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What the Insurance Industry Thinks About Climate Change

samzenpus posted 1 year,3 days | from the hedge-your-bets dept.

Earth 385

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg reports at the Smithsonian that if there's one group has an obvious and immediate financial stake in climate change, it's the insurance industry and in recent years, insurance industry researchers who attempt to determine the annual odds of catastrophic weather-related disasters say they're seeing something new. 'Our business depends on us being neutral. We simply try to make the best possible assessment of risk today, with no vested interest,' says Robert Muir-Wood, the chief scientist of Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a company that creates software models to allow insurance companies to calculate risk. Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn't happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming. 'Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,' says Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America. 'It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.' A pronounced shift can be seen in extreme rainfall events, heat waves and wind storms and the underlying reason is climate change, says Muir-Wood, driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. 'The first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,' he says. 'We've since seen that today's activity has changed in other particular areas as well—with extreme rainfall events, such as the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado, and with heat waves in certain parts of the world.' Muir-Wood puts his money where his mouth is. 'I personally wouldn't invest in beachfront property anymore,' he says, noting the steady increase in sea level we're expecting to see worldwide in the coming century, on top of more extreme storms. 'And if you're thinking about it, I'd calculate quite carefully how far back you'd have to be in the event of a hurricane.'"

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You would trust insurance companies on this? (5, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966157)

Insurance companies are always looking for an excuse to raise rates. They are not going to look for evidence against global warming when they can pretend that it has all been totally proven and tell clients that the risks are now sky high and, oh, by the way, your rates are now 60% higher to account for that.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966163)

This just in: Exxon has bought State Farm. Free flood insurance for everyone!

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (4, Insightful)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966215)

At best the types of data that insurance companies would collect would be measurements of effects not proof of a cause. All you can say about more storms hitting areas that you insure is that for some reason there is more storms lately. You can't say whether or not it is due to man made reasons, geological cycles, purple space gods that are angry that 30 Rock went off the air etc.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (5, Informative)

IAmR007 (2539972) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966323)

Weather models and climate models look at an entirely different scales. Both involve complex fluid dynamics and such, but look at a different scale. Weather forecasting tries to predict the chaos. Climate modeling, on the other hand, concerns the patterns. A model of the Earth in current conditions can then be modified to have increasing greenhouse gases, geological cycles, etc. Some of those, like geological cycles, occur at a rate several orders of magnitude slower than what we are currently seeing. Just because computer models are virtual doesn't mean they can't be used to experiment. Computer models are vital for our understanding of things at extreme scales. Source: Masters in High Performance Computing

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (4, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966935)

I actually personally think global warming is happening just I doubt the insurance companies care one way or another other than the direction and magnitude of expected adverse events.

With climate modelling the problem is a hugely nested group of models all of which can be off by a lot. They have a model of how various greenhouse gases interact with longterm weather patterns (general air currents, typical ocean currents etc) but also the different layers of the atmosphere. So they end up with a model of how the gases work, a model of how they are produced, and a model of how the interrelated weather patterns behave.

I have a bachelors and a few publications in physics doing computer modelling and we were happy if we could get the direction right and within an order of magnitude. I suspect climatologists are the same way especially since it is such a cross domain problem (fluid dynamics, chemistry and when it actually affects people demographics).

Demographics/social side of things will be key IMO and often ignored. I see all sorts of maps showing where the water level will be and where the population centres are. The thing is people can move and generally are much less tolerant of death tolls than the actual economic cost of the death tolls (ex: people in the US panic that a few thousand people died due to terrorism in one year which works out to about 0.0001% of the population and hasn't since been repeated). If things get too bad near the shore they'll move further in land and I'd suspect 90+% of the existing population will be survivors. You still have things like droughts and such but storms are another matter. Deaths due to storms as they are predicted pretty much assume people will continue living where they do and that governments won't invest in better infrastructure to be able to detect early and efficiently evacuate areas before the storm hits. Sure there are little island nations that might get wiped out but the thing is they are little and thus a relatively small percentage of people. The LAs and New Yorks of the world will figure out what they need to do to balance the risk/reward for living there or will become vacate wastelands a la Detroit which they have proven is possible in the time scale we expect global warming to take hold as it has happened before (see Detroit :)).

In terms of storms insurance companies will care because they'll have to pay for the lost infrastructure. It will be an emotional trying time for people dealing with a Katrina every year but the actual species cost I suspect will be pretty low. Of course insurance companies also insure crops and people need to eat and drink ... that is what will kill us from global warming. Weather patterns in the sense of 100 year storms not so much.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966687)

It dosn't matter to the Insurance companies if the effect is there they might have to pay put and so they will factor it in.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966715)

Yea....but there's not "more storms". And the few storms that are hitting are doing so where idiots build expensive homes. And the Insurance companies are stupid enough to insure them.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966247)

Well, I work for an insurance company and I can tell you, the difference between the actuaries correctly predicting future claims and incorrectly is the difference between a product making money and costing money. We try and produce new marketable products every few years and the failure rate is high, with millions in up front investment down the drain. Actuaries have a vested interested in getting it right, so they're not priced out of the market whilst still being profitable. Just ignoring that traditionally insurance companies don't make money on premiums but on investing the money before the insurance is claimed against... of course, that tradition is not very alive any more... but that is how it once was.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (-1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966877)

However, keep in mind which way the incentives work.

