CFO Paul Stedall says King Price Insurance is in the business of making a difference

King Price has identified five ESG areas which it plans to focus on over the next five years, Paul says.

As the master of coin (CFO) at King Price Insurance, and an invitee of its social and ethics committee, Paul Stedall is responsible for telling the story of King Price Insurance’s ESG journey to its stakeholders and helping steer discussions to areas where the company can make a real impact.

“While our business is insurance, we’re also in the business of making a difference,” he explains. “So looking after our environment, business, society, and most importantly our people, just makes sense and aligns with who we are as an insurance family.”

And with the world facing increasing ESG challenges, Paul says this changing landscape is leading to diverse, interconnected and complex risks.

However, he adds that this changing landscape also presents new opportunities. “The insurance industry has the responsibility of providing quality products and services that can be trusted, and must work with clients and business partners to understand and manage risks that are, or can be, material to business.”

For example, Paul explains that with climate change comes increased risks to farmers who, without crop insurance, would likely be unable to overcome the financial risks associated with a severe weather event. “We all know that if farmers don’t plant crops, country-wide food shortages may occur.”

Exploring new opportunities
Because of the changing landscape, King Price’s social and ethics committee recently shifted its focus towards ESG fundamentals and how these apply to an insurer. In considering where to start, Paul explains that the company has aligned to the National Development Plan and Social Development Guidelines of the government’s National Planning Commission.

To this end, the insurer has identified five areas which it aims to focus on over the next five years:

  1. No poverty and hunger
  2. Quality education
  3. Reducing inequality and increasing gender equity
  4. Decent work and economic growth
  5. Clean water

“How we address these areas in our day-to-day operations is still the subject of much discussion, introspection and planning. However, we have some concrete areas where we believe we can make a difference,” Paul says.

King Price has also considered the 17 sustainability goals as set by the United Nations, and which of these the company can align to its business and its processes to make an ESG impact.

Making a social impact
King Price has partnered with its “non-life” clients in making a difference by enabling them to donate their decreases (the amount that their comprehensive car insurance premium decreases by monthly) to those in need.

Through this initiative, and while also donating some of its own funds, the insurer supports several charities, including orphan-care charity Mosaic, long-term cluster foster care charity LIV Village, youth development charity Vastfontein, skills training and development charities People Upliftment Programme and Learn to Earn, and more!

“In our life business, one of our key business partnerships is centred around assisting municipal workers in consolidating their funeral products into a single offering, which frees up some of their income as a result,” Paul explains. “Similarly, a new product coming to market will enable consumers to merge their credit life policies into a single policy, covering the outstanding loan balance of their debt, while also freeing up income. Part of the process on both the funeral and credit life side includes identifying possible reckless lending by financial institutions and assisting with the reduction or cancellation of debt.”

Making a sustainable impact
Paul says that the environmental aspect of ESG has been the most challenging to tackle as an insurance group. “With our limited carbon footprint and a business model that doesn’t require us to impact directly on the environment, many of the United Nations’ sustainability goals seem almost too abstract to apply. While we’ve committed to travelling less with wider acceptance of virtual meetings, is that enough to make a sustainable impact?”

He explains that the leaders at King Price don’t think so and although they don’t see themselves being able to make an active difference in too many of the other environmental sustainability goals, they have instead decided to focus on social and governance change and make as much impact there as they can.