The World Trade Centre tragedy was "a watershed" for the insurance industry, which will bring risk management to the fore, Zurich Corporate Solutions chief executive Tom Kaiser told the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (Ferma) forum.
He added that the events of September 11 pointed to the importance of contingency planning and risk management.
However, he said risk managers had to react accordingly or become "organisational dinosaurs". He said they had to become less product-led and more process-oriented. "Risk managers must be more creative in protecting their companies," he said.
"Risk is becoming an increasingly crucial part of management and risk managers can rise to the challenge or stick to the old ways - purchasing reactive insurance products and become organisational dinosaurs."
Kaiser said the old risk management attitude had been that risk was bad, but that the new, necessary attitude had to be to embrace it.
"Risk has always been seen as the downside of a business, but we're changing that attitude," he said.
"The new attitude is that, without risk, there is no business."
He advised risk managers to look at risk holistically instead of continuing to divide it into hazard, financial, strategic and operational "silos".
"Splitting risk is the old way and it has been found wanting," Kaiser said.