SAN FRANCISCO (June 5, 2007) – The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) on Monday expressed concerns about a proposal that would force insurers to answer an extensive set of legalistic “interrogatories” covering virtually every aspect of their business activities’ purported impact on climate change. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Climate Change and Global Warming Task Force considered the proposal, which was submitted by representatives of three advocacy groups, at its annual summer meeting here Monday.
“From an insurance standpoint, it is extremely important to better understand the effect that cyclical changes in atmospheric and oceanic weather patterns have on catastrophe risk. That much we should all be able to agree on,” said Robert Detlefsen, NAMIC’s vice president of public policy. “But the proposed interrogatories mistakenly assume that recent increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are caused by climate change.”
The proposal from the Natural Resources Defense Council, CERES, and the Center for Economic Justice cited research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying global temperature is expected to increase between 2 degrees and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
“Given that even the most pessimistic scientific forecasts estimate that the average global temperature is occurring at the rate of eleven-hundredths of 1 degree per year, it is absurd to demand that insurers provide detailed explanations of their attention to climate change on an annual basis,” Detlefsen explained. “For insurers, the emphasis properly belongs on extreme weather patterns in catastrophe-prone regions, not on vanishingly small increases in global temperature.”
Detlefsen said the insurance industry is committed to actions that can reduce human and financial suffering from severe weather incidents. “Insurers are actively aware of the role that actuarially-based property insurance premiums, as well as stronger building codes and more sensible land use planning, can play in mitigating catastrophe risk,” he said. “We look forward to working with regulators to develop workable strategies that will address problems arising from the continuing migration of people and wealth to areas that are highly vulnerable to weather-related risk. These problems require immediate attention, and they have nothing to do with the possibility that the Earth might be 11 degrees warmer 100 years from now.”
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