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In Global First, Connecticut Passes Bill Addressing Insurers’ Participation in Risky Fossil Fuel Finance

HARTFORD, CT – Today, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill implementing the state budget, which includes a provision requiring the Connecticut Department of Insurance to address the climate-related risks of insurers. This provision, Section 346 of the bill, will be the nation’s first law requiring insurers to address climate risk. 

Section 346 incorporates the supervision and regulation provisions of SB 1047, a bill sponsored by the Insurance Committee and Real Estate Committee Chair Sen. Matt Lesser. It also requires the state insurance regulator to incorporate emissions reduction targets into its supervision and regulation of Connecticut insurers. These targets include a 45% reduction in the state’s emissions by 2030.

The U.S. insurance industry has recently come under fire for failing to act on climate change This legislation will impact insurers supervised by the Connecticut Insurance Department, including Travelers, The Hartford, WR Berkley, and more. Travelers is one of the top three oil and gas insurers in the world, and is one of the last major global insurers that underwrites coal with no restrictions. WR Berkley has no tar sands or oil and gas policy, but has not made a firm commitment to avoid underwriting coal.

Tom Swan, Executive Director at the Connecticut Citizens’ Action Group, released the following statement:

“This is an important provision that will protect shareholders, policyholders, and the general public. While Connecticut has taken action to fight climate change, the insurance industry has been slow to move. It continues to play a critical role in fueling the climate crisis by underwriting and investing assets in fossil fuel companies. It’s important that Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world, takes the lead on a serious approach to dealing with this threat.” 

“Senator Lesser has taken an important first step by making sure that the state’s Department of Insurance supervises the climate risks that insurers are creating with their business decisions. We look forward to working with the General Assembly and the Connecticut Department of Insurance on the implementation of this critical piece of legislation.”

Yevgeny Shrago, Policy Counsel at Public Citizen’s Climate Program, released the following statement: 

“For the first time anywhere, an insurance regulator will have the mandate to push insurers to bring their investments and underwriting in line with science-based emissions reduction targets. Insurance company investments and underwriting keep allowing the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure that fuels global warming, putting insurance markets and consumers at risk.”

“Senator Lesser’s leadership in steering this groundbreaking bill through the Connecticut General Assembly recognizes that insurance regulation has a critical role to play in addressing how insurers contribute to the climate crisis. We hope other states take notice and follow Connecticut’s example with their own climate action focused on the insurance industry’s role.”