Insurers reports continued increase in frequency of major vessel casualties

Statistics released by the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) raise a series of issues that will continue to challenge the marine industry for the foreseeable future.
The frequency of major vessel casualties rose again in 2016 for the second consecutive year. They had enjoyed a year-on-year decline until 2015 when they recorded a sharp upturn, which was continued in 2016. The statistics now top over 1000 cases a year, higher than the previous peak in 2007.
Commenting on the issues raised, Donald Harrell, Chairman of IUMI’s Facts & Figures committee said: “Marine risks continue to grow both in size and complexity and it is vital that underwriters fully understand the potential losses that they are being asked to insure. It is gratifying to see the year-on-year decrease in total losses, but we must take particular notice of the recent increase in major casualties and the reasons for this. (…) The disaster in the port of Tianjin in 2015 serves as a reminder of the growing accumulation risk that continues to dog our sector and one that will only intensify over the coming years."
Commenting on the statistics, Belgian maritime insurers confirm these global trends in their portfolios. Experts Staes and Poels-Ryckeboer especially point to the human factor. “Despites the technological progress, human errors are far from eliminated in shipping, as some recent accidents evidence. It is difficult to explain to people outside the industry how ships collisions can happen in open sea, but they still happen. Focus on people and education is certainly a part of the answer."