Cancun aerial
Aerial view of Cancun coastline. (Photo credit: Dronepicr / Wikipedia)

Buying insurance is one way to protect something of value, such as a car or a home. And now businesses in Cancun, Mexico, have insured a coral reef.

“The coral reef actually reduces the risk of storm impact on the hotels and resorts in Cancun,” Dave Jones says. He’s with the Nature Conservancy and is the former insurance commissioner of California.

He says a healthy coral reef can reduce 97% of a wave’s energy as it barrels toward land.

“So having a healthy coral reef makes a big difference in terms of whether the hurricane or storm is going to destroy your community or not,” he says.

But a reef can also be damaged by a strong storm, which puts communities at greater risk in the future.

So in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, coastal property owners pay a fee that helps fund an insurance policy for the nearby reef and beaches.

“If a storm of a certain magnitude hits, the policy pays out,” Jones says.

The money will be used by local residents trained to remove debris that could cause further damage, reattach coral pieces, and set up nurseries where corals can regrow.

Jones says it’s a way to pay for the restoration of an ecosystem that can, in turn, protect people from the intensifying effects of global warming.

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.