It was September 2011. My first visit to Paris and to the IUMI annual conference. I had heard about this “largest gathering of marine underwriters on earth” and was looking forward to taking part one day.
Information is key to good decision making and effective underwriting. We can only identify, assess and price risk if we completely understand our environment, its activities and, importantly, its history. Whilst investment companies continue to recite “past performance is no guarantee of future results”, for underwriters, having a firm handle on past performance is a key ingredient to assessing future risk.
The first days of 2019 have started with a series of tragic and severe shipping incidents: Oil tanker Aulac Fortune caught fire off Hong Kong after an explosion, freighter Volgo Balt sank off the Turkish coast in heavy weather, six crew members were abducted from the container ship MSC Mandy off Benin, container ship Yantian Express is burning far off the east Canadian coast, MSC Zoe lost nearly 300 containers in rough weather in the North Sea. Anything but a smooth start to the New Year!
Container ship fires are a real concern for marine insurance and the shipping industry as a whole. Major fires on container vessels, such as the Maersk Honam this year, the CCIN Arauco or the Maersk Karachi in 2015 show the helplessness and vulnerability of the crew onboard and fire fighters ashore.
From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges we face as global marine insurers is a need to bring in fresh new talent. The gap between the older stalwarts and the young pretenders continues to widen, and that’s worrying. A wave of industry veterans will be retiring over the next decade and replacements must be found.