The following is excerpted from A Newer World: Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis by Bill Hewitt. It is taken from Chapter 8, “A Resilient Future: Adaptation, Education, Law, and Lifestyle.” The analysis of the insurance industry’s response to climate change below does not reflect the latest information such as the fact that Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $28.2 billion in insured losses and approximately $65 billion in economic losses across the US, Caribbean, Bahamas and Canada.
The Insurance Industry’s Response
One industry that knows what is coming is insurance. We looked at insurance in Chapter 5, noting how fully convinced all the leaders in the industry are of climate change’s impacts, now and for the future, and how committed they are to managing those risks through pushing for policy to meet the crisis head-on and by promoting measures to effectively adapt to the inevitable stresses on human populations and infrastructure that are at hand. The Insurance Information Institute cites one study on hurricanes that indicates that as wind speeds increase over the next couple of decades, property insurance losses will increase as well — by 30 to 40 percent. Seven of the ten most costly hurricanes in U.S. history occurred from August 2004 to October 2005, including Katrina, which caused losses of $41 billion. If the predictions of more-intense storms bear out, with the attendant increases in property loss, then Katrina will be dwarfed in the future, especially if hurricanes zero in on major cities in the United States like Miami or New York. The Big Apple had a near miss with disaster in late August 2011 with Hurricane Irene.