Category Archives: Marine

Tianjin Anniversary: Better Modeling Benefits Insurers

As we approach the one year anniversary of the explosions at the Port of Tianjin, China, a new report finds that a port’s size and its catastrophe loss potential are not strongly correlated.

Based on the 1-in-500 year estimated catastrophe loss for earthquake, wind and storm surge perils, the surprising analysis by catastrophe modeler RMS, shows that it’s not just the biggest container hubs around the world that have a high risk of insurance loss.

For example, smaller ports such as the U.S. ports of Plaquemines, Louisiana, and Pascagoula, Mississippi, as well as Bremerhaven, Germany rank among the top 10 ports at highest risk of marine cargo loss.

Chris Folkman, director, product management at RMS, said:

“While China may be king for volume of container traffic, our study found that many smaller U.S. ports rank more highly for risk — largely due to hurricanes. Our analysis proves what we’ve long suspected — that outdated techniques and incomplete data have obscured many high-risk locations.”

RMS’ analysis shows the riskiest two ports are in Japan (Nagoya – $2.3 billion) and China (Guangzhou – $2 billion), and that six of the top 10 riskiest ports are in the U.S., with the remaining two in Europe (see chart below).

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The findings come after four years of marine catastrophes which have generated billions of dollars in marine insurance losses: 2015 Tianjin explosion (more than $3 billion); 2012 Superstorm Sandy (est. $3 billion marine loss, of which approximately $2 billion cargo loss); and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

The Tianjin loss ranks among the largest man-made insured global loss events in history, with an estimated total insured property loss of up to $3.5 billion.

To conduct its analysis RMS marine risk experts used the new RMS marine cargo model, which takes into account cargo type, precise storage location, storage type, and dwell time to determine port exposure and accumulations.

RMS suggests that better data and modeling are key for more effective portfolio management and underwriting.

Check out Insurance Information Institute facts and statistics on man-made disasters here.

IoT and Piracy Increase Risks to Shipping

A hacker causes an oil platform located off the coast of Africa to tilt to one side, forcing it to temporarily shut down. A port’s cyber systems are infiltrated by hackers to locate specific containers loaded with illegal drugs and remove them undetected.

These are just a few of the cyber attacks on the shipping industry reported to date, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) fourth annual Safety and Shipping Review 2016.

But such attacks are often under-reported as companies opt to deal with breaches internally for fear of worrying stakeholders, AGCS notes.

“When reports of attacks do surface, details are usually vague, making it extremely difficult to gauge the headway the industry has made in strengthening online security.”

The shipping industry’s reliance on interconnected technology also poses risks. Cyber risk exposure is growing beyond data loss.

Technological advances including the Internet of Things (IoT) and electronic navigation means the industry may have less than five years to prepare for the risk of a vessel loss, AGCS warns.

There has already been one known incidence of Somali pirates having infiltrated a shipping company’s systems to identify vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden with valuable cargoes and minimal on-board security, leading to the hijacking of a vessel.

In the words of Captain Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant AGCS:

“Pirates are already abusing holes in cyber security to target the theft of specific cargoes. The cyber impact cannot be overstated. The simple fact is you can’t hack a sextant.”

The industry needs more robust cyber technology in order to monitor the movement of stolen cargoes, according to Kinsey.

For the first time in five years piracy attacks at sea failed to decline in 2015. International Maritime Bureau statistics show there were 246 piracy attacks worldwide in 2015, up from 245 in 2014.

Attacks in South East Asia continue to increase, with the region accounting for 60 percent of global incidents and Vietnam a new hotspot, AGCS reports.

The Insurance Information Institute offers facts and statistics on marine accidents here.

Marine, Transport Risks of Refugee Crisis

As European governments approved a controversial plan to share 120,000 refugees between most of the European Union countries, there’s an important insurance story playing out amid the ongoing flow of thousands of refugees into Europe.

The risk management challenges and costs for freight transporters, haulers and shipowners arising from the refugee crisis are outlined in a recent Business Insurance article.

It reports that with thousands of refugees attempting to board trains and trucks heading for the United Kingdom at the French port of Calais this has caused problems for companies transporting goods.

Some of the risks they face include potential loss of earnings due to delays at ports, risk of damage to goods, fines for illegally transporting refugees if they board trucks undetected as well as driver safety.

Shipowners must also have emergency procedures in place to help their crews deal with situations given their legal and moral obligation to help ships in distress, Business Insurance notes.

