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Privatizing climate adaptation: How insurance weakens solidaristic and collective disaster recovery


Lucas, CH and Booth, KI, Privatizing climate adaptation: How insurance weakens solidaristic and collective disaster recovery, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change Article e676. ISSN 1757-7799 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1002/wcc.676


As losses from extreme weather events grow, many governments are looking to privatize the financing and incentivization of climate adaptation through insurance markets. In a pure market approach to insurance for extreme weather events, individuals become responsible for ensuring they are adequately covered for risks to their own properties, and governments no longer contribute funds to post‐disaster recovery. Theoretically, insurance premiums signal the level of risk faced by each household, and incentivize homeowners to invest in adaptive action, such as retrofitting, or drainage work, to reduce premiums. Where risk is considered too high by insurance markets, housing is devalued, in theory leading to retreat from risky areas. In this review article, we evaluate the suitability of private insurance as a mechanism for climate adaptation at a household and community level. We find a mismatch between social understandings of responsibility for climate risks, and the technocratic, market‐based home insurance products offered by private insurance markets. We suggest that by constructing increasingly individualized, technical, and calculative evaluations of risk, market‐based models of insurance for extreme weather events erode the solidaristic and collective discourses and practices that support adaptive behavior.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adaptation, climate change, disaster, extreme weather, insurance, social legitimacy, mitigation
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)
UTAS Author:Lucas, CH (Dr Chloe Lucas)
UTAS Author:Booth, KI (Dr Kate Booth)
ID Code:140418
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP170100096)
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2020-08-17
Last Modified:2022-06-23
Downloads:20 View Download Statistics

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