Insurance and reinsurance of natural catastrophes

Conférence Insurance and Adaptation to Climate Change, Paris, Mars 2007. The paper appeared in the Geneva Papers.

The IPCC 2007 report noted that both the frequency and strength of hurricanes, floods and droughts have increased during the past few years. Thus, climate risk, and more specifically natural catastrophes, are now hardly insurable: losses can be huge (and the actuarial pure premium might even be infinite), diversification through the central limit theorem is not possible because of geographical correlation (a lot of additional capital is required), there might exist no insurance market since the price asked by insurance companies can be much higher than the price householders are willing to pay (short-term horizon of policyholders), and, due to climate change, there is more uncertainty (and thus additional risk). The first idea we will discuss in this paper, about insurance markets and climate risks, is that insurance exists only if risk can be transferred, not only to reinsurance companies but also to capital markets (through securitization or catastrophes options). The second one is that climate is changing, and therefore, not only prices and capital required should be important, but also uncertainty can be very large. It is extremely difficult to insure in a changing environment.

The paper was presented in a conference, in Paris, in 2007