Insurers' Principles for
Climate Change Adaptation

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As the United States confronts climate change and works to enhance the resiliency of our nation’s housing and building infrastructure, these Insurers' Principles for Climate Change Adaptation outline the active steps we can take to improve the resilience of American homes, businesses, and communities. More

Signatories

IBHS and the undersigned representatives of the property insurance industry look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration, Congress, and State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to enact smart climate adaptation policies that will make our country stronger, our families safer, and our communities more resilient.

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Principle 1: Climate Change Adaptation is Necessary

The United States is already experiencing changes in the frequency and severity of natural disasters:

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Principle 2: Building Codes and Land Use Support Tomorrow’s Resilience

Up-to-date building codes—enacted on a statewide basis and strongly enforced—are fundamental to strengthening communities against severe weather and adapting to the consequences of a changing climate. Local decisions regarding where and how development is allowed to occur significantly affect the resilience of families, businesses, and communities.

For example, the number of homes in the wildland-urban interface increased by 41% from 1991–2010. This increased presence of homes in wildfire-prone areas significantly contributed to the sharp increase in wildfire-related losses in recent years.

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Principle 3: Prioritize Funding for Increasing Resilience of Existing Structures

Federal and state programs should provide cost-effective support to encourage property owners of existing homes and buildings to make investments to strengthen those properties before a natural disaster occurs. Following a natural disaster, government at all levels should encourage and financially support rebuilding with a higher degree of resilience so that the homes and businesses in the community are better prepared to withstand the next disaster.

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Principle 4: Make Resilience Available for All

Communities of color and low-income communities often experience the impacts of natural disasters and climate change disproportionately. Far from a luxury, residential and community resilience are basic needs—the absence of which is most keenly felt by those who lack the resources to invest in it themselves. Identifying mechanisms to financially support investments in resilience for these communities should be a public policy priority.

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Principle 5: Leverage Climate Data and Analytics to Support Climate Adaptation

Climate adaptation decisions—particularly at the local level—should be informed by the best available data and expertise on natural hazards, future climate, and building and infrastructure science. Public sector data, when combined with private sector and academic expertise, can be a powerful catalyst for strengthening resilience. Congress should facilitate pathways to leverage such data and analytical methodologies in support of informed decision-making by State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments.

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Principle 6: Enhance Resilience for Public Infrastructure and Facilities

More should be done to prioritize the resilience of public buildings and facilities, including community infrastructure in the energy, water, and transportation sectors as well as resilience-enhancing infrastructure like dams, levees, and natural-based solutions.

When government dollars are invested, there needs to be a reasonable expectation that the first dollars will be the last. Increased resilience and appropriate insurance coverage for public buildings, as well as other innovative insurance solutions, help ensure that taxpayers are not paying twice for the same project.

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About Us

With the support of the property casualty insurance industry, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has spent decades conducting top-tier building science research to prevent avoidable suffering, strengthen our homes and businesses, inform the insurance industry, and support thriving communities. The Principles for Climate Change Adaptation build on that foundation and provide a pathway for public policymakers, along with the insurance industry and other private sector stakeholders, to take affirmative steps to improve the resilience of American homes, businesses, and communities and help our nation adapt to the impacts of changing climate conditions.