A Reuters report suggests that more and more commercial ships are being drawn in to rescue refugees from unsafe and overloaded vessels in the Mediterranean:

Since January 2014, more than 1,000 merchant ships have helped rescue more than 65,000 people, according to estimates from the International Chamber of Shipping. That’s more than one in 10 of the estimated 585,000 migrants and refugees who crossed the Mediterranean over the period.”

Some of the merchant ships’ risks are covered by insurance, Reuters says.

Mutual marine insurers, also known as P&I clubs, provide cover for a wide range of liabilities including crew injury, pollution and cargo loss and damage.

So, if a refugee attacks and injures a crew member or breaks into a container and damages cargo, insurance would cover the shipowner.

But because rescue operations can take ships off course into uncharted waters, Reuters reports that other risks including fines for late arrival or the cost of chartering another vessel at short notice may not be covered.

Uncertainties also surround liability in the case of death or injury of a refugee while being rescued by a ship’s crew.

In June the Maritime Safety Committee (part of the International Maritime Organization) agreed that there was an urgent need for the international community to make greater efforts to address the problem through safer and more regular migration pathways, and to take action against criminal smugglers.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on marine accidents here.

West Coast Ports Dispute and Supply Chain Risk

A protracted labor dispute that continues to disrupt operations at U.S. West coast ports underscores the supply chain risk facing global businesses.

Disruptions have steadily worsened since October, culminating in a partial shutdown of all 29 West coast ports over the holiday weekend.

The Wall Street Journal  reports that operations to load and unload cargo vessels resumed Tuesday as Labor Secretary Tom Perez  met with both sides in the labor dispute  in an attempt  to  broker a settlement amid growing concerns over the  impact on the economy.

More than 40 percent of all cargo shipped into the U.S. comes through these ports, so the dispute has potential knock on effects for many businesses.

A number of companies have already taken steps to mitigate the supply chain threat, according to reports. For example, Japanese car manufacturer Honda Motor Co, among others, has been using air freighters to transport some  key parts from Asia to their U.S. factories — at significant extra expense.

On Sunday Honda also said it would have to slow production for a week at U.S.-based plants in Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario, Canada, as parts it ships from Asia have been held up by the dispute.

Toyota Motor Corp. has also reduced overtime at some U.S. manufacturing plants as a result of the dispute.

A brief published by Marsh last year noted that a West Coast port strike or shutdown could have broad consequences for global trade, business and economic conditions.

Organizations with effective risk management and insurance strategies in place will be best prepared to manage and respond to situations that hamper their flow of goods and finances, Marsh noted.

In 2002, a similar labor dispute ultimately led to the shutdown of ports along the West coast costing the U.S. economy around $1 billion each day, and creating a backlog that took six months to clear.

Many businesses purchase marine cargo insurance to protect against physical loss or damage to cargo during transit. This type of insurance generally will not respond in the event that a strike or other disruption at a port delays the arrival of insured cargo, unless there is actual physical damage to the cargo, according to Marsh.

However, some policyholders may have obtained endorsements to their insurance policies, or purchased additional coverage to protect themselves from the effects of port disruption.

Trade disruption insurance (TDI), supply chain insurance, and specialty business interruption insurance may also provide coverage for the financial consequences of a port disruption, Marsh wrote.

A study by FM Global of more than 600 financial executives found that supply chain risk, more than any other, was regarded as having the greatest potential to disrupt their top revenue driver. FM Global’s Resilience Index can help executives evaluate and manage supply chain risk.

For Sale: Titanic Insurance Claim

We’re visiting the United Kingdom this week, so it’s appropriate we bring you a British themed news item.

An unpublished and original insurance claim for the loss of the Titanic will come under the hammer this Saturday at Aldridge’s auction house in Devizes, Wiltshire. The document is expected to fetch more than  £12,000 ($20,185).

It’s  more than  100 years since the RMS Titanic, a luxury British passenger liner, sank in the North Atlantic ocean on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City.

She carried 2,224 passengers and crew, but had lifeboats for only 1,178 people. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster.

The 4-page insurance document up for sale was prepared for insurance purposes and written by second officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior officer to survive the Titanic disaster. It was certified and signed by the Titanic’s second, third, fourth and fifth officers on April 19, 1912.

