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Press Release

WTW launches first ever coral reef insurance policy in Fiji

February 5, 2024

Fiji’s island communities to benefit from pay-outs of up to US$450,000 for reef restoration and community assistance if cyclones hit, expanding on WTW’s pioneering global ecosystem resilience programme.
Climate|Medioambiental|ESG and Sustainability|Insurance Consulting and Technology
Climate Risk and Resilience|Insurer Solutions

LONDON, February 05, 2024 — WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company, today announced the placement of a new parametric insurance policy that will help protect the coral reef system of the South Pacific Ocean’s volcano-formed Lau Group of islands, one of the most vulnerable and isolated places on Earth.

This programme provides an exciting opportunity to innovate beyond rapid reef response…enhancing the resilience of the ecosystem and those who depend on it.”

Sarah Conway | Director and Ecosystem Resilience Lead, WTW

The Lau islands, located on the eastern side of the Fiji archipelago, comprise sixty islands and islets over 114,000km2 of ocean. Sea level rise, ocean warming, acidification and the increasing frequency of tropical cyclones threaten coral reefs and the livelihoods of the Indigenous people of Lau that depend on the reef ecosystem as a source of food and income.

There is currently little in the way of climate risk protection available in the region beyond insurance policies covering fixed assets such as property. These only pay out after physical damage, and after a lengthy loss-adjustment process. Even then, very few households carry such coverage [1].

Supported by BHP through social investment funds, WTW liaised closely with Fiji’s Vatuvara Foundation (VVF), the policyholder of the insurance programme, to create a fit-for-purpose insurance product tailored for a sub-set of the Lau islands. This programme will allow payouts to be deployed at the most critical time to help them withstand the adverse impacts of cyclones and effectively manage natural resources to ensure the resilience of the ecosystems themselves.

Working with WTW and local correspondent broker Insurance Holdings (Pacific) Pte Ltd., Vatuvara Foundation chose the development insurer Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company (PCRIC) to provide the policy after a competitive placement process.

In addition to enabling VVF-led rapid reef response activities such as reattaching broken corals and debris clean-up, the insurance payouts will provide community assistance activities that will alleviate food and water security concerns caused by storm damage. These activities will help prevent the overharvesting and further degradation of Lau’s coral reef system during a community’s recovery from a cyclone and enhance both community and reef resilience.

Sarah Conway, Director and Ecosystem Resilience Lead, WTW, said: “We are grateful to BHP for supporting the design and implementation of the first coral reef insurance programme in Fiji. Building on lessons learned from our involvement with similar initiatives in other countries, this programme provides an exciting opportunity to innovate beyond rapid reef response to also include community assistance, enhancing the resilience of the ecosystem and those who depend on it.”

Katy Miller, Director, Vatuvara Foundation, said: “We are thankful that the innovative parametric policy will allow for the prompt access to funds following a destructive cyclone event to identify reef damage and assist reef recovery with a community-led team in Northern Lau. Increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events is expected in the area, and protecting natural ecosystems in the Lau Group is crucial to build long-term community resilience to anthropogenic threats including climate change.”

Ashley Preston, Head of Climate Resilience, BHP, said: “BHP is funding an innovative parametric insurance product, which aims to support the conservation of coral reefs and surrounding local communities in Fiji’s northern Lau Group, and build the knowledge base for how similar financial products could be used to improve climate resilience. We are pleased to work with WTW and Vatuvara Foundation on this project, which supports BHP’s commitments to action on climate, conservation and empowering communities.”

PCRIC CEO, Aholotu Palu, said “PCRIC is very pleased to demonstrate its commitment to serve non-sovereign entities with innovative parametric insurance products, in line with PCRIC’s mission to help the island communities of the Pacific to better prepare, structure and manage finances to foster disaster resilience and ensure rapid access to funds; the work of the Vatuvara Foundation, both in reef conservation and in local community empowerment, is recognised by the Government of Fiji as being in the national interest and consistent with development priorities, particularly the Blue Pacific Strategy, as well as commitments to climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.”

Initial coverage will include Vatuvara Island, which is a protected natural reserve; Yacata, where the local community resides; and Kaibu, the Vatuvara Private Islands Resort. Further sites in the Lau Seascape may be added in future years.

About WTW

At WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), we provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of our colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, we help organisations sharpen their strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximise performance.

Working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we uncover opportunities for sustainable success—and provide perspective that moves you.

Footnote

  1. In Fiji, the penetration rate for non-life insurance is just below 2 percent. Return to article
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