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Sunlight eclipsing planet Earth © Bjorn Holland / Getty Images / WWF

Sunlight eclipsing planet Earth © Bjorn Holland / Getty Images / WWF

Consumers in the dark as insurers fail to disclose climate risks

01 Nov 2015

  • carbon pollution
  • climate change
  • energy

Consumers of insurance products are being left in the dark as Australia’s top risk managers fail to publicly mention the economic, security, social and political risks of global warming, according to a new report released today.

The report finds that Australian insurance companies are falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to publicly disclosing their positions on global warming and how they are managing climate-related risks.
Insurance and Climate Change Disclosure in Australia examines the publicly disclosed policies and statements on global warming of general insurers IAG, QBE and Suncorp and compares these with selected international insurers, AXA, Alliance and Prudential.
It also compares the local insurers with four major Australian financial sector peers - ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac.
It finds that, unlike the banks and their international peers, none of the three local insurance companies have public climate change statements in their annual reviews or sustainability reports. 
“Global warming will have significant impacts on the insurance industry through increased claims, reputational damage, decline in insurance affordability, and an increase in uninsurable sectors or geographies,” said Monica Richter, WWF-Australia’s Business Engagement Manager - Climate Change.
“Without full public disclosure of their climate-related risks and management strategies, Australian consumers and shareholders are left vulnerable to unexpected costs and regulatory shifts.”
The report finds that none of the Australian insurers examined mentions the importance of a 2°C climate change target as an international consensus position or as an important climate threshold in any public documents.
There is also no disclosure by Australian insurers of low carbon investment targets or statements around divestment in carbon intensive companies or products.
“We are urging Australian insurance companies to do the right thing by their customers and shareholders by improving their public disclosure of climate change risks and costs, as well as advocating for stronger climate action,” Ms Richter said.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager