Once again, we are pleased to continue our annual tradition of overviewing important global business risks for the year. 

Like with the last two years, we’ve chosen to source the Allianz 2022 Risk Barometer, an excellent survey comprising responses from 2,650 businesses in 89 countries. This report profiles ten key risks, some or all of which will likely impact your business in 2022.

You should ensure that your executive team and board compares this list to your organization’s latest risk register, with a focus on ensuring that responsive actions are in place. Read more for a summary of the key findings.

This post is a summary of some key points from the 2022 Allianz Risk Barometer, however we’ve added some additional commentary and cases to Canadianize the content. While much of the data is international, most points raised in the commentary are entirely relevant to Canadian organizations. 

“Small organizations” under $250 million comprise 34% or the respondents, “midsized organizations” with revenues $250 to $500 million are 20% of the responses, and “large organizations” over $500 million in revenue comprise 46% of the respondents. All numbers are shown in U.S. dollars and are a cross section of 22 industry sectors.

RankRisk/ Ranking from last year in 2021
1↑ 44%Cyber incidents (e.g. cyber crime, IT failure/outage, data breaches, fines, and penalties)/ 2021: 3 (40%)
2↓ 42%Business interruption (including supply chain disruption)/2021: 1 (41%)
3↑ 25%Natural catastrophes (e.g. storm, flood,earthquake, wildfire, weather events)/2021: 6 (17%)
4↓ 22%Pandemic outbreak (e.g. health and workforce issues, restrictions on movement)/2021: 2 (40%)
5→ 19%Changes in legislation and regulation (e.g. trade wars and tariffs, economic sanctions, protectionism, Brexit, Euro-zone disintegration)/2021: 5 (19%)
6↑ 17%Climate change (e.g. physical, operational, financial and reputational risks because of global warming)/2021: 9 (13%)
7→ 17%Fire, explosion. 2021: 7 (16%)
8↓ 15%Market developments (e.g. volatility, intensified competition/new entrants, M&A, market stagnation, market fluctuation)/2021: 4 (19%)
9↑ 13%Shortage Of skilled workforce/2021: 13 (8%)
10↓ 11%Macroeconomic developments (e.g. monetary policies, austerity programs, commodity price increase, deflation, inflation)/2021: 8 (13%)

Rankings by country

Canada prioritizes: 1. Business Interruption; 2. Cyber attacks; 3. Climate change; 

The US ranks: 1. Business Interruption; 2. Cyber; 3. Natural Catastrophes; 

UK: 1. Cyber, 2. Business Interruption, 3. Climate; 

China: 1. Business Interruption; 2. Changes in Legislation; 3. Market Developments.


This was the #1 risk in 2020 and returns to that position for 2022. 

Fear of ransomware, cyber breaches and other disruptive forms of cyber attack continue to be high for businesses, likely because most organizations now have peers or competitors who have been shut down or severely impacted by this threat. 

Other risks such as risks from the shift to digitalization and to remote working are also key concerns. 

As an insurer, Allianz saw 500 Cyber claims in 2018, and more than 1100 in 2020, and they report that extortion demands have more than doubled, while business interruption losses have escalated as larger companies and their supply chains are targeted. 

One offshoot is the increasing difficulty in purchasing properly priced cyber insurance. Before insurers release pricing and an agreement to insure, they are now scrutinizing controls on technology, backups, patching, training, and business continuity arrangements. Businesses who fail to show such measures, may face self insurance in this risk area. 

Allianz reports that increasingly common are extortion tactics whereby criminals encrypt data, then threaten to release sensitive or personal information if a ransom is not paid. Cyber crime is now being commercialized to the extent that it is a major industry for the criminal element. 

Supply chains, physical critical infrastructure, or digital single points of failure are being targeted, as evidenced through the LOG4J and Kaseya attacks in 2021. The massive state sponsored SolarWinds attack in 2020 was a precursor to expected and continued activity in 2022. 

So serious is this matter that in 2021 the US Government released its Framework Profile for Ransomware Risk Management (NIST), guidance for all US companies to follow, as summarized by JD Supra Legal News, November 11, 2021.2

Business Interruption

This is only the 3rd time in the 11-year history of the Allianz rankings that business interruption has not been the top concern, but it returns to the top three due to threats of cyber, pandemic, and natural catastrophes. 

45% of respondents said that recent supply chain disruptions impacted their sector, and a growing reliance on technology and digitalization also threatens business interruption. 

Cyber is still feared as the biggest driver of business interruptions. 52% of respondents feared cyber incidents as a cause of business interruption versus 36% for natural catastrophes, 35% for pandemic, and 30% for major transportation and shipping disruptions. 

On a related note, 45% of respondents indicated that supply chain disruptions have had a major impact, 35% said it had a small impact, 12% a massive impact, and 8% had hardly any impact from supply chain disruptions. 

2021 saw the Suez Canal blockage, which was not related to cyber or the pandemic, but much of the world’s supply chain issues stem from cyber risks, or, from the pandemic shutting down production and shipping. 

Now is the time for focussed attention on business continuity planning. Tools such as the Business Continuity Tool kit available at Benson Kearley are available to guide organizations on how to commence this exercise using internal resources. 3

Natural Catastrophes

Global insured catastrophe losses rose to USD 112 billion in 2021, the fourth highest on record, Swiss Re Institute estimates.4

 Related to Climate change, increasingly businesses are concerned about the increasing exposure to perils such as floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter freezes. 

The province of British Columbia in Canada experienced a double hit from devastating wildfires in the summer which literally destroyed the town of Lytton B.C., and record flooding prior to the end of the year. 

Estimated insured damages from Hurricane Ida in the US alone stands at $31-$44 Billion. Winter storm Erie caused $15 billion in insured losses in North America in 2021, and in December 2021, tornadoes hammered 6 U.S. states, an unusual occurrence given that tornado activity usually slows in November. 

The increasing exposure to natural catastrophes from climate change and otherwise, is a big contributor to the risk of business interruption. These risks are becoming increasingly difficult for insurers to quantify and actuarially price hence, like with cyber, insurers are leaving this space and/or radically re-pricing their offerings.

For some businesses, self insurance is an only option, especially for companies in jurisdictions with a history of serious exposures to these conditions.


This risk drops to 4th place in the survey, and while concerns by business appear to be easing, Omicron was not factored into the respondents replies due to the emergence of this risk in late 2021. 

Most businesses realize that COVID-19 remains an unpredictable threat with unknown consequences, new strains, and mutations of the virus possibly being on the horizon. 

Even with huge levels of subsidies and government intervention, many businesses have not survived the current pandemic and/or will be bankrupted by any significant new waves. Industries such as hospitality, air and ground passenger transportation, and entertainment have had massive losses to their valuations and have had to remodel their businesses.

 The pandemic has seriously disrupted M&A plans such as in the case of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling that British firm Cineworld wrongly terminated its arrangement agreement to acquire Cineplex, regardless of the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on Cineplex’s business. 

Another key concern from the pandemic relates to the risk of a shortage of skilled workers, one of the drivers behind the current “great resignation”. Interesting is that 80% of respondents believe that they are adequately or well prepared, and only 11% feel inadequately prepared for the risk of pandemic.

All and all, 2022 presents itself as a challenging year ahead of us. Added to this list are other macro concerns such as over-heated equity and real estate markets, rising inflation and interest rates, and the threat of invasions by China into Taiwan and by Russia into Ukraine. 

Read More in the Allianz’s 2022 Risk Barometer for detailed commentary on the above risks and on other risks listed on the above chart.