The Travelers Companies, Inc. – Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (2024)

Outcome: 15.56% voted in favor of the proposal.

Human Rights Risk Report

Resolved: Shareholders request that The Travelers Companies (“Travelers”) Board of Directors publish a report, describing how human rights risks and impacts are evaluated and incorporated in the underwriting process. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.

Supporting Statement: The proponents recommend the report include

  • The extent to which Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is considered or evaluated in the underwriting process; and
  • Travelers’ stakeholder engagement process, such as participating stakeholders, key recommendations made, and actions taken to address such recommendations.

Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies are expected to conduct human rights due diligence to meet the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, territories, and cultural practices, and establishes that entities must seek FPIC of Indigenous Peoples related to projects that may impact their rights.

Projects that may negatively impact Indigenous Peoples may face public opposition and increase reputational risk. There are at least two areas where Travelers may be exposed to environmental and social risk:

– Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (“ANWR”): Travelers faces public scrutiny over the potential risk associated with the ANWR. The Gwich’in Steering Committee has written to Travelers asking for a commitment to not to insure projects in the ANWR, to protect its communities, culture, and way of life.[1] Seventeen insurers have committed not to insure oil and gas projects in the ANWR, noting potential negative impacts on Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity.[2]

– Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Travelers has also been asked to make a public commitment to not provide any underwriting or reinsurance for oil exploration and extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A DRC oil block auction lacks the FPIC of Congolese Indigenous peoples.[3]

The Principles for Sustainable Insurance, signed by 135 insurers representing $15 trillion in assets, serves as a framework to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.[4] Travelers is not a signatory. Several companies incorporate ESG in their underwriting practice, including AIG, Munich Re, and Zurich. Allianz, AXIS Capital, and Swiss Re assess FPIC.

Identification and evaluation of all relevant data or risk factors, including exposure to potential human rights or biodiversity impacts or losses that are relevant in the context of an activity, are necessary to accurately assess the risk exposure and appropriately set pricing, coverage, and exclusions. While Travelers provides some information on its evaluation of general risks in underwriting, it lacks disclosure on how it evaluates human rights risks, in particular the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This may expose the company to mispricing of risk or failing to identify potential social and human rights risks associated with its business activities, which may lead to increased costs, project cancelations, or negative human rights outcomes.





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