Expect more marine insurance M&A activity

Last week, the Propeller Club of New York and New Jersey hosted a presentation on marine insurance at its monthly meeting held at the American Institute of Marine Underwriters in New York.

Speakers from XL Catlin (a global insurance and reinsurance company providing property, casualty and specialty insurances), Water Quality Insurance Syndicate (WQIS) and Gard (one of the largest international protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs) covered a wide range of topics, all pointing towards ongoing changes in the business.

XL Catlin’s Virginia Cameron, senior vice president for blue water and inland marine insurance, offered an insightful look at the rationale and challenges of company mergers. Indeed, XL’s early 2015 acquisition of Catlin, reported to be worth $4.2 billion, is indicative of a larger trend. She told the attendees that “more M&A activity is on the way.” For buyers of insurance, she postulated that brokers’ mergers might reduce choices for buying maritime coverage. On the flip side, she presented the possibility that larger insurance carriers, with more capacity, might lead to reduced premiums. Among challenges arising from company mergers, Cameron identified integration of information systems, company cultures, and inconsistent appetites for different lines of business.

Andrew Garger, senior vice president and general counsel at WQIS, discussed a constantly changing set of laws and court decisions. He said that underwriters of marine risks must remain vigilant for changes to the legal landscape so they can appropriately price risk. Recent changes at WQIS, formed in 1971, include a foray into the business of underwriting COFRs for international shipping.

As he concluded his presentation, peppered with war stories about various claims that had been handled, Garger noted, “… new issues are constantly arising.”

About the author

Barry Parker

Barry Parker is a maritime consultant and writer. He covers shipping, energy and commodities, drawing on three decades of transactional and brokerage experience. His writing covers financing aspects of shipping and offshore, plus occasional technical or regulatory articles. His client work for ship owners, cargo interests and others includes project and market analysis, as well as commercial and operational guidance. He divides his time between midtown Manhattan and his home on Long Island Sound. He can be reached at bdp1@conconnect.com.

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