Insurance woes increase as climate change impacts profitability

In Iowa, a state typically seen as low-risk for insurers, companies are withdrawing due to increased losses caused by climate change.

Christopher Flavelle reports for The New York Times.


In short:

  • In Iowa, increased frequency of severe weather events like hail and wind storms has led to significant insurance company losses.
  • Homeowners face cancellations and difficulties in finding new insurers, potentially leading to financial ruin without coverage.
  • The situation mirrors broader national trends where climate change impacts are destabilizing insurance markets.

Key quote:

“Insurance is where many people are feeling the economic impacts of climate change first. That is going to spill over into housing markets, mortgage markets, and local economies.”

— Carolyn Kousky, associate vice president for economics and policy at the Environmental Defense Fund

Why this matters:

The retreat of insurance providers from Iowa is primarily due to an uptick in severe weather events, including more intense and frequent storms and flooding, which have led to higher-than-expected payouts. This pattern is indicative of a larger, more worrying trend that could reshape the insurance industry nationwide. As weather patterns become less predictable and more extreme, insurance companies are forced to reassess their exposure to risks they had previously underestimated.

A 2023 story by Derrick Z. Jackson reports that nearly 15 million homes were impacted in 2021 by climate disasters.

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