Indianapolis - In the latest move by the insurance industry to participate in reducing the effects of global warming, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) unveiled a new Web site this week: www.climateandinsurance.org. The site is designed to help address the increasing concerns about climate change and its impact on the property/casualty insurance industry.  "There has been considerable discussion of climate change and the insurance industry taking place within state, federal and international policy venues. Increasingly, climate change is discussed in the context of public policy in the areas of flood and other natural disaster insurance, emergency preparedness and response, and reinsurance, among others," explained Chuck Chamness, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based organization. Chamness said the site will not advocate a position on the scientific controversy of the causes of the increase in natural disasters around the world.  "Instead, it contains information and leading thought about how climate change impacts the insurance industry, and what insurers and reinsurers in the U. S. and Europe are doing with this issue," Chamness added. David Reddick, NAMIC's associate director of public policy and editor of the Web site, said podcasts, blogs, videocasts and other interactive features will be added to the site, depending on the needs of its users. Reddick said the site will also report on the status of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Climate Change and Global Warming (EX) Task Force and other regulatory or legislative efforts. NAIC has long been active in promoting education for natural catastrophe and associated risk management.  "As public policy begins to develop more fully on climate change, the industry's response will be a key feature of the site," Reddick said. "We're anxious to get feedback to help us make this a significant resource for those in the industry as well as other interested and involved parties, including other information sources, policymakers, the media and consumers."  Insurance Networking News (INN) further reported on the industry's response in August 2006, citing several carriers that are stepping up their efforts to more fully engage the global warming topic.  For example, Firemen's Fund Insurance is launching a first-of-its-kind 'green' coverage, including rate credits and other incentives, for commercial building owners who re-build damaged properties using green and LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building practices. California-based Firemen's Fund will begin seeking state regulatory approvals this month so that the products can be offered in states around the country this fall. Marsh, the world's largest insurance broker, and AIG, the world's largest insurer, launched carbon emissions credit guarantees and other new renewable energy-related insurance products that are allowing more companies to participate in carbon offset projects and growing carbon emissions trading markets. The carbon trading market in the European Union alone is expected to hit $30 billion by the end of 2006. And Japanese insurer, Tokio Marine & Nichido Life, reforested more than 7,500 acres of angroves in Indonesia, Thailand and several other countries to minimize losses from rising cyclone-related risks. Yet for all the industry's efforts, it must do even more to address the growing impact of climate change-induced damages, according to a new report by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Munich-based global insurer Allianz Group. In October 2006 INN described a report, Climate Change and Insurance: An Agenda for Action in the United States, which examined the latest scientific findings about climate change, including the impacts of forest fires, storms and floods, and the potential impact on the insurance industry and its customers.  According to the report, climate change has the potential to significantly alter and intensify destructive weather patterns in the United States, leading to increased flooding, forest fires and storm damage. The most direct risk to the U.S. will likely come from hurricanes, which are expected to become more frequent and powerful. Additionally, rising sea levels over the coming decades could inundate many US coastal cities and portions of some coastal states. Forest fires could become even more frequent and larger. These changes could make insurance unaffordable for customers in high-risk areas. In fact, insurance premiums in states vulnerable to hurricanes are already increasing, and in some cases, insurers are exiting these markets altogether.  Allianz and Washington-based WWF intend to engage the insurance industry, governments, regulators and others to better manage the risks associated with climate change, said the organizations. Sources: NAMIC, Insurance Networking News Archives

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