Insurers eye containership claims with dismay

November 10, 2021 Maritime Safety News

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The rising number of large insurance claims relating to container ship operation is of mounting concern both to hull underwriters and P&I clubs.

Paul Bartlett | Nov 02, 2021

The frequency and size of claims are both climbing, with more than 30 incidents requiring payouts from the 13-member International Group of P&I Clubs’ (IG) pooling arrangements since 2016. These cover claims between $10m and $100m.

In a presentation to the Insurance Institute of London last week, the Standard Club’s Deputy Director of Loss Prevention, Capt John Dolan, identified some of the worrying trends and revealed how they are being tackled. The rapid increase in ship size is a key factor across most risk sectors, with the largest containerships close to tripling in capacity this century.

This has affected the scale of claims in navigation and fixed and floating objects (FFO), he said, in which 18 claims totalling $687m have been handled in IG pool claims since 2016. Container ship fires came next in terms of quantum, with four claims totalling $486m.

The frequency of fires on board containerships resulting in claims of more than $500,000 has more than doubled since 2017, Dolan said, referring to figures from the Nordic Association of Marine Insurers (Cefor). The risks are, of course, far greater on large ships, he said, highlighting doubts shared by many that moves to provide greater fire-fighting capability would go far enough.