Scoring insurers on coal

Unfriend Coal’s newly released report, 2018 Scorecard on Insurance, Coal and Climate Change, reveals that Europe’s four biggest primary insurers have now restricted insurance for coal, one-third of the reinsurance market has done the same, and 19 major insurers with more than $6tr in assets have divested from coal.

The report ranks 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their action on coal and climate change, scoring their policies on underwriting, divestment and other aspects of climate leadership. It is based on responses to a questionnaire from 18 companies, including all European and Asia-Pacific insurers, and on publicly available information.

Swiss Re ranks highest for the most comprehensive policies on both coal insurance and divestment, with the reinsurer having divested from companies relying on coal for more than 30 per cent of their mining income or power generation, and no longer offers them insurance cover.

However, while most of the main European insurers have by now taken action on coal, none of the nine US insurers assessed have taken any steps. Companies like AIG, Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Berkshire Hathaway continue to underwrite and invest in the leading source of carbon emissions, and Asia-Pacific insurers also continue to insure and invest in coal.

The situation is made less clear by large loopholes, and some insurers cover coal developers because their definition of coal companies is exceedingly narrow. Others do not apply to certain types of insurance or only restrict certain coal projects, and most divestment policies do not apply to assets insurers manage on behalf of third parties.

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