AXA moves from being payer to partner through corporate responsibility

Group aligns investments to insurance mission of protecting the communities in which it operates

AXA moves from being payer to partner through corporate responsibility

Insurance News

By Allie Sanchez

The purpose of insurance is to protect people, according to Alice Steenland , head of corporate responsibility at AXA Group, and it helps that this philosophy is based on solid benefits to the business and not just empty rhetoric.

Steenland said in a phone interview with Insurance Business that the group is making efforts to align its business activities with its corporate mission. Last year, the company announced that it is divesting 200 million euros in tobacco equity and another 1.6 billion euros in tobacco industry bond holdings. Currently, she said, the firm is just waiting for the tobacco bonds to mature prior to full divestment.

The firm is also one of the signatories of the control measures initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to curb the use of tobacco. Financial institutions and other business organizations will sign a statement in support of the world’s No Tobacco Day on May 31.

Steenland said this particular initiative stems from a broader corporate responsibility strategy that aims to protect its policyholders and keep the general population healthy. She explained that apart from the obvious health benefits and trust equity such initiatives earn the company; it makes business sense to invest in programs that assume a proactive approach to managing risk.

Furthermore, the strategy is part of the company’s goal to move from being a “payer to a partner” of its policyholders as they make efforts to “build better lives,” she said.

To illustrate, she pointed out that some of the policies written for AXA clients are spread over 30 years, and thus, it makes more sense to minimize claims costs by proactively promoting healthy habits to policyholders and preventing disease rather than paying for treatment for chronic conditions.

On the issue of tobacco alone, she said that the WHO estimated that the costs associated with tobacco to the global economy reach $1 trillion every year, which far outweighs the benefits from the industry in terms of tariffs, taxes, and revenues.

She added that non-communicable diseases stemming from tobacco use have become the top cause of mortality among the global population, overtaking infectious diseases.

The tobacco initiative meanwhile, is part of a group-wide corporate responsibility plan that aims to align the group’s business activity with the company’s core values as an insurer, which at its heart means safeguarding the communities in which it operates. Apart from health issues, the firm also initiated programs that tap into renewable energy to address environmental issues, as well as increasing access to insurance especially among the most vulnerable sectors.

Moreover, the company is evolving services, support and care coordination to support these initiatives, Steenland said. 

Its investment arm has been actively moving towards more socially responsible activities over recent years. Among others, Steenland pointed out that in 2015, the company let go of its coal investments to support its environmental activity. Another divestment of note is its exit from the weapons industry several years back.

The company is likewise constantly fine tuning its investment restrictions on certain sectors to insure that it only feeds socially responsible dollars into its corporate system, Steenland emphasized.

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