WASHINGTON - In June 2014, the White House hosted the Roundtable Meeting on Climate Resilience and Insurance, convening senior Federal officials and insurance industry leaders to discuss how to mitigate increasing economic consequences of extreme weather and other climate-related risks. Since then, there have been collaborative efforts to better identify, communicate, and reduce the costs of weather-related events. This collaboration has led to the August 3, 2016, White House Forum on Smart Finance for Disaster Resilience, which is an opportunity to learn about new investment approaches and incentive programs that are being deployed in communities now, and to explore potential innovative financing mechanisms, as well as partnerships and opportunities to leverage additional resources in the future. Participants include state, local, and tribal government decision-makers, as well as representatives from the insurance and financial services industries, and non-profit and philanthropic communities.
The statement below is being issued in conjunction with the Forum on Smart Finance for Disaster Resilience and is another tangible demonstration of the property-casualty insurance industry’s commitment to risk mitigation and our Nation’s resilience. The statement should be jointly attributed to the following organizations:
American Insurance Association
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
Reinsurance Association of America
The property/casualty insurance industry is dedicated to managing risk, including risks related to weather and climate. To help individuals and communities better manage their own risks, the industry is interested in enhancing adaptation and resilience, as well as advancing research and education.
Since 2014, the insurance industry has been engaged in a dialogue with the White House about how to better understand, communicate, and reduce the increasing physical and economic consequences of extreme weather and other climate-related risks. A central theme of this dialogue has been the importance of “building forward,” rather than simply maintaining the status quo in vulnerable, at-risk locations over and over again.
These conversations have resulted in specific initiatives to: increase insurance sector use of NOAA-generated weather and climate data; support enactment of strong codes and standards to improve the resilience of the built environment; improve public awareness about mitigation and disaster preparedness; and discuss public and private sector incentives to encourage individuals, businesses, and communities to reduce risk. Each effort recognizes that public and private sector investments in physical loss mitigation and disaster resilience deliver a strong return on investment and represent sound social policy, fiscal, and environmental policy.
The insurance industry remains committed to helping policyholders and the public in every region of the country: 1) understand the weather- and climate-related risks they face; 2) take effective actions to reduce these risks; 3) identify and understand insurance products that can provide financial protection from these risks; and, 4) resolve damage claims promptly and fairly when events occur.
Many individual insurers are developing new products to better manage risks associated with a rise in extreme weather events. For these types of products to succeed, both the marketplace and regulatory system must recognize the need for risk-appropriate insurance rates to reduce the incentives for poor land use, design, construction, repair, or maintenance practices that both create a greater likelihood of structural damage or destruction for new or existing buildings, and encourage effective property loss mitigation (which can meaningfully decrease damage in many locations and circumstances).
Along these same lines, the insurance industry commends recent Administration efforts to reduce the troubling trajectory of vulnerability, exposure, and loss. These efforts include Executive Order 13690 to improve the nation’s resilience to current and future flood risk; Executive Order 13717 to establish a federal earthquake risk management standard that requires modern seismic safety standards in federal buildings; an Executive Order designed to mitigate wildfire risks to Federal buildings located in the wildland-urban interface; and the recently proposed “Disaster Deductible” to incentivize pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness as part of FEMA’s Public Assistance disaster aid program. Such tangible steps to encourage or require building forward will result in more prudent federal investments before and after disasters.
Insurers have a long-term commitment to addressing weather and climate risks and hope to maintain the current momentum with the next Administration. It is critical to continue advancing efforts and progress being made today and identify additional ways to manage and significantly reduce property risk. Building our nation’s resilience to natural hazards is simply too important for us to ignore.