Q&A with Neil Smith from the Internation Union of Aerospace Insurers

In a nutshell, how would you describe the IUAI?

The International Union of Aerospace Insurers is the aerospace equivalent of IUMI. In fact, it grew out of an IUMI Aviation Committee established in 1933. The members of this aviation committee quickly realised that the rapid growth of the sector, and the associated development of an international regulatory framework for aviation (particularly associated with liability exposures), warranted the establishment of a separate specialist organisation.

As a result, the International Union of Aviation Insurers held its first meeting on 4 June 1934. The IUAI has developed over time as the needs of the industry and membership have changed, in a similar manner to IUMI, (and with a name change to reflect the development and increasing importance of the space sector in 2008).

What is the biggest challenge facing the IUAI today?

As with the marine sector, the global aerospace insurance sector is going through very difficult times in terms of market conditions. In this environment we are seeing some insurers/reinsurers going through mergers and acquisitions, and some withdrawing from the class. This creates a challenge for the union, which currently relies solely on membership subscriptions for income. From the business perspective however, this consolidation can be viewed as a positive sign as it can be seen as a step towards addressing the global overcapacity problems which impact the market. In this environment, the union has to show real value to its membership in terms of the benefits and services it provides.

In terms of technical challenges, as with all other classes, the aerospace sector has to properly address issues related to cyber exposures, and is also dealing with the rapid development of UAV (drone) use. Both of these issues provide challenges for the aerospace sector, but also represent significant opportunities if handled correctly. The IUAI sees itself as a major catalyst for educating its membership on both these issues to ensure these opportunities are properly understood.

Does the IUAI offer anything specific for marine insurers?

The IUAI doesn’t offer anything specific for marine insurers, but many of the insurance/reinsurance companies that have representation at IUMI are also IUAI members where they write both marine and aerospace business.

My view is that in an environment where insurance/reinsurance is becoming a heavily commoditised product, both the IUMI and IUAI become increasingly important as member organisations representing what are very separate and specialised and technical classes.

How do IUAI and IUMI work together?

The IUAI is an IUMI affiliate but has no formal working relationship. However, my extensive previous work in the marine market, past involvement in IUMI technical committees, and the fact I know Lars very well, means that we are able to meet up once or twice a year to share experiences and compare notes. I am confident that if there were specific issues where our respective members would benefit from joint IUMI/IUAI activity, we could achieve this quite easily.

Do you have a view on the current state of the marine insurance market?

Yes, but it’s probably not appropriate for me to comment on them here…

Is there anything you would like to see underwriters do differently or better?

Again, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment. The vast majority of underwriters I’ve worked alongside over my career to date are highly professional, technically knowledgeable and committed to their industry in what is an increasingly competitive market from both a commercial and a legal and compliance perspective.

If you were not in your current role what would be your ideal job?

This is my ideal job!

What do you like doing when not working?

My main hobby is singing, I am a member of a local male voice choir. It’s something I used to do when I was younger, but gave up when I started working. I started again around two years ago and find it a great way to unwind and relax.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only to thank Lars for the opportunity to contribute to your excellent publication, and to wish IUMI its members, and all my friends and colleagues from across the marine sector my very best wishes for the future. It’s great to see the union developing, long may it continue to do so.


Neil Smith, Secretary General

International Union of Aerospace Insurers