In what appears to be an attempt to avoid the insurers accusing the ship’s crew of negligence, the certified claim includes an interesting and sometimes curious account of the disaster:

The ship sank in very deep water and proved a total loss, with cargo, luggage, personal effects and mails.†

As to the actions on the bridge, the document states:

†¦the first officer immediately starboarded the helm reversed the engines full and closed all watertight doors. The ship swung to port, but struck a “growler† or small low-lying iceberg†¦Ã¢â‚¬ 

In the words of the auctioneers, it’s fascinating that the officers would seem to attempt to minimize their encounter with the rather large and ominous iceberg by describing it as a “small low-lying iceberg.† This could possibly have been an attempt to downplay the size of the iceberg due to the question of liability and who was to blame for the sinking.

As the Western Daily Press reports, the strategy worked. Insurers paid out  £3 million ($5.1 million) within 30 days – crucially before a major inquiry revealed the catalogue of mishaps that led to the sinking.

The lot is one of 200 Titanic collectables included in the auction, which is to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the loss of the ship.

Atlantic Mutual, then the largest marine and general insurance firm in North America, was one of the major insurers of Titanic, providing the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co, Ltd (Titanic’s parent company) with what is believed to be more coverage for the ship than any of the many other single carriers which were part of Titanic’s insurance consortium.

Numerous Lloyd’s syndicates put their names on the insurance slip to cover the Titanic which was considered a prestigious risk to insure. More on how the disaster remains strongly linked to the history of the Lloyd’s market here.

The insurance policy was sold in an October 2013 auction.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on marine accidents.

AIMU Calls on Marine Insurers to Leverage Cat Modeling

The insurance marketplace as a whole could benefit greatly if marine insurers would incorporate more catastrophe modeling in their pricing and profiling of risk accumulations, according to American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU) chairman Roger F. Ablett.

Speaking at the 115th AIMU annual meeting held in New York City late last week, Ablett noted that in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy there had been a call for marine underwriters to make greater use of cat modeling in their risk analysis.

Despite the shortcomings in modeling hull and cargo risks which are transient, as opposed to property risks which are static, Ablett told the gathering:

It is well known that the marketplace as a whole could benefit greatly if marine insurers would incorporate more modeling schemes in their pricing and the profiling of accumulations.†

Some 15 percent of Superstorm Sandy’s total estimated insured loss of $19 billion was marine-related.

The marine loss of $3 billion exceeded the total amount of U.S. marine insurance premiums collected last year, Ablett said.

The two marine lines most affected by Sandy were cargo and yachts.

Cargo recorded a combined ratio of 131 percent in 2012, up from 88 percent in 2011.

The combined ratio for yachts was 135 percent in 2012, some 40 points higher than the prior year.

AIMU’s annual survey of its members also reported direct written premiums of $2.2 billion in 2012, with a combined ratio of 115 percent.

That represents a slight drop in premiums from 2011, while the combined ratio deteriorated from just over 90 percent.

Marine Insurers Feel the Impact of Sandy too

As we look ahead to the start of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season marine insurers are among those that will be closely monitoring forecast storm activity.

Annual spring statistics recently released by the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) noted that the cost of Superstorm Sandy to the global marine market has been put at between $2.5 billion to $3 billion – effectively wiping out the entire U.S. marine premiums for 2012.

The statistics which cover the cargo, ocean hull and offshore energy sectors remain a litmus test for the marine insurance market and the impact of Sandy will define 2012 in the eyes of underwriters, IUMI said.

While Superstorm Sandy’s main areas of impact were the states of New York and New Jersey, it was one of the largest storms ever and its impact stretched over 1,000 miles from the Great Lakes to Boston.

In its  analysis of the cargo market, IUMI noted:

The total insured loss from Sandy is currently estimated to be between $25 billion-$30 billion of which approximately 10 percent or $2.5 billion-$3 billion is for the marine business.

It’s still unclear how much of that was for ocean cargo, but we do know that major industry groups such as automotive, coffee/cocoa trade and fine arts were particularly hard hit. There is also a substantial inland marine loss.

To put the claim in perspective this one loss has eroded an entire years worth of premium for the whole U.S. marine market.†

Insurance Journal has more on this story here.

Lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy are among the topics to be addressed at the 20th Biennial Marine Insurance Issues Seminar sponsored by the American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU) on May 8 in New York City. The conference will be held at the New York Marriott Downtown, 85 West St.

To register for the seminar or for further information click here.

