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Insurance Commissioner expands reach of climate change survey: doubles

News: 2013 Press Release

For Release: July 17, 2013
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner expands reach of climate change survey: doubles number of insurers required to respond

SACRAMENTO - Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that the Connecticut and Minnesota Departments of Insurance have joined with California, New York and Washington Departments of Insurance to require insurers to respond to the Climate Risk Survey adopted in 2009 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Despite NAIC approval in 2009, the remaining 45 states have declined to administer the survey. Jones also announced expansion of the survey scope by requiring all companies writing more than $100 million in direct written premium to respond to the climate change survey-effectively doubling the number of companies surveyed.

"I welcome Connecticut and Minnesota Departments of Insurance for joining California, New York and Washington Departments of Insurance in recognizing the need to survey insurers with regard to what, if anything, they are doing to respond to climate change," said Commissioner Jones. "Our decision to expand the survey to companies writing premiums in excess of $100 million will double the number of companies required to respond and will give insurance regulators, investors and policyholders a better picture of how insurers are responding to climate change."

Climate change represents a significant challenge. In California, climate change has the potential to raise coastal sea levels and increase the frequency and severity of droughts and wildfires, stretching California's firefighting resources and increasing losses for families and insurers.

Surveying the insurance industry's response to the impacts of climate change has allowed state insurance departments to identify trends, vulnerabilities and best practices by insurance companies. Specifically, in California, the survey revealed that Fireman's Fund is a leader in responding to climate change with new corporate policies and by offering "green" insurance products designed for LEED certified commercial properties and that allow homeowners to replace their homes with energy efficient materials and appliances.

"As insurance regulators, it is important that we identify those climate-related factors that can affect the marketplace and in particular the availability and cost of insurance. These surveys give us another window into the industry's risk management practices as they relate to changing weather patterns," said Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi.

The survey contains eight questions that measure companies' responses to the impact of climate change. These questions range from carbon footprint reduction plans to risk management for a changing environment. California has been a leader in the effort to implement, expand and promote the climate risk survey. Nationally there has been a trend of climate driven natural disasters. The addition of Connecticut and Minnesota Departments of Insurance signal the importance of adapting to a changing climate.

"Minnesota is joining forces with key states to evaluate the impact of climate change on the insurance industry," said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "This survey will help the Minnesota Department of Commerce get a clearer picture of how insurers are addressing the risks and the best ways to adapt to our changing climate."

"This expanded multi-state effort will not only strengthen the survey, but it will enhance the results so that insurers can implement best practices, and members of the public can study the impact on consumers," said Commissioner Jones.

2012 Survey Responses are due August 30, 2013. California and the other states sponsoring this data collection will continue to work cooperatively with the NAIC and other NAIC member states and jurisdictions by sharing the survey result data which is available on the California Department of Insurance's website:

Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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