Climate change could result in local authorities seeing an increase in claims from the employees and the public. In this article, we share our top 10 tips for mitigating the risk of claims.
The Intergovernmental Panel report Climate Change 2021 – The Physical Science Base led to alarming headlines around the world about how close we are to missing our window of opportunity to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC.
The report set out likely regional implications of climate change - which could in turn, result in local authorities seeing an increase in claims. In this article we share our top 10 tips for mitigating against these.
For Western Europe, the report perhaps unsurprisingly, predicts:
On temperature, it predicts an increase in extreme heat events and a decrease in extreme cooling events. This will affect agriculture (with changes to growing seasons and crop resilience) and health (heat-related dehydration and heat exhaustion, and new diseases, illnesses, and parasites). This will force changes to our housing stock (for example, fitting external shutters and increased cooling costs) and possibly to how we live (with the potential need to adapt school and working hours).
Flooding will become much more frequent, from all sources. This requires further investment in flood protection infrastructure, changes to our existing building stock, future buildings to be flood protected or designed to adapt to flooding, and changes to farming practices to safeguard land, crops and livestock.
As well as increased risk of flooding, increased precipitation could cause damage to highways and greater pressure on drainage systems.
All of this will impact significantly on the insurance industry, leading to increased claims in some areas. For domestic and commercial insurers, this will be mainly linked to property damage.
For risk managers within local authorities, the impacts are likely to lead to an increase in claims arising from:
Councils may also see claims from employees suffering from illness caused or exacerbated by heat in the workplace.
All of the above are sensible investments, which will produce a long-term cost benefit gain, when offset with the costs of retrofitting in the future, as well as probable heat-related claims that may arise; however, without doubt, the most effective way to mitigate projected changes in our climate is to limit global heating to less than 1.5ºC.
Councils are uniquely placed to work with local communities and businesses to contribute to zero-carbon communities, and environmental gain equates with humanity’s gain. Risk managers can help councils understand the cost benefit analysis of taking more significant steps to protect citizens and local environments from the most damaging impacts of climate change.
Law firm Browne Jacobson has collaborated with Wiltshire Council and Christ Church Business School on the launch event of The Council Company Best Practice and Innovation Network, a platform which brings together academic experts and senior local authority leaders, allowing them to share best practice in relation to council companies.