Friday, July 13, 2012

Climate change brings insurance worries

Mike Ivey in the Cap Times (Wisconsin): If this summer is any indication, climate change will cost us all. From drought-ravaged farmers filing crop insurance claims to homeowners dealing with storm damage, the fickle weather is proving expensive. Insurers nationwide are already facing claims of almost $2 billion from fires, hail and thunderstorms that hit parts of the U.S. last month

Moreover, the extreme conditions are calling into question many of the assumptions about risk and forcing insurers to adjust going forward. “Mother Nature has always been unpredictable but when you start factoring in climate change, it throws the actuarial numbers out the window,’’ says Martha Lester-Mittenzwei, insurance and risk management instructor at Madison College.

Earlier this year, Madison College hosted a conference featuring a panel focused on the effect of climate change on the property and casualty industry. It’s a big issue in Wisconsin, which is not only dependent on agriculture as a backbone industry but is home to property and casualty insurers like American Family, West Bend Mutual and CUNA Mutual Group, which sells crop insurance in partnership with Producers Ag Insurance Group.

“We’re going to see a real push for risk management, both from homeowners and businesses,” says Lester-Mittenzwei....

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