Predict too low--- lose money.
Predict too high--- make extra money.

Specific events like the rainfall in Boulder are also very bad examples. Such events have probably happened randomly many times over the last 1,000 years.

You missed a term (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966921)

You're forgetting market pressure. Predict too high - nobody buys the insurance because it is too expensive and your competition is cheaper. If insurance were a monopoly you would be correct, however.

And you seem to have missed the point this gentleman in the article was trying to make. The rainfall in Boulder is a good example, not a bad one. These people mine data for a living. If they're seeing catastrophic weather events trending upwards, that means something. He even said the old traditional averages around 05 have broken down.

That's vitally, fantastically important information.

""Our business depends on us being neutral"" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966891)

""Our business depends on us being neutral"" One of the biggest rhetorical statements of the year..

Maybe you can explain this to the people who suffered from flooding and there insurance refuses to cover the damage (obviously they have flood insurance or weather related coverage) . Instead people have to wait for Federal Emergency Assessment to determine whether or an area is eligible for "loans" to cover the damage. Or the damage requires the state and federal agencies to intervene and give out money.

And you cannot use a "computer" to determine if, or when, an event is going to take place it should come down to common consensus, flooding has always happened, hurricanes happen, what you guys/gals are trying to do is figure out how to cheat people out of coverage.

Re:""Our business depends on us being neutral"" (1)

Fjandr (66656) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966977)

Yes, those events have happened and continue to happen. The quantity and severity averages, however, have changed.

People are typically denied payout on coverages because they don't understand the policies for which they are paying. Otherwise they leave themselves open to class action lawsuits.

Re: You would trust insurance companies on this? (1)

MondoGordo (2277808) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966923)

Actually actuaries have a vested interest in not under-predicting claims, not in "getting it right"! As long as the actual claims fall short of what's predicted the insurance company will do fine. In fact the more negative predictions that can be"justified" in some way but don't happen the better off the insurance company is.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966265)

I'd trust insurance companies.

In fact, I'll one up them. You know how nobody's ever responsible for acts of god?

Well, I will be. For $1m/year, I will insure anything against acts of not only the Judeo-Christian god, but any god*.

(* Gods restricted to beings of divine origin only. Music is not your god, nor will we cover damage from sitting too close to the speakers of a cover band in your local dive bar. Coverage not applicable to damage caused by angels, demi-gods, exalted servants, or other quasi-divine beings.)

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966273)

If you really believe that, then your path to fortune is clear: start your own insurance company to compete with these bandits. If you think you can estimate risks more honestly and accurately than they do, you should be a billionaire within ten years.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966293)

Yep. Odd isn't it, that this would be found:

'The first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,'

in a year which has had no Atlantic hurricanes despite widespread forecasts predicting more than normal. Of course, it's only "weather" when short term changes move against AGW, but it's "climate" when they support it. Oh, and now it's "climate change" and "extremes" rather than warming. Simply put, there is nothing which can happen with actual weather/climate which might support an argument against AGW. That's not science - science is based on testable hypothesis, and this game is rigged so the result of any "test" is always the same.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (4, Insightful)

sysrammer (446839) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966425)

"'The first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,'"

fwiw, I find this statement to be "controversy neutral".

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966539)

in a year which has had no Atlantic hurricanes

Which year was that? 2013 has had Humberto and Ingrid so far.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (1)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966809)

Sorry, I should have qualified that with "which made landfall," which is what's significant in insurance terms.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966625)

They changed it from "global warming" to "climate change" not because of an inaccuracy with the former term, but because dullards couldn't comprehend that global warming means global average and that certain areas will actually cool during this process. In other words, it was dumbed-down for people like you.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966731)

Where's the warming, mother fucker?

Even your gods at the IPPC are struggling to explain why there hasn't been warming since 1998. [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (-1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966805)

Where's the warming, mother fucker?

Slashdot climate discussion #4293 commences, with the usual insightful argument from the "Fuck no, there ain't no climate change and scientists are all a bunch of money-grubbing commies trying to take an honest dollar away from poor, downtrodden energy industry CEOs. And black president argle-bargle!"

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966851)

Funny, in these conversations I only see the race of the president mentioned by people who hate the right wingers. The right wingers never bring it up as an issue.

Why does his race mean anything in your argument?

