INDIANAPOLIS — The insurance and risk management industries will be crucial in helping to confront certain problems on a global scale, former President Bill Clinton told attendees Tuesday at the Insurance Accounting & Systems Association Inc.'s 2014 Educational Conference and Business Show.
Mr. Clinton identified inequality of access and opportunity, political instability and degradation of the climate and local resources as the three primary challenges facing the global community.
The insurance industry is especially well-suited to spotting emerging risks early, Mr. Clinton noted. “Insurance and reinsurance are going to be critical to the next 20 or 30 years in the life of Americans and around the world,” he said.
Mr. Clinton credited the insurance industry with taking the lead on climate-related issues.
“We have to reduce the negative forces of climate change,” he said. “Internationally, the insurance industry put out an amazing statement about this 15 years ago. So most of the people that making a living assessing risk don't understand what all the debate is about in America, where some people are trying to deny what's going on.”
Citing a report on rising sea levels in Norfolk, Virginia, Mr. Clinton said that the insurance industry will help influence mitigation options, which include building sea walls, removing low-lying buildings and elevating structures.
“What's the most economically viable way to respond to a risk?” he said. “The insurance industry will price the risk in such a way that will make a good response more likely.”
Elsewhere, Mr. Clinton offered a nuanced defense of health care reform, noting that U.S. spending on health care as percentage of gross domestic product has fallen recently.
“When the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act was signed, we were spending 17.8% of GDP on health care, and last year it was 17.2%,” he said. “On balance we did the right thing and have done more good than harm,” he said.