Insurers withdrawing from coal projects doubled in 2019

Insurers such as QBE and Suncorp are not willing to insure coal as it is the largest single contributor to the human impact of climate change, according to a report from Unfriend Coal.

The number of insurers withdrawing cover from coal had more than doubled in 2019, as 10 companies announced restrictions on coal insurance for 2019, which took the global total to 17.

Australian insurers QBE and Suncorp were the two companies to do so and collectively controlled 46% of the reinsurance market and 9.5% of the primary insurance market.

Another 35 insurers had divested from coal from 37% of the industry’s roughly $8.9 trillion of investments in global assets, which had grown from 19 companies with $6 trillion in 2018.

The first three insurers globally to adopt rudimentary coal exit policies did so in 2017, with four that had followed in 2018 and 10 more for 2019.

The action had seen a tangible impact as coal companies had begun to find a shrinking insurance market – Adani Group was one that had struggled to find insurance to develop the Carmichael mine in Queensland.

Swiss Re, SCOR, Zurich, Allianz and AXA scored the highest on divestment and all apart from Allianz had policies that covered coal as well as tar sands companies.

QBE had adopted a more rudimentary divestment policy, which did not apply to tar sands or other extreme fossil fuel companies.

Suncorp had adopted a coal exit policy but did not play a leading role in global energy and power insurance.

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