Liberty Mutual to Limit Coal Underwriting, Investments; Names First Sustainability Officer

December 16, 2019 - Liberty Mutual Insurance said it will drastically limit future underwriting for and investment in coal risks, an apparent response to environmentalists pushing for greener investment strategies among corporations.

To support this change, the insurer has also appointed its first-ever chief sustainability officer – veteran Liberty Mutual executive Francis Hyatt.

Hyatt stressed Liberty Mutual’s green credentials and said the company would continue to evolve and grow a more environmentally sensitive investment/underwriting strategy.

“We are committed to being a responsible global corporate citizen with a focus on environmental sustainability, supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy and investing in companies that show proven progress in this evolution,” Hyatt said in prepared remarks. “We understand the shift from coal to clean energy is a journey and we recognize the role the insurance industry plays in supporting that evolution for our customers.”

Liberty Mutual pledges to no longer underwrite companies where more than 25 percent of their exposure comes from extraction and/or production of energy from thermal coal. In addition, the insurer said it won’t invest in debt or equity securities of companies that produce more than 25 percent of revenues from thermal coal mining, or utility companies that generate more than 25 percent of their electricity production from thermal coal.

Liberty Mutual said it also plans to phase-out coverage and investments for existing risks that exceed its new, tighter thresholds by 2023.

Liberty Mutual’s decision follows the actions of companies including AXA, Chubb and AXIS Capital Holdings to phase out coal investments and insurance policies.

Hyatt, who has held a variety of leadership roles during his 28-year career at Liberty Mutual, will head the company’s ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives across Liberty’s operations. Most recently, Hyatt served as executive vice president of Enterprise Talent Practices, where he was responsible for the selection, development, training and retention of talent across the company. He has helped shape a wide range of leadership and workforce strategies for the company and has spearheaded key milestones, including the establishment of the company’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, Liberty Mutual said.