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NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2021—U.S. insurers are providing financial protection from the property damage caused by climate-related risks while also assessing them closely, the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) stated, in response to a federal governmental Request for Information (RFI). In correspondence submitted this week to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO), the Triple-I noted four of the five costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, as defined by insured losses, originated as tropical storms within the past decade. Moreover, eight of the 10 costliest wildfires in U.S. history, as measured by insured losses, have occurred since 2017, according to the Triple-I. “Insurers are no stranger to climate and extreme-weather risk,” stated Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I, and Dale Porfilio, Chief Insurance Officer, Triple-I, in the organization’s RFI response to Steven Seitz, Director, FIO. “We may not always have talked about the issue in those terms, but our industry has had a financial stake in it for decades.” In its RFI, the FIO sought insights into climate-related issues, potential gaps in the supervision and regulation of U.S. insurers, and the availability and affordability of insurance, among other matters. “To assess climate-related issues, FIO should participate in all federal discussions of climate risk, including the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate’s activities. It also should take advantage of the excellent research being conducted in the insurance and other business sectors, as well as academia, to remain current on issues and activities,” the Triple-I’s response stated. “The U.S. insurance sector is arguably the most heavily regulated industry in the world, and it has a long history of providing stability during periods of difficulty and crisis,” the Triple-I continued. “This, combined with the industry’s prudent reserving practices, has contributed to its ability to keep promises to policyholders during some of the most challenging economic periods.” The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) protocol provides a strong regulatory framework for supervision of climate-risk and financial solvency, the Triple-I’s RFI statement added. “Essential to the industry’s financial strength is the ability to price coverage consistently with expected costs. In markets where pricing is constrained – whether by state fiat or due to risk conditions that limit insurers’ underwriting appetite – hurricane and earthquake needs are being met by residual market solutions. Residual market programs make basic coverage more readily available in areas that are highly prone to specific risks. California, Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina have large residual markets due, at least in part, to pricing restrictions. Such areas could be vulnerable to disruption after a major event, pushing the cost along to taxpayers,” the Triple-I observed. “With respect to insurance availability and affordability, expected losses and costs are key – particularly in high-risk areas and among traditionally underserved communities, minorities, and low- and moderate-income individuals, who tend to suffer most when natural disasters strike,” the Triple-I stated. To illustrate how insurers are leading on this issue, the Triple-I has created products like its Resilience Accelerator and Resilience Ratings map. Both offer guidance to the public on ways to mitigate against climate-related risks.
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