Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard
Chapter 9: Producing Safety or Managing Risks? How Regulatory Paradigms Affect Insurability
Thomas K. Epprecht1 The possibilities – and the inherent risks – associated with nanotechnology are only just beginning to unfold. The insurance industry, an enabler of risk taking, focuses on understanding these risks in order to help its business partners to mitigate the financial consequences of possible losses. Nanotechnology offers immense innovation potential across many disciplines. Further, as with acceleration and miniaturization in information technology, technological convergence in the nano-sphere will increasingly change the lives of many on a daily basis. Regulation provides the framework for both freedom and responsible action. It is there to facilitate living together rather than to limit the horizon of potential prospects. A technological leap, as promised by nanotechnology, notably accentuates the question of balance and therefore deserves particular attention. Against this background we address here the purpose of regulation, the influence that regulatory regimes and societal environments can have on insurability, the role of the insurance industry in society and how the availability or denial of insurance cover impacts on regulation. 9.1 INTRODUCTION: THE PURPOSE OF REGULATION Nanotechnology, as does every new technology, solves existing problems as well as creating new ones. Therefore, scientific, economic and regulatory bodies invest an enormous amount of energy into risk management and loss prevention to avoid or minimize the impact of potential problems before they emerge. Safety is an indispensable part of any technology and we can no longer imagine making use of a technology without strict safeguards. However, arguably because there is so much emphasis today put on safety,...
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