: Public/Private Partnership Necessary to Manage Pandemic Risk

A public/private partnership similar to crop insurance or TRIPRA is needed to manage pandemic risk, said Paul Horgan, head of U.S. National Accounts, Zurich North America.

Horgan spoke to Insider Engage at the Joint Industry Forum in New York.


Q: How has risk and resiliency changed in recent years.?

A: It's changed significantly in recent years. The introduction and the reality of more systemic risks out there — whether it's climate change, or pandemic — has really come to light in the last few years, and so has the need, therefore, for government involvement and public private partnerships in these spaces. For Zurich, pandemic as a good example.

We believe and have put forward an idea that we could mimic the the crop insurance approach that the government has to insuring crop failure for pandemics. We think that has some great applicability. We also know there's some other good ideas out there, similar to TRIPRA and other types of solutions. The key for us is we think we need to get legislation put forward in 2022. And make sure the US has got legislation there to be resilient as we think about future pandemics or exposures that could hit us in the future.

Q: Can we talk about sustainability? I know it's an important issue for Zurich, what have you been doing there?

A: Sustainability is is really a big topic for Zurich, and and for our customer base. Starting with Zurich, the Europeans have been really engaged in this for a long time. We've been tracking our carbon footprint since 2007; been carbon neutral since 2014; were the first ones to sign on to the UN negative 1.5% initiative. We actually have done that through very tangible approaches. We have short-, medium- and long-term objectives that involve us changing the way we do business: from reducing the amount of flying that we do by up to 70%; by converting our cars from gas to buying electric and hybrid for the Zurich fleet that we'll be starting to do in 2023; to investing in land in Brazil, and reforesting that land to try to create sustainability and improve the environment.

The next piece is with our customers. Our customers are clamoring for that knowledge. In Europe, they've been on this journey for a long time. In the US, it's really just starting to become that critical issue of sustainability as for organizations, and Zurich is in unique position with our heritage in Europe, to really be able to meet our US customers where they are, and help them develop that plan to take them to where they want to be in the future. So we're really excited about that.

The third area is societal. And Zurich wants to lean in. We're partnering with the city of Boston and the city of Houston on a resilience program that focuses on resilience from natural catastrophe and social equity. And our plans are to work very closely with them, develop best practices, and then export those best practices across the country to other big cities.

So first, look at ourselves, the second support our customers, and third, bring the the greater society in to make sure that the country is sustainable as we go forward.

Q: Could you elaborate on the societal equity aspects of the cities you're working with? What do you hope to accomplish there?

A: I'll come back to Zurich, and how we are treating talent these days. The workforce is becoming much more diverse, society is becoming much more diverse, are we able to reach out and make sure that all the people in that society have the right skills, capabilities and opportunities to really advance in the economy today and be productive. For Zurich, we've done this through our apprenticeship program where we're out there attracting non-college educated individuals to come in. And we partner with them, have them do part-time work within Zurich, get an associate's degree and really start on great careers within the insurance industry that they wouldn't have had in the past. And I think that's an example of kind of the societal things that we're trying to see how can we take some best practices and bring it forward.

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