Q&A with Ann Waite and Charlotte Warr, IMCC

By Ann Waite and Charlotte Warr, IMCC

In a nutshell, how would you describe the main role of the IMCC?  

To provide a neutral forum where those interested in the marine claims business can come together to discuss topics of mutual interest, share experiences and learn in a collaborative and collegiate environment. Maybe also to test the Guinness occasionally!


What is the biggest challenge facing the IMCC today?  

Two in reality. The first is the rapid change in the marine insurance market, with the withdrawal of insurers from the market and the understandable budget pressures that are put on all organisations. The second is always to remain focussed and relevant to the target audience.


What is the biggest challenge facing marine insurers?

Clearly profitability of the marine account, in particular the hull account is a major challenge for marine insurers.  We are seeing many insurers withdrawing from marine or cutting back on their lines of business. From a claims perspective, lack of profitability on the account can lead to worrying trends - at best lack of investment in good quality claims handlers and at worst a tendency to try to reduce or avoid paying claims.


How does the IMCC and IUMI work together?

IMCC and IUMI work together in various ways.  Lars Lange, Secretary General of IUMI, sits on the Strategy Group of IMCC, which is the forum used by IMCC to ensure that the Dublin agenda covers subjects that are relevant and topical. The input from IUMI and recommendations of relevant speakers helps IMCC to develop an interesting and focussed conference each year. Lars or the President of IUMI attend IMCC annually, usually the week after the IUMI conference, providing a presentation to the claims community on the hot topics and latest IUMI claims statistics. Additionally, as IMCC is an Affiliate Member of IUMI either Charlotte or Ann will attend the annual IUMI conference.

Charlotte also works closely with IUMI on its education initiatives assisting recently with the hull and cargo online tutorials which have been launched in the last year.


Charlotte – how do you see the IMCC and IUMI enhancing their relationship in the future?  

As underwriting and claims are two sides of the same coin it would be good to continue the ongoing and healthy communications between the organisations. Perhaps in the future there will be even more claims people involved in the various IUMI committees for example, and a claims strand to the regular IUMI gatherings.


Ann is there anything that you would like to see underwriters do differently?

Yes, I would like to see underwriters working far more closely with their claims departments. I personally believe that ‘claims handling’ starts way before the casualty occurs, with both the underwriters and claims adjusters meeting and understanding the client’s needs and indeed fears. Companies usually buy insurance because they want certainty that their claims will be paid in the event of the worst happening. Ensuring that the insurance product meets those expectations requires both underwriting and claims to work together. I don’t believe it happens nearly enough with most insurers.


Charlotte what is your view on the current state of the marine insurance market? 

Interesting is probably the word I would use. When I am working with underwriters my general ethos is that I do not mind what they write, and on what terms they write, as that is their business not mine, but I do mind if they do not truly understand the risks that they have accepted. As risks become more sophisticated it is very tempting to focus on the new elements and forget the basics. As insurance contracts seem to get longer and longer the potential for ambiguity and contradiction exponentially increases – good for the lawyers perhaps but not for the customers necessarily!


Ann what are the future plans for the IMCC?

IMCC originated to promote communication amongst hull claims handlers and their experts around the world. Each year we take and assess input from our delegates as to how IMCC should develop and that feedback provides us with the basis of our future plans. Our Strategy Group, which comprises representatives from around the world, also provides us with valuable guidance as to the journey that most appropriately meets insurers’ wishes.  We will continue to listen and adapt as is required; the market is changing and that will direct our focus.


If you could each wave a magic wand and change one thing in the shipping industry what would it be?   

Ann: Many shipowners are (understandably) driven by profitability and of course that means often selecting the lowest premium when insuring their ships. This can be a false economy, as the cheapest insurer is not necessarily the one that can support a shipowner through a difficult claim. I would like to see shipowners valuing an insurer who invests in their claims department to provide experienced staff capable of delivering first class claims handling. To this end, it is essential that in broking houses, the value of selecting a strong claims leader is explained to shipowners.


Charlotte: For me it is a continued focus on the human element as being central. Autonomous ships are a key topic on the agenda but whilst we still require the humble human to assist with the work of ships large and small, every part of the industry needs to recognise the need to treat those humans with dignity and respect. The vast majority of the industry has got the memo but there are still too many seafarers working under intolerable conditions and even worse being abandoned in parts far from home.