Ethical insurance broker Naturesave has hit an unusual milestone for the industry of giving away £1 million of its income to environmental projects.
Each year, Naturesave donates 10 per cent of the revenue it receives from its home and travel premiums to a connected charity, the Naturesave Trust. Now, 28 years after it was founded, the Totnes-based firm – which employs just 12 people – has reached the £1 million mark in donations.
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The trust offers grants of £500 to £5,000 to grassroots environmental projects across the UK. These have included bike repairs in HM Prisons, community agriculture projects, ‘repair cafes’, innovative beehives that destroy mites without using pesticides, and boat-mooring systems that avoid damage to sea beds.
Promoting sustainable development
Mathew Criddle, a former Lloyds insurance broker, founded Naturesave in 1993 – when the environmental movement in business was still in its infancy – to promote sustainable development in the insurance industry.
He said: “I realised that, although the insurance industry was not taking environmental issues seriously, it would be in the front line in dealing with the consequences of environmental disasters. At the same time, it possesses an almost unparalleled potential to reduce the impact of climate change by actively promoting the production and consumption of
sustainable alternatives to energy derived from fossil fuels.
“I also wanted to develop a sustainable business model that reflects the growing demand by both individuals and organisations for greener and more ethical insurance.”
Campaign for divestment
Naturesave, which specialises in offering insurance for ‘eco’ houses and renewable energy systems to individuals, businesses and charities, aims to select partners that have committed to stopping underwriting coal-fired power plants mines and coal mines.
While all of its partners are still investing to varying degrees in fossil fuels, it uses its growing presence in the market to apply pressure for change in the hope that it will one day lead to a completely fossil fuel free insurance product.
Through its ‘Campaign for Divestment’, the company lobbies the insurance industry to urgently divest from the fossil fuel industries that harm the planet and the people living on it.
Nick Oldridge, Head of Marketing at Naturesave, told Good With Money: “The insurance industry is designed to protect its customers from future risk. The biggest risk to our planet and society is climate change, which will increasingly bring floods, heatwaves, fires and drought. Yet the majority of insurance providers still invest heavily in fossil fuels, which is a major driver of climate change. With the UK being home to the largest insurance market in Europe and the third largest in the world, there is serious potential for change.
“As we work from within the insurance industry, our influence is driven by the number of customers we represent. As more people switch to a green insurance option, this influence will grow.”