Insurance Industry: 5G is an Emerging High Risk Situation Along with Climate Change

Insurance companies typically do not insure harm from radiofrequency radiation (RFR), it is an exclusion in almost all insurance policies. Special pollution insurance is required to cover this. The insurance industry keeps track of relevant emerging risk topics to make sound business decisions to reduce their exposure and costs. In the small town in Langley, in Washington state,  passed a strong but legal wireless facilities ordinance to give as much power as possible back to the city within the legal bounds of the 1996 Telecommunicastions Act (TCA). A provision in their ordinance requires pollution liability insurance . This Oct 2022 article describes the ups and downs of how they did this. 

Wireless Radiofrequency Radiation is an Insurance Risk

Swiss Re is the second largest reinsurance company in the world. In 2013, their Swiss Re Emerging Risk profile listed electromagnetic fields in the highest casualty risk due to “unforeseen consequences” beyond 10 years, similar to asbestos. This distinction is shared with endocrine disruptors and nanotechnology due to their long latency period for harm. 2013- Swiss Re Sonar Insurance Risk Report. Emerging Risk Insights 2013.

Insurers Brace for 5G Risks

In a  2019 updated Insurance Industry report , New Emerging Risk Insights by Swiss Re Insurance Company  the second largest reinsurance company in the world, 5G is listed as an emerging concern in the high risk category within 3 years.  Included in the high risk trends, are artificial intelligence and the existential threats of climate change. “The top five emerging risks in our SONAR 2019 report are digital technology’s clash with legacy hardware, potential threats from the spread of 5G mobile networks, increasingly limited fiscal and monetary flexibility by central banks, genetic testing’s implications on life insurers, and the impact of climate change on the life and health sector.”

Swiss Re Insurance in its articleOff the leash-5G,  highlights Cyber Security Risks as well stating,  “Other concerns are focused on cyber exposures, which increase with the wider scope of 5G wireless attack surfaces. Traditionally IoT devices have poor security features. Moreover, hackers can also exploit 5G speed and volume, meaning that more data can be stolen much quicker… A large-scale breakthrough of autonomous cars and other IoT applications will mean that security features need to be enhanced at the same pace. Without that, interruption and subversion of the 5G platform could trigger catastrophic, cumulative damage. With a change to more automation facilitated by new technology like 5G, we might see a further shift from motor to more general and product liability insurance.” Swiss Re Off the Leash-       

Precautionary Cell Phone Base Station Positioning Recommended to Reduce Insurance Liability

The liability concerns of cell towers prompted J.M. Pearce to write a peer reviewed article in Environmental Research in 2020, “Limiting liability with positioning to minimize negative health effects of cellular phone towers”. He summarizes the current research on the negative human health effects from proximity to cellular phone base stations, current law, and recommends precautionary cell phone base station positioning. The author states, “that deployment of base stations should be kept as efficient as possible to minimize exposure of the public to RFR and should not be located less than 500 m from the population, highlighting the need for lower exposures near schools and hospitals.  

Evidence for a Health Risk on Humans Living Around Mobile Phone Base Stations

These recommendations to space cell towers away from humans is followed by a 2022 peer reviewed article by biologist and researcher Alfonso Balmori from Spain who just published a thorough review of the existing scientific literature on the effects of base station antennas on humans titled, Evidence for a health risk by RF on humans living around mobile phone base stations: from radiofrequency sickness to cancer. He states in the abstract, “Overall results of this review show three types of effects by base station antennas on the health of people: radiofrequency sickness (RS), cancer (C) and changes in biochemical parameters (CBP). Considering all the studies reviewed globally (n = 38), 73.6% (28/38) showed effects: 73.9% (17/23) for radiofrequency sickness, 76.9% (10/13) for cancer and 75.0% (6/8) for changes in biochemical parameters...Of special importance are the studies performed on animals or trees near base station antennas that cannot be aware of their proximity and to which psychosomatic effects can never be attributed.”

Balmori co-authored a seminal 2016 paper, Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations. In this well executed paper looked at EMR levels and tree damage over time the authors conclude, “Statistical analysis demonstrated that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone masts is harmful for trees. These results are consistent with the fact that damage afflicted on trees by mobile phone towers usually start on one side, extending to the whole tree over time.”

  • Evidence for a health risk by RF on humans living around mobile phone base stations: from radiofrequency sickness to cancer. Alfonso Balmori. Environmental Research. 2022 Nov;214(Pt 2):113851.
  • Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations. Cornelia Waldmann-Selsam, Alfonso Balmori-de la Puente, Helmut Breunig, Alfonso Balmori.  Science of the Total Environment. 2016 Dec 1;572:554-569

Environmental Health Trust has compiled a list of insurance companies who have RFR exclusions you can view 1) here or 2) here. Examples are

  • Verizon Pollution Exclusion- in the Total Mobile Protection Plan                                                                          B. EXCLUSIONS
    “This insurance does not apply to loss or damage identified in any of
    the following or directly or indirectly caused by or resulting from any
    of the following:  ” …    “16. Pollution–
    The discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration or escape of
    pollutants. Pollutants means any solid, liquid, gaseous, or
    thermal irritant or contaminant including smoke, vapor, soot,
    fumes, acid, alkalis, chemicals, artificially produced electric
    fields, magnetic field, electromagnetic field, sound waves,
    microwaves, and all artificially produced ionizing or non-
    ionizing radiation and/or waste. Waste includes materials to be
    recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed.”
  • ELECTRONIC MAGNETIC FIELDS RISKS AND EXPOSURES AND POTENTIAL INSURANCE COVERAGE. Marsh Report. 2014. This Report discusses the different types of electromagnetic fields and devices that can create bodily harm as well as the loss of property values due to cell towers. They state, “Generally the EMF is regarded as a modification of space itself, enabling it to store and transmit energy.” They also note that insurance “coverage for a mobile operator or mobile phone manufacturer usually not available.”
  • Central Mutual Insurance Loss Prevention- Conference Discussion on Cell Towers- 2011.  Discusses 3rd party exposures, not cell phone companies who are not typically insured, but those who inadvertently work near cell tower.  He notes the increase number of towers on structures and increase strength of the power. It also highlights cognitive injury. There is no comprehensive safety protocol for cell antenna on buildings.  .
  •  Electromagnetic Fields (Utilities) Liability Insurance. Complete Markets. “Classified alongside chemicals, smoke, and asbestos as “pollutants” electromagnetic fields (EMF) poses a high risk to various persons such as users of electrical power, electrical power generating companies, power transmission companies, and large generators. Sources of possible EMF health risks include radio frequencies, extremely low frequencies, and static magnetic fields. In homes, EMF exposures come from electrical appliances. The public has targeted cell phone manufacturers and electric power lines as likely EMF targets. Electromagnetic Fields (Utilities) Liability Insurance is a way for prudent companies to minimize exposure to vexatious litigation and adverse publicity.”
  • The Risks of Radiation: Radio frequency radiation can harm roofing workers. Richard Burnheimer and Scott Kaiser.  Professional Roofing Magazine  . October 2010.–10-01-2010/1774