People at IUMI - Selina Lau, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Federation of Insurers and Member of the IUMI Education Forum

How long have you been associated with IUMI?

I first joined IUMI in 2009. Hong Kong was chosen as the hosting city for the 2010 Spring Meeting and also for the 2014 Annual Conference. As such, I attended the Miami Spring Meeting in 2009 to gain first-hand experience of IUMI, so to speak.

It was a wonderful experience, not only because of the exceptional hospitality offered by American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU), but also due to the incredible people that I met. I was amazed by the sheer camaraderie of the mariners – how a group of competitors could work so well together not just for oneself but for the common good of the maritime industry. I saw kinship, harmony and collaboration. The organisation I work for (The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers - HKFI) has always demonstrated this sort of solidarity among members, but we are in one city and it is easier to maintain that bond when you are in close proximity to one another. IUMI, on the other hand, is an international organisation, where people are based across geographies, speak different languages, come from different cultures and meet twice a year at most. 

I took a break from IUMI after the 2014 conference and was dazzled all over again by the IUMI family when I attended the 2019 Toronto Conference – same level of dedication, equally passionate and incredibly friendly. 


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

I am currently one of the Association Secretaries at IUMI and also a member of the Education Forum. The Forum has done a great job in, amongst other things, launching two online tutorials and a series of highly informative webinars. 

As the representative of the HKFI, I have donned a special hat – a member of the IUMI Asia Hub. Hong Kong was honoured to be selected as the Asia Hub of IUMI in 2016. Together with IUMI Asia Ambassador, Agnes Choi, IUMI Vice Chairperson Timothy Lee and a group of dedicated marine insurers, we are devoted to helping IUMI raise its profile and build a broader network in the region. 


How do you see the current state of the marine insurance sector?

Marine insurance is closely related to trade and also helps to underpin and promote trade. With global trade and logistics being heavily disrupted by the pandemic, the marine insurance sector, especially cargo volume, has been severely impacted. Despite the challenges, I would say marine insurance has never been more important than it is now. And the industry remains committed to supporting the global economy.  

The global marine premium in general has not been growing in the past few years but we do see an increasing trend from Asia every year.   


What do you see as the biggest issues currently emerging in the marine insurance sector?

There are quite a few issues both from a macro viewpoint as well as maritime specific issues. From the macro perspective, topping the list are the pandemic, geopolitical tension, Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG), climate change, digitalisation and cyber risk.

For the maritime industry, we see issues like containership fires and safety, the increasing size of vessels, crew recruitment, low sulphur & alternative fuels, piracy, autonomous transport, and Arctic trade. All of these issues are closely related to marine insurance risks and are evolving.  

On a more positive note, we are seeing increasing traction in the InsurTech arena. The deployment of tech and big data will open up a whole new horizon.     


What benefits do you get from being associated with IUMI?

I come from an organisation encompassing all lines of business including life, non-life and reinsurance. I am, in a sense, a jack-of-all-trades and marine insurance is not the easiest subject to master. Joining IUMI has given me the chance to learn from the experts and acquire the latest information on the market. Being part of IUMI and serving the Asia Hub and Education Forum has broadened my horizons.

It would be wonderful if we could attract more new blood to experience what I have gone through and grow to be a proud member of the IUMI family. 


If you could change anything at IUMI, or marine insurance in general, what would it be?

It would not really be a change but I would definitely welcome more in depth sharing and analysis of the data and statistics collected from around the globe. Aside from the formal online tutorials, practical and hands-on sharing including case studies and the lessons learned will help attract and foster talents to ensure the sustainability of our industry.  

As a female practitioner from Asia, I would also love to see more diversity and inclusiveness in terms of gender and geographic location. 


And what do you like to do away from the office?

Like many from Hong Kong, who on average travel abroad 11 times a year, I am also a keen traveler. But since travelling is not possible in view of the pandemic, I have spent more time exploring our beautiful city – hiking in the countryside which is only 30 minutes away from the central business district, visiting historical sites, catching up with family and friends.

My all-time favourite pastime is “Mahjong”, a traditional Chinese board game with more than 3,000 years of history. The 144 dominoes, with a myriad of possible combinations, challenge your brain, patience and luck. If you have not seen or played Mahjong before, let me tell you more about it when we meet next time.