A collective of native American Indians, the Gwich’in, has released a scorecard that rates (re) insurance companies on whether they have enacted policies against insuring oil and gas development projects in the Arctic Refuge.
Axa XL, Generali and Swiss Re are some of the carriers that have received a gold medal in this regard.
Those at the bottom of the scorecard include Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Markel.
The Gwich’in are the northernmost Indian Nation living in fifteen small villages scattered across a vast area extending from northeast Alaska in the US to the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada.
At 19.3 million acres, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America’s largest wildlife refuge and provides habitat for caribou, polar bears and migrating birds from across the globe.
It is a 1.6 million acre coastal plain that was opened to oil and gas leasing, exploration, development, and production by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
In early 2021, the Trump Administration, during its final days in office, held an oil and gas lease sale of the coastal plain. The Biden administration has taken steps to halt oil and gas activities on the coastal plain, but those actions are viewed by the Gwich’in as only temporary.
The report, researched and compiled by the Gwich’in Steering Committee and allies, shows a total of 6 international insurers who have made policies or statements that preclude oil and gas development in the Refuge. Recent ‘gold medal’ additions to the scorecard are Generali, Munich Re and Hannover Re.
The Arctic Refuge scorecard in summary
- Gold (the company made a clear and public statement that it will not insure oil and gas projects in the Arctic Refuge, or the company bans oil and gas insurance in the Arctic and has a specific definition of the Arctic that includes the Arctic Refuge.): Axa XL, Swiss Re, AXIS, Generali, Munich Re, Hannover Re
- Silver (the company has a policy or statement regarding oil and gas projects in the Arctic region or the Arctic Refuge, but falls short on the details.): Hiscox, Lloyd’s, Mapfre, Zurich
- Bronze (the company has a corporate policy that could reasonably be used to bar insurance for oil and gas projects in the Arctic Refuge.): Allianz, QBE
- Did not metal (the company has started a process toward policy that could be applied to the Arctic Refuge, or the company has engaged in meaningful dialogue with the Gwich’in Steering Committee and allies.): Aviva, Sompo, Talanx AG, Tokio Marine, Travelers, AIG
- Disqualified (the company has no policy or process that could reasonably be applied to the Arctic Refuge, and has not even bothered to reply to the Gwich’in Steering Committee and allies.): Chubb, CNA, Liberty Mutual, Markel, RLI, SCOR, The Hartford, WR Berkley
The Gwich’in make their home on or near the migratory route of the Porcupine Caribou herd, and have depended on this herd for their subsistence and culture for thousands of years, and are concerned about the potential devastating impact that opening the area to oil and gas exploration could have.
The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is also the calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou herd. The Gwich’in people call the coastal plain Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, which means “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins”.