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966757)

I see some "A" is yelling fire in the house again. I suppose some one rescued the poor folks off the Maldives? Or did they just want to tax the rest of the world because they were "poor" and needed another convention to come to town, no, dummie, they changed the terminology because they could, they are the owners of global warming. It's people who "believe man is bad for the world" that control the hysteria.
1. you call names, people don't listen.
2. You threaten with immanent death, by heat, go back to southern - whatever state, and listen to the preachers, especially the Baptist's, they threaten death and destruction, because "C" is coming, or "O" is here, so you gotta get back to "G".
3. Global warming is good, manufactured pollution is bad, get again the right good bad stuff.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (2)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966803)

Oh, and now it's "climate change" and "extremes" rather than warming.

Well yes.... when a theory has been disproven, or shown to have a problem; scientists adjust the theory, with the minimum change necessary, so it no longer has a problem.

This iterative process of correcting the theory, when shown to be in error --- is how science works; all important theories have some sort of evolution such as this, and no theory is 100% correct.

AGW can be 10% wrong, and still represent a serious problem.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966859)

AGW can be 100% nonexistent, and still represent a serious problem.

Somehow.

We have this thing called "competition" (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966315)

If another insurance company thinks climate change is a bunch of bunk, they can lower rates and steal business from the company that has reached the opposite conclusion.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966507)

If another insurance company thinks climate change is a bunch of bunk, they can lower rates and steal business from the company that has reached the opposite conclusion.

Umm, not really. Things like homeowner's insurance tend to be highly-regulated markets, with a lot of state government input if not outright control of rates.

They'd be more likely to go with higher rates with the expectation of making higher profits.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (4, Insightful)

Chalnoth (1334923) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966637)

The end result is still measurable in terms of profit. If there is no climate change, or it really isn't impacting severe weather, and insurance companies raise rates, then their profits will soar. If, instead, we have more severe weather and the insurance companies accurately predict it, their profits will remain about the same.

I'm actually betting that they're going to have some severe financial troubles in aggregate, because I think the impact of global warming will be significantly worse than anybody's predicting. But we'll see.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966963)

To truly "bet" on that prediction, short their stock.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966527)

Or just go with the industry and make more profit. Why would a business want to undercut itself? And make less profit?
I think it would be more logical to assume that businesses will look out for their own best interest and try and get as much profit as possible.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966887)

What, you don't believe in free market? Competition would drive prices down. The insurer with the lower price would have more customers. Given this, it truly does come down to an honest assessment of risk by the insurance companies, not a ploy to raise rates.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (1, Insightful)

deimtee (762122) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966555)

These policy prices are largely determined by the re-insurers, not the insurance companies you deal with directly.
This is a much smaller group of much larger companies. I would have no difficulty believing they were colluding to raise prices.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966565)

"If another insurance company thinks climate change is a bunch of bunk, they can lower rates and steal business..."

Which works until it's time pay for the damages.

Insurance is about smart risk management not buying market share.

Loading your book with cheap junk is surest way to lose money.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (1)

MetalOne (564360) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966573)

I have often wondered if an insurance company is the perfect vehicle to get rich.
step1) Undercut competition with cheaper rates to attract customers.
step2) Pay yourself as CEO an exorbitant salary.
step3) Hope a big disaster never strikes and roll with 1) and 2) for as long as possible.
If disaster strikes file for bankruptcy or hope for federal bailout.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966699)

You just described Florida in 2004-05.

That's why they reevaluated their projections then. Too many companies went under from lack of funds and left homeowners hanging.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (2)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966825)

If another insurance company thinks climate change is a bunch of bunk, they can lower rates and steal business from the company that has reached the opposite conclusion.

This would be ill-advised, because there probably is indeed a trend the insurance companies are recognizing. However, this is not necessarily "climate change caused by fossil fuels" as argued by some; there are various possible causes or changes that might impact risk to insurance companies ------ such as people becoming even more careless than before about where they build, or unusually high solar activity.

Re:We have this thing called "competition" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966917)

If another insurance company thinks climate change is a bunch of bunk, they can lower rates and steal business from the company that has reached the opposite conclusion.

Yes, because after all, we have wildly varying prices on gas from city to city, with some cities only charging $2 a gallon, while others charge $4, right?

Give me a break. The first thing that insurance companies will do with this kind of bullshit is collude together to ensure that everyone can charge obscene amounts for insurance, thereby guaranteeing a healthy new revenue stream based off little more than speculation.

Don't worry though. The worst is yet to come. Wait until insurance companies start colluding with the stock market and lobby to use HFT to calculate your rates by the second, based on every damn action you do all throughout the day, which of course is provided to them via "worthless" metadata...

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966697)

Mod up. Insurance companies make money collecting premiums, not paying claims.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966749)

Insurance companies are always looking for an excuse to raise rates.

Go past the headline, and you'll learn that there's a lot more to insurance companies' reaction to climate change than rate increases.

Insurance companies, energy companies, pharmaceuticals, even military contractors are all planning for climate change. For anthropomorphic climate change. The biggest companies worldwide are baking climate change into their plans for their future.

