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Is the 'Heat Apocalypse' an Insurance Apocalypse?

Paul Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of ITL

While the "heat apocalypse" that is baking much of Europe may seem like just more of the same extreme weather we've been experiencing globally for years now, it seems to me that we've now reached a new level of disruption, with significant implications for insurers. 

Like prior heat waves, this is one is exacerbating wildfires, destroying homes and other buildings, causing mass evacuations and generally upending millions of lives. The "heat apocalypse," as it's being labeled in France, is causing stress that is killing people -- hundreds just in Spain last week -- and overloading hospitals. But, as awful as all that is, insurers have been adjusting, and the public has become inured. 

The new news here, it seems to me, is all the downstream disruption -- the business closings, the cancellation of flights and trains, etc. that will produce a flurry of claims for insurers and that will only get worse as global warming continues. 

Although most of the climate change debate seems to focus on just how much temperatures will rise by 2035 or 2050 and just how destructive that increase will be, major effects have begun happening here and now -- and insurers are on the hook. 

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Sponsored by AgentSync 

When my younger daughter was a freshman at Yale, I was encouraged that her intro to economics class included a fairly long section on the economics of insurance -- essentially, an exercise in determining how much people valued the peace of mind they get from having a policy in place. Insurance certainly never came up in any of the economics classes I took way back when, and I took the material as a good sign: A top-tier college was making insurance intriguing for smart, young students.

Alas, I couldn't interest my daughter in the insurance industry. And there seems to be a lot of that indifference going around, based on the persistent concerns in the industry about the talent gap. 

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