Working with customers - ESG integration in insurance
We work with our customers, brokers and other distribution partners to ensure responsible and sustainable business practices and to protect reputations, while promoting best practices in managing environmental, social and governance risks.
Our aim is to promote international best practice standards that help ensure that potentially adverse social, environmental and economic impacts are adequately managed.
Why it matters
Society is facing increasingly interconnected and complex environmental, social and governance challenges. The insurance industry cannot be a bystander and where appropriate, it must play its role in addressing these challenges as a manager of risk. Failing to do so, can have a damaging effect on society, stakeholder trust and the reputation of the insurance industry and its customers. That is why we work with our corporate customers and brokers to better manage sustainability risks and strive to promote best practices in managing environmental, social and governance risks.
Engaging with customers
We integrate our commitment to sustainability and the UN Global Compact in our underwriting and business decisions. We believe it is better to engage with customers to understand their business and operations, and work together to ensure responsible and sustainable business practices are in place.
This enables us to make better-informed decisions on how we can support customers in developing best practice.
A three-step approach that systematically detects risks
Zurich uses a three-step approach that systematically detects, assesses, and mitigates major environmental, social and ethical risks that are inherent in specific business transactions. Concerns about risks can be escalated to a referral desk to assess sensitive or complex sustainability risks and provide direction as to the appropriate mitigation actions. We track and analyse the outcome of the risk assessment and risk mitigation efforts.
Our risk-profiling methodology
Using our proprietary risk-profiling methodology, we have prioritized five key areas of concern: banned cluster munitions and anti-personnel land mines; thermal coal; and governance, human rights and environmental risks in dam construction, mining, and oil and gas activities. In addition, Zurich avoids doing business with counterparties that may use child labor, forced labor, or conduct operations that could jeopardize health and safety, or offer unfair remuneration.
For each of these areas of concern, we have drawn up a sustainability issue brief that sets out our position and best practices. We also provide guidance and training for underwriters and other relevant stakeholder groups, and have established corporate responsibility risk assessment and referral processes.
Zurich tracks and monitors volumes and types of sustainability risks in business transactions internally within the Group and externally with a third-party ‘risk radar’ expert. Significant changes in ESG performance can be monitored and assessed accordingly. In addition, using tools such as the Zurich Risk Radar and Zurich’s global and interdisciplinary Emerging Risks Group (ERG) we analyze potential risks, including those related to environmental, social or climate issues.
We have introduced an overarching human rights position in our approach to managing ESG risks in business transactions. Read more
Banned cluster munitions and anti-personnel land mines
Our stakeholders and society in general are rightly concerned about the production, sale and use of banned cluster munitions and anti-personnel land mines. They cause immeasurable suffering and also expose customers and us to a loss of trust with stakeholders as well as reputational damage.
Raising risk awareness
New business: we do not enter relationships with companies that produce, distribute or market banned cluster munitions or anti-personnel land mines.
Existing customers: we engage in dialogue with customers to explain our position and the related reputation risk and strive for a constructive outcome.
Coal, oil sands and oil shale
Zurich aims to leverage our role as a leading commercial insurer to foster dialogue around the impact of coal on climate and the steps needed to transition to a low-carbon economy. We will therefore apply our existing ESG risks in business transactions process to the thermal coal, oil sands and oil shale sector. Read more
Find out more about how we work as an investor to integrate ESG risks.
Governance, human rights and environmental risks in dam construction, mining, oil and gas
Dams help communities and economies manage water resources for food production, energy generation, flood alleviation and domestic and industrial use. But they can also displace communities, cause adverse environmental impacts and create the inequitable distribution of benefits.
Oil and gas
The oil and gas sector is an important part of the global energy mix; it provides energy that people, organizations and businesses around the world depend on and has played an important role in improving living standards globally. However, irresponsible management of activities can adversely impact the environment, host communities and countries.
Mining provides minerals and metals that underpin economic growth and social welfare. If not managed responsibly, mining operations can have adverse impacts on the environment, host communities and countries.
Raising risk awareness
We pay special attention to sustainability risks that may:
- directly contribute to human rights abuses, such as involuntary relocation of local communities and support of regimes with poor human rights records
- adversely affect water quality and access to water in neighboring states
- take place in countries with poor governance, such as failed states, conflict or war zones, ineffective rule of law, or poor human rights records
- take place in sensitive ecosystems with a high biodiversity value
- cause damage to protected areas or critical natural habitats.