Several of the largest non-life insurers in South Korea have decided to stop insuring coal energy projects, following an appeal from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Four insurers – DB Insurance, Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, Hanwha General Insurance, and Hana Insurance – will no longer insure the construction or operation of coal plants. These four companies represent almost half of the US$52 billion coal insurance market in the country.
Two other major insurers – NH Property & Casualty Insurance and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance – announced they will no longer insure the construction of new coal projects, but did not mention anything regarding stopping cover for ongoing operations.
This comes after Guterres called on insurers to stop underwriting fossil fuels during his speech at the Insurance Development Forum earlier this month. Civic network Korea Beyond Coal and international insurance advocacy Insure Our Future contacted the top 11 non-life insurers in South Korea and urged them to stop doing business with coal power firms.
According to data from National Assembly Member Soyoung Lee’s office, Samsung Fire & Marine had the largest exposure to coal at US$13.26 billion. This was followed by DB Insurance and Hyundai Marine & Fire at US$10.56 billion and US$9.38 billion, respectively.
“Korean insurers tend to participate in high-risk projects like coal power plants as a consortium to minimize the risk,” said Yuan Peng, climate finance researcher at Solutions for Our Climate. “Having four of them fall out of the coal insurance market means even higher liability for the remaining insurance companies, making coal projects undesirable for everyone involved.”
Meanwhile, Insure Our Future called on the other insurance companies in the region to end their support for coal.
"With the coal exit policies of four Korean insurers, the global insurance industry's shift away from coal has now reached East Asia,” said Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the Insure Our Future campaign. “This leaves the remaining coal insurers in Japan and China all the more isolated. Tokio Marine, Ping An, the People's Insurance Company of China and other regional insurers need to follow the encouraging example of their Korean peers and end all cover for the construction and operation of new coal projects."