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Climate activists in Hartford urge insurance giant Travelers to cut ties with fossil fuel companies

Climate change demonstrators gathered outside of Travelers' annual meeting in Hartford on May 15, 2024. The demonstrators want the insurance company to stop underwriting fossil fuel projects, and to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies. Several demonstrators also purchased stock in the company so they could ask questions during the annual meeting.
Matt Dwyer
/
Connecticut Public
Climate change demonstrators gathered outside of Travelers' annual meeting in Hartford on May 15, 2024. The demonstrators want the insurance company to stop underwriting fossil fuel projects, and to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies. Several demonstrators also purchased stock in the company so they could ask questions during the annual meeting.

Protesters gathered in Hartford Wednesday for an annual meeting for the Travelers insurance company. It’s part of an international effort to get the insurance industry to stop doing business with fossil fuel companies.

The demonstrators are asking Travelers to stop providing insurance for fossil fuel projects, and to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

Davida Foy Crabtree is with Third Act Connecticut, a group of retirement-age people who advocate on environmental and voting issues.

"We are targeting insurance companies because if there were no underwriting of fossil fuel projects, the fossil fuel projects couldn't go ahead," Foy Crabtree said. "And because insurance companies, while we all think of them in relation to underwriting, they are massive, massive investment firms."

Several demonstrators purchased shares of Travelers stock, and were allowed into the meeting to ask investors questions.

Helen Humphreys, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said insurance is a keystone industry in the state.

"Insurance companies have a lot more power over this issue than people give them credit for, and that's why we're here, to make sure that they understand that they have the ability, the power to really make a difference in terms of a clean energy transition," Humphreys said.

As part of a package of information given to investors at the meeting, Travelers says the energy sector amounts to less than 2% of its insurance portfolio, and that as of 2023, coal, utilities, transportation, oil and gas represented 5% of its premiums.

The company says much of the insurance it provides to oil and gas-related companies goes to for small and mid-sized contractors like plumbers, welders and pipefitters.

Travelers also says some states have made it illegal for insurance companies to refuse to provide insurance based on environmental criteria.

Travelers is based in New York City, but also has executive offices in Hartford and Saint Paul, Minnesota.

This story has been updated.

Climate change demonstrators chanted, as employees of Travelers walked back to their offices following the company's annual meeting in Hartford on May 15, 2024. The demonstrators want the insurance company to stop underwriting fossil fuel projects, and to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies. The demonstrators were from Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and Third Act Connecticut. They were allied with the Insure Our Future campaign.
Matt Dwyer
/
Connecticut Public
Climate change demonstrators chanted, as employees of Travelers walked back to their offices following the company's annual meeting in Hartford on May 15, 2024. The demonstrators want the insurance company to stop underwriting fossil fuel projects, and to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies. The demonstrators were from Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and Third Act Connecticut. They were allied with the Insure Our Future campaign.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.

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