The report, titled Insurance regulation for sustainable development, analysed the role of the insurance industry in protecting societies against climate risk. It found that, as well as providing financial protection, insurers could encourage people to better protect themselves from climate risks through incentives in insurance contracts.

The industry also has a unique expertise in identifying and mitigating risk, argued the report, while the global nature of insurance markets would help to spread the financial impact of climate disasters, especially for poor regions.

As a result, the report urges policy makers to “utilize insurance regulation as an essential policy instrument to protect populations and assets from climate risks”.

Put simply, lead author of the study Dr Ana Gonzalez Pelaez argues that as many people as possible need to have access to insurance. Gonzalez Palaez will present her findings at the United Nations Third Financing for Development Conference this week in Addis Ababa.

Mounting pressure

Commenting on the launch of her report, Gonzalez Palaez said: “Insurance should receive higher emphasis to ensure delivery on various policy commitments across the Post 2015 agenda.

“Our research shows that the protection of human rights and preservation of community capital from climate risk via insurance regulation are aligned and mutually reinforcing. This has profound implications for policy makers seeking effective and practical solutions to these urgent and complex challenges.”

For the first time, disaster losses globally have totalled more than $100bn in three consecutive years (2010 to 2012), far surpassing the amount of humanitarian aid raised. The insurance industry has previously called on the UN to allow it to use its risk-assessment expertise to tackle global warming and climate risks.

Brad Allen

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