Keeping it Simple
Companies to Watch - October 2011
Company: Shipowners’ North America Protection Ltd.
General manager, chief agent: Rosemary Adams
Year Founded: Bought by the Shipowners’ Protection and Indemnity Association (Luxembourg) in 2007
# of Employees: 5 in Canada, almost 100 worldwide
Public or Private: Managers of Mutual Insurer
Premiums in 2010: In Canada US$10 million, globally $196.8 million
Established over 150 years ago, the Shipowners’ Club is a mutual company that provides protection and indemnity (P&I) insurance for owners of small and specialized vessels through three locations: London, England, Singapore and Vancouver. Its head office for regulatory purposes is in Luxembourg. In 1998, the firm applied to become a direct party to the International Group Pooling Agreement and since February 1999 has been a full member of the Pool.
Reasons to Watch
The Shipowners’ Club recently introduced a simplified yacht liability policy. This new policy will provide members and brokers a simplified wording compared to the company’s current “rulebook” (policy wording), which was reduced from 45,000 words to 2,000. It can be offered to professionally-crewed luxury, super, mega, or giga yacht owners.
“The new wording will also appeal to non-professionally crewed private pleasure yachts should we expand into this market in certain areas of the world, including Canada,” says Rosemary Adams, general manager, chief agent of the company’s Vancouver location. “[It] was written to provide our current and future yacht members with more coverage and less exclusions than our current rulebook.”
The policy also includes uninsured or underinsured boaters’ risks, primary war P&I and a more relaxed stance on cover for yachts involved in racing.
“We want to give members an easy-to-read policy that provides the specialized coverages tailored to the members’ needs.”
The Shipowners’ Club recently obtained its Canadian insurer’s license through the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and is the only international group P&I club domiciled in Canada. Over the last year, the firm has become licensed in every province.
More recently, the Shipowners’ Club established branch offices in Singapore and Vancouver as part of the company’s 888 strategy. The company now has three locations that write policies and handle claims, each 8 hours apart from another; so at any given time, a member can call and talk to a live claims person or underwriter.
Additionally, the company had a combined loss ratio in 2010 of 85% with an investment return of US$27.6 million. Its gross premiums increased to US$196.8 million worldwide with total funds up 17% to US$430.7 million.
“We currently enjoy a contingency reserve of US$187.9 million,” says Adams.
The Shipowners’ Club specializes in insuring small tonnage and thus has experienced increased competition from the fixed limit marine marketplace in Canada. Due to high capacity, soft premium levels and increased broker competition, the marine insurance market is faced with the challenge of writing good profitable business at competitive terms and conditions, according to Adams.
“We try to overcome this challenge by doing what we do best—providing good claims service and coverage over and above what the fixed market can offer with higher liability limits,” says Adams.
She adds the rulebook has an omnibus rule, meaning that if a claim has been denied, a member can personally go to the board and ask that it be paid.
“This is something no other insurance company can offer because we’re a mutual and the board is made up of members,” says Adams. “We have a proactive claims attitude because we always look for ways to pay claims, not deny them.”
Due to the success of the new yacht liability policy, the Shipowners’ Club also plans to introduce its tour boat and fishing vessel policy wordings in the next year.
“We’re trying to give our members something short and to the point and not as lengthy as our rulebook,” says Adams. “Sometimes it’s confusing for a person who is not familiar with marine insurance to understand their coverage.”
She adds that brokers should also find it easier to explain the coverage to their clients.
Shipowners’ Club supports the Missions to Seafarer’s global organization.
Canadian Headquarters: 1157 – 409 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 1T2
Telephone: (604) 681-5999
Copyright 2011 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2011 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.