IUMI 2020 – Direct impact of Covid on claims not yet too great, but secondary impact needs watching

In his summary of the impact of Covid-19 on the marine insurance sector, and in an assessment of the overall market, Rolf Thore Roppestad, CEO of Norwegian marine insurer Gard AS, said on the opening day of IUMI 2020 that there had already been geopolitical changes in progress pre Covid-19 that had impacted the marine insurance sector. Shipping and marine insurers were being put under more pressure by society and authorities. Speaking as part of the President’s Workshop, Roppestad thought that this was “generally for the good”.

He said that Covid-19 had brought in a sequence of complex challenges that the industry, society and governments were still trying to overcome. Claims that were a direct response to Covid-19 included, in the cruise sector, passengers who had contracted the virus on board ship, the cost of disinfecting vessels (“greater than you might think”, he said), deviations, and the cost of crew that become infected. There had also been a number of legal disputes. Many of these claims were yet to mature.

However, it was the indirect costs that might turn out to be more significant, warned Roppestad.

In what he referred to as “the crew dilemma”, Roppestad joined the chorus calling for greater cooperation from governments in enabling the changing of crew. He warned that extended contracts meant fatigue and ill health, which in turn could lead to a greater risk of accidents.  “Our entire industry relies on the movement of personnel”, Thore Roppestad said, adding that “this is very much about human beings. A global solution is needed”.