German insurers debate voluntary cluster bomb exclusion

Lack of agreement by industry players

German insurance industry association GDV is trying to get all of its members to agree to a voluntary exclusion of cluster bomb and land mine makers in their investments.

Industry sources say the project was launched last summer, adding that they had expected the GDV to go public with the exclusion sometime this year. It appears the GDV has so far not been able to get all of the insurers behind the move, they added.

The GDV said: “Responsible investing is becoming increasingly important for the German insurance industry. Our association cannot proscribe our members how to invest. This is forbidden under German cartel laws.”

But insiders said the GDV merely wanted its members to agree to voluntarily exclude the weapons. Indeed, thiswas confirmed by GDV managing director Axel Wehling in comments made during a parliamentary hearing in July 2011.

Still, German insurers have made progress on the responsible investment front.

“Responsible investing increasingly important for the German insurers”

The GDV’s largest members, Allianz and Munich Re are, for example, signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. A source at Allianz said the firm had been steering clear of the arms for some time.

In March 2011, Munich Re put in place a group-wide policy prohibiting transactions with companies that produce, deal in or transport landmines and cluster bombs.