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Ethical buying guide to home insurance, from Ethical Consumer.

Ethical buying guide to home insurance, from Ethical Consumer.

This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

The guide covers the major underwriters of home insurance and includes:

  • ethical and environmental ratings for 26 home insurance underwriters
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • who are the ethical and green or eco insurance companies


This product guide is part of a Sector Report on the Insurance Industry.

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Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings


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Best Buys

as of December 2012

As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that company ratings on the score table may have changed since this report was written.

Co-operative Insurance is the stand-out product for home insurance because of its pioneering model to ethically screen the fund into which your insurance premiums are put.

The insurance broker Naturesave may also be attractive in some cases.

Second choice underwriters on the score table – showing some understanding of ethical investment and scoring relatively well include Ecclesiastical followed by Aviva, Lloyds of London, Hiscox and Inter Hannover.

Because our score tables only cover underwriters, to find more options ask a broker or look at Key Facts documents to find out who is underwriting the products that offer you a good deal.  

Ethical Business
Directory Links

  • Naturesave Insurance    view ethical directory profile >

    Naturesave, the green insurance broker. A truly ethical & environmentally friendly alternative for your Commercial,...



Home Insurance


The table below outlines the eco features of the two main ethical options. Ethical Consumer is not convinced that carbon offsetting is a particularly useful activity. See our article on the subject from May 2007.


Company Model Eco features






Discounts for ‘Green’ homes

Speciality cover: Cover available for all types of building, including self build & eco homes
Green Insurance Company (owned by Ageas) Offset: 1 tonne of your household’s emissions offset free of charge
Discount: Discounts for ‘Green’ homes




Five Cheapest Brokers


Five cheapest quotes for contents insurance from brokers using underwriters on our score table:

  • Budget – £222.93 – AXA
  • Allianz – £227.33 – Allianz
  • Swiftcover – £227.41 – Swiftcover
  • MORETH>N – £233.18 – RSA
  • Esure – £234.34 – Esure


We looked at to see which brokers used which underwriters. Based on 3 bed semi-detached house in Barking, Essex with contents value of £5000.





Ethical Consumer spoke to Matthew Criddle of insurance broker Naturesave to find out what was unique about his company.

“From the outset we wanted to give consumers an alternative green option, similar to what Anita Roddick did with Body Shop in the cosmetics industry. We wanted to make the insurance industry a vehicle for sustainable development,” says Matthew, founder of Naturesave. And for almost 20 years this is exactly what Naturesave have tried to achieve.

This focus on the environment permeates Naturesave’s business model. 10% of premiums go to environmental projects (either as grants or as investment) through the company’s trust. Matthew describes this as a symbiotic relationship as the green projects and green minded individuals who use the insurance then help fund new green projects.

They also insure niche green projects such as properties that many mainstream insurers won’t touch e.g. straw bale houses and community energy projects. They also offer insurance for home renewables as standard on their home insurance. “That’s completely unique” says Matthew, “no other provider does that.”

Numerous underwriters

Interestingly, although they don’t have a fixed group of underwriters, they also engage with insurers to get to the root of some of the environmental problems. He uses the example of Catlin (an underwriter not covered in the report). He admits they will be involved in “some unsavoury practices” over which Naturesave have no control, but he says they are also monitoring the Arctic ice thickness in the North pole, and Naturesave are helping to give them, and others, long-term direction by “putting pressure on these organisations to act on these issues rather than just think about them.”

Last year the company was awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise – Sustainable Development and this, Matthew feels, goes to vindicate his approach. They are the first insurance company to be awarded the prize. This is in stark contrast to other green insurers. He won’t be drawn on names but describes some insurers’ green offerings as “tokenistic” and that they only “pay lip-service” to environmental concerns.

This seems to sum up the industry as a whole which doesn’t seem to have moved much over the past 20 years. In fact in some respects it seems to have gone backwards.


A different mentality

Matthew rails against the call centre-based, easy-money mentality that now dominates the industry and tries to offer a service with values at its core, both environmental and personal.

More importantly Matthew feels that, 20 years on, the industry is still largely ignoring the root causes of some of the factors which most affect their business. “The industry is about transferring risk and we felt that there were certain risks that were being transferred that were unsustainable, such as the effects of climate change and flooding, and these should not be ignored by companies who are then charging higher and higher premiums due to these factors.” Lets hope another 20 years sees a much greater change.




 Company profile

One of the grand old men of the insurance industry, Lloyd’s of London was legendarily founded in an eighteenth-century London coffee shop and started out insuring the colonial trade in slaves and sugar. In 1968 a shortage of money meant that the creaking institution finally admitted women to its select population of wealthy individuals (the famous Lloyd’s ‘Names’) who originally provided the assets to underwrite claims.

After a series of financial crises and scandals in the 1980s and 1990s the Lloyd’s system was overhauled to allow corporate groups, as well as individuals, to play a significant role in the organisation which has undermined much of the difference between Lloyd’s and conventional big insurance companies.

The number of ‘Names’ has been dropping since the 1980s and is down to some 600 working members. Corporate underwriters now account for most of Lloyd’s capital backing, where Names once dominated. 

Lloyd’s is not an insurance company. It is a market where members join together to form syndicates to insure risks. It serves as a partially mutualised marketplace where members (‘Names’ or corporations) come together to pool and spread risk. Unlike most of its competitors in the industry, it is not a company but it is a corporate body under the Lloyd’s Act 1871.


Some more unusual policies that it has written include: a grain of rice with a portrait of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh engraved on it; a comedy theatre group against the risk of a member of their audience dying of laughter; food critic and gourmet Egon Ronay’s taste buds.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

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This guide is part of a special report on Insurance including buyers' guides to car, home, travel and pet insurance.





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