Thursday, October 25, 2007

Could Global Warming Melt the Insurance Glaciers?

Earlier this year, I had a snarky exchange with Pete at the annual Labor Day picnic in Foresta, which is a little community in Yosemite National Park in which my family has a home. Pete is an insurance agent and a Republican.

Pete is also the chair of the Foresta Preservation Assocation on which I used to serve as a board member. Every year at the 4th of July and Labor Day picnics, Pete brings park officials to the event to talk about what the park is doing to protect Forestans from forest fire. As he introduces them and throughout their presentation, he insults them as government officials, making remarks about the inefficiency of government.

As most of the problems Forestans have in the park stem from lack of funding from Pete's beloved Bush administration, this attitude tends to work its way under my skin festering into a full blown self-righteous rash if I'm not careful.

This year, after my husband (who is a lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Sacramento) gave his opinion on a matter of concern to the community, Pete thanked him, saying "we won't hold it against you that you work for the Sierra Club."

I quipped back, "that's great, Pete, and we won't hold it against you that you're an insurance agent."

He muttered, "you may find a time when you need insurance."

I thought, "you may find a time when you need to breath clean air and drink clean water." [I didn't have the presence of mind to say it though. The creators of deja vu, the French, naturally, have a phrase for this: L'esprit d'escalier, literally ghost on the stairs. It means, when you think of what you should have said, an instant too late.]

With the raging fires in Southern California this week, and reports that at least one major underwriter has recently stopped writing policies in California, I got to wondering about the link between the environment and insurance.

Does the insurance industry, which has historically been a driving force in the Chamber of Commerce in California and its "job killer" bill list, understand that being routinely anti-environment may ultimately affect its bottom line in the form of increased "acts of God" such as massive brush fires, floods and hurricanes?

Could global warming melt the historically glacial pace of change in this conservative industry?


Anonymous said...

When it comes to global climate change, insurance companies have skin in the game. They can't afford to toe the party line (flat earth). Thus, they're withdrawing from offering homeowners insurance in Fla./Cali. & pushing for gov't run catastrophe insurance.

snichols said...

well, said, Patrick.