Rankings / Surveys
Insuring Disaster: A ranking of 70 of the world’s largest insurers’ approaches to responsible investment and underwriting
The role of the insurance industry is to assess and manage risk, as well as contribute to its reduction. Despite it's clear interest in addressing environmental and social risk, insurers are not yet part of the solution.
We examine 70 of the world’s largest insurance companies on responsible investment governance, climate change, biodiversity and human rights.
Our world faces an increasing number of environmental and social challenges, and we are in a race against time to solve them. At the core of its business the insurance industry aims to assess and manage risk, as well as contribute to its reduction. It has a clear interest in addressing environmental and social risk. Many insurers are working on such issues through collaborative initiatives, such as the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, and ClimateWise, and discussions have started on the formation of a Net-Zero Insurance Alliance.
Yet the industry is not yet part of the solution. We examine 70 of the world’s largest insurance companies on responsible investment governance, climate change, biodiversity and human rights.
The majority of large insurers do not live up to their role as ‘risk experts’ as they fail to adequately address systemic risks such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
Insurers’ boards remain ill-equipped to appropriately manage the environmental and social impacts of their organisations.
On top of this, insurers appear to do little or no due diligence to ensure their assets are being managed responsibly. Just a quarter (24 per cent) of insurers that actively participated in the survey indicate that they purposefully choose asset managers with a strong approach to responsible investment. Another quarter (24 per cent) report not analyzing managers’ responsible investment policies at all.
Despite the insurance sector’s focus on risk, the world’s largest insurance companies are largely failing to assess the impact of climate change on their investment portfolios.
Just 40 per cent of all surveyed insurers carry out climate scenario analysis on their investment portfolios, while only 39 per cent of P&C insurers (12 out of 31) carry it out on their underwriting activities. Very few insurers are using multiple scenarios.
The vast majority of insurers have not yet started to develop their approach to biodiversity loss.
No insurer has conducted a comprehensive biodiversity-related dependency or impact assessment of their investment portfolios; however, a small number are planning to do so in the next 12 months.
Most of the world’s largest insurers show severe negligence of their impact on human and labour rights across their investment and underwriting activities.
Insurers also show poor engagement practices on human rights, with just 15 per cent of assessed insurers proactively engaging with investee companies on this issue. Much like with biodiversity, engagement on human rights focuses on disclosure, while action-orientated engagement outcomes are less commonly sought. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of insurers with a P&C business do not have an underwriting policy covering human and labour rights, and many of those that do fail to make concrete commitments.
The findings presented in this report show that much work remains to be done to raise the standard of responsible investment and underwriting. While some insurers demonstrate leadership in particular areas, none are performing strongly across all of the topics we addressed. The scale and urgency of current ecological and social crises demand far more than a ‘business-as-usual’ approach from insurers, who are encouraged to use the ranking and findings in this report to benchmark their own performance and drive improvements where needed.
In the coming months, we will seek to work with insurance companies to provide resources and tailored recommendations to help them make progress.