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Key Individual Risk Management: Learning from the Polish Tragedy

April 20, 2010
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The tragedy involving Poland's president and other key political, military and civilian officials in a airplane landing crash clearly underlines the significance of having an effective individual risk management strategy in place. It has prompted some corporations to review their procedures for protecting executives and other valued employees. Polish President Kaczynski, his wife along with other key officials perished earlier this month when the "Tupolev Tu-154" plane, part of the government fleet crashed while landing in dense fog at Smolensk, Russia. The President's visit was on account of a ceremony commemorating the 1940 Soviet massacre of Polish military officers and civilians. The accident exposes how unprofessionally many governments manage the risk of losing key leaders. It is unlikely that a risk-savvy company in charge of such an event would have let such important group of individuals to travel together. There must be clearly laid out policies in place to ensure a large number of key leaders / scientists / corporate executives etc. are not on the same aircraft. In this context, the notion of insurance becomes even significant and typical risk exposures often based on occupation--requires more specialized solutions, using structured insurance and similar other means. In deciding which insurance should be dealt with first, the following recommended ranking should be considered: * Property. * Professional liability. * Personal liability (umbrella). * Health. * Disability. * Life. Ironically, as published in a report by, there have been 31 crashes involving various models of the Tupolev Tu-154, the same aircraft carrying the Polish President, since 1973, 15 with a death toll higher than the most recent crash. Twenty-one crashes have killed all aboard. This loss of so many high-profile leaders worried some companies to reconsider their procedures to protect against the loss of a key employee. The problems becomes even more acute in case of small companies -- the smaller the company, the bigger problem it is: Small companies often have one or two key executives whose loss could mean the end of the company, and they may not have sufficient resources to properly manage the risk.


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