Lloyd’s insurer Argo Group has decided to stop insuring Canada’s Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline when its current insurance policy expires on Aug. 31, 2021, following similar moves by other companies such as Zurich Insurance, Talanx and Munich Re.
“This type of project is not currently within Argo’s risk appetite,” said Argo in an emailed statement
Insurers are being pressured by environmental activist groups to exit their coverage of fossil fuel infrastructure because, without insurance, these projects can be stopped in their tracks.
German insurer Talanx made its decision not to renew coverage for the pipeline in June 2020; Zurich Insurance decided a month later, and Munich Re pulled out in August 2020.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would ship more than 890,000 barrels per year of highly polluting tar sands crude to the [British Columbia] coast, increasing Canada’s climate emissions and making it impossible to meet our Paris commitments,” said a statement from Stand.Earth, an environmental protection advocacy group.
During a so-called “Stop Insuring Trans Mountain Week of Action” on June 14-21, activists will be targeting Trans Mountain’s insurers, which include American International Group (AIG), Chubb, Liberty Mutual, and other Lloyd’s of London insurers, according to Insure Our Future, a climate activist group that seeks to push the insurance industry away from supporting and financing fossil fuels while accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy.
In February 2021, the Canadian-owned Trans Mountain corporation petitioned the Canada Energy Regulator to keep the names of its insurance backers secret, stating that it had “observed increasing reluctance from insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for the pipeline and to do so at a reasonable price.”
The Canada Energy Regulator approved the request on April 29, 2021, said Insure Our Future, noting that Trans Mountain’s most recent insurance certificate was publicly filed with the insurance company names removed.
Companies named on last year’s certificate, which have yet to rule out continued support for the project, include AIG, Chubb, Energy Insurance Mutual Ltd., Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s of London, Starr, Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting, and W.R. Berkley, continued the statement from Insure Our Future.
Trans Mountain is currently seeking to secure coverage for 2021-2022, with the support of its broker Marsh, according to the group. (Marsh was not available to comment about its connection to the pipeline at the time of this printing.)
Lindsay Keenan, European Coordinator for Insure Our Future, said: “Argo’s commitment to not renew insurance of Trans Mountain should be a signal to the rest of the Lloyd’s market to follow suit. Lloyd’s CEO John Neal needs to make a clear statement on behalf of all of Lloyd’s members that no Lloyd’s syndicate shall renew insurance for any aspect of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.”
Lloyd’s of London has been the focus of several recent protests by groups such as Insure Our Future and Insurance Rebellion, who are against the market’s phased approach to exiting insurance and investments for oil and gas projects.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline is too risky to go forward. Argo Group’s decision to drop the project is just the latest in the long line of clear signals that this pipeline is a danger to the climate, Canada’s west coast, and the communities it runs through. The only remaining question is when will the Trudeau government catch up to Argo, and the growing number of major insurers, that have acknowledged that this project does have a place in a climate-safe world,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program director at Stand.earth.
Photograph: An effigy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is displayed by protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion during a rally in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday, June 9, 2019. Photo credit: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP.
*This story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.