Campaign Calls On US Insurance Industry To Ditch Fossil Fuels

By Ryan Smith, INSURANCE BUSINESS

September 13, 2018

https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/us/news/environmental/campaign-cal…

A new campaign is calling on the US insurance industry to ditch fossil fuels, calling the industry a major contributor to climate change.

Insure Our Future is the first campaign focusing on the insurance industry’s role in perpetuating climate change, according to a news release. The campaign launches as AI-powered insurance company Lemonade becomes the first US insurer to commit to never invest in coal.

“We’re calling on our industry – our reinsurance partners, our competitors, and our colleagues in health and life insurance companies – to join us,” Lemonade co-founder and CEO Daniel Schreiber wrote in a recent blog post. “[F]or insurance companies in the business of underwriting polluting projects we have a simple ask: please don’t.”

While insurers were among the first to warn about climate change in the 1970s, that early recognition of the risk hasn’t translated into action, Insure Our Future said.

“The insurance industry is supposed to protect us from catastrophic risk, yet when it comes to climate change, they’re adding fuel to the fire through their investments and underwriting,” said Lindsey Allen, a partner in the Insure Our Future campaign and executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. “Our communities are the ones who are paying the price – through wildfires, massive flooding, increased premiums and denial of coverage.”

According to Insure Our Future, the insurance industry is fueling climate change by insuring fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and coal-fired power plants. The industry is also a major investor in fossil fuel companies. According to Insure Our Future, the 40 largest US insurers hold more than $40 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stock and bonds, making insurers more invested in fossil fuels than average index funds.

The campaign also accused insurance companies of “abandoning communities that live in the path of climate risks.” In California, for instance, complaints of premium hikes and loss of coverage in counties at risk of wildfire have tripled.

“Insurance companies are gouging and deserting policyholders in fire-prone areas while fueling those very wildfires,” said campaign member and president of Consumer Watchdog Jamie Court. “Insurance companies that complain about the problem need to be part of the solution.”