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New Paper: Weather Extremes Don’t Harm Insurance Companies

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Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill

With “Mystic” Mark Carney telling anyone who crosses his palm with silver (or, indeed, anyone who crosses his path) that the insurance industry is going to be sunk by climate change, it’s interesting to see what the empirical evidence has to say on the subject. By happy coincidence, Ross McKitrick has just published a paper on just this subject.

Here’s what he says about it on his website.

Bin Hu and I have just published a study looking at how climate variations, in particular indicators of extreme weather, have historically affected the share prices of major insurance firms. The insurance industry has raised the concern that climate change poses a financial risk due to higher payouts for weather-related disasters. However, if extreme weather is increasing, presumably that means they have an opportunity to sell more insurance products as well, which may increase profitability. In our paper we examined historical data on a portfolio of insurance firms and estimate a three-factor model augmented with climate indicators. Short-run deviations in measures of climate extremes are associated with increased profitability for insurance firms. Overall we find that past climatic variations have not had a negative effect on the profitability of the insurance industry.

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