Insurance Companies and the Environment

Just when I was happy to slam insurance companies as often as possible -- mostly for their "customer service" rather than their product -- they suddenly turn into the "good guys" who are out to save the environment!

No kidding -- insurance companies are waking up to the threat of green house gases and climate change. And they could be the big litigants against the big polluters -- oil companies, car makers, and utilities -- that might finally get the business world's attention, much like big government got the attention of big tobacco.

Before I make them sound like Robin Hood against the Sheriff (or perhaps that's not a bad analogy), it's not like the insurers are doing this out of benevolence. It's because they are predicting many more large scale catastrophes, caused by severe weather. In fact, our most recent severe weather story in North America, Hurricane Katrina, has cost the US insurance industry nearly $40 Billion. That's enough to get the attention any profit-driven venture.

So what gets insurers out in front of the government or other bodies on this issue? They don't need "scientific proof" that the climate is changing; they have the hard dollar proof in claims. In fact, 7 of the 10 most destructive hurricanes have happened in only the past 2 years! And based on the statistical models that insurers use, it can only get worse.  

But a suit has to be "in good standing" in order to get in front of a court. How will the insurance industry fair in the legal system? Well, this is the hurdle that insurers will have to get over. They will have to demonstrate that damage was suffered by them that can actually be corrected by a court-imposed decision.

As someone who would like to see our children inherit a planet in good repair, here's hoping the insurance companies start to create some upheaval that results in action to help our environment -- because the government currently is not willing.


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