Second Annual Hinshaw/FIU Climate Change Conference on Economic Impacts to Insurance, Lending and Real Estate Industries



U.S. law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, with offices in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa, held their second annual Hinshaw/FIU Climate Change Conference with more than 150 attendees at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami on April 11, 2018 from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Entitled “Thinking Beyond Risk: The Economic Effects of Sea Level Rise on Business Decision Making“, the Conference focused on the effects which climate change, particularly sea level rise, and government regulation, will have on decision making in the insurance, lending and real estate industries. The Conference was hosted by Hinshaw and Florida International University’s Institute of Water and Environment, and sponsored by TotalBank and Adler Group.

“Rising sea levels will result in major changes and are becoming an urgent economic issue along American coastlines,” said Steven C. Cronig, Conference co-chair and a Hinshaw partner resident in Coral Gables. “As a result, we expect to see significant changes to the built environment and related regulations, with accompanying impacts to property owners, real estate developers, the lenders who finance them as well as the insurers who provide policy coverage.” The emphasis of the Conference was on practical planning for the future and the opportunities which sea level rise may offer to the business community.

Among the critical topics the conference explored were:

  • Absent major remediation efforts, at what point does insurance of new construction in South Florida become impossible?
  • Does sea level rise render the federal flood insurance program irrelevant?
  • Does the cost of constructing buildings which can withstand sea level rise make them too expensive to bring to market?
  • What remediation measures would local government provide and what measures would a developer be expected to shoulder?
  • If a city allows development in an area subject to rising sea level, is it appropriate to impose special taxing districts on that area to offset the higher cost of remediation and continued provision of city services?
  • At what point does a city abandon efforts to preserve a neighborhood from sea level rise and abandon it to the sea?
  • The greater probability of occurrences of tropical storms and hurricanes, flash flooding, droughts, land subsidence, forest fires and heat waves.

Panel discussions at the Conference included:

  • Insuring the Changing Coastline
  • Development in a Rising Sea Level Environment
  • Lending in the Age of Uncertainty
  • Government – the Boundaries of Responsibility
  • Recent Experience and Expectations

Speakers at the Conference included:

  • City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
  • City of South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard
  • Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava
  • Florida Senator Annette Taddeo
  • FIU Researchers Evelyn Gaiser, PhD and Tiffany Troxler, PhD
  • Jay Pelham, President of TotalBank
  • Ronald L. Kammer, Chair of Hinshaw’s Insurance Practice Group
  • Jonathan Raiffe, Senior Vice President of Adler Group
  • Jesse M. Keenan, PhD, Director of Real Estate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design
  • Alex Kaplan, Vice President of Swiss RE
  • Eliot Abbott, Partner, Hinshaw


Hinshaw’s Climate Change Group is a multidisciplinary team providing planning and transactional resources for the real estate development, insurance and lending industries. The team also leverages its experience in these industries to counsel local governments. For more information, visit


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  1. Thank you for holding this critical conference in Miami given it’s special vulnerability to the affects of climate change and rising sea waters. Thank you to the panel of experts who continue to sound the alarm and push for the urgency of planning especially since our elected leaders are often in extreme denial, in particular the WH administration from the sitting president to his appointee to head the EPA Scott Pruitt, a self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”


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