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Insurers and governments should collaborate on risk mitigation, says Kurt Karl | Canadian Insurance

Insurers and governments should collaborate on risk mitigation, says Kurt Karl

Swiss Re’s chief economist Kurt Karl had said what he’d come to say at the National Insurance Conference of Canada in Montreal at the start of October: that the insurance industry should focus on the needs of the under-insured, that it should engage with governments over risk mitigation. And then a funny thing happened. During the Q & A, he was quite ready to talk about immigration, and he was met with dead silence. Despite a drowned little boy (whose family wanted to come to Canada) threatening to make the Syrian refugee crisis the top election issue—for a while. If it puzzled us, it puzzled him as well. “I was travelling in Asia last week,” Karl told Corporate Risk Canada, “and everybody at the end says, ‘Well, what about immigration in Europe? Isn’t that a real problem?’ And it’s not a problem on the economic side, but it’s a huge problem on the political side.”

Karl suggests that if Europe embraces immigrants and refugees, it’ll have a slightly better ratio of young, educated and skilled people to an aging population. He considers it “odd” that Europe is struggling so much. “The way I put it is that these countries have benefited from having people emigrate, right? Leave their countries and go to other places—you’d think they’d be flattered that somebody wants to come there.”

Unlike others, he’s not sounding the death knell for the Eurozone. “I liken the euro, the European Union and the Eurozone [to] a big family with in-laws, and they like pointing fingers and getting in food fights, and you know, making alliances and complaining about each other. But in the end it’s a big family, and they seem to stick together.”

Copyright 2015 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of Corporate Risk Canada magazine