Lloyd’s of London will no longer allow their trading platform to be used for investing in coal, because this fuel is the main driver of climate change. Given the global insurance industry has been harking on for decades about the increasing risks of extreme weather to property, one would have thought they might have arrived at that conclusion a little sooner.

During their 25 years of inaction on this front, the insurance industry, through investments and cover, has facilitated massive coal use around the world, locking emissions and unavoidable warming into the atmosphere. As a result, we now have a large number of property owners around Australia who are going to feel the heat of surging insurance prices to cover worsening weather extremes. The industry has an obligation to respond.

As the Climate Institute found in 2014, if you buy a house in parts of the Sydney suburb of Windsor, you could be paying out 10 times the normal price for home insurance. Why? Because it’s in a flood plain. As the climate heats up, more water in the ocean is evaporated into the atmosphere and is ready to drop on Australia. When it rains there will be bigger floods. So if you live in the “wrong part” of Windsor, or any other Australian flood plain, you can expect your premium to get more expensive. But you should consider yourselves lucky that you can still get cover.

Fossil fuels aren’t the only thing from which insurers are extracting themselves. If you go online to get home cover for a house in parts of Queensland you may find a few household names who aren’t interested in your business. Extreme weather combined with questionable planning policies and inadequate building standards are a tropical punch they’ll happily skip.

If you’re living close to the coast anywhere in Australia (80 per cent of us) and in a low-lying suburb, don’t expect to get an insurance payout if sea water floods the house. “Actions of the sea” is a standard exclusion. So are things like, erosion, land-slip and soil movement. All things that are projected to increase in frequency with climate change.

Nearly half of all home insurance claims in Queensland were due to storm-related damage in 2016-17 , NRMA Insurance reports. NRMA research found 30 per cent of home-owners in the state are not properly equipped to deal with a storm, and 18 per cent are not aware of the risk to their homes from storm damage.

Since at least 1990, when the international scientific community started collectively reporting on climate, all levels of government, insurance companies and banks have been on notice that climate change will affect both the structure and monetary value of the built environment. Yet in Australia, we’ve still been building canal estates by the ocean, houses in flood plains and houses unable to cope with more intense wind-storms and cyclones. Is the property market – and the financial sector that supports it – mad, dysfunctional or just opportunistic?

source: Sydney Morning Herald online