Aon Offers Green Building Insurance, Allstate Tests E-Payment, Eco-Contribution Program

Aon Offers Green Building Insurance, Allstate Tests E-Payment, Eco-Contribution Program

Aon Corporation is offering a green insurance option that allows commercial property policyholders to repair or replace eco-friendly buildings, or upgrade to more environmentally sensitive components, after suffering a loss.

The Chicago-based insurance broker, which this year was ranked the world’s largest by Business Insurance magazine, launched its Aon Green Building Property Program on Wednesday.

The product, offered as an enhancement to the company’s Global Property Policy, covers certified and non-certified eco-friendly properties and provides reimbursement for full repair or replacement of certified green building components and for green upgrades. According to the company, the policy ensures the materials used and development that occurs in the repair, replace or upgrade process meet local green building requirements, in addition to widely recognized standards in the United States or European Union.

"Businesses face several challenges in green building development, including zoning and building code issues as well as finding the right insurance coverage for their property," Peter Breitstone, chief executive officer of Aon's Environmental Services Group, said in a statement. "The Aon Green Building Property Program will enable more property owners, regardless of their risk limit or location, to go green by offering an easier and more comprehensive product to support their sustainability, corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship efforts."

Coverage under the new option includes costs required to repair or replace property according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes Assessment and Rating System or equivalent requirements in the United States and abroad; repair or replacement of electrical or electronic equipment or devices to meet Energy Star qualifications; hire LEED-certified architects or design professionals; sponsor a green building certification program; and recycle debris from an insured loss.

In another green development in the insurance industry, Allstate Insurance Company announced this week that it is expanding its market test of a paperless billing and pay process that is paired with a conservation contribution program.

Under the program, customers who enroll in the company’s electronic Easy Pay Plan, which automatically deducts payments from a checking account, may save as much as 5 percent on their premiums.

In addition, Allstate contributes $10 to a conservation or restoration project that is also supported by The Nature Conservancy, America’s Wetland Foundation or Arbor Day Foundation. The customer is not charged for the contribution. The insurance company’s contribution plan includes more than a dozen projects that are local to the 10 states in the company’s test market area.

The e-pay and eco-contribution program began in Colorado and Ohio and is expanding to Washington, Oregon, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas. The pilot program will run to the end of the year.

“Making it easy for customers to save money and help the environment is the ultimate win-win: good for the customer, good the company and good for the planet,” Roger Parker, assistant vice president of product innovation at Allstate, said in a statement.

Attorney William C. Acevedo of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean, who leads the Green Business Practice Group for the firm based in Oakland, Calif., says that people seeking green insurance for their commercial property should consider and evaluate products that address a range of policyholder needs.

Comprehensive insurance coverage should address “the traditional sense of risk and the desire to move the company toward being a more sustainable enterprise,” said Acevedo, whose law firm was the first in U.S. to attain third-party certification as a green business.

Important elements to look for include coverage following a loss that enables the policyholder to repair, replace, upgrade, construct or reconstruct an asset to an approved green standard, Acevedo said.

In addition to repair and replacement, he said, provisions should cover electrical and water system upgrades that increase energy efficiency and help reduce consumption, installation of water-saving plumbing fixtures and Energy Star upgrades that include appliances, lighting and electronic equipment. Use of environmentally sensitive building materials and costs associated with recycling debris from the loss and the work to make things right should also be covered.

“And definitely, without a doubt, coverage should include hiring a design professional familiar with green building standards,” Acevedo said.

Aon is not the first company to offer green insurance for commercial properties, but the firm said its Green Building Property Program is the most comprehensive product now available.  In offering the green option, Aon partners with other insurance companies, which in turn make it available to property holders, a spokeswoman said.

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company was the first property and casualty insurance firm to offer green insurance to commercial properties in the U.S. It went to market with its product in fall 2006 and started offering green insurance to residential property policyholders this summer.