Nanotechnology Risk – Next Challenge for the Insurance Sector

Adam Sliwinski (Warsaw School of Economics)
Marietta Janowicz-Lomott (Warsaw School of Economics)

Abstract: The discovery of nanoparticles has already revolutionized progress of civilization by impacting many aspects of human life. Nanotechnology, or controlled production and creation of atomic and molecular structures in nanoscopic scale, creates unimaginable opportunities in many disciplines including medicine, defense systems or as well as clothing and food industries. Aside from the many benefits that growth of nanotechnology exposes our civilization to an increasing number of new risks, creating hazards that are currently difficult to foresee. Existence of threats opens up space for the functioning of insurance. However, this leads to questions whether nanotechnology-related risk is an insurable risk and whether it is technically feasible at this time to draft such an insurance offer. The present publication attempts to answer these questions. The publication consists of four parts. Part one describes nanotechnology as a branch of science. Part two presents options of implementing nanotechnology-based methods in the industry. Part three discusses the hazards that nanotechnology poses for human health and the environment, and evaluates the insurability of risks connected to this production methods. In part four, authors advocate for applying mutual insurance specifics to risk management in conditions calling for nanotechnological use. The essence of mutual insurance creates opportunities for dealing with nanotechnology risk even in situations when no verified actuarial models enabling credible insurance contribution calculations exist. The publication is based on authors’ own research and analyses of literature pertaining to nanotechnology risk management, including studies of reinsurers and insurance companies as well as the study: The Insurability of Nanomaterial Production Risk, Nature Nanotechnology 8, p.222–224 (2013), whose authors discuss the possibilities of and auxiliary conditions for transfer nanotechnology risk to the insurance sector.

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