Economic risks, business interruption and destructive natural catastrophes are the most pressing business risks for many companies in 2012, with cyber risks remaining widely underestimated, according to a study conducted by Alianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

AGCS carried out a survey among its risk engineers in the second half of 2011 to identify the risks they expect to trouble companies most during the coming year.

In the survey, 21% of respondents mentioned the economic risk as one of the top-three risks on the minds of clients.

Business interruption was the next most-frequently mentioned risk, cited by 14% of respondents while natural catastrophes are ranked third among the greatest business risks for 2012.

Over the last 30 years, insured claims related to weather-related natural catastrophes have increased from $5bn to more than $40bn.

AGCS risk engineer Michael Bruch said that in today’s interconnected and globalized world, risks are closely interrelated and create knock-on effects. For many companies, the year of 2011 represented a perfect storm as different risks occurred together.

"For example, natural catastrophes caused immense physical damage and widespread business interruption in the Asia-Pacific region. But production lines in Europe also temporarily came to a halt when supplies from Asia failed to arrive on time," added Bruch.