Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment

California Climate Risk: Insurance-Based Approaches to Mitigation and Resilience

Sean Hecht, Ted Lamm


The insurance sector will play an increasingly important role in managing the new and evolving risks that climate change poses for California residents, businesses, and governments. While state leaders pursue policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience, insurers have the opportunity to address climate-related risks through innovation across their risk management, underwriting, and investment activities. Effectively addressing the risks facing all Californians, as well as those facing the insurance sector itself, will require increased collaboration among insurers, regulators, climate scientists and data modelers, and state and local officials.​

To identify needs and opportunities to mitigate these growing risks, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara convened industry, policy, and research leaders in July 2019 to discuss the intersection of climate change and insurance. The California Climate Risk Symposium was a partnership between the California Department of Insurance, UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance, UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.​

This synthesis paper summarizes the key findings and next steps these leaders identified to better engage the insurance sector in addressing the most pressing climate risks facing California, and adds new material and analysis from the paper’s authors reflecting recent developments in the field.​