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State Senator

Matt Lesser

Representing Cromwell, Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield

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Sen. Lesser Applauds the Hartford Decision Not to Insure or Invest in Coal and Tar Sands Producers

HARTFORD -- State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), co-Chair of Connecticut’s Insurance & Real Estate Committee, today applauded The Hartford on its decision to divest from the coal and tar sands industries.

On Friday, The Hartford announced it will no longer insure or invest in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or more than 25 percent of their energy production from coal, and will stop insuring and investing in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues directly from the extraction of oil from tar sands.

“The catastrophic environmental damage caused by coal and the refining of tar sands is well-known and an unacceptable risk to human health. I’m happy to see that one of Connecticut’s most iconic businesses recognizes that and is taking thoughtful action to protect our citizens and our climate,” said Sen. Lesser. “This is a historic first step by CEO Christopher Swift and it makes sense as a business decision. From wildfires in California to flooding on the Connecticut shoreline, American insurers are on the front lines of paying out claims exacerbated by climate change. And with their investing and underwriting power, few companies have more power to fight climate change.

“The Hartford’s decision to be the first major U.S. insurance company to take this step is an important move that will send shockwaves through the industry. This is only a first step, and I know some issues like pipeline underwriting remain to be addressed, but I hope and expect this will serve as a model for other insurers to follow suit,” he said.

Sen. Lesser recently traveled to attend the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Climate Change Working Group.

“I saw how important the leadership of Connecticut and Connecticut-based insurers is across America on insurance- related issues. We need to continue to push for strong action on climate change, from industry and government,” Sen. Lesser said. “This policy from The Hartford demonstrates that Connecticut companies can lead on addressing climate change. I look forward to working with the insurance industry to support strong action in the months ahead.”

Sen. Lesser is Senate Chair of the General Assembly’s Insurance & Real Estate Committee, Senate Vice-Chair of the Public Health Committee, and a longtime advocate for improved public health policies. Sen. Lesser also recently achieved a perfect 100 percent score from the Connecticut League of Conservation reflecting his effectiveness in leading passage of, and voting for, pro-environment legislation affecting Connecticut and its 3.5 million citizens.

According to the company, The Hartford’s new policy includes:

  • No new underwriting of or investments in the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants;
  • No new underwriting of or investments in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or more than 25 percent of their energy production from coal;
  • No new underwriting of or investments in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues directly from the extraction of oil from tar sands;
  • Phase out existing underwriting relationships and divest publicly traded investments which exceed the threshold by 2023; and
  • Exceptions for business lines that cover employees, such as disability, life and other voluntary products offered by our Group Benefits division – where we are providing protection to people.

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