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Insurance companies refusing to cover coal

By Charlotte Ricca

US insurance industry is lagging behind more climate-conscious Europe

The number of insurance companies withdrawing support for coal has more than doubled in 2019 in response to climate change.

According to Unfriend Coal’s third annual ‘Insuring Coal No More’ report, 17 of the world’s biggest insurers have announced coal exit policies. These companies control 46.4 per cent of the reinsurance market and 9.5 per cent of the primary insurance market,

A total of $8.9tr (£6.9tr, €8tr) from at least 35 insurers has been divested from coal, equivalent to 37 per cent of the insurance industry’s global assets. This compares with last year’s report which found that 19 insurers, holding more than $6tr in assets, pulled out of coal investments.

Lloyd’s is the only major European firm that continues to insure new coal projects.

This year US insurers announced climate policies for the first time, with Chubb revealing its coal policy and AXIS Capital announcing a coal and tar sands policy.

However, the US insurance industry is still lagging behind Europe. Seven of the 10 lowest ranking companies are based in North America, while seven European firms are listed in the top 10.

Some of the biggest insurers in the US, such as Liberty Mutual, AIG and Berkshire Hathaway, have made no progress on climate change policies.

Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the Unfriend Coal campaign and author of the report, said: “We hope within two to three years it will be so difficult to obtain insurance that most coal projects won’t be able to go forward.

“We’ve seen the acceleration [in firms pulling out of coal] for a good reason – people are freaking out.”

RECOMMENDED READING: Lloyds bank profits fall sharply due to £1.8bn PPI charge

RECOMMENDED READING: European Investment Bank to phase out fossil fuel investment

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