Climate Change: U.S. Insurers Won’t Wait

by Val Germann

There is one U.S. business group that has treated climate change quite seriously: the insurance business.  That industry has taken some very expensive baths over the last fifteen years or so, starting with the massive fires in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989.  Since that time it’s been one disaster after another, including Andrew in 1992 and “the pefect storm” of  that same time.  Then came the huge midwestern flooding of the mid-1990s, the horrific tornado outbreak of 1999 and the brutal hurricane seasons of the new century. 

It has truly been ugly, very ugly, and so any debate about whether or not “climate change” is “real” or not is beside the point to the insurers.  They are taking steps now as a recent article on the TERRADAILY website details:

“All the risk-modeling professionals and all the risk-management specialists out there are looking 10 to 20 years down the road and saying, and scientific evidence, as well, and everyone is saying that you’ve got a perfect storm or catastrophes that could potentially affect the coastal areas,” Pickford said.  Allstate had to swallow a loss of 1.5 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2005 due to Katrina and three other large storms as thousands of homeowners filed insurance claims.

The insurance industry has more than once over the last several years asked for action on climate because the increasing instability in the atmosphere has affected their bottom line — immediately and dramatically.  And, of course, the increasing damage claims reflect through the entire U.S. and even the world because all the large insurers “re-insure” as widely as possible. 

Yes, climate change is already costing all of us a lot, if only in the skyrocketing cost of insurance.  And that trend is not likely to reverse anytime soon.


About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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