Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Insurers largely unprepared for climate change

A report issued today found only 9 percent of insurers are well prepared to face the risks posed by a changing climate. Only two of those insurers are headquartered in the United States.  
Ceres today released its 2014 climate preparedness scorecard, which ranks the nation's 330 largest insurance companies on what they are saying and doing to respond to escalating climate risks. The report is based on a 2013 survey of insurers with an excess of $100 million in direct written premiums conducted by insurance regulators in Washington, California, Connecticut, Minnesota and New York.
More results:
  • 276 of the 330 companies that responded scored in in the bottom half.
  • The top nine best-prepared companies are: ACE, Munich Re, Swiss Re, Allianz, Prudential, XL Group, The Hartford, Sompo Japan and Zurich. Only The Hartford and Prudential are headquartered in the United States.
  • Overall, property and casualty (P&C) insurers are better prepared than life and health insurers, which are largely unprepared.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and the other insurance regulators care about this issue for a couple of reasons – first, climate change brings extreme weather events, which can cause widespread damage to homes and other property, as we saw during this summer's wildfires. More frequent and more severe natural disasters mean more claims, which means insurance companies need to make sure they have enough money to pay those claims. Insurers can help maintain their financial solvency by making sure their money is invested soundly and in climate-friendly ways. Secondly, insurance companies can reduce their risk by being proactive. Kreidler has called for insurers to get involved in building codes, land use practices and working with developers to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
“The insurance industry is uniquely positioned as the bearer of risk to make adjustments now to lessen dramatic impacts we know are coming. This is not a partisan issue, it’s a financial solvency issue and a consumer protection issue,” Kreidler said in the Ceres news release.