In the second season of the Emmy Award-winning documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” actor Jack Black investigates the imminent effects of climate change in low-lying coastal areas like Miami. In the season’s second episode, “Gathering Storm,” which aired earlier this month, Black interviews Alex Kaplan ’01, an insurance expert and senior client manager of global partnerships at the Swiss Re Group.
“In Florida alone, you’ve got $544 billion worth of property that lives within six feet of the high tide line,” Kaplan explains in the segment focused on the risks of new construction in Miami. “It’s right on the front line for sea level rise.”
The Swiss Re Group is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer, and Kaplan, who assesses risk for a living, says that typically, “individuals, corporations and governments underestimate [the risks] they’re exposed to. I think the expectation is that ‘well, the government will come in and solve our problems, so why should I deal with it today?’ But flood insurance in the U.S. doesn’t cover these things. Sea levels rise over time – that’s on the owner of the building….So many people own homes [here with] 30 year mortgages…It’s entirely unsustainable.”
As a student at HWS, Kaplan majored in economics and environmental studies. He was president of Chi Phi fraternity, president and founder of Hobartones, and a member of the Colleges Chorale. He has participated in the HWS Day on the Hill program, which showcases a variety of public and private sector career options in Washington, D.C., and connects students with volunteers in the HWS Career Network in and around that city.