The Dutch insurance sector is becoming more sustainable every year. However, there is still considerable room for improvement when it comes to sound climate policy and active shareholdership. This is apparent from research into the performance of the responsible investment policy of 30 Dutch insurers, together accounting for more than €450 billion in assets under management. In addition to the performance of the sector as a whole, the extensive research also provides individual assessments per insurer.
Athora in the lead
In 2017, Athora Netherlands (under the Zwitserleven brand) was characterized as the most sustainable insurer in the benchmark. In 2019 this was a.s.r. Now Athora Netherlands is taking over again after 4 years with a total score of 4.5 out of 5. NN takes second place and scores a 4.0, a.s.r. is in third place with a 3.9.
Jan de Pooter, CEO of Athora Netherlands: “We are proud to be named the most sustainable insurer in the Netherlands, especially given the attention and care that the entire sector devotes to this important topic. This award is a recognition for the steps Athora Netherlands has taken to further refine our sustainability policy. It is our task to achieve a financial and social return with the premium that Zwitserleven and Reaal customers entrust to us. Our customers must be able to rely on us to take this responsibility. That is why we see this award as an encouragement to continue on the chosen path.”
De Goudse Verzekeringen makes a remarkable jump from 16th to 9th place, making it the fastest climber.
Angélique Laskwitz, director of the VBDO explains why the benchmark is important for the sector: “Benchmarks are an effective tool for stimulating sustainability improvements, because you use the competitive strength of the market. They create a race to the top by providing comparative insight and identifying frontrunners, encouraging sector-wide learning and the sharing of good practices.”
Lack of concrete climate policy
Although the sector has certainly taken steps on climate policy in recent years, 2 out of 5 insurers do not yet have a concrete investment policy on this subject. The report also finds that nearly half (48%) of insurers are not yet using active climate-focused share ownership, an important tool for changing policies and activities of investee companies.
From risk management to real impact
“If we want to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, changing a company’s climate policy and performance through active dialogue and voting at shareholders’ meetings is essential,” said Hester Holtland, project manager of the benchmark. real impact’, i.e., using targets set using scientific indicators, insurers should start looking at the impact their investments have in reality, thus reducing the carbon footprint in portfolios in particular from a risk perspective. This is a relative reduction and that way you never aim for absolute zero emissions.We therefore recommend that parties use the EU Paris-aligned benchmarks in this example, with which they can can realistically align the portfolio with emissions.If we are talking about real impact, of course, this does not only apply to or climate but in all areas of sustainability.”
More or less sustainable?
Holtland emphasizes that the sector as a whole is becoming more sustainable: “Fortunately, we are seeing an upward trend in the policy and performance of insurers when it comes to responsible investment. This is not necessarily reflected in the average total scores: because performance improvement is also getting closer and closer to that top and we are making changes to the questions and assessments where necessary. So we are raising the bar higher and higher, and that was the case again this year. This is reflected in the scores: a score that reflects this year is equal to that of 2019. In practice, therefore, means better performance. Of course we hope that insurers will continue this trend, although in our opinion it can and should be done a little faster.”
Richard Weurding, general manager of the Dutch Association of Insurers, agrees: “The VBDO benchmark provides a clear picture of how insurers are doing. I am pleased that the middle group shows a clear improvement compared to the benchmark 2019. And that the large insurers continue to score high, especially now that the bar has been raised again by the VBDO. We are obviously not there yet, but we see a clear, broad development in which hard-working people work passionately to make the investment policy more sustainable in order to create impact.”
Webinar presentation benchmark
On September 2, we presented the key results from and publication of the Benchmark Responsible Investment by Insurance Companies in the Netherlands 2021: Welcome to the real world. You can watch the webinar here.