Helping policyholders recover from losses caused by weather-related events is what the insurance industry does every day. Amica knows firsthand that losses due to climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, unpredictable and extreme. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the number of weather-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the last 50 years. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2021 was the seventh consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the U.S.
In response, we’re focusing on innovative solutions for our business, policyholders and communities that mitigate damage and limit adverse impacts to the environment. We believe it’s our duty to be responsible stewards for our planet and its people.
To live up to our role as a trusted insurer, we maintain focus on our top priority – our policyholders. That means looking through the lens of environmental sustainability as we assess our services and operations across the country. As we delve more deeply into this space, our goal is to be transparent as we study Amica’s impact on the communities where we live and work, and explore ways to improve and learn from the leading voices on these issues.
Changing the Ways We Communicate
As an insurer, we’ve long been dependent upon print materials to communicate with policyholders. From insurance contracts and customer publications to direct-mail marketing and advertising, we’re changing the way we share information.
We’ve focused on reducing our carbon footprint by communicating and conducting more of our business digitally.
- We’ve lessened our usage of paper, ink and distribution resources by offering materials online. We’ve shifted our customer magazine, Amica Today, our Annual Report and our Annual Meeting proxies online, eliminating millions of mailings per year.
- We actively encourage and incentivize customers to sign up for our digital payment and policy offerings. We’re pleased that nearly half of our policyholders opt for paperless communications.
- We’re also continually investing in the functionality offered on our digital channels, as they provide more environmentally friendly ways to transact business. Virtual underwriting and claims inspections, digital insurance cards, the ability to upload photos and documents online, and direct deposit of payments are a few of the ways we’re using technology to benefit the environment.
- When available, we opt for Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper stock. This guarantees our paper comes from a source that uses best practices in conservation and labor, and ensures all print materials are recyclable.
We’re happy to say these combined efforts have reduced our use of paper by 206 tons annually. A focus of ours is to continue to find ways to lessen our dependence on paper.
Changing Our Workplace
Since 2019, we’ve reduced our corporate footprint by consolidating office locations and transferring some employees to fully remote work. These changes have reduced our direct and indirect value-chain emissions without lessening our ability to be there for our policyholders across the country.
In Amica-owned buildings, we’ve incorporated environmentally friendly technology, including energy-efficient temperature controls, LED sensory lighting and smart technology maintenance systems. At our corporate headquarters, we monitor water usage and recycle groundwater for irrigation purposes
Additionally, we’ve reduced carbon monoxide emissions by approximately 70% through modifications to the generator exhaust system on our corporate campus. The system was modified for our participation in a demand response program, designed to lower the overall load on the grid to prevent brownouts and help out with power reliability in the local community. When we participate in a demand response, we keep other, larger-producing generators off the grid, resulting in a reduction in their carbon emissions.
Other environmentally conscious actions include a recycling program, donations of used office and technology equipment to nonprofits, and reduction of plastics at our office locations and Amica-sponsored events.
We recognize the complex environmental challenges we’re facing require innovative solutions. As we monitor the landscape for new solutions, we share information and resources proactively with our customers. We have a shared interest in preventing and mitigating loss and want them to be as prepared as possible for whatever may come.
Certain catastrophes can be seen coming. When that’s the case, we use mapping technology to identify customers who may be in harm’s way and communicate with them proactively to help them protect themselves, their loved ones and their property
We’ve compiled expert advice and tips on how to prepare for many weather-related catastrophes. We share this information through customer emails, social media channels and Amica Today publications. We also offer access to all of the information on the Storm Center section of Amica.com.
We offer a free mobile application called Home Check by Amica™ that provides customized home maintenance tips, advice and to-do lists. Because when homes are well-maintained, fewer losses occur, reducing environmental impact, waste and consumption of new building materials.
We also research and partner with companies that produce loss mitigation technologies which would benefit our customers. Some companies, including Flo by Moen, offer discounts to Amica customers who purchase their products. Amica makes the offer even better by providing homeowner policy discounts when customers invest in certain technologies designed to reduce risk of loss. We also offer discounts when customers choose to build their homes with more-resilient materials.
Environmental sustainability is important to us, our policyholders and the industry. Our CEO, Board of Directors and senior leadership team are driving the company’s efforts to operate in a more eco-friendly way, while also addressing the impact of catastrophic losses on our policyholders.
We know the effects of climate change are global, but realize it’s at the local level where we can achieve the greatest impact. Through our philanthropic arm, the Amica Companies Foundation, we’re invested in working together to keep people safe and build more resilient and sustainable communities through disaster-resilience grant funding.
With our nonprofit partners, we’re focusing most on long-term recovery to help families rebuild in a way that makes them more resilient to future disasters.
Camp Fire: Over two years after the 2018 Camp Fire, only about 400 of the 14,000 homes destroyed had been rebuilt, and the community remains at risk of future wildfire destruction. We helped fund home rebuilds, create fuel breaks and remove hazardous trees in Paradise, California.
Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida: Several compounding hurricanes throughout 2020 and 2021 caused significant damage across Louisiana. Our nonprofit partners had volunteers on the ground who completed resilient roof and interior repairs on homes affected by these storms.
Free fire alarm installation: Each year, Amica supports the Red Cross’ “Sound the Alarm” program, which equips homes with free smoke detectors. Through this effort, we’ve supported the installation of over 100,000 fire alarms annually for six years.
Our Investment Philosophy
Maintaining a strong surplus and balance sheet is key to our long-term financial strength, and ensures our ability to be there for our policyholders when they need us. The focus of our asset portfolio is to maximize risk-adjusted returns, while remaining true to our conservative investment philosophy. The successful balance of risk and reward is at the heart of our approach.
As we consider new investments, we target opportunities that have a positive impact on the planet and its people. We believe this adds long-term value to shareholders, employees and communities.
- “Green” bonds, the proceeds of which fund projects that support green initiatives like alternative-energy projects, energy-efficient buildings, sustainable water, wastewater management and pollution prevention
- Municipal housing bonds issued by state and local housing authorities that support low-income housing projects
- Small Business Administration bonds that promote business growth and job creation
As of Dec. 31, 2021, Amica held $652 million in socially responsible bond investments.
The ESG policies of our investment managers are important, and we have a preference for partners whose values match our own.
- 50% of our alternative commitments are with managers that promote strong governance as a key investment requirement.
- 44% of our commitments are with managers that have signed onto the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing, an international organization that works to promote the incorporation of ESG factors into investment decision-making.
- 20% of our commitments represent environmental, climate or social strategies.
Amica has more than $110 million in timberland investments, a portion of which involves directly purchasing land that will be permanently protected from development, such as third-party mitigation banks.
Evaluating firms through an ESG lens aids in our fundamental analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Often we find that businesses which add value for their stakeholders are durable, long-term-focused enterprises − just the types of businesses we target for investment. For example, in the energy sector, as governments and consumers increasingly favor renewable sources of production, this pressures the long-term outlook for traditional hydrocarbon demand. As an investor in the energy sector, we favor companies that are prepared to provide diversified sources of energy and better positioned for the new longer-term outlook. Specifically, we have very limited investments in the oil and gas industry, and we don’t have any investments in coal-producing entities.
As the universe of ESG-related investments grows, we’ll continue to analyze the risk-return tradeoffs they offer and invest in them when appropriate.