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Claims from U.S. Climate Lawsuits Could Be on the Rise

Aug 31, 2023

Climate-related extreme weather events continue to be a 鈥渉ot topic.鈥 Scorching heat, unusually heavy rainfalls, raging floods, and wildfires have all left their mark on North America , while the world .听

Things aren鈥檛 just heating up outside, though. They鈥檙e heating up in the courtroom as well. The total number of climate-related cases around the world has . No surprise, given our litigious society, the U.S. leads the way, accounting for since 1986.听

The payouts from climate-related cases can be significant, as recently learned. This past February, the single-serve coffee company was ordered to pay a $10 million settlement as a part of a lawsuit brought against them accusing them of dishonestly marketing their disposable K-Cups as recyclable.听

More Lawsuits on the Horizon?

Thanks in part to a recent move by the Supreme Court this year, we could be seeing a lot more lawsuits in the future. In April, the several oil company appeals, as part of efforts to hold businesses accountable for their effects on climate change.

This decision removed barriers for almost two dozen stalled climate lawsuits, allowing them to move forward at the state level with a jury. It also may pave the way for countless more lawsuits against the oil industry.听

Impacts of Climate-Related Lawsuits on Insurance

What does this have to do with insurance? A lot, in fact.听

, a swell in costly litigations and payouts related to the current climate crisis could have a significant impact on insurers who underwrite liability insurance lines of business, like Directors鈥 and Officers鈥 (D&O), Errors and Omissions (E&O), and Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance. Insureds with climate risk litigation exposures could find themselves in a position of sustaining costly losses, if a number of their policyholders find themselves on the losing side of a court case and look to their insurer for financial recourse.听

As carriers take action to protect themselves against these risks and associated losses, we could see more policy exclusions, rate or pricing changes, or tightening of terms related to climate litigation.听

Interested in learning more? Here are a few resources:聽

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climate crisis | environmental liability | lawsuits

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