People at IUMI: Keeley Wylie, CMBU President, member of IUMI’s Legal & Liability Committee and National Practice Leader for Marine in Canada, Liberty Mutual Canada

What is CBMU and what is its role within the Canadian marine insurance sector more broadly?

The Canadian Board of Marine Underwriters has been in existence since 1917 and its purpose is threefold: procure and disseminate information to the marine insurance community; facilitate the exchange of views and ideas to improve marine insurance; and promote and protect the interests of the underwriting community. The Board of Directors is made up of members from various insurance companies and there are five committees to help drive the goals of the CBMU. We host a variety of education sessions and two annual seminars, along with networking opportunities. Similar to everyone else, we are looking forward to getting back to in-person events!


What are the biggest challenges facing the maritime industry right now and what role, ideally, can marine insurance play to address those challenges?

The Canadian maritime industry’s biggest challenges are supply chain issues, ESG concerns, and claims inflation.  Canada has not been immune to the supply chain issues – there is greater congestion at and pressure on the major ports and some insureds who are importing goods are moving from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’ resulting in greater stock exposures.

From an environmental perspective, the maritime industry is a very efficient way to transport goods. As an example, a single Seaway-sized laker can carry about 30,000 tonnes of cargo. An equivalent amount of cargo on land would require a fleet of 963 large trucks or 301 rail cars. Having said that, vessel emissions accounted for about 3% of the global CO2 emissions. The maritime industry recognises that it can and should do more and is addressing the issue by using low sulphur fuels, installing scrubbers and exploring the use of alternative fuels.

Claims inflation is occurring across all lines of marine insurance – from the stock exposures increasing in warehouse, hull repair costs increasing due to labour and availability of parts and social inflation in settling liability claims.

The marine insurance industry plays a role in assisting insureds with all of these issues – our main goal is to help facilitate commerce and support our insureds in maintaining their operations when a claim occurs. The marine insurance industry is helping address these challenges by providing adequate capacity, establishing ESG practices that align with and support our insureds and guiding our insureds in claims handling to arrive at the most cost-effective solution for all parties.

What life events brought you to become involved in the maritime industry and more specifically what draws you to marine insurance?

Similar to many others in the industry, I fell into insurance and the marine insurance industry when I was job searching after graduating from university. I knew nothing about insurance or the maritime industry and I’ve had the benefit of learning from talented colleagues who’ve shared their knowledge and allowed me to build up my own pool of knowledge. Within the insurance industry in Canada, marine is a niche area, but in my, possibly biased opinion, one of the most interesting lines of business. Global trade relies on the maritime industry and working in marine insurance allows us to be play a part in all aspects of the maritime industry.


What in your nearly 20-years of experience is your proudest accomplishment?
One of my proudest accomplishments is becoming president of the CBMU. It’s slightly intimidating to take on given the very impressive individuals who have had the role prior to myself, but it’s a great opportunity to work more closely with others in the marine insurance industry and to give back to the industry.

What has caught the focus of your eye in the news this week or in recent weeks?
From a Canadian perspective, there was recently an unfortunate fire incident on a ferry on the East Coast that resulted in the evacuation of the passengers and crew. The good news was that there did not appear to be any serious injuries or loss of line. The crew assisted in getting all passengers off safely in a stressful situation.  To me this was just a reminder of the contribution our seafarers play. They spend weeks and months away from home working in a hazardous environment and make world trade possible. And should an accident occur at sea, they risk their life to protect others, the environment and property. We owe a lot to our seafarers and to show our appreciation the CBMU has been a long-time supporter of the Mission to Seafarers.

From an international perspective, the war in Ukraine is having devastating consequences for Ukrainian citizens. Others around the world are feeling the consequences too with high inflation and shortage of grain. The recent shipments of grain leaving the country is a positive development and the marine insurance industry is supporting the humanitarian efforts by stepping up to insure the hull and cargo despite the high war risk.


What are the biggest opportunities for marine insurance right now?
In my opinion, the two largest opportunities are the use of data and technology and diversity and inclusion in hiring practices. The use of data and technology is not a new concept, but I do think we have a way to go to efficiently use data and technology in assisting underwriters in making informed underwriting decisions and improving internal processes.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion practices when hiring talent is a key aspect to ensure retention and diverse thoughts within an organisation.