In 2009, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a standard-setting and regulatory support body comprised of chief insurance regulators from all 50 states, reached a historic agreement.
Beginning in 2010, the organization announced, insurance companies would be required to disclose, to regulators and investors, "the financial risks they face from climate change, as well as actions the companies are taking to respond to those risks."
In a matter of months, that agreement fell apart.
"It got tied up a great deal in the politics," said Mike Kreidler, the insurance commissioner for the state of Washington. "For many insurance commissioners -- some are elected but most are appointed by governors, and if they came from a state where climate change was not a topic that was resonating with their supporters, well, being governors, they certainly didn't want to see their insurance commissioners getting out in front on this issue."
That might soon change. As the East Coast and large swaths of the Midwest continue to climb out of the 1,000-mile wide path of destruction left behind by this week's megastorm Sandy, which killed more than 80 people in the U.S. and resulted in what will certainly be tens of billions of dollars in damages, the industry whose business it is to absorb those losses is back in the spotlight. And many critics are suggesting that U.S. insurance companies, along with the people and businesses they insure, are failing to take seriously the risks of climate change -- a problem that could threaten the wider economy.
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