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Humanitarian insurance – ethical tightropes, trade-offs and unintended consequences

Insurance can be a useful tool for managing the unpredictable costs of disasters. This seems a good fit for a sector whose core business is responding to the human impacts of disasters, and often struggles to find the resources to meet unexpected peaks in demand. But humanitarians have a number of particularities linked to their principled approach, their funding and operating models and scope of expertise and influence that require them to give serious consideration to not only whether the cost of premiums justifies the operational benefit – but whether it is ethically and practically, the right thing to do.

In this blog, we outline some of these dilemmas and expand the list of questions humanitarians ought to consider beyond ‘could you?’s to a considerable list of ‘should you?’s.


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