Even today, many sectors of the insurance industry do not regard climate change as a significant issue. However a certain amount of research and analysis has been performed by progressive companies who now see it as a fundamental which will affect not only the nature of insurance risk, but also public policy towards natural hazards. Additionally they expect climate change to have far-reaching impacts on asset management and in-house resource management because of international and domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.In parallel, there is a broader move within the industry to understand and cope with the insurance impact of extreme events, because of the growing exposure to catastrophic losses, and the increase in their actual impact in recent decades. Finally, there is a recognition that environmental issues will have to feature more prominently on the management agenda in future.This paper will critically examine the reasons for the industry's tardy response to climate change and whether this is likely to change soon. It will consider how public policy might evolve, and how insurance can form a part of a broader programme for natural disaster reduction, incorporating climate research, land use planning, and information strategies. It will explore what problems and opportunities might then arise for insurance from climate change, within the wider context of the industry's own internal dynamics, and external global economic change, and how best to capitalize on the common elements in the industry's divergent views, so that the transition to a more strategic approach occurs with minimal disruption. The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance (2000) 25, 582–601. doi:10.1111/1468-0440.00084
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