People at IUMI: Hilton Adams

By Hilton Adams, Munich Re – Africa, and IUMI Inland Hull, Fishing & Yacht Committee Member

How long have you been associated with IUMI?

Since initially joining Munich RE about 33 years ago. I have been attending the IUMI meetings and annual conference for over 20 years.

What is your IUMI role today and what does it involve?

In 2016 I was invited as an observer at the IUMI Inland Hull, Fishing and Yacht (IFY) Committee and was subsequently voted onto the Committee following the 2017 annual conference. I then found myself recommended and voted in as a Deputy Chair to Anneke Kooiman.

During the 2018 IUMI Conference in Cape Town I had the honour to be elected Africa Ambassador for IUMI, with a focus to grow IUMI’s interest, footprint and membership on the African Continent.

It must be noted that Munich Reinsurance Company of Africa Limited, has been on the African Continent for 50 Years now (1968 to 2018). We are very active in client training and driving the concept of the future of underwriting, i.e. cyber exposure, AI, the use of IoT and data analytics, to name a few. So executing my ambassadorial role is not difficult to perform as it is fortunately aligned with my business duties.

And what is your day job?

My day to day job is very varied. I am a member of the Operational Management team for Munich Reinsurance Company of Africa Limited – Head of Marine/Aviation, in the main. I am responsible for the Sub Saharan African business, whereby I manage a team of five who handle our current portfolio and new business development, growth and innovation.

Furthermore, I am a past chair and executive member of the Association of Marine Underwriters in South Africa (AMUSA), a sub-committee of the South African Insurance Association (SAIA), as well as a committee member of our local Marine Forum, which has been active for 34 years.

What benefits do you get from being associated with IUMI? 

For me, the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating business which I like so much. There is a huge network to tap into and I use this extensively. IUMI offers global insight into a wide market range, providing information on practical and legal matters, as well as good quality data and statistics. Munich Re Group is a huge associate of IUMI and we are fully in support of the educational drive, encouraging all our staff to take part in the webinars which have been running for a while.

Given the nature of our business, which is moving goods and providing services worldwide, networking is probably IUMI’s biggest value add, because one can now contact any of the underwriters anywhere around the world to get the right information on many aspects of our business.

If you could change anything at IUMI what would it be?

IUMI has undergone many good, forward thinking changes in the last three years or so, spearheaded by the Executive Committee.

Expansion of regional reach/membership

As the IUMI Ambassador for Africa we will certainly try to grow our membership in the area.  I will also replicate the African Ambassador role into Latin and Central America to build IUMI’s footprint in that part of the world.


With regard to education, I would like to request that some of the larger corporations help and assist young, up and coming, well identified and high potential underwriters by sponsoring them and offering internships for three to six months in the developing markets. This will help to bolster the number of insurance professionals, given that we are starting to become thinner and thinner in numbers. This will align with IUMI’s education drive.

Legal topics

It may be worthwhile to introduce a platform that houses all legal topics, tracking legislation changes and the like, especially for topics which are current with subject matter experts running commentary.

IUMI conference attendance

I would introduce a lower fee (either full or on a daily attendance basis) for junior staff to encourage companies to allow them to attend the IUMI annual conference. This can be linked to education and the sponsored internships I have suggested. Companies are monitoring their overall expenses and costs, and such an initiative will increase the attendance at IUMI whilst also providing juniors with exposure and the networking benefits.

How did you reach your current position in marine insurance?

I wanted to study Maritime Law when I was younger and looked to accomplish this whilst in the South African Navy, but this did not materialise. As fate has it, I managed to get a junior clerk’s job at Munich Re Company of Africa Limited, some 33 years ago and the then General Manager encouraged me to read everything that I could lay my hands on.

I always liked the sea, ships and sailing and as the interest was there already it made it easy for me to grow into the business of marine. I also had good mentors and coaching and was lucky to be in an equal-opportunity based company that was not afraid to take a chance on me. I was encouraged to study further (business, insurance, economics and marketing) and I spent a lot of time in and around harbours, ships, sailing, observing trucking and most importantly, doing a lot of research on maritime matters and territories. I have utilised my network within the Munich Re Group, locally and around the world, to get the necessary insight and ask questions, to improve my knowledge.

In short, I love what I do and keep well abreast of developments pertaining to the maritime world and my profession, even when I am on holiday.

And what do you do away from the office?

I enjoy travelling, sailing, sports, music and reading (autobiographies). My job is not just a job, it is a hobby and I am always visiting harbours, seas, lakes and knocking on doors to go on board vessels - ready to put my hand forward to go sailing anytime.