Could Climate Change Break Home Insurance?

For decades, U.S. homeowners have counted on property insurance to protect them from catastrophic loss if their homes are destroyed—and the U.S. economy has rested on the functionality of that model. But as this summer’s extreme weather broke records, private companies reduced their coverage. As climate disasters become more frequent, can home insurance hold up?

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Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Nancy Watkins
    Principal and Consulting Actuary, Milliman
  • David Marlett
    Managing Director of the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center, Appalachian State University

Show Notes

Homeownership has long been a pillar of the U.S. economy. For many Americans, a house is by far their largest asset. Naturally, they want to protect it in case of disaster, so they buy home insurance. Today, that model is under threat. Why? Climate change.

 

Seeing the increasing destruction wrought by a changing climate, private insurers have opted to reduce or eliminate coverage in some states. Now facing the risk of losing home insurance in addition to the ever-present threat of natural disasters, Americans living in risky areas might be forced to confront a decision to leave their homes for good. The government has thus far stepped in to replace fleeing insurers, though its public insurance programs are more expensive for both homeowners and taxpayers. However, there are a number of other solutions policymakers can consider to reduce the risk of a climate change-fueled collapse of U.S. home insurance.

 

 

From CFR

 

Alice Hill, “Climate Change and U.S. Property Insurance: A Stormy Mix

 

Alice Hill, “The Age of Climate Disaster Is Here,” Foreign Affairs


 

From Our Guests

 

Nancy Watkins, “Prepared Testimony of Nancy Watkins,” [PDF] Risky Business: How Climate Change is Changing Insurance Markets, U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget

 

 

Read More

 

Michael Copley, Rebecca Hersher, and Nathan Rott, How Climate Change Could Cause a Home Insurance Meltdown,” NPR

 

Jean Eaglesham, “Home Insurers Are Charging More and Insuring Less,” Wall Street Journal

 

David D. Evans, Cody Webb, Eric J. Xu, “Wildfire Catastrophe Model Could Spark the Changes California Needs,” [PDF] Milliman 


 

Watch and Listen

 

Innovating Solutions to the Climate Crisis,” CFR.org


How Climate Change Is Impacting Home Insurance Premiums,” NBC News

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