So I guess you can say that even John Galt believes in climate change. But not publicly, because it's useful for the rubes to think it's all some bogus nonsense that the 95% of scientists who are obviously liberal cooked up to take away your freedoms.

correction: anthropo-something (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966773)

Oh, you know else who is making business decisions based on a future of anthropogenic (sorry, I typed wrong) climate change?

ADM, Monsanto, Dow Chemical. Companies that are involved in worldwide agribusiness. They're all betting heavily on climate change (the anthro-something one).

But not you, because you know better and the AM radio told you so.

Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966939)

amazing.
Scientists proclaim that climage change is occurring. Scientists are doing this for making money.
American DOD studies it and proclaims that it is occuring and they need to be ready. Obviously, it is about making money.
Insurance companies procmain that it is occuring and show evidence of it. Obviously, it is about making money.

Then the oil companies and the GOP claim that it is not happening, and you claim that it is not about making money.

Really? I guess that explains why we have creationism being pushed into schools.

Detroit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966171)

Now all of the Detroit real-estate strategies make sense. The next hurricane that hits New York will cause the insurance companies to back out like they did in the gulf (which put Atlanta over the real estate tipping point). But, first, lets put Detroit into bankrupcy so that the wealthy can extract the land first.

The insurance message is ... (-1)

jamesl (106902) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966205)

... it's gonna be bad. Real bad. And because its gonna be bad, we're gonna charge you an arm and two legs for coverage.

Saying that catastrophic climate change is coming is like ... is like ... is like an umbrella salesman telling you it is going to rain. All upside and no downside.

Re:The insurance message is ... (5, Insightful)

Charles Duffy (2856687) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966249)

The downside is that their less-pessimistic competitors undercut them on rates and win big.

Until, of course, the pessimistic view proves right, and those competitors go under. Or, if you're really pessimistic, get a bailout.

Here's the "downside" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966581)

The "downside" is that Hugh Pickens is Roland Piquepaille [wikipedia.org]

reincarnated.

Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (0)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966217)

With all the public money sloshing around in various climate change-related sectors like renewable energy, carbon emission credits, public transportation, and climate change reparations, there's plenty with which to bribe various insurance entities.

Note this blurb:

But even in the short term, Muir-Woodâ(TM)s team has determined, the risk of a variety of disasters seems to have already shifted. âoeThe first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,â he says. âoeWeâ(TM)ve since seen that todayâ(TM)s activity has changed in other particular areas as wellâ"with extreme rainfall events, such as the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado, and with heat waves in certain parts of the world.â

Sure, we can blame that on climate change, it is the fad after all. But here, the big ignored factor is public flood insurance - something they don't mention at all. If you subsidize the building and repair of stuff in flood-prone areas, then more stuff gets built there and you get more flood damage. It's a straightforward case of moral hazard. And note all the flooding damage they bother to mention is in the US.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966423)

So the insurance companies are in on it now, taking bribes from the shadowy international group of scientists perpetrating the hoax so that they'll use climate data even though intentionally using inaccurate information would be very bad for their business.

I was looking forward to seeing how this would effect the grand conspiracy theory.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966537)

taking bribes from the shadowy international group of scientists

There's big money in climate change. Even Big Oil got on board. I see it as much a conspiracy as a bunch of pigs fighting for a place at the feeding trough.

so that they'll use climate data even though intentionally using inaccurate information would be very bad for their business.

Where's the evidence that the insurers were corrupting their business practices? Just because someone decided to pay lip service to climate change doesn't mean anything about how they provide insurance or estimate risks.

For me, it boils down to a simple observation. Where's the money? It's not in ranting against bad public insurance policies.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966641)

There's big money in climate change. Even Big Oil got on board.

There is magnitudes more money on the other side. Big Oil didn't get on board, they simply realize reality too.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966875)

There is magnitudes more money on the other side.

Do the math. Wikipedia claims half a trillion in fossil fuel subsidies versus almost 90 billion just in renewable energy subsidies in 2011. That's not an order of magnitude, much less several orders. And I mentioned a number of other big business sectors than just renewable energy.

Most of the fossil fuel subsidies are provided by oil producer nations such as OPEC memberes and Russia. Not everyone can get the subsidies and rent seeking opportunities that state-owned Gazprom or Saudi Aramco have. For example, at least 40 billion [csis.org] was due to Saudi Arabia alone (it's domestic oil consumption subsidy (which incidentally is significant enough to impair production!) and subsidies for oil-based electricity and water desalinization). I see that Gazprom had around $5 billion per year just in subsidies to former Soviet republic members. Venezuela has similar consumption subsidies kicking in about $4 billion [npr.org] a year currently.

