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Grassroots orgs demand insurers withdraw coverage for Trans Mountain Pipeline


August 26, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18, 2019. A coalition of 32 environmental and Indigenous groups is calling on 27 insurance companies to drop or refuse to provide coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline, although they concede its lead liability insurer is planning to continue coverage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

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Liberty Mutual Insurance is among a list of insurers being asked by grassroots and Indigenous organizations to withdraw insurance support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which carries crude and refined oil from Alberta to British Columbia. 

A petition with more than 250,000 signatures urges Liberty Mutual to consider withdrawing its coverage for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, ahead of the upcoming Aug. 31 policy renewal.  

“Our main campaign targets are currently Liberty Mutual, insurers in the Lloyd’s of London marketplace, Starr Companies, and WR Berkley, but we are keeping our eyes on a long list of companies that have yet to rule out Trans Mountain,” said a release by environmental organization Stand.earth.

“We do not discuss customer policies,” a Liberty Mutual spokesperson told Canadian Underwriter today, when asked for a statement.

Stand.earth said 18 insurers have ruled out insuring the Trans Mountain pipeline, recorded via a public list. It also outlined the insurers who have not ruled out coverage for the pipeline, and a further letter issued in July lists the insurers Stand.earth and other eco-organizations believe are likely to provide coverage.  

In Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto and Denver, dozens of people gathered at Liberty offices to hand deliver the petition during the week of August 22-26, according to a press release by SlipStream PR.

Petitioners outside of Liberty Mutual office in Vancouver. Photo via Stand.earth

Photo by Stand.earth

A filing by Trans Mountain with the Canada Energy Regulator in 2021 outlined the “negative pressure” insurers have faced regarding the pipeline. The filing by Trans Mountain said there is “evidence that certain parties have used public filings on the CER’s database to identify insurers in order to pressure them to drop their policy for the Pipeline.” 

Trans Mountain said in the filing that material loss will result in the form of higher insurance premiums and challenges maintaining adequate insurance coverage if its insurance information is not filed confidentially.  

“Trans Mountain has already observed increasing reluctance from insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for the Pipeline and to do so at a reasonable price. For instance, in 2020, Trans Mountain experienced a significant reduction in available insurance capacity. It sought and secured partial replacement policies to compensate for this reduction, but did so at a significantly higher cost,” the filing read.  

CER approved Trans Mountain’s request to keep its insurers identifies hidden but Stand.earth said it will continue to put pressure on insurers that have been previously linked to the project.  

This news follows after many insurers have begun, or will begin, restricting coverage for some carbon-producing clients in sectors such as energy, oil and gas, in compliance with the federal government mandating all financial services to come up with carbon-reduction metrics by 2030 and 2050. 

 

Feature image by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson