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Comparisons Of Risk

Comparisons Of Risk

Risk is incorporated into so many different disciplines from insurance to engineering to portfolio theory that it should come as no surprise that it is defined in different ways by each one. It is worth looking at some of the distinctions:

(a) Risk versus Probability:

While some definitions of risk focus only on the probability of an event occurring, more comprehensive definitions incorporate both the probability of the event occurring and the consequences of the event. Thus, the probability of a severe earthquake may be very small but the consequences are so catastrophic that it would be categorized as a high-risk event.

[Post Image Courtesy of Sira Anamwong at]

(b) Risk versus Threat:

In some disciplines, a contrast is drawn between risk and a threat. A threat is a low probability event with very large negative consequences, where analysts may be unable to assess the probability. A risk, on the other hand, is defined to be a higher probability event where there is enough information to make assessments of both the probability and the consequences.

(c) All outcomes versus Negative outcomes:

Some definitions of risk tend to focus only on the downside scenarios, whereas others are more expansive and consider all variability as risk. The engineering definition of risk is defined as the product of the probability of an event occurring, that is viewed as undesirable, and an assessment of the expected harm from the event occurring.

Risk = Probability of an accident * Consequence in lost money/deaths

In contrast, risk in finance is defined in terms of variability of actual returns on an investment around an expected return, even when those returns represent positive outcomes. Building on the last distinction, we should consider broader definitions of risk that capture both the positive and negative outcomes.

Insurance Law And Practice - ICSI
Comparisons Of Risk Comparisons Of Risk Reviewed by Blog Editor on Saturday, April 15, 2017 Rating: 5

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