Message from the President: A warm welcome to Canada

By Richard Turner, IUMI President

IUMI comes together this September for its annual conference in Toronto. Our last visit to Canada was 11 years ago (in Vancouver) and it’s great to be back!

It would be very tempting to portray our return to Canada as a moment when marine insurance is being confronted by big challenges on all sides:

  • our industry is going through some very painful adjustments as the capital backing our sector tightens its grip;
  • wider structural changes in the insurance sector are impacting into the marine space;
  • and who can ignore the external issues and pressures: the growth in protectionism, political instabilities, Brexit, etc.

Indeed, our common theme at the conference (“Confronting the Chaos”) can rightly be said to be a title that stirs the emotions – a deliberately provocative banner to encourage and stimulate debate.

Delegates will have the chance to hear from different speakers on all of these features:

  • the traditional Facts & Figures workshop will showcase the sector in terms of the cyclical position of our business;
  • the emergence of digitisation into underwriting will be considered in the President’s workshop;
  • external issues will have their place too, with features on the geopolitics of trade and the Iran-US crisis.

We will also stay faithful to the richness that comes from IUMI’s technical knowledge. Presentations will build on a number of Policy Forum topics: fires on containerships, the introduction of the sulphur cap in 2020, and the emergence of the Arctic as a sea route.

So a busy conference in prospect!

Finally, a reminder from history. However much we might talk of crises and ‘chaos’, we would do well to remember the week that IUMI last gathered in Canada. That week in 2008 marked the start of the global financial crisis, with Lehman Brothers going bust and governments around the world launching almost unprecedented bailouts. The Clarksea Index of average annual earnings of ships fell from USD 32,000 per day to just USD 11,000 within a year. The marine insurance sector coped with that crisis and navigated a pathway through it: a useful reminder that throughout many centuries of history, we have always found ways to adapt ourselves to external forces and stay focused on our core purpose: ‘to underpin national and international trade’.