Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and more costly. According to one estimate, natural disasters caused about $340 billion in damage across the world in 2017. And insurers had to pay out a record $138 billion. The $5 trillion global insurance industry plays a huge role in the U.S. economy. Insurance spending in 2017 made up about 11 percent of America’s GDP.
So, how will insurance companies remain profitable in an era of climate change? And what does that mean for the rest of us?
Natural disasters cost the country $91 billion in 2018, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The report's findings are a sign that the changing climate and increasing numbers of extreme weather events are having a significant economic impact, even as the Trump administration continues to undo Obama-era climate regulations.
The economic losses in 2018 were due to 14 different natural disasters, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires to winter storms. Eighty percent, or $73 billion, of the total loss was attributable to just three events: Hurricane Michael in Florida, Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, and wildfires in the West, including California.
According to the report, 2018 had the fourth-highest total costs from natural disasters since NOAA started tracking this data in 1980. It also marked the eighth consecutive year with eight or more natural disasters that cost at least $1 billion each.
Last year set a new record for wildfire costs, with $24 billion in losses caused by several fires throughout the summer and fall. November's Camp Fire burned over 150,000 acres in northern California alone, destroying homes and businesses.
Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained over $1.6 trillion in losses due to natural disasters.
The Trump administration has been historically resistant to take action on climate change. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement during his first year in office.
The president has dismissed reports on the effects of climate change and mocked the concept of global warming during recent winter storms.
"Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold," Trump tweeted last month. "Wouldn't be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!"