Un-insuring Trans Mountain

The insurance industry is becoming increasingly aware that climate change is an existential threat to its entire business model. From hurricanes to wildfires, insurance payouts for damage caused by climate-related severe weather events have increased exponentially in the past decade – and are only growing, year after year.

In response, some of the world’s biggest insurance companies have chosen to stop insuring the worst polluting fossil fuels – first coal, and now the high-carbon Alberta tar sands, which have been described as a “climate bomb."

The Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would ship more than 890,000 barrels per year of highly polluting tar sands crude to the BC coast, increasing Canada’s climate emissions and making it impossible to meet our Paris commitments. So when Trans Mountain's insurance came up for renewal in August 2019, we reached out to the companies insuring the project to make sure they understood its full climate impacts. 

This year we're doing it again, and keeping the pressure on Trans Mountain's existing insurers to drop the pipeline before the August 31st 2020 deadline.  We started by writing a letter, like this one to Liberty Mutual, to the CEO's of all 11 insurance companies currently backing the Trans Mountain pipeline. We wanted to know if they’d commit to stop insuring tar sands projects, starting with Trans Mountain.

These are the companies currently listed on Trans Mountain's 2019-2020 insurance certificate:

  • AIG
  • Chubb
  • Energy Insurance Mutual Limited
  • HDI
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Lloyd's
  • Munich Re
  • Starr
  • Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting Ltd
  • WR Berkley
  • Zurich

Below are the responses we’ve received to our letters so far.

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Company: Zurich

Country: Switzerland

Will they insure the pipeline? Zurich has a tar sands policy, but have so far failed to respond when asked whether or not they will renew their current policy on the pipeline. Zurich is currently the last European insurer still backing the pipeline.

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Company: Munich Re

Country: Germany

Will they insure the pipeline? No.

Statement: “Munich Re has a policy on oils sands in place, covering both investments and insurance. We no longer insure the extraction of oil sands or related dedicated infrastructure on a single risk basis. And we do not invest in companies that generate >10% of their revenue from oil sands extraction. The insurance contract for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, that you mention has been signed in August 2019, months before Munich Re’s new oil sands policy came into effect. We’re bound by this contract until it is up for renewal. Of course, we will review it in the light of our new underwriting guideline regarding oil sands in due course."

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Company: HDI (a subsidiary of Talanx)

Country: Germany

Will they insure the pipeline? They have stated that they have no intention of re-insuring the pipeline in August 2020.

Statement: "As a matter of principle, Talanx no longer invests in companies that derive more than 25% of their revenue or generate more than 25% of their power from coal. In addition, oil sands have been added to the list of exclusion criteria for both investments and underwriting."

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Company: Liberty Mutual

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: Lloyd's

Country: UK

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: AIG

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: Chubb

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: WR Berkley

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: Starr

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: Energy Insurance Mutual Limited

Country: USA

Will they insure the pipeline? Failed to respond.

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Company: Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting Ltd

Country: Canada

Will they insure the pipeline?  Failed to respond.

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