Commissioner Lara launches first-ever database of green insurance products
News: 2020 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara formally launched the Climate Smart Insurance Products Database, the first-ever consumer-oriented list of green insurance policies. With hundreds of climate-related insurance products already available to consumers and businesses, the California Department of Insurance has developed this database to help the public understand and access these products and encourage further insurance policy innovation in commercial, homeowners, and auto lines, among other lines. Recognizing the potential for specific insurance products to address climate risks and contribute to a sustainable future will encourage consumers and insurance companies to explore products that harness new technologies and promote resilience.
“Understanding, preventing, and reducing climate risk is of paramount importance, and we need innovative insurance solutions to accelerate the transition to sustainable and resilient communities and economies,” said Commissioner Lara. “When disaster strikes, insurance can help damaged homes, buildings, and vehicles be built back better, stronger, and greener and springboard into the cleanest technologies.”
The Climate Smart database lists more than 400 products currently available to consumers and businesses that address climate risks, harness new technologies, and build resilience. They include insurance products and solutions that, among other products:
- Provide green-rebuild coverage, providing a pathway to building back stronger, more energy efficient, and lower-emission buildings and vehicles
- Promote fuel-efficiency by offering lower premiums for low-emission vehicles
- Provide discounts for green energy use and energy efficiency certification
- Provide discounts for businesses who operate hydrogen and hybrid electric buses
- Protect low-income communities and natural ecosystems
A June 1, 2020 report from the environmental nonprofit group Ceres recommends the development of a database of innovative insurance products that reduce emissions or increase resiliency.
"California Commissioner Lara and his team at the California Insurance Department deserve great credit for creating the Climate Smart Insurance Products Database,” said Steven M. Rothstein, Managing Director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets. “This is part of a comprehensive insurance approach to climate risks. This database is a critical building block for a more sustainable future."
The database is another element in Commissioner Lara’s strategy to combat climate change. Last year, Commissioner Lara announced an agenda-setting effort with the United Nations to create a Sustainable Insurance Roadmap, a comprehensive climate change strategy and action plan that is envisioned to pave the way for innovative risk management, insurance, and investment solutions that reduce climate risks and protect natural ecosystems.
“One of the United Nations’ Principles for Sustainable Insurance promotes the aim of insurers working together with governments, regulators and other stakeholders in promoting widespread action on sustainability issues, and Commissioner Lara is showing us what regulators can actively do to make that happen and drive innovation,” said Butch Bacani, who leads UN Environment Programme’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI), the largest collaboration between the UN and the insurance industry. “With this pioneering database, Commissioner Lara is demonstrating sustainability leadership, and we hope that other regulators will step up to the plate and lead by example.”
Commissioner Lara previewed the database on July 8, 2020 at an international virtual event convened by the UN PSI and Swiss Re on sustainability leadership in insurance, which attracted more than 700 participants from over 60 countries. In addition to working with the UN, California will be collaborating with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to build on this innovative database. California and Washington State have been working together with the UN Environment Programme as members of the PSI as well as the Sustainable Insurance Forum (SIF) for regulators.
“I applaud Commissioner Lara and the California Insurance Department’s thoughtful initiative to make the full range of existing climate-related insurance products available to consumers and businesses,” said Commissioner Kreidler. “Providing this innovative access to these products encourages communication between policyholders and their insurers, and will no doubt lead to new ideas and more refined climate-related insurance products going forward.”
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- The Climate Smart Insurance Products Database can be accessed via: www.insurance.ca.gov/climate-smart-database. It is the first-of-its-kind database of insurance products focused on sustainability that is available to consumers. The database includes insurance products sold in California and around the world.
- The database allows consumers to search products in nine categories:
- Fortified Homes can provide protection from natural hazards through improved roofing materials or other home hardening efforts. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) identifies best practices to protect against storms and wildfires.
- Green Buildings and Equipment are energy efficient or otherwise sustainable.
- Nature-Based Solutions harness the capabilities of natural infrastructure to mitigate against weather disasters.
- Mileage-Based Insurance recognizes risk reductions from decreased driving.
- Low-Emissions Vehicles include electric, hybrid and other low-emissions vehicles.
- Microinsurance allows low-income individuals to receive protection from specific perils.
- Renewables include solar, wind, geothermal and other sustainable technologies.
- Carbon Offsets are reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere.
- Super Pollutant Reduction includes efforts to decrease dangerous air pollutants.
- California is the largest insurance market in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world. The California Department of Insurance was one of the first insurance regulatory and supervisory authorities in the world to sign UN Environment Programme’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance and commit to tackling global sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, pollution, and social and financial exclusion.
- The Department of Insurance does not endorse any particular insurer. While the Department of Insurance makes every effort to confirm the accuracy of the database, insurance products may become unavailable and the database can be revised at any time, with or without notice.
- The original source of the information for this database is Dr. Evan Mills (Energy Associates), who is a researcher of the intersection between climate change and insurance. The Department plans to update and add to this information through dialogue with insurers, other climate experts, other state entities, and international leaders.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.