The insurer’s research revealed senior leaders’ other concerns too, such as financial turmoil and health and safety 

More senior leaders are concerned about their personal liability as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 30% worried that actions and decisions they made during the pandemic could lead to claims being made against them, according to new research published by insurer QBE today (26 November 2021).

The insurer, which surveyed 500 senior decision-makers in the UK, found that over the past 18 months, 48% of respondents felt their personal liability within their job role has increased - this is particularly pertinent for those working at larger organisations, with 62% of leaders expressing these liability concerns.

Of the respondents who have had claims made against them in the last five years, 72% of claims occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the research.

Meanwhile, 27% of respondents feared they would face claims based around their reaction to a cyber attack or data breach, while 23% thought they may encounter a claim concerning their actions or decisions around regulation changes.

Geoff de Mallet Morgan, head of financial lines for QBE International, said: “There are plenty of instances where senior leaders are making high profile decisions in times of significant stress with access to incomplete information.

“It isn’t surprising, therefore, that those we surveyed are worried about claims as a result of actions they have taken since March 2020.”

Increasing risks

QBE’s research also found that 23% of respondents felt there was a greater emphasis on senior management’s accountability now compared to the past.

Of the respondents who recently had claims made against them, the most common reasons were related to technology and digitalisation (22%), finances (16%) and health and safety (15%).

Seven in 10 respondents expressed concerns that the pandemic had negatively impacted the risk profile of their organisations.

More than a third (38%) of all respondents added that the Covid-19 pandemic had increased their financial or economic risks - the same proportion said the crisis had increased concerns around employee health and safety. 

Mallet Morgan said this is primarily because senior leaders “have needed to adapt to an unprecedented work environment, which opened up increasing risks around employee wellbeing and cyber security while simultaneously dealing with concerns around [the] financial stability of the business”.

One in four respondents cited an increased cyber security or data breach risk as a significant external factor that has negatively impacted their corporate risk profile.

This was closely followed by concerns around financial turmoil, health and safety, competition and profitability – 22% of respondents flagged each of these areas as potential issues.

Mallet Morgan added: “Senior leaders are increasingly being held to account when a business issue arises and, as a result, there is a natural evolution where the decisions they made during the pandemic are subject to retrospective review and may well lead to claims.

”This also builds upon recent trends we have seen in social inflation, where strong opinions on the performance and decision-making of senior leaders manifest in them increasingly being held personally accountable for their actions.”