Peter Bosshard, Rev. Fletcher Harper
September 28, 2021
photo above: psmag.com
WN: As seen in the article: “We disagree.”
For almost 75 years, GuideOne has been an insurance firm whose primary business has been insuring places of worship, faith organizations, and religious schools. The firm has consistently projected a wholesome image suitable for an insurer focused on safety. “Every product and service GuideOne offers protects organizations dedicated to making our communities better places to live”, Jessica Clark, GuideOne’s CEO at the time, said in 2018.
Consistent with this philosophy the firm committed in 2017 to divest from coal, the most dangerous of all fossil fuels in terms of carbon emissions and air pollution, by 2019.But in the past year, GuideOne has undergone a conversion, and not for the better. The company has become a growing insurer of coal, oil, and gas projects, essentially offering a lifeline to the very industry that is driving the planet’s destruction.
The insurance industry has a vital role to play by underwriting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In response, a group of religious leaders sent a letter to GuideOne last month, calling on the company to end its practice of insuring coal and fossil fuel projects. “Climate change is a sin against God and fossil fuels are its cause,” said the letter. “GuideOne needs to live up to the moral values that we have come to expect from it and end its coverage for an unrepentant industry responsible for the destructive impacts of the climate crisis.” To date, they have not received a response.
The insurance industry has a vital role to play by underwriting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. All around the world, more than 30 major insurance companies (including market leaders like Allianz, AXA, and Generali) have ended their cover for coal and in some cases, extreme oil projects like tar sands pipelines. This shift is accelerating the decarbonization of the global economy.
However, according to Willis Towers Watson, an international insurance broker, the shift of these insurers from coal to renewable energy is now “likely to be increasingly offset” by the arrival of GuideOne and another insurer from Bermuda. Mark Groenheide, GuideOne’s Senior Vice President of Specialty, argues that the energy industry “in particular needs capacity, needs capital … We will be supporting that.”
At the same time, GuideOne says that it “remains dedicated to helping people whose organizations make our communities better places to live: people who spread faith, who care for individuals on the margins of society, who invest in their communities as small business owners, who educate tomorrow’s leaders, and give compassion to seniors in their time of need. That’s who we are. It’s what we do.”
Please click on: Insuring Heaven or Hell on Earth?