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Insurance giant stops covering firms that depend on coal

Fossil fuels are quickly becoming a liability.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 8, 2018
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Reuters/Brian Snyder

The elimination of coal power isn't just good for the environment... it's quickly becoming good for the corporate bottom line. Insurance giant Swiss Re has enacted a policy that refuses coverage to any company that either generates 30 percent or more of its revenue from coal power, or uses at least 30 percent coal power to run its operations. Swiss Re touted the move as reflecting its commitment to limiting global warming (it made a pledge in 2015 alongside the Paris climate accord), but it also casts this as a shrewd business move.

The insurer noted that it's trying to "minimize sustainability risks." Lower emissions and renewable energy are simply better for its business -- it's less likely to pay out if it keeps climate change and pollution (not to mention use of finite resources) in check. Likewise, it sees investing in solar and wind power as ways of driving down its risks.

This isn't the first insurance company to back away from coal. Earther pointed out that insurers like Allianz and Dai-ichi Life Insurance have also dropped support for coal-dependent clients. However, this latest move could increase the pressure on companies to ditch fossil fuels even if they don't see the environmental benefit. If they want insurance, they might not have much of a choice.

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