One of IUMI’s traditions is that its President holds their position in the organisation for up to four years. My own four-year term is reaching its conclusion, so I feel it’s worth looking back to 2018 and reflecting on what’s happened since. Had we taken the time to think about what the world might look like by 2022, I doubt many of us would have predicted a global pandemic or a land war on European soil.
However, other trends were already apparent back in 2018:
- We were already seeing a rise in protectionist measures, adversely affecting international trade
- We knew that mankind’s response to the planet’s climate emergency could not long be delayed
- It was abundantly clear that the world would be going through a technological, data and digital upheaval
Against this volatile background, the marine insurance and reinsurance sector has continued to operate pretty well. We have continued to discharge our core purpose of enabling and protecting international trade.
- Marine insurance adapted positively to the operational and risk challenges of the pandemic
- We accelerated the pace at which data and technology were embraced (partly because the pandemic forced us to)
- We took steps to immerse ourselves in the ESG (environmental, social, governance) debate
We successfully navigated through the pandemic
Covid-19 caused an immediate and long-lasting disruption to our sector’s working environment, and we witnessed a sequence of challenges affecting the clients and industries we support. These ranged from the initial slowdown of shipping activity, to the subsequent surge of international trade in the post-pandemic phase and the consequent problems of port blockages.
From the narrower perspective of IUMI, much - if not all – of our work and conference activity shifted to an online setting. We learned valuable lessons, and the use of ‘Zoom’ is now an embedded part of our operation.
More recently, we have started to travel again. A recent highlight was the successful Asia Forum event, held in Mumbai in June, with over 200 people present. This is the first time we have been able to hold this ‘mini-IUMI’ conference since Shanghai in 2019.
IUMI has continued to work on key priorities – and introduced a new one
A key feature of IUMI’s success in the past 10-years has been that we have developed a clear strategic direction and ensured its continuity. We have made progress in all areas:
During the pandemic, we introduced a new online format – member roadshows. So far, we have held events with India, Australia, Turkey, the Philippines, Spain, Croatia, South Africa and Malaysia.
Our educational offering has expanded and matured. In addition to the cargo and hull tutorials, we have increased the frequency of webinars and introduced monthly podcasts as a new innovation.
The past four years have seen IUMI step up its presence and influence at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). At present, the IMO is engaged in considering a proposal by IUMI (and other IMO members) which concerns the "development of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS Code concerning detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships“.
IUMI has also shared a discussion paper at IMO on the growing problem of containers being lost overboard at sea. We are also engaged in IMO projects to consider the development of autonomous ships and to improve the position regarding ports of refuge.
Statistics and data
The IUMI Stats Report - first launched in 2018 and published annually since then – is a key part of IUMI’s drive to diversify the distribution of information. On top of this, the launch of the IUMI Claims Database is a major step forward, with $14 billion in claims now collated from 25 countries.
Then there is the growing impact of digitalisation in our sector. During my term as President, we have recognised this growing trend by enhancing the status of what was originally created under Dieter Berg’s presidency as a Big Data and Digitalisation Working Group and made it a full IUMI Forum with its own slot at conference.
Sustainability and ESG
Last but not least, IUMI’s latest strategic priority has been launched – ESG. Alongside data and digitalisation, this will be the dominant catalyst for change in our sector in the coming years.
From an IUMI perspective, and with explicit support from our members, we have stepped up our engagement:
- IUMI became a Supporting Institution for the UN’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
- We formed an internal ESG Working Group.
- We became a Supporting Partner of the newly created Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance.
IUMI will have an important role in continuing to nurture the debate across our industry sector.
Much has happened in the space of the last four years. The external world has thrown unexpected problems in our direction. Yet my firm conviction is that the whole marine insurance sector has risen to the scale of the challenges, and I think it can be reasonably suggested that IUMI has played its part too.
Who knows what the next four years hold for our industry? I would suggest that some of the events and trends alluded to in this article will feature strongly during this period and beyond:
- How will the Russia/Ukraine conflict play out, and what will be the impact on international trade?
- How fast will be the pace of digitalisation?
- What decisions will the shipping industry take concerning the deployment of alternate fuels?
- How quickly will the offshore sector transition to embrace renewable energy production?
The only ‘constant’ in all of this activity is that ‘change’ is always with us. The world and our sector are reaching a key moment in history and it will be fascinating to see how events unfold over the coming years and decades.