One of the relentless challenges facing the insurance industry is its perception among the wider population.

There is no planet B

At times the industry hasn’t helped itself from a reputational perspective, the most recent example being the response of several insurers to business interruption claims from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was not the best public relations exercise on which to sell the virtues of the industry, both to governments and the wider public. 

COP26: The Insurer Daily Bulletin | Edition 4 - Download here

But the industry’s presence at COP26 represents an important opportunity to highlight the role it can play in helping society adapt to climate change. 

The industry is positioned to provide tools that can change lives. The Insurance Development Forum (IDF), an industry-backed UN initiative, has launched a series of measures at COP26 geared towards this objective. 

Speaking at a panel discussion today, IDF secretary general Ekhosuehi Iyahen highlighted how one of the most important roles the industry can play is helping to determine the type of protection systems we need to start designing to protect against some of the potential impacts from climate change. 

“The public sector is looking to the insurance industry for leadership and support in this direction,” she said. 

Through its tripartite partnership with the UN Development Programme and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the IDF is working on the ground in several countries to provide solutions that boost resilience. 

One of the initiatives launched by IDF yesterday afternoon was the Global Risk Modelling Alliance, developed by the Oasis Loss Modelling Framework. 

“This is essentially providing technology to developing countries so they can understand risk,” explained Oasis CEO Dickie Whitaker in an interview with The Insurer today. 

Oasis is funded and supported by the insurance industry, yet many of those which have provided it with funding and support have been among those chastised for their lack of leadership on climate issues. These include the likes of Lloyd’s and Chubb, who received criticism in this week’s Insure our Future scorecard. 

“The people who created this scoring system don’t even know about the work they have done in supporting us,” Whitaker said. 

“There are companies who are doing a huge amount but this work is not very visible to the outside world and not being recognised.” 

As Whitaker points out, the initiatives being developed through mechanisms such as the IDF will change the lives of millions of people but are not factored into outside perceptions of what the industry is doing. 

“Insurance is a massively important lever in the process of encouraging people to adapt,” he said. 

There remains a need for the industry to better communicate its efforts in this area. The measure from Glasgow is that the public sector is listening. Many governments recognise the value of insurance mechanisms to enable the decarbonisation transition and better protect the most vulnerable. 

Understanding this work is critical to establishing a fair and balanced view of the industry’s progress on the climate agenda.