Tower Limited, whose sustainability journey ramped up in 2021 with the refresh of the insurer’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, has announced the appointment of former product manager Will Hay (pictured above) as sustainability manager.
“I’m looking forward to further advancing Tower’s sustainability strategy, as part of our mission to protect and enhance the future for the good of our customers and communities,” a “super excited” Hay told Insurance Business.
For the internal hire, who joined Tower in December 2020, having a focus on sustainability is crucial to protecting not only communities and customers but also our collective future. He said it’s never been “more urgent than now,” following the recent disasters in New Zealand, for everyone to make real change happen.
“I’m excited to bring a unique perspective and insurance skillset to further guide Tower towards a more sustainable future, utilising product management and also my underwriting and broking experience,” he said. “On a more personal level, my passion for the outdoors and ocean has shown me raw examples of the consequences of inaction, which has strengthened my resolve to protect and shape the future for generations to come.”
According to Tower corporate affairs and sustainability head Emily Davies (pictured below), the Kiwi insurer has set a science-based carbon reduction target of 21% over five years from its 2020 base year. This reduction goal spans Tower’s New Zealand and Pacific operations.
“It’s an ambitious target given our base year does not reflect our pre-COVID footprint, and we know it will prove challenging as we continue to grow and increase customer interactions, particularly in the Pacific islands,” Davies told Insurance Business.
“However, we’re up for the challenge and have plans in place to implement more sustainable electricity sources for our Pacific properties and transition our Pacific fleet to plug-in hybrid vehicles. We’re pleased that the move to our new 6 Green Star-rated building in Auckland has already helped reduce our corporate office emissions in New Zealand.”
Tower moved to its headquarters on Fanshawe Street in 2021. Internationally recognised, the environmentally friendly building has what Davies described as “climate change-combatting” features, including technology that allows Tower to save energy and cut waste.
“More broadly, we have set targets for a range of our sustainability impacts,” Davies said. “Our commitment to fair and transparent insurance sees us targeting 80% of all products to be WriteMark-certified by end of FY23 (12 months to September 30, 2023) and 95% by the end of FY25. We are committed to providing affordable and accessible insurance, which is a particular focus for our Pacific markets which currently have low rates of insurance penetration.
“As such, we are aiming to increase access to insurance via our digital channels and are targeting to have 40% of transactions in the Pacific completed digitally by the end of FY25; as well as consistent digital offerings in place across New Zealand and our Pacific markets by end of FY23.”
Davies considers Cyclone Response Cover, Tower’s parametric insurance product, as an important step towards offering affordable and accessible insurance. Tower’s target is to have 1,000 parametric policies in place in the Pacific by the end of the current fiscal year.
Tower, which also provides electric vehicle and e-bike insurance, offers a “sustainability upgrade” benefit to house and landlord insurance policyholders as well. The benefit is an additional $15,000 sustainability payment, on top of the sum insured, for customers who have their properties severely damaged or destroyed and choose sustainable building materials and features for their new homes.
Additionally, Tower supports students in the world-first bachelor of climate change degree at the University of Waikato – pledging $45,000 for three years from first semester 2022. The insurer is also known for its flood risk and earthquake ratings, the goal of which is to better equip New Zealanders amid climate change and the increase in the frequency and severity of weather-related events.
Davies said Hay, who will report to her, will help continue to drive Tower’s sustainability strategy forward.
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