Support for fossil fuels among insurers is dwindling, while almost two-thirds of reinsurers have coal exit policies, according to a report published by a global climate campaign group.

After the world’s largest reinsurer, Munich Re, announced plans to scale back oil and gas cover earlier this month, Insure Our Future says that 62% of reinsurers (measured by market share) now have coal exit policies and 38% have oil and gas exclusions.

The number of insurers with coal exit policies in 2022 has grown from 35 to 41 year on year, and now includes AIG, Partner Re, Sompo and Travelers. 15% of primary insurers have oil and gas restrictions.

Insure Our Future, backed by groups such as Market Forces and, scores 30 leading fossil fuel insurers and reinsurers on an annual basis as per their progress in phasing out underwriting and investment support for coal, oil and gas.

According to the campaign’s data, the number of insurers with oil and gas restrictions in place has grown from three to 13 year on year.

Last year, only AXA, Generali and Suncorp had adopted any restrictions on the insurance of conventional oil and gas projects, but Allianz, Aviva, Fidelis, Hannover Re, KBC, Mapfre, Munich Re, Scor, Swiss Re and Zurich have followed their lead since then.

The report notes, however, that policies vary in exactly what they will continue to underwrite. For instance, Allianz, Generali, Hannover, Munich Re and Swiss Re have adopted restrictions on all new upstream oil and gas projects, but AXA and Zurich have not ended cover for either new oil production or gas exploration or production. Allianz and Munich Re will stop covering new mid- and downstream oil, but not gas, infrastructure, the report adds.

According to the report, many of the remaining insurers without coal exclusions are not active in the fossil fuel sector and the remaining coal insurers lack the expertise or capacity to underwrite large new coal power plants outside China, though this may not be the case for new coal mines and associated projects.

The carriers ranked lowest by Insure Our Future are those that have not yet adopted any restrictions, including Berkshire Hathaway and Starr in the US, Bermudian carrier Everest Re, and PICC and Sinosure in China. Lloyd’s of London announced an optional coal exit framework in 2020, meaning it also received a low rating.

Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Tokio Marine have adopted some restrictions on coal but insure the expansion of the oil and gas industry, while PICC and Sinosure have not adopted any fossil fuel restrictions but no longer cover new coal power plants overseas.

“Insurance is the Achilles heel of the fossil fuel industry and has the power to accelerate the transition to clean energy,” says Peter Bosshard, global co-ordinator of the Insure Our Future campaign and main author of the scorecard. He calls on insurers to “immediately align their businesses with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement”.


Opposition to EACOP grows

In recent weeks, a further five insurers and four banks have withdrawn their support for the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), operated by French multinational energy company Total, according to a release from BankTrack.

Aspen, Generali, Helvetia, QBE and Suncorp will not be providing insurance, while DZ Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo and Natixis will not provide any direct finance for the project, with Santander understood to be among the number as well, BankTrack says.

If it goes ahead, a 1,443km heated pipeline will be built through Uganda and Tanzania, generating 34 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. It will transport oil extracted and refined in Uganda to a port on the Tanzanian coast, where it will be exported.

The pipeline threatens to displace thousands, degrade critical water resources and wetlands in both Uganda and Tanzania, and damage numerous biodiversity hotspots, BankTrack says.

Pressure from environmental organisations and NGOs has grown for companies that have not yet withdrawn from the project, including Japanese bank SMBC.

Isobel Tarr from UK-based Coal Action Network says: “Many of the insurance companies which have failed to rule out insurance for EACOP have syndicates at Lloyd’s of London, where the companies behind EACOP have reportedly been looking for insurance cover. These include Arch, AIG, and Chubb to name a few.”

AIG declined to comment, while Arch and Chubb could not be reached.

In a resolution proposed in September this year, the European Parliament criticised EACOP for putting more than 100,000 people at risk of displacement “without proper guarantees of adequate compensation”. It also expressed “grave concern about the human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in fossil-fuel projects”, including “the wrongful imprisonment of human rights defenders” and “arbitrary prison sentences”.

EU legislators voted in favour of the resolution, which calls for EACOP to be delayed by at least one year to allow Total to identify a less environmentally destructive route for the pipeline.

In response, Total has stated that “many sensitive ecosystems including all Ramsar sites [internationally important wetland sites] were avoided. The pipeline will only cross one central forest reserve.”

The firm also adds that “all social impacts related to the projects and the developers were mandated to develop and implement resettlement action plans in accordance with the laws of Uganda, IFC standards and Equator principles”.