Climate Resolve

Insurance 101: A Course for Climate Activists

Syllabus for Insurance 101 for Climate Activists — June/July 2020

Course Overview: Insurance 101 for Climate Activists will enable you to better understand the basic concepts of liability and insurance and its relationship to climate change.

The class will commence with a brief history of insurance, then move onto the establishment of CERCLA, RCRA/SARA and how these environmental laws changed the insurance industry.

After learning the basics of insurance, the class will progress into how the industry is in need of change in order to better respond to current and future climatic conditions.

We will discuss how insurance currently addresses (or fails to address) wildfire, flood and extreme heat.

The course is being led by Wendy E. Nystrom, M.A., CRIS, ENV SP, with contributions from key guest speakers.

The course will be held remotely via ZOOM video conference. And the course will be recorded for later viewing. However, participants are strongly encouraged to participate live. There will be breakouts, q-&-a opportunities and more. Live participation will be better!!

Course Calendar

Week 1
June 16, 2020

  • What is Insurance?
  • Anatomy of a Policy
  • Types of Basic Insurance: Primary, Reinsurance, Captives, Mutual and Stock
  • What is Liability?
  • Defining a “Loss”, “Bodily Injury”, “Property Damage” a “Peril”, an “Insured”, “Insurer”, and “Potentially Responsible Party”
  • General Liability and Property Insurance
  • How does Insurance make money and remain profitable?

Week 2
June 23, 2020

  • “Love Canal” and “Times Beach” Case Studies
  • State and Federal Regulations:
    • The National Environmental Policy Act (1970)
    • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976)
    • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (1980)
    • The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of (1986)
  • General Liability, Property and “The Pollution Exclusion”
  • Contractor’s Pollution Liability (CPL) and Pollution Legal Liability (PLL)
  • Risk and Expectations from the Insurance Industry

Week 3
June 30, 2020

  • Risks on droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires
    • Coverage and Parametric Insurance
    • Liability: utility companies, homeowners, public entities
    • Coverage limitations, current market trends (premium increases, coverage reduction), including FAIR Plan and HO3
  • The current legislative and regulatory landscape on California insurance and climate impacts
  • Group conversation: analyzing these extreme weather conditions in California and they apply regarding coverage

Week 4
July 7, 2020

  • Risks continued
    • Floods, storm surges and flash floods
    • Thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes
    • Winter storms
    • Tropical storms
  • Coverage and parametric insurance
    • Sea level, flood zone, coastal communities, ports all affected by sea level
    • Coastline protection
  • Group conversation: analyzing these extreme weather conditions in California and they apply regarding coverage

Week 5
July 14, 2020

  • Human health and heat
    • How could extreme heat be covered by insurance?
    • Workers Comp and basic health care
    • Covering the unemployed, homeless, elderly, children, immigrants
    • Who is covered – who pays the premium?
  • Advocacy
    • Betting against yourself? How insurance company investment and provision of coverage for fossil fuel projects is antithetical to insurance protection. How to prod disinvestment.
    • What should be the new state policies guiding insurance on climate change
  • Group conversation: analyzing proposed public policy changes


Climate Resolve