The Hunt Saboteurs Association are calling for a boycott of AXA insurance due to their involvement with the hunting community. As first revealed by Hunting Leaks, AXA provide legal fee insurance for every fox, hare and stag hunt in the UK. This policy covers Hunting Act offences and violence towards hunt saboteurs. Every time an employee or member of any hunt is arrested, interviewed by the police or has to attend court their legal costs will be covered by the AXA policy.
The first year of the policy in 2014/15 actually saw them lose money due to the high number of Hunting Act cases and arrests for assaults and Public Order offences. Claims amounted to £267,887 against a premium of £183,815. The Hunting Office covered this shortfall so that individual hunts didn’t incur additional costs but the situation was clearly unsustainable.
AXA’s policy with the hunts states that – hunts must have credible photographic or video evidence of legal hunting activities on a daily basis, for cover to be in place. So if a hunt is unable to provide evidence of legal trail laying they won’t be covered by the policy. Much was made of this in the leaked Hunting Office webinars where the panel stressed the importance of overt trail laying, not because the hunts are actually hunting legally but because they need to try and convince anyone watching, including the police and their own insurance company, that they are.
Without legal insurance all legal costs for every Hunting Act arrest, court case or conviction or any act of violence or public (dis)order will have to come either direct from a hunt’s own funds or from a central pot that all hunts contribute towards. If it comes from a central pot then hunts who face less legal action may well wonder why they are paying out for others.
If AXA do pull their legal fees insurance, whilst some hunts are very wealthy, they are in the minority, the vast majority of hunts are on a financial knife edge and if they are caught doing anything wrong and don’t have this insurance they may well be forced into huge amounts of debt if they want to have a decent lawyer. The anti-hunting movement has never had such an opportunity to crush fox hunters.
Many AXA customers have been horrified to discover what their insurance company is involved in and it’s an easy decision, both financially and morally, for the company to withdraw their support for hunting. Since we launched our campaign hundreds of people have contacted us to tell us that they won’t be continuing their AXA insurance policy. Demos have been held across the country highlighting AXA’s participation in animal abuse and their social media channels have been bombarded by disgusted customers demanding AXA publicly withdraw from the policy.
AXA’s only public response has been on twitter where they said: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We will look into the points raised. While AXA is committed to a confidential relationship with our customers we are mindful of any concerns expressed. We only support businesses and individuals who operate within the law.
AXA was previously targeted by the animal rights movement in 2007 due to their involvement in Huntingdon Life Sciences and they are also subject to boycott calls due to their involvement in the state of Israel and the oppression of Palestinians.
This article first appeared in Ethical Consumer Magazine in June 2020.