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European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority

Greenwashing: what it is and how can it affect you?

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a practice whereby sustainability-related statements, declarations, actions, or communications do not clearly and fairly reflect the underlying sustainability profile of an entity, a financial product, or financial services.

This practice may be misleading to consumers, investors, or to other market participants.

Where does greenwashing occur in the insurance and pension sectors?

Examples of greenwashing

Example 1

An insurer declares that it would plant a tree for every new life insurance policy subscribed.

At the same time, this insurer still invests in companies that are developing new fossil fuels projects.

According to the stakeholder that provided this example, potential consumers may wrongly believe that buying an insurance policy with this insurer would contribute positively to the environment, while this insurer invests in fossil fuels projects.

Example 2

An insurance company outlines its sustainability credentials publicly by running a television advertisement highlighting the increasingly sustainability-oriented behaviour of its clients, or by communicating about a philanthropic fund dedicated to sustainability factors.

At the same time, this insurer continues to underwrite risk for large companies developing new oil and gas fields as well as new fossil fuel infrastructure.

The mismatch between the way the insurer is portraying itself and its clients publicly – i.e., conscious of sustainability aspects – and its underwriting activities – i.e., underwriting in fossil fuels – could constitute a potential greenwashing practice.

Example 3

Some insurers may use ESG labels as marketing arguments in an unsubstantiated way.

For example, some providers claimed offering a majority of ESG labelled investment options, without providing a detailed list of funds which have been awarded that specific label.

This could mislead consumers into believing that if they invest their money with this insurance undertaking, this would be a sustainable investment, no matter what they would invest in.

About these examples

Examples included in this section have been either identified by EIOPA as part of its market monitoring activities, are reported by National Competent Authorities or by stakeholders.

These are practical examples of concrete cases which may lead to possible greenwashing. However, no clear conclusions have been drawn as to whether such examples definitively constitute or not greenwashing.

How can greenwashing impact you?


  • Can deceive consumers into buying products that are not aligned with their preferences
  • Can deceive consumers into buying products from a pension or insurance provider that misleadingly portrays itself as an entity with sustainability credentials
  • Can erode consumers’ trust in the ability of insurers or pension providers to positively impact environmental or social factors
  • Misleading sustainability claims do not allow consumers as well as the society to hold providers accountable for their environmental and social impact

What do consumers think about sustainability claims made by insurance undertakings or distributors?

The EU-wide Eurobarometer survey carried out by EIOPA in June 2022 shows that 62% of EU consumers do not trust the sustainability claims made by insurance undertakings or distributors, while a similar percentage (63%) says that sustainability claims about insurance products are often misleading.

Consumers view on their insurance purchasing experience