Safe and Green: How Insurance Companies Are Taking Care of the Environment

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Insurance Companies Are Taking Care of the Environment

This guest post is by Sam Negrete of

The insurance industry is not typically known for its environmentally-friendly standards and practices. This may slowly be changing, however: Companies of all stripes, including major health insurance firms, are beginning to recognize that profit and sound environmental policy are not mutually exclusive. Expect this trend to continue as consumers make ever more economic choices based less on “rational” financial considerations and more on the reputations and mission statements of firms involved. Read on to learn more about how the insurance industry is embracing this trend.

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1. Hybrid Vehicle Discounts

Major insurance companies like the Traveler’s Group now offer discounts for drivers of hybrid vehicles. In Traveler’s case, these can amount to 10 percent of a policy’s total cost, and they’re available nationwide. If you drive a hybrid, remember to ask your provider if they offer discounts for folks like you the next time your policy is up for renewal. If they don’t, consider switching to one that does.

2. Green Building Credits

The green building craze that swept the commercial real estate market during the 2000s is finally infiltrating the stodgier residential real estate business. Many providers of homeowner’s insurance offer deep discounts on policies covering LEED-certified buildings. This is less about rewarding “safer” green houses and more about demonstrating a commitment to sustainable construction.

3. The Paperless Revolution

If you haven’t yet succumbed to relentless pressure from your bank, brokerage and even your insurance providers to switch to paperless statements and correspondence, you may not have a choice much longer. Now that broadband Internet is widespread and online security has improved by leaps and bounds, official correspondence is increasingly being delivered electronically. Insurance companies leading the charge include health insurance provider Aetna, auto insurance provider Esurance, and a smaller all-purpose British insurer known as the Green Insurance Company.
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4. Carbon Offsets

Much has been made of the “emissions offset” movement, with critics arguing that the ability to purchase carbon credits to offset the cost of pollution merely allows wealthy people to feel less guilty about their wasteful lifestyles. Regardless of your views on the subject, a number of insurance companies have decided that carbon offsets make sense. The Green Insurance Company offers a “signing bonus” for new policyholders in the form of a metric ton’s worth of free carbon offsets for their vehicle during their policy’s first year. Esurance, meanwhile, now fully offsets the activities of its headquarters and branch office buildings

5. Green Claims Vehicles

You’ve probably seen one of the major insurers’ ubiquitous claims vehicles within the past week. You can tell which insurance company it belongs to because the firm’s logo is usually splayed obnoxiously across the vehicle’s door frames, but no matter who it belongs to, chances are good that it’s either a hybrid or low-emissions vehicle. This isn’t purely an environmental decision: These vehicles are driven tens of thousands of miles each year, so small improvements in gas mileage quickly pay for themselves.

When it comes to “greening up” their act, insurance companies have a surprising amount of low-hanging fruit to pick. In addition to obvious changes like hybrid claims vehicles and carbon offsets, they’re also taking smaller but still-important steps like transitioning to paperless correspondence. The future looks bright for green-minded insurers the world over!

Sam Negrete is a freelance writer from San Diego. She is a guest writer for where you can find more information on the benefits of private health care insurance.

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