The U.S. property and casualty industry may be nearing acrossroads in its approach to climate change, perhaps prompting amore proactive strategy on the part of individual carriers andinsurance associations to limit the threat to the environment andcompany bottom lines over the long term.

The causes, pace, and repercussions of climate change may remaincontroversial for some. However, since it is often insurers thathave to pay for the increasing frequency and severity ofweather-related damages, delay in responding due to skepticismmight prove costly. Indeed, it would be prudent for carriers toprepare for the worst when it comes to climate change, just in casethe consensus of the vast majority of scientists in the field proveto be correct.

U.S. insurers and their associations have long been at theforefront in terms of adaptation to the effects of shifts inweather patterns, testing disaster-resistant construction materialsand techniques while advocating stronger building codes, updatedflood mapping, and more hazard-sensitive zoning laws for propertydevelopment. A number of insurers have also looked to supportsustainability efforts by issuing new types of “green” insuranceproducts that facilitate construction of more environmentallyfriendly buildings and retrofitting to upgrade existingfacilities.

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