What do insurance companies have to do with the expansion of the fossil fuel industry? (And 3 ways you can take action!)

 
 

The United States' largest commercial insurance company, Chubb, announced recently that it'll be moving away from insuring and investing in coal.

This is a big deal, because this is the first major U.S. insurance company to make such a commitment, adding itself to the list of over a dozen other European and Australian insurers that have already adopted similar policies.

But how do their policies fall short of what similar insurance companies in Europe have committed to? And the bigger question to ask here is—what is and has been the role of our insurance companies in enabling the expansion and growth of the fossil fuel industry?

These are the questions I explore here. See below for additional resources and subscribe to Green Dreamer on YouTube to stay posted on my latest learning lessons!

 

The 40 largest U.S. insurers hold over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stocks and bonds. They hold a bigger proportion of their investments in fossil fuels than average index funds.
— Insure Our Future

Because of the immense power that insurance companies have in supporting the fossil fuel industry behind the curtains, this is an industry that we have to increasingly pay more attention to and target our efforts towards.

After all, right now, the 40 largest U.S. insurance companies hold $450 billion in coal, oil, gas, and electric utility stocks and bonds.

How our insurance companies are enabling a vicious cycle of catastrophe:

Insurance companies are supposed to protect us against disaster and catastrophe, but from the looks of it, they're working against our safety and wellbeing for three primary reasons—

  1. They're insuring and investing in the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, thus aggravating the seriousness of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters as a result of our climate crisis.

  2. As our risks dealing with catastrophe from more extreme natural events increases, insurance companies may charge more for their policies (as our risks are now higher), while people also increasingly feel the need to insure their homes and lands from such disasters.

  3. As the insurance companies make more off of our higher premiums, they're putting more dollars into the fossil fuel industry, thus continuing this vicious cycle.

3 ways we can get involved in getting our insurance companies to divest from the fossil fuel industry:

  1. Check whether your insurance companies have a stake in the fossil fuel industry and if so, send an email or call in to a representative telling them you'd love to continue your policy with them but would love to see them make commitments to divesting from the fossil fuel industry.

  2. Get your city (cities are often large customers of insurance companies) to take action and cut ties from insurers still invested in the fossil fuel industry. Here's an action guide from Insure Our Future.

  3. Follow and support Insure Our Future's campaign and work and browse its additional guides on what you can do based on your background and place in the industry.

 

If you found this helpful, you may also enjoy our latest Green Dreamer Podcast episodes on environmental policy and activism:


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