Scheme could lead to reduced premiums for greener companies

AXA is set to launch a climate change programme with small businesses that, if successful, could lead to companies receiving premium discounts in the future.

The insurer is developing an online carbon footprint calculator for SMEs and brokers along with a guide to reducing pollution and emissions.

The aim is to determine whether there is a link between companies that focus on waste and energy management and the risk they pose to insurers.

An AXA spokesman said if it became apparent that greener companies were better risk, it could lead to discounts in premiums.

He said: “That’s the basic premise and what we will struggle with is the data to back it up.”

AXA will use a number of different resources, including the carbon calculator, to determine whether there is a correlation.

The project will span the next year and, depending on its success, could be implemented permanently.

The programme is based on research conducted by AXA over the past two years into the challenges and issues SMEs face in relation to pollution and waste management, and how the insurer can assist in addressing this.

The technology will calculate information in line with government parameters on climate change.

The spokesman added: “We are looking to push it fairly hard. What is different here is that an insurance company is doing something not many others are doing, if any. SMEs are not a homogenised group. AXA is the second largest provider for SMEs and we feel we have a role to play.”

Meanwhile, AXA group has launched a €100m (£69m) research fund to begin in 2008, managed by a scientific board at Princeton University in the US, to support the academic study of several areas including climate and the environment.