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Resilient cities: A toolkit for insurers to identify the business case

November 2017 – This toolkit is designed to help insurers identify commercial opportunities, through the development of new products and services that can support cities in their response to natural catastrophes. The toolkit, which is split across two workshops, contains all the material a facilitator needs in order to hold internal conversations on the future role of their organisation in managing the protection gap.

This toolkit is currently in beta testing phase with our members. If you would like facilitation support to deliver these workshops in your own organisation please get in touch.


Download the complete toolkit

ClimateWise Resilient cities toolkitAbout the toolkit

Many insurers struggle to integrate resilience considerations into their day-to-day products and services. It is often unclear how these services could be delivered to clients (eg as a package of insurance products and advice, or as standalone advisory services). Much of this uncertainty stems from the nature of the industry itself, which has historically focused more on financial risk transfer than physical risk management. It is also unclear how insurers can blend their commercial insurance offerings with the perception that data on risk and resilience are public goods. For example, how can insurers share the data they rely upon to price risk without affecting their bottom line?

Driving urban resilience is not, of course, the sole responsibility of the insurance industry. Many other stakeholders must be involved, especially those who make day-to-day decisions that influence resilience.

Recognising this, ClimateWise, in partnership with other organisations, has set out to bring together different urban decision-makers and facilitate a dialogue around urban resilience. This led to ClimateWise developing of a set of ‘risk tools’ for city officials. Insurers can further support this process by creating a common understanding of risk and advocating for more action around resilience. Indeed, many leading insurance companies are currently exploring various innovative ideas to overcome the challenges and barriers faced. These include:

  • Developing an evidence base for how urban resilience may benefit insurers.
  • Creating alignment between other stakeholders (particularly government authorities) to provide appropriate strategic advice to insurers, rather than simply broadening the number of stakeholders being engaged.
  • Insurers taking greater steps to identify their commercial business case for supporting urban resilience. For example, aligning the understanding of risk between the underwriting and investment functions of insurers.

This toolkit has been developed in discussions with insurers. Its aim is to provide direct support to those in the industry who are engaged in urban resilience discussions. It provides a collection of materials, including the agendas for two consecutive workshops and links to web-based and other resources. The main objective of the workshops is to stimulate discussions to help identify the business case for investing in product and service development around urban resilience.


1. Background briefing: Urban resilience and insurance

To be circulated as pre-reading for all participants in advance of Workshop 1.

2. Workshop 1: Urban resilience and insurance

Will explore opportunities associated with urban resilience, and then identify existing activities within the insurance industry and their potential impact. Supporting material includes:

a. Multimedia resources

b. Examples of existing industry activities

c. Identified barriers and challenges

3. Workshop 2: Identifying the business case for resilience

Will explore the business case for urban resilience within your own organisation. To guide the workshop facilitation. Supporting material includes:

a. Participant worksheets

4. Additional resources

Further reading and guidance


The upcoming workshops are intended to help you and your colleagues brainstorm the business case for your organisation investing in the design of products and services around urban resilience. The two workshops will:

  1. Explore opportunities associated with urban resilience and then identify existing activities within the insurance industry and their potential impact.
  2. Explore the specific business case for urban resilience within your own individual organisation. Following the two workshops, the facilitator will collate the ideas and disseminate them internally to key decision-makers.

Citing this report

Please refer to this toolkit as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2017, September) Resilient Cities: A toolkit for insurers to identify the business case. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Published: November 2017

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Author and acknowledgments

The lead authors of this toolkit were Dr Swenja Surminski, Dr Tom Herbstein and Amy Nicholass.


The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, ClimateWise or any of its individual business partners or clients.