In comparison, those renewable energy and other subsidies are ripe for the taking and not previously claimed by a state actor. And there's no reason a business can't claim both fossil fuel subsidies and climate change-related subsidies. It's not that hard.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (2)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966627)

It may also be that US federal flood insurance is a profitable boondoggle for parts of the insurance industry. In that case, redirecting blame for their profits on climate change rather than fat public subsidies may allow the gravy train to run longer than it otherwise would.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966525)

I read your post a few times, and failed to make sense out of it. Who are you saying is profiting from flood damage?

Tip: there's this button labeled "Preview" right under the box where you type stuff...

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (0)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966603)

Who are you saying is profiting from flood damage?

Builders and real estate investors for example. Someone builds a house on the beach. A hurricane washes it away. The cheap flood insurance pays most of the cost of replacing that house. The builders get plenty of money from rebuilding expensive real estate. And the value of flood-prone land goes up in value, benefiting the investor who happens to hold it.

Re:Don't forgot, public money spends just fine (2)

sg_oneill (159032) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966913)

Sure, we can blame that on climate change, it is the fad after all.

Like the "evolution" fad , or the "round earth" fad?

the laws of science caresnot for popular thought. The physics of CO2 infra red absorbsion are well defined and the mechanism behind anthropomorphic science change would be just as valid if everyone thought like the anti-science crowd and denied the greenhouse effect.

alarmist's activity is on rise (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966219)

winter's coming...

Insurance companies are the biggest scam (0)

Nyder (754090) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966225)

They exist to help it's customers in times of need, yet it's a for profit business. Those 2 do NOT work together.

O Rly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966241)

"I wouldn't invest in beach front property"

Tell that to the residents of Boulder, Co.

Also see http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/01/castles-built-on-sand.html

Your knowledge from an insurance co? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966277)

Seriously, you take their estimate of risk as gospel? Their goal is to collect as much as possible, and pay as little as possible. They are simply trying to hedge their bets on the collection side. Duh.

And for the record, the Atlantic hurricane intensity has not increased one iota. That is a complete outright lie which they should know if they spoke to an actual expert on Atlantic basin hurricanes. The reason for larger payouts from damage in the past is that MORE people and expensive property are near the coast lines. They have been subsidizing bad behavior. Climate change is not the culprit there.

Re:Your knowledge from an insurance co? (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966443)

This is wrong. Not that they want to collect as much as possible while paying as little as possible, that's true, but the idea that they do so by "hedging their bets on the collection side." This would put them at a disadvantage. The more accurate their estimates, the more they can fine-tune prices to maximize profit.

When they do spew fear-based rhetoric, like the IIHS does 24/7, it's not so they can jack up rates, it's so they can make the world safer. Jacking up their rates makes them less competitive, making the world safer is good for their whole industry because the price decrease can lag behind it, and there's more profit margin to be had on safer risks.

Re:Your knowledge from an insurance co? (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966511)

Nonsense, they are looking for excuses to provide no coverage. Meanwhile, look at what climate change has done to boost number of hurricanes in 2013 (remember the "climatologists" wailing 'global warming will cause more hurricanes!') Oh wait......that isn't happening, and the "climatologists" have been back-pedaling on their doomsday predictions.

Re:Your knowledge from an insurance co? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966857)

Instead of getting your science from the media, try getting it from the scientist. You know how I can tell? Scientist repeatedly say that 1 year is not an indication either way. They said this last year when the media acted like Sandy made global warming true. Pundits act like every snow disproves warming and ever drought proves it. Those are pundits. The real science is looking at change over decades.

Re:Your knowledge from an insurance co? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966925)

yeah, cool, i guess your area didn't get smoked by "superstorm" Sandy last year....

first the global warming washed away the coast but i didn't care because i lived in the flyover country...

then flyover country became a fucking desert but by then it was too late.

when whatever shit hole you live in becomes uninhabitable don't come crying for a bailout from the big bad federal government, ok fucko.

Climate Change? meh... (0)

fatwilbur (1098563) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966301)

I read through the IPCC report, and here's what I got..

Not only is the anecdotal evidence pretty strong, but now we have scientific evidence: we've burned so much gas in so many combustion engines over the past century we can now measure the effect or "leftover" from that at every corner of the globe. The science tying climate change to anthropomorphic means however, is far from bulletproof and the report itself cannot say it is anything more than "likely".

I think it's obvious humanity now plays a significant role in the carbon cycle. Plant life has been robbing the atmosphere of carbon for millions of years, and for all I know humans are just another counterbalancing act of this earth intended to dig up what plants buried and start it all over again.

In terms of it's effects, I, and most of those around me, could not give a rat's ass. I live in a cold climate - we just had one of the most mild, warm, enjoyable Septembers I can remember in my life. If we're going to chalk up all the weather incidents as anecdotal evidence of climate change, I'm going to start touting the positive aspects. For those folk living on coastlines, too fucking bad. You should have known damn well that rising or lowering sea level was a risk, and you should probably be thankful you haven't had one of those instantaneous sea-rise events (aka a tsunami) wash your ass away already. The nice places to live on this planet are shifting, and the miserable long winters most places on this earth have to endure are disappearing - deal with it. The only people I hear complaining are those with the most in terms of $$$ of real estate value to lose.

