Researcher biography

Areas of expertise:

  • The insurance protection gap on multiple perils including terrorism, climate change and major weather events such as bushfires, hurricanes and floods.
  • Financial protection and resilience to disaster in both advanced and developing economies
  • Insurance markets as underpinning the economy, including mortgages, credit and lending

Professor Paula Jarzabkowski is a global expert in the public-private mechanisms proliferating around the world to address the insurance protection gap. The insurance protection gap is the economic loss from catastrophic events that is not insured. In advanced economies, the burden of paying for recovery from disasters then falls upon the government and taxpayers. In low-income countries, disaster recovery sets back economic gains by decades affecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people.

The insurance protection gap is rapidly increasing due to climate change, yet climate-driven risk is not insurable because it is systemic, meaning frequent, correlated, and severe. Global insurance markets rely on highly-diversified risks, in which premiums on many different risks pay for the losses on a few risks in any country at any one time. Climate change, be that through more severe and frequent Caribbean hurricanes, Australian bushfires, and European floods, compounds global losses, generating a systemic effect of spiralling premiums, withdrawal of insurance, and unprotected assets that create the insurance protection gap.

Currently, Paula is researching the changing nature of terrorism risk and how we can remain financially resilient to risks such as civil unrest, cyber attack, explosive threats, or lone attacker events; how we can reconfigure the insurance market around sharing the risk of climate change, with a particular Australian focus on flood and cyclone risk; and how innovations in disaster risk financing, such as disaster liquidity insurance, can be used to support climate adaptation and response.

Paula is also a Fellow of the Academy of Management and a Fellow of the British Academy. Paula is a member of the Expert Advisory Group, Pool Reinsurance Company UK; a Board Member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High Level Advisory Board for the Financial Management of Catastrophic Risks; and has been Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Centre for Global Disaster Protection.