Maritime Piracy Falls, But Dangers Remain

Piracy on the world’s seas has reached a five-year low, with 297 ships attacked in 2012, compared with 439 in 2011, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) global piracy report revealed today.

Worldwide  numbers  fell  thanks to a huge reduction in Somali piracy, though East and West Africa remain the worst hit areas, with 150 attacks in 2012, according to the IMB report.

Globally, 174 ships were boarded by pirates last year, while 28 were hijacked and 28 were fired upon. IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre also recorded 67 attempted attacks.

The number of people taken hostage onboard fell to 585 from 802 in 2011, while a further 26 were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria. Six crewmembers were killed and 32 were injured or assaulted.

A press release cites Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB:

IMB’s piracy figures show a welcome reduction in hijackings and attacks to ships. But crews must remain vigilant, particularly in the highly dangerous waters off East and West Africa.†

In Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, just 75 ships reported attacks in 2012 compared with 237 in 2011, accounting for 25% of incidents worldwide. The number of Somali hijackings was halved from 28 in 2011 to 14 last year.

IMB says navies are deterring piracy off Africa’s east coast, with pre-emptive strikes and robust action against mother ships. So too are private armed security teams and crews’ application of “Best Management Practices†.

But the threat and capability of heavily armed Somali pirates remains strong.

Follow the IMB record of piracy and armed robbery incidents on Twitter and view latest attacks on the IMB Live Piracy Map.

The Washington Post has more on this story.

IUMI President: Marine Insurers Face Bleak Present

The marine insurance industry is facing a bleak present as it seems to be unable to adapt to a changing business environment amid ongoing economic uncertainty, an international gathering of marine insurers was told.

In a keynote address  to the annual conference of the International Union of Marine Insurers (IUMI) in San Diego, IUMI president Ole Wikborg noted that some marine underwriting entities – both old and new – were facing downgrades, and even closures, as a result of prevailing economic uncertainty.

What continues to surprise me is that with one gone, new capacity quickly fills the vacant spot with a business model not very much different from the one that had to quit. In our practical day-to-day dealings, it may be argued that our business models are not very innovative.†

This lack of innovation may be a result of marine insurers’ inability to renew a business model that is out of touch with the needs and requirements of the client base, Wikborg said.

He went on to suggest that the marine insurance industry may be unable to build and maintain a sustainable business activity through continuous profitmaking and service delivery because underwriters are disobeying the undeniable truths of their past performance.

I know it’s a hackneyed phrase, but its bottom line growth and not top line premium production inflation we need.†

Wikborg also pointed to the short-term view of some investors in the marine insurance industry:

Maybe our industry is dominated by shareholders who have no basic knowledge of the marine insurance business and its volatility, – with a short term investment philosophy and no ability nor interest in staying put when times are tough.†

New and stricter regulation was another concern for the industry:

Maybe our regulators are to be blamed for not understanding the marine insurance business model, its global reach and special requirements.†

Marine Risks 100 Years After Titanic

Despite a trebling of the global commercial shipping fleet in the 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic, overall shipping loss rates declined from one ship per 100 per year in 1912 to one ship per 670 per year in 2009.

This telling statistic comes in a new report from specialist marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

The report reveals that while marine safety has vastly improved in the century since the Titanic, the maritime industry now faces new risks driven by the continued growth in world shipping.

Human error risks and the growing trend to super size ships are among the next challenges facing the industry, AGCS says.

Human error is described as the weakest link in the system.

Over 75 percent of marine losses can be attributed to a wide range of human error factors, including fatigue, inadequate risk management and competitive pressures, as well as potential deficiencies in training and crewing levels.

AGCS says:

As technological improvements reduce risk, so does the weakest link in the system – the human factor – become more important. This is where the industry should focus most closely, so that best practice risk management and a culture of safety becomes second nature across the world fleet.†

Other significant safety risks include: increasing bureaucracy on board ships; the continued threat of piracy off Somalia and elsewhere; and the emergence of ice shipping and its associated navigational and environmental complications.

Still, shipping disasters tend to spur marine safety improvements and Costa Concordia is certain to be no different, the report says.

Another key takeaway from AGCS’s research on safety and shipping from 1912-2012:

Marine transport is one of the safest means of passenger transport overall with far lower fatal accident rates than car, motorcycle, bicycle or walking in Europe.

Business Insurance has more on this story.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on marine accidents.