Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler testified before the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on how insurance is impacted by climate change and what’s needed.
Following are excerpts from his testimony.
“If you’re looking for evidence of climate change, you need look no further than the recent increase in insurance losses,” Kreidler said. “Insurance shows the economic reality of climate change. Last winter’s windstorm was the most severe in our state’s history and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to homes and property. Nationally, the insurance industry lost more than $61 billion in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina.”
“Locally and nationally we must focus on mitigating the damage caused by climate change,” he added. “One way we can do this is by enforcing stricter building codes.”
In his testimony, Kreidler recognized that reinsurance companies — the industry that insures the insurers — have been paying attention to climate change because they have the greatest risk. But he called for the private insurance industry to become more engaged.
“Private insurers cannot wait for a federal government rescue,” Kreidler said. “Their financial stake should motivate them to be players in reducing greenhouse gas effects.”
Kreidler added that there also is a role for the federal government. He said that, along with establishing a national greenhouse gas reduction policy, Congress must take the lead in reforming the National Flood Insurance Program.
“We cannot sit back and wait for someone else to find a solution,” he said. “Too much is at stake. One thing is for sure, as stories of more frequent and more severe weather events span the country, regardless of where we live, we all eventually pay the costs.”
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