New horizons

Latest developments in marine insurance

Pirates and piracy are constantly making the news, yet in the South African market, the impact appears to be minimal. Most of South Africa’s trade moves are to and from Europe and America, which means few of our cargos pass the Arabian Gulf or Somalian coastline. Globally, there are piracy protection best practices and shipping lines are adopting these with increased success.

Given South Africa’s main trading partners (Europe and America) are slowing economies, exporters are looking for other markets away from our traditional ones. Importers are fighting against the weakening Rand … not a positive atmosphere, but not a new one either.

Membership of BRICS has yet to have an impact, but there is no doubt there will be increased trade and increased insurance requirements in the near future.

Globally, marine cargo insurance has been making money for decades, but the latest figures from the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) suggest that the trend is reversing. Much local capacity is putting pressure on pricing. Consolidation across marine insurers is likely and operations with little or no technical expertise are unlikely to survive.

Technology trends in this sector

Clearly, IT has had a massive impact on the business; however, most marine IT systems are non-marine systems, where one-size-fits-all, beaten into submission hopefully to meet the needs of the misunderstood marine department.

This will inevitably lead to having to “patch as you go” and the problems compound as the business grows and the investment decision to replace with new IT becomes increasingly expensive and intimidating. Meanwhile, customer service will always be impacted.

The trick is to ensure that your system (like ours!) can deal comfortably with the basic functional nuts and bolts stuff, but also support your core business goals; and, even more importantly, can evolve with your needs easily and affordably.

Growing the business

At Horizon Marine, we pride ourselves on our levels of integrity, attention to detail and our commitment to matching the clients’ best interests. At the same time, we attempt to ensure that we don’t get involved in price wars – when fighting on price, it’s the end-user (the insured) who ultimately suffers.

Our supremely experienced team of Alan Cook, Paul March (previously FMA), Dave Keeling, Hugh and Ramona Murcell (previously UMS) believe that evaluating, pricing and tailoring cover appropriate to each client’s risk is what really counts.

If and when there is a claim, we act swiftly and with purpose to meet our obligations, working hand-in-hand with the broker at all times.

Local and global players

At the moment, there are a lot of players in the marine space, but how many of them are true specialists depends on your definition. Everyone has their views on this, but a critical one for us, at Horizon Marine, is the depth of experience which obviously only comes with time and exposure to the market.

On this basis, there is a serious shortage and we are devoting much effort – both in our own business and across the industry – to growing the specialists of the future as our brokers and clients will always need them.

Remaining competitive

Rather than compete on price, Horizon Marine focuses on service delivery and knows that this changes with time and is unique to each of our brokers and insureds.

Whether it’s the basics such as issuing documentation accurately on time, first time, or paying claims quickly and efficiently, we’ll continue to offer our clients solid, trustworthy, technical support for every aspect of their marine book – ensuring they’re not wasting their time, money or effort.

Horizon Marine is supported by Lombard Insurance, a dynamic and forward-thinking insurer that offers much more just a licence to underwrite.

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