I find the predictions of more severe weather events disingenuous. We've always had severe weather events, and making sure those don't kill us all is what we should be planning for. To those shouting doom and catastrophe over small rises in global temperatures, you just sound silly.

Re:Climate Change? meh... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966519)

Not only is the anecdotal evidence pretty strong, but now we have scientific evidence: we've burned so much gas in so many combustion engines over the past century we can now measure the effect or "leftover" from that at every corner of the globe. The science tying climate change to [anthropogenic] means however, is far from bulletproof and the report itself cannot say it is anything more than "likely".

What? What other species runs combustion engines? The last sentence seems to contradict the rest of the paragraph.

Anyway, if you're going to welcome the warming you'd better be well-protected from the pests, famines, wars and refugees. You might want to check this out:

https://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm [skepticalscience.com]

And this:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Global-Warming/2013/0917/New-climate-change-map-adds-a-new-factor-people [csmonitor.com]

Re:Climate Change? meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966673)

This needs to be said. That SAME IPCC is releasing a report in a few days saying despite the "massive increase in CO2" measurable temperature increases are not happening. NYT source [nytimes.com]

Since we are throwing around anecdotes and pretending that we aren't, I have this [mailtribune.com] for you. Oregon already got its first snow of the year, a record early time.

So fatwilbur attempted to "be reasonable" and explain that anecdotes don't matter and then he made up a stance of the IPCC that isn't true and used an anecdote without a shred of proof to back it up, while I found one that is record breaking in support of the opposite view with evidence. This seems to be a common theme in these AWG debates on /. One side makes up crap and name calls while pretending to "be reasonable" and the other side shows actual evidence and points out scientific fraud.

Re:Climate Change? meh... (1, Insightful)

Mullen (14656) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966711)

Well, let me be the first to say that you are a complete fucking selfish asshole. I imagine the millions of people that are going to die so you can a slightly more pleasant September will go to their graves knowing they died for a good cause. The hot spots on this planet are going to get hotter and the warm places are going to get hot. That means agriculture across the planet is going to be disrupted on the very large scale. Which possibly means millions of people of dying, but that's okay, you can wear a short sleeve shirt in September!
As for those nobodies that live on the coast, which is probably a good chunk of the human population, they'll just have to suck it up. Their cities will disappear and they'll just up and move, like it's nothing. It's just their lives and livelihood, I mean, it's really nothing. The trillions of dollars in infrastructure across the world will need to be replaced or augmented will come out of our pocket change, but that's okay, you're warm in September!
Of course, let's not discus the thousand or millions of species that live on this planet are going to heavily impacted or die. The giant and highly complex ecosystems across world with just have to "suck it up", you know, they don't do anything but make the world livable and the air breathable (I don't mean that figuratively either.) The environment will change in 100 years what would usually take 100,000 years, with a huge mystery of how it will turn out, but who cares, you get to drive a super size truck! I mean, if Mother nature was not such a pussy, she would not have this problem because it is all about YOU.

PS> If you don't like the September's where you live, you can fucking move, you ignorant fuck.

Nothing to see here - rate increase justification (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966317)

Regardless of the science, this is a reason that can be used to justify rate increases. Note the quote about Atlantic hurricanes doesn't cover the past couple of years of almost no hurricanes.

Insurance companies are hardly disinterested observers here.

Re:Nothing to see here - rate increase justificati (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966459)

the past couple of years of almost no hurricanes

Right, in 2012 there were only Sandy and 9 others. Almost none.

Re:Nothing to see here - rate increase justificati (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966787)

How many were predicted? How many were predicted to his US mainland? How many did hit US mainland?

And Sandy was a Category 1 storm. Ignoring all the hype, the only reason anyone cares about Sandy is because it hit New York instead of Florida or Texas.

Hey, these are insurance companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966329)

Actually what the insurance companies may be doing here is what the water department did in Seattle back in the 1990s when there was a drought. Claiming they had fixed costs but less water to sell, they raised rates. And what happened the next year when there was ample water? Those rates stayed up.

Insurance companies know that about half the people in this company have bought the more-bad-weather claims of alarmists and they figure they can get away with raising rates and then keeping them high when this alarm fades away. Executive salaries will soak up that added income.

What the statistics show is that damage being done has gone up simply because real estate is more valuable. That matters not to insurance companies, since their rates are set by property valuation. That said, there isn't data showing more destructive weather such as hurricanes. As Roger Pielke recently noted on his blog:

"The graph above provides an update to data on the remarkable ongoing US "intense hurricane drought." When the Atlantic hurricane season starts next June 1, it will have been 2,777 days since the last time an intense (that is a Category 3, 4 or 5) hurricane made landfall along the US coast (Wilma in 2005). Such a prolonged period without an intense hurricane landfall has not been observed since 1900."

