Last week, President Biden scolded insurers after reports surfaced that some providers would not cover the claims of people who chose to evacuate ahead of the storm but were not mandated to do so. The companies changed their tune, but only after being called out by the president. Meanwhile, in California, some property owners are reporting being dropped by their insurance as companies expand the areas they consider too vulnerable to wildfires.
We wanted to hear more about the role of insurance companies not just in the aftermath of disasters, but also rebuilding and planning ahead to a future when wildfires and storms grow more frequent and more intense because of climate change. We called Howard Kunreuther for this. He is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he co-directs the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center.
KUNREUTHER: Well, they are definitely likely to become more frequent, as you alluded to. Climate change has really been a factor here. And if these events are going to become more severe in the future, both because they’re more likely or – and they may cause more damage, we’re going to have a real challenge here because the insurance companies are going to say, we will have to charge a higher premium. And that can cause a problem.