Insurance and Climate Change column

Study: Federal Payouts Bolstered Flood Policy Uptake, Insured Value

By | December 1, 2023

The availability of a federal flood payout in a county in a given year increased the number of flood insurance policies by 5.2% and the total insured value of the policies by 4.6% in the following year, a new study shows.

The study examines the National Flood Insurance Program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to quantify the relationships between the annual flood insurance payout in a county and flood related risk factors such as flood exposure, infrastructure and social vulnerability, community resilience and the number of mobile homes in the county.

The study predicted that climate change, which is expected to increase flood exposure in coastal counties, will increase the annual NFIP payout in New Orleans, Louisiana, for example, by $2.04 billion in the next 30 years.

The research also developed a predictive model to forecast the annual NFIP payout in a county.

It is hoped the study will help the NFIP, which is under debt to the U.S. treasury. That debt is primarily due to low flood insurance take-up and large payouts after major disasters.

The outcomes of this research may help inform policy decisions and strategies aimed at fortifying the NFIP.

The study suggests such strategies may include flood protection infrastructure, tailored disaster assistance and interventions to bolster flood insurance uptake while mitigating the risk of substantial payouts.

Climate Change in the American Mind

Most people think the U.S. should cut greenhouse gas emissions no matter what, if any, steps other nations are taking, and most support financial aid to help developing countries limit their emissions. Additionally, most registered voters are likely to vote for candidates who support action on global warming, a new survey shows.

The results of a survey are detailed in a report, Climate Change in the American Mind: Politics & Policy, which is based on a national survey of registered voters conducted in Fall 2023.

The report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication was released to coincide with the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 28) beginning today in the United Arab Emirates.

Findings in the survey include:

  • 57% of registered voters would prefer to vote for a candidate for public office who supports action on global warming. The breakdown is: 95% of liberal Democrats, 86% of moderate/conservative Democrats, 46% of liberal/moderate Republicans and 13% of conservative Republicans.
  • 60% think the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse emissions regardless of what other countries do.
  • 60% support providing financial aid and technical support to developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, and 57% support providing financial aid and support to help them prepare for the impacts of global.
  • 40% support contributing to an international “loss and damage fund” to provide financial assistance to low-income countries most harmed by global warming.

Climate Lawsuits

People are increasingly turning to courtrooms to challenge fossil fuel companies and their activities.

That has lead to wins on issues like “climate-washing” as well as backlash as these companies begin filing countersuits.

In the last five years, the number of climate-related court cases filed around the world has more than doubled, according to a 2023 report by the U.N. Environment Programme and New York’s Columbia University. The number of cases has risen from 884 filed by 2017 to nearly 2,500.

A lawsuit “holds companies to account in a way that just protests or campaigns cannot do,” said Joana Setzer, a climate litigation researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told Reuters for an article featured on Insurance Journal.

More than half of cases with judicial outcomes lean toward stronger climate action, according to a 2023 report from LSE.

According to the Reuters article, most current climate lawsuits were filed in the U.S., including 20 cases filed by U.S. cities or states against major fossil fuel companies that are likely to go to trial.

Michigan Climate Plan

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a slate of bills this week to enact her proposals from the MI Healthy Climate Plan into state law.

Whitmer signed the bills in a ceremony at Detroit’s Eastern Market, following House passage earlier in November of nearly a half-a-dozen pieces of climate change legislation to address clean energy standards, energy waste and affordability, as well as to provide state regulators authority over permitting clean energy projects, Michigan Advance is reporting.

“We’ve been working toward this day for a long time. I unrolled the MI Healthy Climate Plan in 2021 and informed by a lot of stakeholders and a lot of educated minds with the thought, ‘How can Michigan become a leader?’ We outlined a lot of goals in these bills,” Whitmer said. “Our plans were ambitious. We had no idea what the legislature would look like in 2023, but we knew the clock was ticking. And look at us now with this crop of legislators who took this on, who did the hard work. We got it done.”

According to Whitmer, the legislation will lower household utility costs by an average of $145 per year, create 160,000 well-paying jobs and bring nearly $8 billion of federal tax dollars to the state for clean energy projects.

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