The question of how insurers deal with weather catastrophes, especially in years in which multiple events occur, has serious policy implications for Americans. In short, how can insurers handle all this risk, and is it legitimate to shift these costs to consumers and taxpayers?
While insurance executives frequently remind the public and regulators of the frequency and severity of catastrophic events, industry data demonstrates that insurers have significantly and methodically decreased their financial responsibility for these events in recent years and shifted much of this risk to consumers and taxpayers. Some of the savings they have achieved is the result of the use of reinsurance and wise risk diversification strategies. However, most these savings have been achieved by hollowing out the coverage in homeowners insurance policies and raising rates. Insurers have also exposed taxpayers to more disaster assistance payouts and shifted high risk homes to state pools. This study investigates and analyzes the significant weather catastrophe risk-shift that has occurred in the last twenty years and offers recommendations to stop insurers from continuing to illegitimately shift costs and risks to taxpayers and consumers.