Should we rebuild? That sad question is being voiced far too often in far too many places in the U.S.: New York and New Jersey, the Gulf Coast, South Florida, North and South Carolina, Colorado, and now, yet again, Northern and Southern California. Of one small town, Grayson, Ky., The New York Times reports, “residents have applied for loans to recover from nine severe storms in the last 16 years.”
The answer usually lies with the insurance market. Increasingly, the answer will be “No.”
Insurer Aon named 2017 the “costliest year on record for weather disasters,” with $344 billion in economic damage overall and a $132 billion direct hit to the insurance industry. Not surprisingly, then, owners of vulnerable real estate are seeing premiums rise. What follows could be worse: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this January, the CEO of French insurer AXA, Thomas Buberl, warned that as global temperatures increase and weather grows more extreme, underwriters will redline high-risk areas.
“If you go much further to 2020, 2030, we can clearly say that at a scenario between 3 and 4 degrees [Celsius], it’s not insurable anymore,” Buberl said, as reported by Bloomberg. “Your basement shop in New York, your basement shop in Mumbai will at this point not be insurable.”