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Moving beyond the uncertainty of climate change risk

Thinkpiece 79

Publication date:

14 June 2012

Last updated:

22 September 2017


Policy and Public Affairs

Inherent uncertainty means that every statement made in relation to climate change risk must be caveated, but that is not an excuse for inaction. In this thinkpiece, John Coomber (Chairman of ClimateWise and former CEO of SwissRe) suggests three areas worthy of thought for insurers and insurance brokers.


  • Firstly, Coomber argues that climate change will lead to an inexorable increase in property risk.  Insurers should therefore seek to engage with affected communities to provide information, coverage and risk mitigation skills to a new customer base.
  • Secondly, he argues that if we are to prevent risks from becoming "unaffordable", society must avoid breaching irreversible tipping points in the world's ecological balance. 
  • Thirdly, knowledge has always been the best basis for decision making and insurers can contribute to this debate through their loss modelling abilities.
  • In conclusion, he prompts insurers to imagine the world in 30 years time and discusses the potential for technology to create winning products to cope with climate change. As in all business endeavour controlling risk will be key to the success of new products. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is one such example. Coomber believes that insurers should selectively engage.


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This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), the CII group, local institute or Society, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the CII group, local institutes, or Societies.


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