Should businesses be considering the risk of hand gel?
It sounds like a perverse plot from a movie; citizens encouraged to use antibacterial hand gel to kill germs and end up with health issues caused by the gel. Rolf Halden of Arizona State University is the founding director of its Center for Environmental Security and says that a common component of sanitizing hand gel is potentially harmful to health. If you see the words ‘contains triclosan’ on your gel, you should take note. Mr Halden isn’t alone in his concern; there are studies by the American Chemical Society suggesting tricosan could increase breast cancer cells, The National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that the chemical could interfere with some natural body functions and another study found increased thyroid hormone levels. It should be noted that many of the studies have been carried out with animals, but then so are most similar investigations. The US Food and Drug Administration do not currently consider triclosan as hazardous to human health but it’s worth noting that the chemical will be banned from cleaning products used in Minnesota from 2017. There are also reports linking the chemical to risks for the environment. It’s a long way from conclusive, but businesses that offer sanitizing hand gels to customers and employees should be aware of the concerns, especially if they do not offer an alternative. Don’t be surprised if our litigious society sees future claims by those who had ‘forced’ exposure to the chemical. Read the full story.
Big data offers a mine of great information
There are now more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet; a staggering statistic and one that highlights the potential for insurers. At a simple level there is the growth in sales of cyber risk and device insurance but it’s what’s being created with all these devices that has the most value. The amount of data that is available is huge but the insurance industry has not been an early adopter of this big data treasure chest. However there is a big opportunity in using data and technology for risk assessment and modelling, fraud detection and regulatory reporting. By being better able to understand customers, using data, the industry is better able to serve them. Whether it’s a global insurance giant or a small local broker or agent, using data allows us to assess customers’ needs, sometimes before they do! As we know, those insurers that can offer exactly what the business customer is looking for are the ones that command the highest levels of loyalty. Read the full story.
Rating agency urges greater diversity for reinsurance industry
Credit rating agency Standard & Poors is urging the reinsurance sector to have more diverse business risk or face financial instability. The agency says that with premiums declining due to greater competition, it is increasingly important for reinsurers to spread their business risk across wider areas, both in terms of niche and geography. Ironically those companies that are thriving are exposing themselves to more risk by making investments that are more exposed, but are benefitting from the associated higher returns. Consolidation is considered likely in the reinsurance sector as smaller firms join together to stabilise their financial abilities.
Retailers hit by credit card hackers
Two of the biggest US retailers, Albertson’s and SuperValu ,were hit by hackers last week. Cyber criminals gained access to debit and credit card networks used by the firms and their subsidiaries. It’s not yet known how many customers may have been affected or whether any data was actually stole. Read the full story.