Canadian Underwriter

IBC calls for “whole-of-society” approach to tackling climate change

April 9, 2018   by Staff

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floods-01The insurance industry has been hit hard by severe weather events in recent years—and it’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

“There are some who still think about climate change in the future tense – as something that is going to happen,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “Insurance companies are on the front lines of climate impact, so I can tell you first-hand: climate change is affecting Canadians now. It has gone from future threat to present danger.”

Speaking at a panel discussion on climate change and the financial sector at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, Forgeron noted the dramatic increase in claims insurers have been paying out due to weather-related events.

“A generation ago, insurers paid out – on average – about $400 million a year on weather-related costs in Canada,” he said. “Today, that number is often over $1 billion, and sometimes much higher. That represents just the insured costs associated with natural catastrophes – not the costs to government treasuries, which have been growing at an even faster rate.”

Forgeron said insurers have a role to play in raising awareness about the impact of climate change.

“Within the insurance industry, we are taking steps to better educate consumers about the realities of flood – and how to reduce their individual risk,” he said. “We are also advocating for improved infrastructure and land-use policies. And we’re helping to develop new protective technologies, such as basement moisture sensors.”

But Forgeron noted that insurers alone can’t be responsible for educating the public and finding ways to mitigate the effects of global warming.

“At IBC, we firmly believe that everyone has a role to play,” he said. “We call this a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to climate change. We believe it is time we had a national conversation about sustainable investing and the financial levers that will help us transition to a low-carbon economy.”

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This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.