Insurance Companies Should be Selling the Public on Climate Change

February 14, 2012

Is it embarrassing to say that there are insurance commercials that actually make me get misty eyed?

Legal Planet

At an environmental law conference last fall, I accidentally sat down for lunch with a group of insurance salesman from an adjoining insurance conference (I meant to sit with attendees from my conference). At first I thought we had almost nothing in common to talk about, but then the salesmen began to discuss how climate change and its impacts dominate the conversation at industry events. One of them sent me this chart, which is a nice visual to document the growing impact of a warming climate on our economy over the past 30 years:

(I’ve substituted a more recent and readable chart from Munich Re – Peter)

Since these salesmen do such a good job selling the public on the need for all sorts of insurance policies, environmentalists should set them loose on arguably the most important issue facing the planet today. For further resources, Dan’s link to Evan Mills website is a great start, and I would be remiss in not pointing out that co-blogger Sean Hecht explored this topic in a 2007 article with Evan in the Stanford Journal of International Law and in a 2008 law review article for UCLA.

Dallas Observer:

In congressional testimony and elsewhere, the people who insure the insurance companies have been shoulder-to-shoulder with scientists and government agency executives explaining that the numbers add up, and they just don’t lie. The frequency of extreme and destructive weather events is going up up up. The testimony is no longer merely that man has an effect on the weather; it’s that there is no longer any weather that is “natural” or not driven by man-made factors.

That’s something the insurance industry has to take into account. And they are. They are calculating the increase in claims that can be anticipated as a result of climate change.

Their challenges are not caused exclusively by climate change. They also are trying to make a calculation for cultures that are too dumb to understand and prepare for climate change, and will therefore continue to do things to make it worse, mainly through vulnerable construction and shoddy public works, but also by polluting. They have an informal term for it in German: Faktor K, where K is for Kultur.

Rick Perry’s jobs plan is right in there. The idea that we can get rich by ripping down the weak environmental protections we have in place now is definitely Faktor K.

I like the way the insurance thing works. It’s sort of like, “Oh, please, yes, do get rid of your environmental agency, and go right ahead and borrow tons of money to create more flooding and cancer. But for all of your business insurance, life insurance, medical insurance and property insurance, we’re going to have to triple your rates. Possibly quadruple. Please don’t be late with the payments, and we prefer cash.”

Capitalism, in other words, works. It just doesn’t work the way some of the people who call themselves capitalists want it to work.

10 Responses to “Insurance Companies Should be Selling the Public on Climate Change”

  1. daveburton Says:

    Bogus projections of accelerated sea level rise provide a great excuse for hiking insurance rates, with no corresponding increase in risk. It’s a big win for insurance companies — and very bad for everyone else.

    • otter17 Says:

      A video combating a peer-reviewed paper with… doomsday movie clips and eyeballing the data?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      you hear this bogus canned talking point a lot.

      The difference between daveburton, other so called “conservative” climate deniers, and me, is that I actually believe in free choice and free markets.

      Insurance companies employ some of the smartest number crunchers on earth, and they survive by carefully analyzing odds and risks.
      If some insurance company is jacking up your rates, ostensibly to cover some non-existent threat – another insurance company with really smart analysts will quickly grasp the opportunity – and undercut the other companies rates – driving them out of business.

    • guylacrosse Says:

      That video comes from Tom Moriarty’s blog. The guy has done some good work on renewable energy with Photovoltaics. He just seems to have this big hang-up with Al Gore and Sea Level rise. I guess the video is supposed to show how the IPCCs prediction of 80 cm by 2100 is alarmist. Apparently he has the denier shtick of thinking global warming is a religion, not science and all his work is befuddled with that lens, throwing off his scientific reasoning. IMO he looks like another delusion nutcase, albeit with a better education than your average climate change denier.

  2. ozonator Says:

    Because crime doesn’t pay, extremist Republicans and Christians don’t like paying for their free AGW death and destruction “liberty” earthquakes, “freedom” flooding and hurricanes, and “self-government” solar flares – much like their wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, healthcare, the rest of science, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and insurance companies.

    For examples, “ Monday Quotes: EIB Original … March 8, 2010 …“Popularized by me … gonads … You would think that the insurance companies are causing the earthquakes“ and “Did the Leaders of the Catholic Church Make a Deal with the Redistributionist Devil? … February 13, 2012 …RUSH: … violating the Constitution in such a way that it transgresses on someone else’s liberty … government redistribution of wealth equals charity. … It’s destruction … destroying lives.  … destroys dignity … destroys humanity … destroys the family. … insurance companies will provide abortion, contraception, morning-after pills, whatever” (the old, ugly and evil Rush “looting” Limbaugh with Hannity/Noory conserving Alzheimer’s of the new aristocracy; Investors in AGW, “Audience at tea party debate cheers leaving uninsured to die” (By Rachel Rose Hartman | The Ticket;, 9/13/11). But, at the spawning ground of Looter Limbaugh, “Cape Girardeau County Commission declines coverage for earthquakes caused by terrorists” (By Shay Alderman ~ Southeast Missourian;, 12/16/11).

    • daveburton Says:

      Do you feel better, now, ozonator?


      I personally apologize, on behalf of all us extremist Republicans and Christians, for self-government solar flares. I promise to try not to do it again.

      Does that help?

      • ozonator Says:

        Your are not going to get a free lunch from Heartland for that effort. And, Looter Limbaugh will not invite you on his next AGW disaster sex tour if you fail to get with his yes boys.

  3. […] Insurance Companies Should be Selling the Public on Climate Change ( […]

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