US insurers see the need to adapt to ESG demands
Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Dec 2021
Six in 10 US insurance companies agree that demand from stakeholders to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their decision-making is growing.
A new survey ‘US Insurers’ Perceptions of ESG’ published by AM Best rated P&C, life and annuity and health insurers and reinsurers operating in the US on their approaches to ESG principles.
The survey revealed that insurers’ focus varies by segment. While P&C insurers’ responses showed that they focus more on environmental risks in their ESG engagement, life and annuity insurers said they concentrate mainly on investment risk, given the importance of yields, liquidity and asset-liability matching to their businesses.
Health insurers have put greater ESG attention on the social impacts of health equity, which has been subject to added scrutiny during the pandemic, to eliminate disparities in health outcomes.
Compared with Europe, the US insurance industry is still in the nascent stages of ESG integration. At the same time the survey found that all three US insurance segments are focused on corporate governance.
Over half of respondents in the P&C and life and annuity industries agree that proper understanding and integration of ESG factors is increasingly critical to the long-term viability of their business. From the health insurance industry only 39% agree with that.
Around 60% of the US (re)insurance industry seeks greater clarity from regulators, particularly with respect to identifying, measuring and reporting ESG factors.
Integration of ESG factors into the investment process appears to be ahead of underwriting. Between 40-50% of surveyed US (re)insurers and 51% of stock companies compared with 42% of mutual companies, are actively engaged with ESG. Less than a quarter of AM Best survey respondents in each segment believe it is extremely or very important for underwriters to consider ESG factors in the underwriting process. M