Climate change is an important issue for the insurance industry and top-of-mind for Horace Mann, as we work every day to protect our customers’ property and help them recover from hurricanes, windstorms, hail, severe winter weather, wildfires and earthquakes. Horace Mann is committed to understanding and managing the risks of climate change as they affect our company, customers and communities. We also continue to find ways to reduce our company’s environmental impact.
Climate change is an increasingly important issue to Horace Mann as scientists seek to identify the impact of human activity on weather patterns. These climate change risks directly affect our customers, insurance products and portfolio of investments.
While scientists do not always agree on the scope or timing of climate changes, they generally predict that several key deviations from previous climate trends will occur over the next several decades. Changes in U.S. precipitation patterns are expected to make the southwestern states drier and the northern states wetter; average sea levels are expected to rise; and there will be an additional risk of hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These expectations have already been partially borne out over the past few years, as more frequent and severe weather events and natural catastrophes have led to higher insurance claims and costs.
Assistant Vice President,
Business Process Management
“We can’t necessarily prevent a wildfire, but we can save lives and reduce losses.”
The 2018 Camp Fire shocked California residents, first responders and insurance companies alike. Fueled by hot, dry gusts of wind, the fire burned 80 acres a minute at one point. Once the fire was out, claims were settled and the rebuilding began, Horace Mann instituted a pilot “wildfire certification program” in the heavily wooded Paradise and Chico areas. An experienced Horace Mann loss control specialist visits insured homes — at no cost to the customer — to identify easily rectified risks, such as removing flammable pine needles, vegetation and firewood from the perimeter or roof of the home, using fire-resistant building materials on the roof and exterior walls, and installing vent screens to keep flying embers from entering the house. “We can be proud that as a company, we’re doing everything in our power to prevent a house from burning down — and give people more time to get out safely,” Rubin said.
These and other climate change risks must be understood, modeled and priced into our insurance products and services. They also have public policy implications, such as discouraging overbuilding in high-risk areas through flood insurance requirements and state regulatory approaches to insurance premium approvals; and modifying and enforcing building codes to better protect at-risk communities against the effects of natural catastrophes. For example, South Florida strengthened its building codes after Hurricane Andrew to increase occupant health and safety, help protect the local tax base, and support more rapid recovery from subsequent natural disasters.
Horace Mann has a duty to ensure we’re there for our customers in the event of a loss. Our deep commitment to helping our customers was especially top-of-mind during the 2018 Camp Fire in California. We called every local customer for a wellness check within 48 hours after the fire began, brought in a catastrophe team to work alongside the local agent for quicker service, and provided an initial claims payment within seven days to each customer with a loss. We’re also there beforehand to help customers mitigate potential future losses. For example, we encourage customers to update their roofs by offering a premium discount for roofs that are less than 10 years old. And we offer optional coverage to enable homeowners to bring the damaged portion of their homes up to the current code at the time of a loss.