Archive for September, 2007

The annual gathering of the International Union of Marine Insurers (IUMI) took place in Copenhagen, Denmark this week. One of the featured speakers was I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig, who gave a presentation focused on issues relating to the global maritime industry. As well as marine insurance trends, such as premiums, pricing and underwriting performance, Dr. Hartwig spoke on the economic environment for marine insurers in the context of a relatively healthy global economy and a depreciating U.S. dollar. The important role China is likely to play as a trading partner in the 21st century was another focus of his discussion. Catastrophe loss activity, the energy market and terrorism and liability-related issues in the maritime sector were other topics of discussion. Access the full report on the I.I.I. Web site. 

On the sixth anniversary of September 11, we take a look at a timely new Marsh risk survey of Fortune 1000 companies. The survey findings offer us an insight into how board-level executives at these companies view international terrorism attacks among seven other risk scenarios, including natural disasters, rapidly rising oil prices and pandemics. While terrorism ranks second only to natural disasters in terms of the most likely crisis scenario to occur, just 38 percent of Fortune 1000 executives felt that international terrorist attacks were likely to occur in the next eight to 10 years. This compares with 65 percent who felt that natural disasters were the most likely to occur. At the same time, 39 percent said a terrorist attack would have a catastrophic impact on their business. When asked if they had taken steps to prepare, roughly four in 10 (44 percent) of those surveyed said their company has prepared for a terrorist attack, compared to 58 percent for natural disasters. On the flip side, very few executives believe it is likely that a housing market collapse, reduced access to water or a pandemic disease, will occur in the coming decade. Encouragingly, in the event of one or more of the eight crisis situations, 74 percent of those surveyed say their company has prepared a business continuity plan. Check out further I.I.I. terrorism risk information online.

Reports that four of the largest microwave popcorn manufacturers in the U.S. are working to remove the butter flavoring chemical diacetyl from their products due to health risks to workers is good news for everybody it appears. It’s been acknowledged for some time that a potentially significant exposure arises from factories packaging butter-flavored popcorn. Already a number of lawsuits have been pursued by workers at these factories due to alleged exposure to diacetyl. Further, various federal agencies have said they believe the butter-flavored chemical may result in bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn packers lung.” Now Dr. Cecile Rose, a pulmonary specialist at Denver’s National Jewish Medical and Research Center has written to federal agencies, saying that doctors believe they have identified the first case of a consumer who developed lung disease from the fumes of microwaving popcorn several times a day for years. The letter was first published by fellow blogger David Michaels, of the George Washington University School of Public Health on his public health policy blog (http://thepumphandle.wordpress.com). An emerging products liability exposure to keep our eye on.