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A Global Review of Insurance Industry Responses to Climate Change


  • Evan Mills

    () (EETD, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, MS 90-4000, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.)


A vanguard of insurers is adapting its business model to the realities of climate change. In many ways, insurers are still catching up both to mainstream science and to their customers, which, in response to climate change and energy volatility, are increasingly changing the way they construct buildings, transport people and goods, design products and produce energy. Customers, as well as regulators and shareholders, are eager to see insurers provide more products and services that respond to the “greening” of the global economy, expand their efforts to improve disaster resilience and otherwise be proactive about the climate change threat. Insurers are increasingly recognising the issue as one of “enterprise risk management” (ERM), one cutting across the domains of underwriting, asset management and corporate governance. Their responses are becoming correspondingly sophisticated. Based on a review of more than 300 source documents, plus a direct survey of insurance companies, we have identified 643 specific activities from 244 insurance entities from 29 countries, representing a 50 per cent year-over-year increase in activity. These entities collectively represent $1.2 trillion in annual premiums and $13 trillion in assets, while employing 2.2 million people. In addition to activities on the part of 189 insurers, eight reinsurers, 20 intermediaries and 27 insurance organisations, we identified 34 non-insurance entities that have collaborated in these efforts. Challenges and opportunities include bringing promising products and services to scale, continuing to identify and fill market and coverage gaps and identifying and confirming the veracity of green improvements. There is also need for convergence between sustainability and disaster resilience, greater engagement by insurers in adaptation to unavoidable climate changes and to clarify the role that regulators will play in moving the market. It has not yet been demonstrated how some insurance lines might respond to climate change and a number of market segments have not yet been served with a single green insurance product or service. As insurer activities obtain more prominence, they also will be subject to more scrutiny and expectations that they are not simply greenwashing. The Geneva Papers (2009) 34, 323–359. doi:10.1057/gpp.2009.14

Suggested Citation

  • Evan Mills, 2009. "A Global Review of Insurance Industry Responses to Climate Change," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 34(3), pages 323-359, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:gpprii:v:34:y:2009:i:3:p:323-359

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:riibaf:v:42:y:2017:i:c:p:1394-1400 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Roger Fouquet (ed.), 2013. "Handbook on Energy and Climate Change," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14429.
    3. Roger Fouquet, 2013. "Low-carbon economy: dark age or golden age?," Chapters,in: Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, chapter 32, pages 682-708 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Alina Averchenkova & Florence Crick & Adriana Kocornik-Mina & Hayley Leck & Swenja Surminski, 2015. "Multinational corporations and climate adaptation – Are we asking the right questions? A review of current knowledge and a new research perspective," GRI Working Papers 183, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    5. Bergmann, Anne & Stechemesser, Kristin & Guenther, Edeltraud, 2016. "Natural resource dependence theory: Impacts of extreme weather events on organizations," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 1361-1366.
    6. Cooke, David J. & Logan, Caroline, 2015. "Capturing clinical complexity: Towards a personality-oriented measure of psychopathy," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 262-273.
    7. Müller-Fürstenberger, Georg & Schumacher, Ingmar, 2015. "Insurance and climate-driven extreme events," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 59-73.
    8. Fabricio Casarejos & Mauricio Nogueira Frota & Gil Penha-Lopes & Vagner Viana Silva & Fernanda Particelli, 2014. "Commitment to Emissions Restrictions of Major Consumers of Electricity in Brazil," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 1-23, September.
    9. E. Keskitalo & Gregor Vulturius & Peter Scholten, 2014. "Adaptation to climate change in the insurance sector: examples from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 71(1), pages 315-334, March.
    10. Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer & Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, 2015. "Financial instruments for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 85-100, November.

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