Climate Change

A Scorecard on Climate Resiliency

A new report helps insurers -- and regulators -- benchmark progress on climate change preparedness.
By: | January 9, 2017 • 4 min read

Since 2010, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has administered a Climate Risk Disclosure Survey, an eight-item questionnaire that assesses insurers’ approach to and preparedness for climate change.

As weather-related losses continue a steady climb across the globe, some insurers have taken steps to ensure they and their clients are prepared for the risks.

In addition, regulators have an interest in insurers’ climate change resiliency as well, to ensure the marketplace remains stable and comprehensive products are available to companies at affordable prices.

Since 2014, regulators in a handful of states have required that carriers writing more than $100 million in premium take the climate risk survey.

The NAIC survey provides regulators with insight into insurers’ strategies, and helps insurance companies to benchmark their efforts against both themselves and their competitors.

“The top core theme we give the most weight to in our analysis is climate risk governance; are senior managers and corporate directors engaged on the issue? Are they being regularly briefed?” — Max Messervy, co-author, Ceres Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report

Ceres in turn evaluates those responses to identify trends and track improvement over time, a practice it began in 2011.

“We systematically look at these responses and see from an industry-wide perspective who is doing what,” said Max Messervy, a co-author of Ceres’ most recent report, “Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2016 Findings and Recommendations.”

The survey questions cover areas ranging from investment decisions, risk mitigation efforts, financial solvency, emissions and carbon footprint, and how insurers engage consumers on the issue.

“The top core theme we give the most weight to in our analysis is climate risk governance; are senior managers and corporate directors engaged on the issue? Are they being regularly briefed?” Messervy said.

According to the Ceres report, 25 percent of property/casualty insurers earned a “high quality” rating, meaning they regularly involve their boards of directors in discussions of climate change and sustainability goals.

Diane Cantello, vice president, corporate sustainability, The Hartford

Diane Cantello, vice president, corporate sustainability, The Hartford

“Through numerous studies and our work, it’s been shown to be a good practice to have senior management leadership from the CEO level on down regularly engaging in these issues as they emerge and evaluating economic impact,” Messervy said.

The Hartford, one “high quality” insurer on climate change, created an environment committee to oversee the company’s sustainability strategy.

This committee briefs the board of directors once per year and the executive leadership team – a group of 18 senior managers – twice per year.

The Hartford’s CEO has also participated in White House roundtables on climate resilience.

“The Hartford is recognized regularly for our commitment to corporate sustainability,” said Diane Cantello, vice president of corporate sustainability. “Between 2007 and last year, the company’s energy-related greenhouse gases were reduced by 57 percent.”

Keeping Informed

Another trait shared by “high quality” insurers — those who received at least 75 points from Ceres on a 100-point scale — is their collaboration with the scientific community.

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It all starts with knowledge. Getting the most up-to-date information on climate change both from leading scientists and through internal research is key to understanding the exposure an insurer faces and providing guidance to clients.

Swiss Re, for example, has established itself as a front-runner in conducting climate change research and working with governments and international bodies to facilitate the discussion.

“We’ve provided studies to governments across the globe, helping them to understand the future impact of climate change and develop an adaptation strategy, which includes insurance components.” — Andreas Spiegel, head group sustainability risk, Swiss Re.

“We have developed methodologies to assess and quantify climate risk for certain regions or certain clients; we’ve provided studies to governments across the globe, helping them to understand the future impact of climate change and develop an adaptation strategy, which includes insurance components,” said Andreas Spiegel, head group sustainability risk, Swiss Re.

FM Global, another high-scoring carrier, depends on its in-house engineering staff to evaluate the environmental impact of a variety of risks.

“We have to make sure we give our insureds sound guidance on how they can meet sustainability goals, which means advising them on how their risks can make them less sustainable, but also how their sustainability efforts present new risks in themselves,” said Lou Gritzo, vice president and manager of research, FM Global.

Take a somewhat standard property risk like fire. Gritzo said it is the insurer’s job to advise a client of the environmental impact of a potential fire, including air emissions, runoff from fire hosed, the disposal of burned material, and the effects of rebuilding any damaged structures.

Likewise, if a client decides to go green by installing rooftop solar panels, they should understand the risks that accompany the new equipment.

For its part, The Hartford developed insurance products to help customers reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, and has more recently offered premium discounts to those who opt for electric or hybrid vehicles.

Gritzo said a key challenge for all insurers going forward will be keeping up with advancing climate change science and relaying that information in easily digestible ways to their clients.

New Business Potential

Adapting to climate change also means taking advantage of new business opportunities in renewable energy. Investment portfolios can provide insight into where those opportunities lie, and should therefore get a regular once-over from company leaders.

Fossil fuel producers, for example, counteract sustainability goals and will see performance decline as renewable energy producers move into the energy market and regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions reduce demand for fossil fuels.

“We’re undergoing a massive energy transition currently, based on the Paris climate agreement signed in December 2015, and basically the economics of renewable energy are becoming increasingly favorable over fossil fuel-based energy,” Messervy said.

“There is a need to understand both the risk and the business opportunity in renewable energy. It’s a core interest for the insurance sector, especially reinsurance because macro risks are where we specialize,” Spiegel said.

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]