Vested interest (0)

LordLucless (582312) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966337)

Hmm, gee, I wonder what the insurance agencies are going to say: "Very little risk, you shouldn't need to worry, definitely don't bother buying insurance." Yeah, right.

Secondly, even if they were impartial, their data is all about the effects (will the sea level rise enough to cause a risk to property) not the cause (is the sea level rising due to CO2 emissions)

No opportunity (3, Insightful)

manu0601 (2221348) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966341)

Insurances are ready to accept global warming as it will help them adjusting their prices, but that does not mean they will do anything to prevent it, nor even to get it accepted by everyone.

Some industry experience (5, Informative)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966369)

I sat in on a presentation given by an insurance industry executive a couple years ago, and he said in general, there are a couple things going on.

People are building in places where they probably shouldn't build. Many of the good places to build are used up, and people have an almost irresistable pull to build in dangerous places.

More people

And yes, there are a lot more catastrophic events happening that are causing a lot more damage

He said that even when the first two events are taken into consideration, there is something quantifiable happening, that makes the industry tend to believe that warming is taking place, and probably man has a hand in it.

I wish I still had the presentation, because it had a lot of facts and figures, without the cherry picking that deniers love to employ. Pretty scary actually.

Re:Some industry experience (1, Insightful)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966509)

People are building in places where they probably shouldn't build. Many of the good places to build are used up, and people have an almost irresistable pull to build in dangerous places.

What exactly defines a "good place to build"? If you define it as somewhere with low flooding risk, low earthquake risk, low hurricane risk, etc., there are lots of places in the middle of the U.S. that fit that standard. There are even places with all of that and low risk of wildfires and low risk of tornadoes as well, though one has to be a bit choosy to avoid those things in the middle of the U.S. And of course freak weather is always a possibility.

Nevertheless, there are thousands upon thousands of square miles of land in the middle of nowhere that would be perfectly "good" for building with low risks to insure.

People aren't building there, though. It's not because they have an "irresistable pull to build in dangerous places." It's because we've transitioned to an urban culture and away from a rural one. Most people don't want to stake out a claim on the frontier somewhere anymore and live on all those thousands and thousands of square miles of unoccupied (and often low-risk) land.

This has nothing to do with a danger fetish. It has to do with the fact that people want to live "where the cool people live." And rural life just isn't marketed as desirable anymore.

That's why we have people piling on top of each other to live in risky places. Not because there is any lack of room for people to build and live in non-risky places.

(Now, admittedly, my comment applies specifically to the U.S., but it is applicable to many other developed countries as well, whose culture has shifted away from rural life. There are only a few countries, mostly in Europe, and perhaps increasingly in southeast Asia, where "the good places to build" have actually been "used up.")

Re:Some industry experience (1)

Sally Bowls (2952007) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966819)

I can easily see how insurance data could cause you to think warming is taking place. I see no reason that insurance history could provide insight into the cause - be it fossil fuels, freon, lifestyle changes, sunspots or divine retribution.

Clowns (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966377)

"Global warming is going to kill everyone! Oh wait its cooling now? Ok.... CLIMATE CHANGE IS GOING TO KILL EVERYONE! Pay us now!"

The climate has always changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966403)

And the climate will always change. Sea levels will always rise and fall. They will never stay static under any policy.

Don't conflate insurance company appraisal of relative risk with approval of your doomer malthusian twit worldview.

aren't every intellectual doing "real science"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966409)

by form of using more modern definition of intellectual of using his intellect to get money, Gardner approximated that 90%+ of highly gifted kids succeed, by doing old tricks instead of going to real science, it's just easier to sell bs to people whom have money&agenda rather than actually invent something new...

corporate socialist slime (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966417)

Insurance companies are all about collecting the highest premium and not paying claims. "Global warming" helps justify higher premiums, maybe create fear and uncertainty to buy mire insurance, and perhaps can help palm more claims off to the taxpayer in the occasional big event years.

Opposite of socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966477)

What you're describing is the opposite of socialism.

But you're too dishonest to acknowledge this, I'm sure.

Re:corporate socialist slime (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966643)

Socialist insurance, eh? That pretty much seals the deal...the dittoheads/Fox Newsers can't possibly come up with any more stupid things to say.

Re:corporate socialist slime (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966811)

Insurance companies are all about collecting the highest premium and not paying claims. "Global warming" helps justify higher premiums, maybe create fear and uncertainty to buy mire insurance, and perhaps can help palm more claims off to the taxpayer in the occasional big event years.

This is a very good point.

If they can charge higher rates due to fear and not actually have to pay out more in claims, they win big.

So, they really can't lose by supporting the human-caused climate change notion.

Not exactly disinterested.

