People at IUMI: Neil Roberts, Head of Marine Underwriting, LMA & member of IUMI's Policy Forum & Ocean Hull Committee

How long have you been associated with IUMI?

My first IUMI conference was Seville 2003, and I have been a committee secretary since 2005, working for ten years on Loss Prevention and then moving across to Ocean Hull.


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

I have four roles at IUMI, firstly being a member of the IUMI Policy Forum which is the body that decides what issues IUMI should be involved with and, just as importantly, what issues to leave to others. I am secretary to the Ocean Hull Committee which provides a fascinating perspective on the international scene and was the sector where I began my career. In addition, I am on the secretaries group which reviews how IUMI is operating, both structurally and financially, and am also the LMA representative on the IUMI Council.


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

Still underappreciated and somewhat precarious. The world depends on the supply chain that insurers underpin but only notices when something goes wrong as happened in the Suez Canal this year. On top of that, profit margins have been squeezed to the point where disproportionately small things can tip the balance. On the plus side, there is now a growing understanding in political circles of the Blue Economy and its significance.


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

The sustainability agenda, particularly for the oil and gas sector. If the eco-system is now at Code Red, then there needs to be international action where it counts, not simply tinkering around the edges with initiatives on paper straws. Insurers’ support will certainly be needed as the world seeks a fundamental transition in energy use and at the same time requires improvements in the sustainability of shipping.


What benefits do you get from being associated with IUMI?

As well as the interaction with the international community, membership of IUMI allows me to attend relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings and make interventions as needed, for example on the debate around the interpretation of conventions. This is priceless as IMO is the source of marine regulation and though progress is often very slow, in the end, it provides the benchmarks which the maritime industry depends on. 


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

IUMI has come a very long way in the last two decades and I would keep it heading along the same lines – useful participations and lobbying during the year with high quality presentations at the annual conferences. For marine insurance in general, I would like legislators to recognise there are limits to what can be achieved by targeting the shipping and insurance sectors when nation states seek political ends through indirect means.


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

Not sure I understand the question! But I do occasionally leave it behind and do some fell-walking in the Lake District which is pretty challenging for sedentary types. There is nothing more sobering than toiling up a mountain with a full rucksack only to be overtaken by a spritely 70-year-old running up in sports kit and a floppy hat.