German insurer Allianz left the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) to avoid exposing its shareholders to legal risk, its CFO has said.

Giulio Terzariol, who has been chief financial officer since 2018, said the insurer had a fiduciary duty to protect its shareholders, and it would not have been responsible to stay in the alliance.

Speaking on a media call after the publication of Allianz’s Q2 financial results, Terzariol said that the political and legal system in the US “can be very, very tricky”.

“We are spending a lot of time and resources and money on all these issues to do with sustainability but we are going to do this basically not being part of an alliance because this is going to expose shareholders to a risk that they don’t need to take,” he said.

Terzariol was keen to emphasise that Allianz remained committed to net zero. “What is important is we can achieve our objectives regardless. It’s not that we change our commitment to what we want to do,” he said.

The NZIA was rocked by a rush of departures earlier this year, which has left it with just 11 members. A string of Swiss and German reinsurers/insurers announced their departures in April, but the main bloc of leavers were lead by Swiss Re, Allianz and chair AXA, who made the decision to quit in late May and were followed by a series of other members.

A number of departing members cited antitrust risks, with first mover Munich Re warning that “the opportunities to pursue decarbonisation goals in a collective approach among insurers worldwide without exposing ourselves to material antitrust risks are so limited that it is more effective to pursue our climate ambition to reduce global warming individually”.

Departures followed a letter from a group of 23 US state attorneys general in May, which raised concerns over whether NZIA’s target setting protocol and other actions could breach local and national laws.

By the time the NZIA had responded, noting that the concerns “appear to be based on a mistaken interpretation of the activities of NZIA and its members” in mid-June, the majority of departures had already taken place.

In early July, the initiative dropped the obligation for individual members to set or publish targets.

NZIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.