Who says the climate isn't changing? (0)

ynoref (3297285) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966471)

I have not heard of anyone who doesn't say it is changing, including the right wing. The reporters statement is disingenuous and trying to make this a political debate rather than a real world debate. The climate is always changing, with or without man. How much impact does man cause is clearly the main point of the debate. We are all meat sacks and we believe we have a greater understanding than we have of our surrounding world. This is a complex issue, environmental, health, international, and economic. Just because one country may blow their budgets on making themselves 'green' it will do no good in the larger scheme. If energy costs sore and nobody can afford to live...we'll have other issues. We don't even understand if the planet is going to do something like create more cloud cover and reflect more light...etc. To quote men in black, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it." That is what we're doing. Heck the northwest passage is closing and Antarctica has more ice this year. This is not a political discussion, this is a complex discussion and we need to listen to one another and push towards cleaner energy, but in a reasonable and slow manner in my own opinion. So what is the motivation for the insurance industry? They want more money. :)

Insurance Companies Raking in the Bucks in Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966501)

OK, in the last couple of years, how many hurricanes have made landfall in Florida and done any serious damage?? Insurance companies have been collecting premiums and haven't paid out much at all since 2005.

Yeah... No vested interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966503)

If you believe insurance companies have no vested interest in something that can justify their raising rates, I've got some oceanfront property in South Dakota I'd like to sell you.

Take that however you'd like.

Re:Yeah... No vested interest (1)

Stumbles (602007) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966791)

Exactly. The insurance companies are just like the oil companies when it comes to the price of gasoline. A china man farts in Mongolia and up goes the price of fuel. They will glob onto anything they can so long as they can create some fax reason to raise rates.

Maybe (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966523)

Climate change might be happening. But who or what is responsible?

'I personally wouldn't invest in beachfront property anymore,'

That runs counter to the industries best interests. Selling high priced insurance on expensive property. So if I was in the insurance business and I thought that risk could be mitigated by changing behavior, I'd be lobbying for that. On the other hand, if I thought that the change was inevitable and there was nothing to bee done, I'd tell people to avoid the risk.

an Insurance company has one purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966591)

that is to make money, if they follow popular opinion they can raise rates and blame global warming/global cooling/climate change...

Someone who isn't a Nutter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966629)

Could we get someone to argue in support of global climate change who isn't a Nutter :)

It could be climate change... (0)

Kevin108 (760520) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966655)

Or it could just be that telling people "...because of climate change," means you can charge more.

Objective? (1)

ATestR (1060586) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966665)

I've read some of the comments, one way and another, and would like to make a couple of observations:

  1. Insurance companies collect money whether a claim is paid or not.
  2. Collecting higher premiums is good (from the insurer's perspective).
  3. If, after having collected said higher premiums, the claims against policies are not higher, this is even better (for the insurance company).

The only thing preventing the insurance companies from raising rates is competition. If they can point to something like GW as justification, they stand to make more money. At worst, they won't loose any. Yes, there are higher costs associated with weather related events, but as has been pointed out in many posts, there are more people building (more expensive) structures in areas subject to those events. Global Warming? Can't say, since I'm not scientifically trained in climatology. But you might want to hedge your bets either way.

Not everyone agrees. [petitionproject.org]

Re:Objective? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966793)

This would imply collusion between them to peddle this as an excuse to uniformly raise premiums. Otherwise, one would do so, and others would just laugh as they keep theirs the same and watch the customers come their way.

Thought so (0)

Stumbles (602007) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966751)

In other words; the insurance companies are embracing pseud-science.

It is in an insurance company's best interest... (0)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966831)

...to overstate risks, collect high premiums, and end up paying out little in claims.

This is true of *any* insurance scheme.

Calling upon the insurance industry to talk about risks of "climate change" (sigh, it *always* changes), is like asking tobacco lawyers if it's okay to smoke - their self interested answer is both obvious and inane.

Re:It is in an insurance company's best interest.. (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966901)

...to overstate risks, collect high premiums, and end up paying out little in claims. This is true of *any* insurance scheme.

In general no. It is in an insurance company's interest to charge a lower premium, so they then sell more insurance. If they overestimate the risk; more people will go to the competitor, and the competitor will have a better deal.

Overstating the risk basically makes sense, if the entire industry has overstated the risk, AND you have a captive market. For example: Automobile liability insurance is mandated by many states, therefore consumers have to buy it, and thus; the whole market may overstate the risk, with no fear that they are leaving money on the table, that could be their profit.

The captive market, basically means premiums can be 10 to 20 times would that would be otherwise.

Climate change = New Pricing Opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966839)

New Pricing Opportunities = $$$$$

oh those names are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44966915)

At first I thought this was a fake news article until I researched the names. it's real.

One man named Nutter. The other who shares its name with a protected stretch of forest in California Muir-Wood where they filmed the empire strikes back that is at risk due to global warming.

Fiction has to make sense. Reality just has to happen.

Of course (1)

daath93 (1356187) | 1 year,3 days | (#44966961)

All this proves is insurance companies have finally figured out they have a "scientific consensus" to hang their premium hikes on.
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