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Regulators say insurers should warn us about climate change

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Did you know that insurance is regulated? At multiple different levels by different regulators, across the country.


The Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) is an inter-jurisdictional association of those regulators. It says insurers need to help Canadian homeowners better protect their property in the face of natural catastrophes and climate change. It also says they have an obligation to ensure we get enough information about the subject to make informed decisions about our coverage.


It’s probably behind a paywall, but I’ve written about it here:


The insurance regulators are an interesting source of information if climate change evidence is your jam. Several position and issues papers published over the years are cited in this most recent position paper, Climate Change, Natural Catastrophes and Consumer Awareness, published in early April. The papers often catalogue natural catastrophe events, damages and resulting costs.


The focus of this particular paper is on the low awareness consumers have about the risks to their property. It says only 12 per cent of people believe their property is at risk of an earthquake, for instance, when 24 per cent live in high-risk earthquake zones. “This misalignment is also evident in flooding,” they write, citing a 2020 study which showed only six per cent of people living in designated flood risk areas agreeing that their property is at high risk. They add that 63 per cent don’t believe that flood risk will increase in the next two decades. (Notably, the say the awareness gap also exists among builders, prospective buyers and even infrastructure investors.)


Interestingly, the regulators have called the lack of information presented to would-be purchasers of insurance a fairness issue. There is a guiding document in the insurance industry called the Conduct of Insurance Business and Fair Treatment of Customers guidance, which effectively says consumers must be treated with fairness throughout the life-cycle of the insurance product – before, during and after the sale is made. They say providing customers with clear, accurate and sufficient information will allow them to make informed decisions. The recommendations in the paper – that insurers get better at communicating about known natural catastrophe risks – are designed to help ensure that those fair treatment outcomes are achieved.


“CCIR recommends that insurers and intermediaries (your broker), identify and implement best practices that they may use to help communicate risk and insurance options to consumers,” they write.



Need someone who can write news briefs like this on complex topics that most won't touch? Call Kate!




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