Insurance - Pet


Ethical buying guide to pet insurance, from Ethical Consumer.

Ethical buying guide to pet 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.

We take a look at the pet insurance companies with the most ethical approach to investment

 

The guide covers the major providers of pet insurance and includes:

  • Ethical and environmental ratings for 13 pet insurance underwriters
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • Tax avoidance

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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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Last updated: April 2018 

 

 

 

Pet Insurance
 

The insurance industry is huge, not just in terms of sales each year. Insurers often hold vast investments in other companies, as we have explained in our home insurance guide. In the UK alone, insurance companies manage investments equivalent to around 25% of the country’s net worth.

This means that they are indirectly financing everything from tar sands to the sales of arms. In this guide, we have tried to find the pet insurance companies with the most ethical approach to investment.

 

Image: Injured dog

 

 
 

Types of Insurance

 

There are two types of insurance company: brokers and underwriters:

Brokers sell policies on behalf of one or more underwriters, and include well known brands such as Sainsbury and the AA. They make money by receiving a commission from the underwriter, once a policy is sold.

Underwriters are the companies that take most of the money from an insurance premium, but which also pay out when something goes wrong. They may not be as visible as the broker’s insurance brand. But they wield a significant amount of power in the global economy. Insurers often holding vast investments in other companies, as we have explained in our home insurance guide.

This means that they are often indirectly financing everything from tar sands to the sales of arms. That is why we have focused on them for this report.

Just to make things more confusing, some underwriters do sell directly to the public, or belong to the same company group as the broker itself. Others may re-insure a specific risk via a different underwriter (basically insurance for the insurer).

 

 
 

What to look for?

 

In the UK alone, there are hundreds of brokers – too many to include in our reports, so our ranking tables only include underwriting companies.

Unfortunately, most of us will buy our policy through a broker, so you may have to do some extra digging. You can find the underwriter by looking at the ‘Key Facts’ document that the broker must provide when you are deciding to take out a policy. Comparison sights like Money Supermarket will also either provide these documents or tell you who the underwriter is.


 

 

How we rate companies

 

Several campaign groups have published reports about specific investments held by insurance companies (or the banks by which they are owned). We have marked down the companies named in these, and have included some more detail about the reports throughout the finance guides. Insurance companies appeared in Don’t bank on the Bomb, Unfriend Coal (see our home insurance guide); and Israel Report (see our current accounts guide).

We also looked for investments in specific companies, beginning with some of the largest in the UK and US such as WalMart, General Electric and Coca-Cola. Where the insurance company holds shares in, for example, a company criticised for pollution, it will also receive half a mark in the Pollution and Toxics column on the table. Most companies lost multiple marks in this way.

Where no ethical investment policy or shareholdings could be found for a company, it was assumed to have investments in companies criticised under all Ethical Consumer categories – as, sadly, is the norm in this industry. We also wrote to these companies to check there wasn’t a policy somewhere we hadn’t found.


 

 

Companies with an ethical policy on investments

 

A growing number of companies have some form of ethical policy on investments. But often these only exclude the most extreme players in a sector, for example those making cluster munitions or over 50% of profits from coal mining. We were looking for something a bit more robust, which crosses lots of sectors. Only one company in our pet insurance guide had this: The Co-op. We have included their ethical investment policy in the home insurance guide.

 


 

 

Table Highlights

 

 

 

Tax avoidance

 

Tax avoidance is known to be pervasive in the financial sector, and the insurance industry appears to be no exception. Almost all those companies that had business abroad also appeared to have lots of high-risk subsidiaries registered in tax havens. Companies that got a worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies lost a whole mark under Anti-Social Finance, and those that got a middle lost half a mark. The Co-op Group stands out as a FairTaxMark accredited company.

Best: Direct Line, Liverpool Victoria, The Co-operative Group, Equine & Livestock Insurance, Zenith

Worst: Allianz, Hanover Re, Markerstudy, NFU Mutual, Red Sands, RSA

Red Sands even gave a history of Gibraltar’s (lax) tax laws on its website!

 

 

Ethical pet insurance broker
 

Animal Friends is an ethical pet insurance broker. Established in 1998 in order to raise funds for animal welfare charities through insurance premiums, the company has donated over £3million to date. Unfortunately, the company’s policies are underwritten by Red Sands Insurance, which did not have any ethical policies for investments and received Ethical Consumer’s worst ratings for both likely use of tax avoidance strategies and environmental reporting.

 

 

Don’t Buy
 

Insurance underwritten by Munich RE. The company not only received one of the lowest Ethiscores in our table, it was named in the IBFAN Don’t Bank on the Bomb report for funding nuclear weapons companies, and in the Unfriend Coal scorecard as a company that had only taken ‘baby steps’ towards divesting from and refusing insurance to coal companies.

 

 

 

 
Company profile

 

Allianz, Pet Plan is one of the world’s biggest insurers, the German company Allianz is top dog in the UK pet insurance market with its PetPlan brand accounting for 24% of all premiums.[1]

The Unfriend Coal scorecard, released in November 2017, said that the company ‘leads the list of fossil fuel investors among insurance companies with $59 billion in shares and bonds—equal to the full GDP of Uruguay.’ Allianz has also been criticised by holding large investments in nuclear weapons and cluster munition producers.

 

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References:

1. Pet Insurance – UK – August 2017, Mintel

 

 


 

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