Insurance companies have long been in the business of betting on the dangers of weather. And it has become commonplace for large insurance companies to mail out marketing flyers to potential customers warning of an increase in inclement weather. German global insurance giant Allianz is one of many companies that have created a market for policies that "reduce the risks associated with climate change."
Meanwhile, Munich Re, the world's largest re-insurer of insurance companies in the event of extreme damage payments, has also announced an important finding: Natural disasters over the past 30 years have already shown the initial "footprint" of man-made climate change in North America, the German company claims. Many media outlets promptly ran last week's press release as news, stating that a prominent insurance company had warned of an increase in the number of natural disasters. But scientists have criticized the re-insurer for rushing to reach its conclusions.
The truth is that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has in fact been warning of an increase in heat waves, torrential rains and floods. But in most cases, it has not been proven that climate change has made the weather any more extreme. In some instances there are facts to suggest this, but in most these conclusions are driven by perceptions. It is not a foregone conclusion that things will necessarily get worse. According to an IPCC report, there may be fewer cold weather disasters and storms in the future in some places.