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Is the insurance industry sustainable?

Martin Eling (University of St.Gallen, St.Gallen, Switzerland)

Journal of Risk Finance

ISSN: 1526-5943

Article publication date: 18 June 2024




This study aims to develop a comprehensive framework for discussing sustainability within the insurance industry, extending the traditional Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) dimensions to include economic and technological considerations. This inclusion is vital, recognizing that financial stability and the adoption of innovative technologies are fundamental to meeting other sustainability targets.


We base our findings on an extensive literature review, case studies, and interactive workshops with key stakeholders in the insurance industry. Our analytical framework employs Porter's (1985) insurance-specific value chain, complemented by Berliner's (1982) insurability criteria, to distinguish between insurable and non-insurable risks.


Our results show that the insurance industry is sustainable because it actively incorporates and contributes to sustainability goals across environmental, social, economic, and technological dimensions. This is illustrated through the identification of 50 distinct contributions across the insurance value chain, showcasing the sector’s unique position to significantly influence the sustainability discourse.

Practical implications

Addressing the pressing challenges of sustainability and insurability necessitates a strategic, collective response from the global insurance and risk management community. This paper proposes several policy recommendations, including enhancing risk assessment methodologies, diversifying insurance product offerings, encouraging cross-sectoral collaboration, and prioritizing investments in resilience and preventive measures.


By broadening the sustainability discussion to encompass economic and technological facets, this paper enriches the dialogue surrounding the insurance industry’s role in sustainability. It aims to inform decision-makers across the industry, political spheres, and broader society about the necessity of sustainability, fostering pertinent political discussions and highlighting avenues for future research.



Eling, M. (2024), "Is the insurance industry sustainable?", Journal of Risk Finance, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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