Three Little Pigs lesson in Disaster Resilience

Jon Harwood reflects on winning the Guy Carpenter Prize with a ‘Three Little Pigs’ analogy highlighting the importance of a successful disaster resilience framework. 

My adventure to the other side of the world started with writing up a 200 word response (see below) to the question ‘What are the top 3 barriers to implementing a successful disaster resilience approach/framework and why?’

I was very chuffed to have won and I later asked how many entries there were. I was somewhat deflated to hear that there were only 12 entries! To be honest, there aren’t too many competitions out there that give you a trip to the other side of the world, two weeks expenses paid accommodation, sightseeing and a reinsurance conference with such good odds! 

The Guy Carpenter Asia Pacific Reinsurance Conference had everything you could ask for in a RI conference and more. It had the perfect mix of reinsurance theory and current practice, content and entertainment, and an eccentric RI broker with a wealth of experience thrown in for good measure! The conference ran for two weeks, with the first week set in Cambridge and the second week in London.

There were many highlights, such as presentations from experts in the UK RI industry, the Lloyds tour, networking with other professionals from across Asia, a punt ride along the river Cam, going out to the theatre in the West End and a dinner in front of the London Tower Bridge. 

However what made the conference unforgettable for me was the first class service from the Guy Carpenter team. They made the conference special with their hospitality and great company throughout.  

Some more novel learnings that I got from the course and tips for future winners include the following:

  • Take a set of business cards with you! Nothing more awkward than starting a business card ritual with Asian business people only to say ‘sorry, I’ll email you instead’!
  • Gampei! I believe that is Chinese for ‘bottoms up’. On a related note, be mindful that accepting a Chinese rosè toast means mixing a glass of red with a glass of white and sculling both. Maybe that was a consequence of the first learning…
  • Don’t poke fun at British actuaries, they might not get the joke.
  • I’d like to thank Mark Kimberley, Alex Mendel, Jo Roman and rest of the committee from RDG for offering the scholarship and giving me the amazing opportunity. It was a special trip filled with many fond memories.
  • Finally, I encourage everyone with who has an interest in RI to get involved in the next scholarship competition, the odds are great and it is definitely worth it!


Three Little Pigs, a Disaster Resilience Perspective.

The first pig cut corners and didn’t bother purchasing a ‘genie wish’ to restore his straw house in a wolf catastrophe. He thought the ‘wish’ was a rip off as there hadn’t been a wolf in 20 years. If anything did happen, there was always the fairy govtmother – she’s given bailouts in other fairytale disasters.

The second pig believed his stick house would hold in a severe huffing and puffing, not realising that his property wasn’t up to scratch with revised building codes. He purchased a ‘genie wish’, but didn’t realise that his wish didn’t cover flooding.

The third pig, a wolf engineer, understood the wolf loads properties should be designed to. He upgraded his pre-wolf code property to brick and even installed a cauldron in the fireplace to prevent wolf ingress. Unfortunately, the Genie couldn’t give reduced premiums for his effort because he didn’t have enough data or system capability to do so.

The morals are that improving the community and insurer understanding of risk, developing a coordinated effort across government, insurer and industry partners and putting incentives for behavioural change are needed to successfully implement a disaster resilience framework.

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