FOR most people, the only reason to associate skiing and insurance is in the context of accident cover. Few are aware that AIG, a large American insurer, has owned and operated Stowe, a famed ski resort in Vermont, for nearly 70 years. But on February 21st, it announced a $50m deal to sell it to Vail Resorts, owner of ten skiing spots in the American and Canadian Rockies. The insurer is, however, keeping most of the property in Spruce Peak, the ski village at the base of Stowe’s slopes, including rights to future development. After AIG had owned Stowe for so long, the news of the sale has come as a surprise.

Its involvement with the resort dates back to 1943, when Cornelius Starr, AIG’s chairman at the time, visited Stowe and got frustrated at having to queue for the only chairlift. He offered to help finance a second one. AIG took ownership in 1949, so Stowe had the distinction of having the same owner longer than any other ski resort in North America.

Owning and operating property assets is usual practice for AIG and many of its fellow insurers. Real estate can provide an important and diversifying source of investment income to…Continue reading