Coal Project Leak Fuels More Bad Publicity

If the global BI claims crisis was not bad enough four of the world’s biggest insurers have been dragged into a new leaking scandal over their support for a controversial coal project.

In Australia it is alleged that a member of broker Marsh’s staff has leaked documentation which are said to show Liberty Mutual, HDI Global, XL Australia and Aspen Re are underwriting work on Adani’s Carmichael coal project.

The news was broken yesterday by the Sydney Morning Herald which said it has documents which name the four underwriters as having current policies for ‘early works project insurance’ on the Carmichael Mine and Rail Network. The policies were brokered by Marsh, and it is alleged that the documents were leaked to the paper by an employee which opposes the project which has caused a great deal of controversy in Australia.

The story has been seized on by climate activists and investors which have been calling on Marsh to stop brokering insurance for the Carmichael coal project.

The insurers have publicly stated in the past they were looking to curtail their involvement in the project.

“The policies are described as ‘Early Works’ a possible indication of the slow pace of construction on Adani’s Carmichael coal project,” explained Unfriend Coal. “This could also suggest that Adani is yet to secure all the insurance policies it requires to complete construction and operate the mine and rail projects.”

Liberty Mutual stated in 2019 that it “would not be participating in the insurance program for the anticipated operational phase of the Carmichael mining project”. A spokesman for the company said that prior to that announcement, Liberty had a policy for early works construction that expired in October 2019 and was contractually obligated to cover construction defects for a further 24 months.

Talanx, the owner of HDI Global, announced last year: “In principle we will not insure new coal power stations and new coal mines”. The company did not however rule out insurance for infrastructure associated with coal projects.

A spokeswoman for XL Australia, a subsidiary of French insurer AXA, said it also had default cover related to an expired policy that would end in 2021.

Marsh was expected to announce a climate policy at its AGM in NYC last month. However, Unfriend Coal said instead it issued a 183 word set of client engagement principles that climate groups described as “greenwash”.

The group claimed the leaked documents also highlight staff unrest within Marsh over its links to the Adani coal project and prove the company is actively involved in brokering insurance policies for the project.

Lindsay Keenan, European Co-ordinator of the Unfriend Coal campaign, said: “Aspen Re risks seriously damaging its international reputation if it continues to support this climate-wrecking coal project. It must now change course and help insure our future against catastrophic climate change.”

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