Climate change has already brought about problems such as sea-defences being under more stress and glaciers melting, with 80 million people worldwide to be affected with low-lying land being threatened in the future – But there is a new risk which could affect you, in yours.

While natural catastrophes happen in the form of floods, windstorms tend to result in similar levels of claims costs for the insurance industry. But floods create lower numbers of expensive claims, wind damage overall affects far higher numbers of people less severely.

New analysis produced for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) by AIR Worldwide, shows high winds between 11% – 25% could increase insurance losses if temperatures rise by only a small amount.

Matt Cullen, Head of Strategy at the ABI, said:

“In the midst of all the other global uncertainties, it is important we don’t overlook the inevitable long-term impacts of climate change. Concerns about global warming often focus on rising water levels and the threat of flooding but this new research makes it clear the impact of other meteorological events such as high winds must not be overlooked.

“Severe storms result in claims costing billions of pounds. The likelihood of these claims increasing in the future is something the insurance industry, and society, need to start preparing for now. Planners and builders should be aware of the need for more wind-resistant construction in specific areas of the country if claims are to be kept to a minimum and residents spared the distress and expense of higher levels of wind damage.”

Dr Peter Sousounis, Assistant Vice President and Director of Meteorology, AIR Worldwide, said:

“The latest findings from the climate change science community show that just a few degrees of global warming could potentially yield significant increases in the frequency and intensity of extratropical wind storms across the UK by the middle of this century and will likely continue into the next century. This report illustrates that there will likely be increasingly large impacts from an insured loss perspective. It can also be a useful tool for the engineering community, urban planners, and the insurance industry to consider the potential impacts of climate change as they look toward the next few decades from a public safety as well as a business perspective.”

In recent years the well known storm on Robert Burns Day in 1990 (also known as Daria) was one of the worst in UK history and European windstorm records, The storm was responsible for 97 deaths (according to the Met Office), although figures have ranged from 89 to over 100.

The insurance industry paid out £2.1 billion in claims, worth over £4 billion today, with damage worth millions more done to national infrastructure and uninsured properties.

The impact of climate change is only likely to get worse on the UK, meaning a higher number of even more expensive wind storms to come.

Unfortunately we are merely the lease holders to our planet, it’s unfortunate that action needs to be taken now – yet we pollute the Ozone layer on a daily basis.

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