US insurance industry isn’t moving away from coal at the rate of EU insurers

US Insurance Industry - Power plant and wind turbine
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A new report determined that insurers in the Unites States are falling behind their European counterparts.

Though the number of companies in the US insurance industry that have moved away from coal has doubled this year, a new report shows that American insurers remain far behind those in Europe.

Insurance companies in Europe have withdrawn support for coal at a substantially higher rate.

The report, called “Insuring Coal No More,” looked at the European and US insurance industry. It scored the two regions for the third consecutive year according to the Unfriend Coal campaign. The report revealed that in the United States, at least 35 insurers with combined assets of around $8.9 trillion (about one third of the global assets of the industry) have formed coal divestment policies.

Comparatively, the figure for 2017 was 15 insurers with $4 trillion in combined assets. In 2018, it was 19 insurance companies with a combined $6 trillion in assets.

The report also assigned rank to the 30 top insurers leading the way in their action on coal and climate change. The ranks are based on individual scores for each insurer for its underwriting, divestment and other climate leadership policies.

The US insurance industry may be moving in a coal-free direction, but not nearly as fast as the EU.

Among the largest insurance companies in the world, 17 have announced their exit policies for withdrawing from coal. Together, they control 46 percent of the world’s reinsurance market. Moreover, they also control 9.5 percent of global primary reinsurance. Among them, the majority are already declining to insure new coal power plants and mines.

Some of the leaders which received the highest scores in “Insuring Coal No More” were Swiss Re and Zurich. They had both already ceased coverage for new mines and power plants, but have also stopped coverage for existing coal projects as well as the firms operating those projects. Additionally, they have adopted comparable policies relating to tar sands.

2019 has marked the first climate change policies announced by companies in the US insurance industry. For instance, Chubb unveiled its own coal policy, and AXIS Capital announced a policy both for US Insurance Industry - Power plant and wind turbinecoal and tar sands. The report indicated that while American insurers are headed in the right direction, they still have a great deal of catching up to do.

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