Shake-up brings benefits for ports

Fostering a 'comfortable relationship' with port insureds is still critical Fostering a 'comfortable relationship' with port insureds is still critical
Industry Database

RaetsMarine talks to James Brewer following the company's takeover by Lloyd's group Amlin

Attention is focusing on the changing world of ports and terminals in the small to medium-size bracket after one of their main liability providers, RaetsMarine, was acquired by Amlin, a leading force in the Lloyd’s market and which has in recent years expanded its network considerably beyond the traditional London Lime Street beat.

The links were already close: Amlin, which has a share in the insurance cover of several of the major ports groups, has underwritten most of the RaetsMarine business for the last 10 years.

With the respected RaetsMarine brand thus strengthened, the Rotterdam-based company will be able to build on its portfolio which already has a good mix of bulk, dry, liquid and container terminals, and a developing position in relation to Benelux inland terminals.

This is an opportune moment to take a reading of the small to medium ports sector. Client choice of an insurer is often in the first instance “all driven by the price” says RaetsMarine senior underwriter for multimodal, ports and logistics business Eric Buur, but fostering a comfortable relationship is still critical. Mr Buur says that his company’s policy of extending assistance on such matters as developing bills of lading and contract advice has helped keep its renewal retention rate high. “We do not lose clients because of the quality of our product… if we lose them it is usually because they are being absorbed by larger groups,” he said in a reference to industry consolidation and cost saving measures in these hard times.

In contrast to the standard terms advanced by some of the large brokers, RaetsMarine relies on its own policy wording. “With our multimodal product, we can offer a tailor-made wording,” says Mr Buur. This is superior too, he argues, to the ways of competing local underwriters geographically close to their target ports, many of whom offer what amounts merely to an extended liability product, without recognition of the peculiar needs of the ports industry or the individual clients.

In a reflection of the commercial interconnectedness of today’s marine trading, there is growing emphasis on the term multimodal, and it is a key to the RaetsMarine strategy. Its liability products span ports, freight forwarders, ship agents, non-vessel operating common carriers, but also ship owners and clients involved in chartering vessels. Such businesses often have a crossover to more than one other of these camps.

Exemplifying this, a comprehensive marine traders’ insurance product was launched recently, designed for clients who charter vessels to trade cargo and who may be involved at the same time in stevedoring or owning a terminal. Charterers’ liability to the cargo normally ends as soon as the vessel has safely arrived and the vessel is unloaded, but if they are involved in the whole logistics chain they have a need for ongoing cover.

Package insurance of that kind might include complete liability including cargo owners’ legal liability, a full cargo section and a full legal defence section. Property cover is meanwhile available for items including cargo handling equipment, although not for the larger fixed elements such as warehouses.

All this is an impressive range for a business which joined the ranks of port cover providers only in 2006, having built its reputation since being established in 1993 on a core line of fixed premium protection and indemnity. The company’s ports and terminals product now goes way beyond the basics of cover, and is accompanied by facilities such as professional liability cover to individuals including harbour pilots and ship agents.

Surprisingly, there has been a trend for some brokers to seek underwriter quotes on the vaguest of indications about an insured, but Mr Buur insists: “We need a substantial amount of information from the prospect, to understand their activities and their capacities, but as soon as we have that picture clear we can offer a tailor-made solution.”

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