Our Biggest Challenge: It will never happen to me

I’m often asked about the biggest risks that I see. It’s a difficult question as, let’s face it – there’s no shortage of risks that could keep risk managers up at night. But the most significant risks are those that can transcend individual industries and are common – in some form or other – to all of us, whether at work or at home. From significant weather events to fires, crippling cyber-attacks and, of course – new to this generation – worldwide pandemics, there is a long list of threats to our businesses and the people we work with and/or employ.

What is easier to answer is what can be our greatest challenge in dealing with risk. For me, it can be summed up in six words: ‘it will never happen to me’. This optimism bias, hard-wired into most of us, giving us the belief that we are more likely to experience positive rather than negative events, the thinking that bad things only happen to other people, other businesses.

Don’t get me wrong – I think a positive outlook is a good thing. But while hoping for the best, in my experience it pays to be prepared for the worst.

Sadly, I see many losses across the different industries that we support. Fire, flood, theft, accidents – these events occur all too often and for many businesses, the larger events can be devastating. There seems to be an inverse relationship in these situations in that the less prepared businesses are, the more enduring the damage. 

I’ve worked with many businesses over the course of my career and sometimes the most prepared are those that have, sadly, endured a significant loss and have seen and felt the impact it can have. Unsurprisingly, they are also the businesses that now manage risk the best, invest where they need to, and understand the need to be prepared.

This article isn’t intended to spread negativity – just the opposite: I’m hoping that by considering the potential risks to your business, your people and your customers, you manage to prevent the worst from happening. 

Instead of thinking, ‘it won’t happen to me’, just add, ‘but what if it does?’ Question yourself, are you prepared? Could your business sustain a high-impact event? What can you do now to prevent it from happening, or at least mitigate the effects of an event if it does? The outcome could be the difference between misfortune and catastrophe.

We all need to be positive – now more than ever. The good news is that many losses are preventable. And I’d argue that good risk management actually sustains a positive outlook. By objectively considering how you manage risk (recognising and adjusting for optimism bias), you can minimise the probability of those risks materialising, improve your ability to manage them if they do, or even prevent an incident from occurring in the first place. 

More from risk management

Our team of risk management experts have been busy creating new risk management guidance, including the development of over 40 Covid-19 loss prevention standards. Covering a wide range of topics relating to emerging and unexpected risks resulting from the pandemic, you’ll be able to find guidance that could make all the difference.

In addition to our new Covid-19 related guidance, we also have a suite of over 150 other loss prevention standards, which is regularly updated. To make it easier for you to locate the items relevant to your client, we’ve produced a Loss Prevention Standards Index. It’s split into various categories and subsections making it quicker and easier to locate the LPS of your choice.  

We’ve also been working to provide you with information and links to our Specialist Partner network to support you and your clients through the challenges we have all faced over the last few months. As well as access to Back to Business solutions, our Specialist Partner Network provide a full range of risk management solutions across the risk spectrum, see our Specialist Partner Guide and find out how one of our clients, Johnsons Workwear reduced their fleet accident rates by 65% after partnering with VUE Group who offer a range of innovative motor technology. 

Over the course of the next few months, Aviva Risk Management Solutions will be providing articles and guidance on how we can all protect ourselves against a wide variety of risks, and even prevent them from happening in the first place. Keep an eye out for us via Aviva Broker UK on LinkedIn, in the meantime, you can access all our risk management and prevention solutions on our website.