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Claims can be made under health, life, and accident insurance policies, which are generally considered to have minimal or no environmental and social risk. Property insurance carries some environmental and social risks, usually associated with natural disasters or construction quality and design. Risk insurance can also be provided to companies or projects with a significant exposure to potential environmental and social risks, which are inherent in the nature of their operations, such as maritime transportation, construction, large scale agribusiness, extractive industries, manufacturing, and infrastructure development. These activities may be associated with involuntary resettlement, community and occupational health and safety, loss of biodiversity, and land and water contamination. Through surety or performance bonds, a financial institution may guarantee completion of projects (in particular infrastructure) such as roads, dams, and mining operations, which have potentially high environmental and social impacts.

The environmental and social risks to financial institutions that underwrite insurance originate in their potential exposure to claims that are related to environmental and social issues, such as damages resulting from industrial accidents, or health and safety related incidents, or natural disasters. These risks are typically factored into the cost of the insurance policy and financial institutions often work with their clients to minimize them. Financial institutions may also receive public disapproval due to their association with high-risk projects, particularly in case of infrastructure.

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