An increasing number of insurance companies such as CGNU and ISIS (Friends Provident) have adopted SRI (socially responsible investment) policies across the whole of their portfolios, and are adopting engagement strategies to use their influence to encourage companies to become more socially and environmentally responsible.
Many insurers made progress in taking ethical considerations more seriously, by signing up to the 1995 United Nations' Environment Programme's (UNEP) Insurance Industry Initiative, "Statement of Environmental Commitment by the Insurance Industry", which asks for insurance companies' pledge "to make every realistic effort towards achieving a balance between economic development, and the welfare of society, through environmentally sound management practices". The Statement calls on insurers to incorporate environmental considerations into their internal and external business activities. A number of UK insurers have signed up to this initiative you could ask your insurer whether they have signed up. UNEP's web site outlines the initiative in detail, see www.unep.ch.
How can I find ethical general insurance?
A growing number of insurance companies are beginning to implement socially responsible policies across the whole of their portfolios, and are adopting engagement and dialogue approaches to encourage companies to improve their social and environmental records. To avoid confusion please bear in mind that the term 'ethical insurance' often refers to the life and pensions side of insurance and not the general insurance referred to above.
- Naturesave Policies Ltd is an ecological insurance intermediary. Naturesave offers household buildings and contents insurance, annual travel insurance, and commercial combined insurance, with all policies insured through Lloyd's of London. Naturesave pledges that 10% of the premiums generated from the sale of all home buildings, contents and travel policies goes to benefit environmental and conservationist organisations on specific environmental projects via The Naturesave Trust. www.naturesave.co.uk.
- Climate Sure offers both a travel and motor insurance policy which offsets the CO2 emissions generated by these activities. The amount to offset is calculated on a case by case basis by referring to the make and model of your car and your road mileage. For travel insurance, the CO2 emissions to neutralise are calculated by reference to distance travelled to your holiday destination. www.climatesure.co.uk.
- Animal Friends Insurance (AFI) cover pet insurance. 50% of the commissions earned through policies go into a discretionary fund and, after deduction of necessary running expenses, the money is used to help animal charities. Address: Animal Friends, Parbrook House, Natts Lane Billinghurst, West Sussex RH14 9EY Tel 0870 40 30 300 For other ethical insurers visit www.naturesave.co.uk.
- Some insurers offer discounts for drivers who own greener cars. "More Than" offer to insure hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles, such as cars powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas, at a discount of up to 15%. www.morethan.com.
- CIS have adopted ethical principles which broadly reflect those within the Co-op Bank. They offer an Eco-Insurance scheme, which offsets the equivalent of 20% of the CO2 from every vehicle insured and also offers discounted rates for greener cars. www.cis.co.uk.
- Kew Insurance offers a green home insurance policy. Called "Simply Green", it reduces premiums by 5% to homeowners who make minor steps, such as lagging the loft or installing double glazing, to reduce their household's carbon footprint. For policyholders who take on major modifications, such as installing a wind turbine, or solar panels, there is a 20% discount available.