Conservationists push CT insurance giants to cut ties with companies drilling in Arctic Refuge

HARTFORD – Environmentalists trying to protect the Arctic Refuge have met thousands of miles away in Connecticut – home to the industry’s most undefeated insurance companies drilling in the Arctic.

The Arctic Refuge is America’s largest wildlife refuge. It provides habitat for caribou, polar bears and migratory birds from around the world, as well as the breeding grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which has over 200,000 animals. Alaska’s IƱupiat and Gwich’in people have lived there for thousands of years.

“If we care about animals and care about the planet, we want to leave the world untouched,” said Alina DeVoogd, a landscaper with Hartford-based Green Corp. “Furthermore, we need to stop drilling for fossil fuels and drilling for more oil and destroying this country.”

DeVoogd, and other representatives of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, have been pushing companies like The Hartford and Travelers to write policies against insurance that drills on the run.

The Gwich’in Steering Committee, based in Alaska, and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group have been working with banks, energy and insurance companies to start taking action.

“Insurance companies are seeing these big companies like Travelers, or The Hartford, which consider themselves to be one of the most successful companies in the insurance industry, are taking part to become a good insurance company and stop these operations, I think we can imagine them. to be leaders in the industry, and we hope that the rest of the industry will follow suit,” said Helen Humphreys, CCAG communications coordinator.

CCAG and steering committee will work event at the Charter Oak Community Center in Hartford on Wednesday to publicize his efforts.

“There are many people in the Hartford area who work in the insurance industry, or have relatives or friends who work in the insurance industry,” Humphreys said. “And we want to encourage people to create their own company to make the world a better place.”

The committee created a scoreboard for various insurance companies in the US and around the world, ranking them as gold, silver, bronze, no medal and unqualified. The only US insurance company to receive a medal was AIG, which earned silver.

Connecticut insurance companies Travelers, The Hartford and Liberty Mutual fell into the ineligible category. The banned companies have “no policies or procedures that can be applied to the Arctic Refuge, and they have not bothered to answer to the Gwich’in Management Committee and allies,” the group said.

A spokeswoman for The Hartford, who responded to the oversight committee, did not say whether the company protects companies drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

“Typically, we don’t publicly discuss our posts or other accounts,” said Matthew Sturdevant, a spokesman for The Hartford.

Travelers and Liberty Mutual did not respond to requests for comment.

A June 2020 report from Insure Our Future has listed Travelers and The Hartford among the 15 largest oil and gas companies in the world. An annual scorecard from Insure Our Future lists Travelers as the second-worst for investing in fuel insurance.

Recently market share data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners show Travelers and The Hartford are the players holding the Alaska insurance market. Both are among the top 10 in the state for bond market shares, the most important insurance for oil and gas projects.

The Gwich’in Oversight Committee reported that the six largest banks in America and the five largest in Canada, as well as 18 other international banks, have all issued orders to ban drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Fourteen international insurance companies and US-based AIG have said they will not insure development projects at the refuge.

emily.disalvo@hearstmediact.com