WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Natural disasters are getting more frequent and costing more. We saw it just in the last month, unheard of summer flooding causing millions in damage. It is just the latest natural disaster to cost Connecticut a lot of money, and Connecticut is actually doing better than many other states.
“But I want to look out 30 years and make sure that we stay in a very good position,” said Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Connecticut).
That’s why Lamont sat down with insurance experts at the Capitol Friday morning to talk about what the state and its residents can do.
“We have had the opportunity to look at what is, certainly to me, an existential threat to our state, to our country, frankly to the world,” said Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais.
In addition to looking at what the climate is doing, insurance experts are also looking at what people are doing. For the past few decades, more and more people have been moving to the shoreline. No one expects that to change anytime soon, even though shoreline communities are the most vulnerable to climate change disasters.
After Irene and Sandy, many shoreline homeowners raised their houses up above the level of the storm surge. Insurance companies say there needs to be more of that.
“Insurers believe communities must adapt to growing climate impacts by adopting and enforcing stronger building codes in high-risk areas, while focusing on better land use and community planning,” said Ross Fisher, Chief Underwriting Officer for The Hartford Insurance
In West Haven, for example, the city is raising and hardening Beach Street to keep it from going under water in storms.
“There’s an opportunity to bend this damage curve, to reduce and narrow the path of destruction through mitigation,” said Eric Nelson, a Senior Vice President at The Travelers.
He also sees an opportunity to reduce costs. Natural disasters used to do a couple hundred billion dollars of damage a decade. They could cost well over a trillion dollars this decade alone. Insurers say every dollar invested in mitigation saves $11 in damage.