Stjórnmál og Stjórnsýsla (Jun 2015)

Role of insurance companies in dealing with environmental issues

  • Lára Jóhannsdóttir,
  • Snjólfur Ólafsson,
  • Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 87 – 114


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The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of insurance companies in solving environmental issues. Environmental issues we now face are many of such magnitude and severity that it is not just up to governments or heavy polluting companies to deal with them, everyone needs to contribute including authorities, institutions, corporations and individuals. Insurance systems differ between countries, but due to the size of the insurance sector and integration with almost every aspect oft society, insurers can be a powerful ally when it comes to implementing environment and climate policies of authorities. The article is based on a Ph.D. research of one of the authors which conducted a multi-case study of 16 Nordic insurance companies in the Åland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The companies are divided into two case groups; the Islands group and the Mainland group. Differences in actions/inactions were evident between the case groups, meaning that most of the examples used are from the Mainland group. The environmental and climate change focus areas of the Mainland group are 1) products and services, 2) loss prevention and claim settlement, 3) investments, 4) companies own operation, 5) follow-up, and 6) insurers as a driving force of actions. In case of the Islands companies they mainly focus on loss prevention and few factors that affect their daily activities. Theoretical and practical contribution of the study is to highlight the role and contribution of insurance companies in dealing with environmental issues.