Expensive Pests – can insurance help to reduce the threat of invasive species?

Students from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies Energy, Resources and Environment Student Practicum, have just released a study entitled “Building Resilience to the Economic Threat of Invasive Species”. It discusses different challenges and opportunities to improve mitigation measures to this rising threat and to what extent insurance can play a part.

Migration, and globalized transport and trade contribute to accelerating the spread of invasive species. Climate change has started to aggravate the problem. Not only does the spread of invasive species come with challenges to public health and the environment, it can also lead to billions of dollars in damages. In the U.S. alone, efforts to manage invasive species run upwards of USD 100 billion per year. Globally, some estimates suggest staggering costs in the region of USD 1.4 trillion.

Low awareness of growing problem

Despite this crippling price tag, the level of public knowledge around the scale and breadth of the problem remains low. Both affected and responsible parties are now looking for new ways to mitigate the damages invasive species are causing business operations and the community at large.

Based on a number of concrete cases in the Great Lakes region in North America, the study explores examples of lessons learned, best practices, and different forms of cross border collaboration between the US and Canada. It also examines challenges posed by policy gaps. The study suggests that public and private stakeholders should ramp up the collective effort to invest in effective invasive species strategies.

Treating the spread of invasive species as an insurable peril can help stakeholders improve their risk management and financial preparedness through an appropriate mix of insurance options. Thus, insurance can prove a valuable partner in the battle to reduce the risk of expensive pests.

This SAIS Johns Hopkins Study has been supported by The Swiss Re Institute. The Swiss Re Institute focuses on developing and publishing industry-relevant research from internal experts and external partners that contributes to narrowing important protection gaps in order to strengthen the world's resilience.