Fifteen insurers have cut ties with Trans Mountain

September 2, 2021

Update: Since publishing this blog we had another huge win. Chubb, the world’s largest propert and casuality insurer, officially cut ties with Trans Mountain – becoming the sixteenth insurer to drop the pipeline!

Last week was Trans Mountain’s final deadline to secure the annual insurance it needs to proceed with its climate-wrecking pipeline.

Although we’re still waiting to see if more companies will publicly announce that they cut ties with Trans Mountain, we’ve already had some major wins: fifteen insurers have now pledged to never do business with Trans Mountain, and nine of those companies have policies restricting any future coverage of other polluting tar sands projects.

Let’s rewind for a second.

The community has been targeting the insurance industry for three years now – ever since we realized that picking off Trans Mountain’s insurers may just be one of our best strategies for stopping this toxic project (and all expansion of the tar sands) once and for all. Remember that without insurance, the pipeline cannot go ahead.

Last year our collective pressure forced Trans Mountain’s biggest insurer, Zurich, to back out. This was a major blow for the beleaguered pipeline – but this year, Trans Mountain struck back.

Back in February, we found out that the company had filed a request asking the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) to start keeping the identity of its insurers a secret. The filing explicitly name-dropped and credited the pressure from our movement as the reason why the company was struggling to find insurers to back the project.

Trans Mountain thought that if its insurers were kept hidden, they would be protected from public pressure. But what they failed to understand about campaigning is that when you get crystal clear evidence your strategy is working, you don’t back off – you go even harder.

The CER ended up granting Trans Mountain’s request (because, capitalism) – but this did nothing to protect its insurers from public scrutiny. In fact, all it did was immortalize the pipeline’s already known insurers, and guarantee that we would continue to target them until they publicly cut ties with the pipeline.

And so we did just that. Over the last few months, three more major insurers have cut ties with the Trans Mountain pipeline – including two members of the Lloyd’s marketplace (Argo and Cincinnati Global). Our sources indicate that Lloyd’s subsidiaries might be some of Trans Mountain’s biggest insurers since Zurich dropped out.

This is a huge win. A total of fifteen insurers have now pledged to never do business with Trans Mountain, and nine of those companies have policies restricting any future coverage of other polluting tar sands projects.

Q. How the heck did we pull this off, not just with one company, but fifteen of them? 

A. With a whole lot of people power. That’s right, these wins would never have happened without people like you on board.

While also braving a global pandemic, mind-blowing numbers of Stand members like you took action from home to step up the pressure on insurance giants. Together we made sure our targets were feeling the heat from all directions – on social media, in their email inboxes, on their phone lines – literally everywhere. Stand members even went so far as to record over 50 personal video messages for insurance executives. Thanks to donations from this community, we were then able to edit a punchy cut of these videos to advertise on LinkedIn, specifically targeting senior executives at Chubb and Lloyd’s. The video was viewed over 80,000 times!

Once the world started opening up, this movement ramped up the pressure in-person too with a global week of action. Creative protests took place in 26 locations around the world – all the way from Canada and the U.S. to Sierra Leone, Germany, the Marshall Islands and more.

The incredible momentum behind this campaign has also put the insurance industry in the media spotlight. Dozens of articles covering the campaign have been published in business and insurance industry media, as well as mainstream publications. Together we helped shape the conversation about the ongoing climate risk of insuring fossil fuel projects like Trans Mountain – and insurance companies hate getting bad press.

We kept the pressure going on our top insurance targets right until the final deadline this week. We delivered our petition to Chubb’s Vancouver HQ a couple weeks ago, and in the final moments, Stand members helped flood Chubb’s phone lines and inboxes one more time to make sure they couldn’t ignore our message.

So, what happens now that Trans Mountain’s insurance deadline has passed? 

In previous years we would find out the results of our efforts in April when the insurance certificate was made public. But thanks to Trans Mountain’s sneaky request to the CER, the names of its insurers will be redacted this time around. 

All that means is we don’t need to wait until April to relaunch our campaign. We can keep the pressure on insurance targets all year round – and we plan to – until they publicly announce they have dropped Trans Mountain.

We’re still going to keep targeting major insurance giants like Chubb, Liberty Mutual, AIG, and remaining members of the Lloyd’s marketplace until they publicly rule out Trans Mountain and all tar sands projects. If you want to get started right away and haven’t yet recorded a video message calling them out – you can do so by clicking here.

I won’t lie to you. Knocking off every single one of Trans Mountain’s insurers and pushing for a transformation of the entire industry is not going to be easy. But the Stand online community and the global, Indigenous-led movement to stop this pipeline has proved again and again that it is powerful beyond measure.

And so, with fifteen insurance companies out of the running and only a handful of big insurers left that will still back tar sands projects like it, we sure aren’t stopping now.

We know our strategy is working – even Trans Mountain admitted it. Together, we can make this dirty pipeline un-insurable. And we won’t stop until we do.