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Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline loses another insurer as U.S.-based Chubb abandons project

September 16, 2021

Energy Mix:

The world’s biggest publicly-traded provider of property and casualty insurance, Chubb, has become the 16th insurer to declare that it won’t back the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, a coalition of climate and Indigenous campaigners announced yesterday.

The flurry of social media activity was triggered by a single tweet from Financial Times insurance correspondent Ian Smith, with no elaborating news story as The Energy Mix went to virtual press Tuesday evening. “Chubb does not provide insurance coverage for any tar sands projects,” a spokesperson told Smith, following a protest at the U.S. Open tennis tournament earlier this month. Chubb became the official insurance sponsor for the annual tournament last year.

At the U.S. Open last week, campaigners “erected a 15-foot inflatable of Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg to demand he act on climate change,” Insure Our Future wrote in a release. “U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) wrote to Greenberg in March asking how Chubb’s underwriting policies align with its sustainability commitments.”

That was apparently enough pressure for Chubb, which became the first U.S. insurer to withdraw investment and risk coverage from coal projects in 2019. That action made the company a leader at the time, Insure Our Future said, “but the company has not made any additional climate commitments since then. In recent months, it has been under increasing pressure for its involvement with the tar sands industry.”

2019 was also the year when Chubb increased its coverage limits for Trans Mountain, the coalition added. The company wasn’t saying what led to the reversal. But apart from the U.S. Open event and the letters from politicians, industry analysts say there’s ample good reason for insurers to think twice about backing Trans Mountain.

“A 68-year-old pipeline is a huge insurance risk,” and “it’s only getting older every year,” Robyn Allan, an independent economist and former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, told The Mix earlier this year. “You’ve got this situation where Trans Mountain is showing that they’re a huge safety risk, and any insurer would be worried about that.”

More: Trans Mountain loses 16th insurer as industry giant Chubb walks away

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