Un-insuring Trans Mountain

Increasingly the insurance industry is becoming aware that climate change is an existential threat to its entire business model. Insurance payouts for damage caused by climate-related severe weather events, from hurricanes to wildfires, 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 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 we learned that the Trans Mountain pipeline’s insurance policies were up for renewal on August 31st, we reached out to the companies insuring the project to make sure they understood its full climate impacts.

We started by writing a letter to the CEO’s of 27 insurance companies that either currently have an insurance policy on the pipeline, had insured the pipeline in the past, or we have reason to believe might be considering insuring the pipeline in the future. We wanted to know if they’d commit to stop insuring tar sands projects, starting with Trans Mountain.

Below are the responses we’ve received so far.

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Company: Zurich

Country: Switzerland

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-2019

Will they insure the pipeline? Yes

Statement: "Our position is to continue to provide insurance coverage whilst we have discussions with the owner as to how the current pipeline supports the Government of Canada's ambition to meet the Paris Agreement...Depending on the outcomes of these dialogues, Zurich will either facilitate a transition to an alternative insurer or continue to provide insurance coverage depending on the company's strategy and position on climate change risk." Read the full letter here.

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Company: Generali

Country: Italy

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: None

Will they insure the pipeline? No

Statement: "As far as the Trans Mountain Pipeline is concerned, please be aware that Generali has no current involvement in the project and will not be involved in the future. Furthermore, we have already clearly identified oil sands as a sensitive sector in our Group Responsible Underwriting Guideline, publicly available here."

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Company: Swiss Re

Country: Switzerland

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain. Has a policy to not insure tar sands projects.

Statement: "While we do not comment on individual client relationships, the below should hopefully clarify our position. Our Oil and Gas sector policy restricts our business support to projects or companies related to oil sands mining. In addition to the sector guideline on oil and gas, the overarching umbrella guidelines on Protecting the Environment and Respecting Human Rights are relevant in cases such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline...Further, Swiss Re abstains from business transactions violating the rights of local communities, such as the indigenous communities' rights for free, prior and informed consent." Read the full letter here.

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Company: Allianz

Country: Germany

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: None

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain. 

Statement: "Allianz is not involved in insuring the Trans Mountain Pipeline project." This statement does not rule out future underwriting.

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Company: Lloyd's

Country: UK

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Members of the Lloyd's marketplace provided coverage for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain. 

Statement: "A search of our records shows that some of these syndicates may have insurance policies related to the Trans Mountain Pipeline up for renewal on 31 August 2019. Whether they renew or not is a decision for each of these syndicates." Read the full letter here.

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Company: HDI (a subsidiary of Talanx)

Country: Germany

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement: "As a globally active company and industrial insurer, we have been working together with our customers in technical developments and progress for more safety and prosperity since our company was founded...which includes the Trans Mountain Pipeline you mentioned, in which, however, we were only involved to a very limited extent."

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Company: Lancashire

Country: UK

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement: "As a business we do not comment on whether any business is a client of the Group nor what insurance arrangements any clients do or do not have with us."

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Company: MAPFRE

Country: Spain

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: None

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement: "Our Group does not make any public statement or issue public opinions regarding other companies and their operations, whether they be clients or not." Read the full letter here.

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Company: MS Amlin

Country: Japan

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  "We must respectfully decline your request for public announcement about incidental future insurance contracts."

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Company: Munich Re

Country: Germany

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement: "As a matter of principle Munich Re does not publicly comment on individual business transactions." However, the company also shared that it "is currently working on a general policy on the oil sands sector."

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Company: QBE

Country: Australia

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  "QBE continues to invest in and provide insurance services for oil and gas companies, subject to further international developments as the world transitions to a lower carbon economy." Read the full letter here. 

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Company: AIG

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: ANV

Country: UK/USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Arch

Country: UK/Bermuda

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Argo

Country: Bermuda

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Axis Capital

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Chubb

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Hannover Re

Country: Germany

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: None, but the company does not have a public policy on oil sands.

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement: "Hannover Re is not interested in underwriting individual construction projects related to oil sands extraction. We ask for your understanding that we cannot provide any information about specific clients nor make any public statement on projects which we are not involved in."

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Company: Liberty Mutual

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: OCIL

Country: Bermuda

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company:  Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada

Country:  Canada

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: SCOR

Country: France

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Starr

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting Ltd

Country: Canada

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer for 2018-19

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Markel Corporation

Country: USA

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Torus

Country: UK

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Failed to respond.

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Company: Sompo

Country: Japan

Relationship to Trans Mountain project: Insurer in 2014

Will they insure the pipeline? No position on Trans Mountain.

Statement:  Awaiting response.