We Asked Insurance Workers Where They'd Live In The US To Avoid Future Natural Disasters – Here's What They Said

Mexico Beach, Florida, in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Terry Kelly/Shutterstock.com

There is mounting evidence that climate change influences major events like heat waves, droughts, and heavy rains, which have become more frequent and severe.

While recent weather events haven't prevented home buyers from purchasing property near the coast, insurance professionals are beginning to view natural disasters as a major economic threat.

Last year, a survey of nearly 270 risk managers from around the globe identified climate change as today's top financial risk, behind cyber attacks and terrorism.

The survey was conducted shortly after the release of a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which found that the world's temperatures could escalate to catastrophic levels by 2040. The resulting damage could trigger a $54 trillion global economic loss and force many people to migrate from their homes.

Where can people go to avoid these financial and physical effects of climate change?

We put the question to a group of actuaries, who use statistics to determine economic risk. They gave us their picks for the "least risky" cities for effects of climate-related disasters.

Many highlighted coastal locations, which they found less vulnerable to extreme temperature changes. Others preferred Midwestern areas, given the escalating concerns about sea-level rise. Most warned against the southeastern coast, where Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc in October 2018.

While no area is impervious to disaster, a home in one of these cities could be a relatively safe investment, according to the actuaries.

Minneapolis is a safe bet for avoiding floods and hurricanes.

photo.ua/Shutterstock

To determine climate-based financial risk, many insurance workers turn to the Actuaries Climate Index, a tool for measuring extreme changes in temperature, wind speed, drought levels, precipitation, and sea level. (It's kind of like the consumer price index for climate change.)

The tool is a collaborative effort from four actuarial societies in North America. They plan to release a new index by the end of the year that takes into account vulnerable populations and property.

Based on these considerations, Minneapolis qualifies as a "relatively risk-free" city, said Doug Collins, the chair of the Climate Index Working Group. Not only is it less vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding, but its summers also tend to avoid persistent heat.

In Portland, Maine, properties aren't particularly vulnerable to high-tide flooding.

Jeff Gunn/Flickr

"Climate risks are relatively low here," Collins said of Maine, where he lives.

When asked which city in Maine is the least vulnerable, he pointed to Portland, the most populous.

Collins said that while Portland might eventually be vulnerable to sea-level rise, these changes would be likely to affect those closest to the water as opposed to the many homes on the western side.

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