Burma Rights Group Says XL, Chubb to Withdraw; Chubb Cites ‘Inaccuracies’

August 21, 2008

The Burma Campaign UK, a human rights group, has issued a bulletin stating that XL and Chubb have separately announced their withdrawals from the Burmese market. The Campaign said the move was prompted by a bulletin it had released on July 29, which highlighted the fact that a number of insurers were selling insurance to companies in Burma. The list included “Lloyd’s of London, Hannover Re, Catlin, Atrium, XL, Tokio Marine, Sompo Japan and Mitsui Sumitomo,” but did not mention Chubb.

The earlier report also singled out “AIG, ALLIANZ, AON, AVIVA, AXA, ING, Munich Re, SCOR, Swiss Re, and Willis,” for taking the “decision not to provide insurance to companies in Burma.”

The Campaign said it had been told by Chubb that it “bars its member companies from maintaining an office in Burma, from directly writing insurance in Burma or providing insurance into Burma from outside the country”. The Campaign asserted, however that Chubb “maintained an office in Burma.”

Chubb responded with a bulletin, which stated that the Campaign’s news release “contains numerous inaccuracies with respect to The Chubb Corporation and its response to The Burma Campaign UK’s inquiry.” Chubb repeated the position set out above, and strongly denied that it, or any subsidiary company, provides “insurance into Burma from outside the country.” Chubb specifically stated that for the last eleven years it “has had in effect a policy that bars its member companies from maintaining an office in Burma, directly writing insurance in Burma.”

Chubb’s bulletin went on to state: “The action by The Burma Campaign UK to place Chubb on its list of noncompliant companies was based on an out-of-date, erroneous list of independent service providers on Chubb’s web site, which has since been corrected. Chubb so informed The Burma Campaign UK on August 8, and Chubb subsequently received a letter from The Burma Campaign UK that it has corrected the report on its web site to remove Chubb from its noncompliant list.”

Chubb added that it was “at a loss to understand why The Burma Campaign UK would on August 19 issue a news release which clearly implies — incorrectly — that Chubb has an office in Burma and that Chubb only now is revising its Burma policy and ‘pulling out of Burma’ in response to Chubb being included on The Burma Campaign UK’s noncompliant list. We have asked The Burma Campaign UK to correct its misleading news release.”

XL has not issued a statement on the Campaign’s bulletin.

However, the Campaign indicated that it will continue to target insurers, whom it says do business in Burma, notably Lloyd’s. Johnny Chatterton, Campaigns Officer at the Burma Campaign UK, stated: “This is a major embarrassment to Lloyd’s of London, they have never taken this issue seriously and don’t see any problem with helping to finance Burma’s brutal dictatorship. We know that at least two other members of the Lloyd’s market are involved with Burma. Lloyd’s is increasingly isolated and is seeing its reputation damaged as more and more insurers take an ethical stance against doing business with a regime that routinely persecutes, detains, tortures and murders those who want human rights and democracy”.

The Campaign said that Lloyd’s “has not officially responded to the report, but has admitted that its members are active in the Burmese shipping and aviation sectors.” The Campaign said: “David Gitting, Chief Executive of the Lloyd’s Market Association, which represents all managing agents at Lloyd’s, stated last week that without UK government sanctions, there ‘is no reason for U.K. based insurers to pull out of that market.’ This defies the policy of the British Government, which states: ‘The UK Government discourages trade and investment with Burma.” Insurance is vital to trade and investment with Burma.'”

Sources: The Burma Campaign UK – http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk and Chubb Corp. – www.chubb.com

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