Paul Jennings, Chief Executive of North P&I and Chairman of the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs (IG), has issued a New Year’s message reflecting on the highly demanding claims scenario that faces the sector, at the same time reiterating his belief that the IG’s pooling system remains ‘robust and resilient to meet the challenges head-on’.
“In an era of unprecedented disruption, the recent rise in global demand for shipping linked to the success of COVID-19 vaccination programmes and the subsequent easing of border restrictions gave the industry cause for cautious optimism,” writes Mr Jennings. “Yet the resumption of more usual trade patterns also resulted in a surge of COVID-related crew claims, compounding rapidly rising IG pool claim costs to set the scene for one of the most challenging periods in P&I sector history.
“In fact, S&P Global has placed eight of the IG’s 13 clubs on a negative outlook. While North retains S&P ‘AAA’ capital coverage, and our well-diversified investment portfolio continues to yield positive returns, there remains a clear need for the Club and our fellow IG peers to take decisive action in addressing these prevailing trends.
“Accordingly, I believe the recently announced premium increases across the P&I sector for the 2022/23 policy year, including North’s own 15% uplift, to be an appropriate and proportionate response – and one that is aligned with our own principles of promoting fair and equitable mutuality within the sector.
“With the full impact of the latest Omicron COVID-19 variant as yet unclear, shipping is one of many sectors facing uncertainty. It is, therefore, even more crucial that owners can rely on the backing of a stable, sustainable P&I system when shipping operations return to normal. Just as shipowners understand the importance of such a system, P&I providers appreciate the vital contribution members make to its maintenance and recognise their right to demand and expect the highest levels of value and support from their club.
“At North, we strive to deliver on these demands through our global marine insurance activities, technological innovation and shared expertise. In the latest demonstration of this approach, we have recently initiated a long-term enhancement to the data services for our dynamic maritime intelligence platform, MyGlobeView.
“MyGlobeView offers port index information, sanctions updates and weather reports to allow shipowners to plan their operations as safely and efficiently as possible. It also includes the award-winning COVID-19 Tracking Tool, which we launched in response to the emerging pandemic crisis in early 2020 and shared with the IG – making the application’s coronavirus-related insights available to members of any P&I club.
“In addition to supporting safe and efficient shipping operations through our maritime intelligence platform, we are committed to promoting and improving sustainability across our own operations and among our Members and Clients. While ‘sustainability’ in a maritime context often refers to environmental matters, our definition of the term is broader, comprising ecological, social and performance-related aspects.
“The recently published North Group Impact Report details our recent progress in these three areas, pointing to the establishment of a Navigating Decarbonisation working group and our Mind Matters programme for seafarer welfare and other sustainability-focused initiatives. In addition, the Report also highlights our performance in the most recent customer satisfaction survey and sets out our sustainability targets for 2030, for which work is well underway.
“As we move forward into 2022, we at North would like to reiterate our appreciation for the shipowners whose support, guidance and investment help keep the mutual P&I system in operation. Members and Clients can rest assured that we will continue striving to provide outstanding and responsive global service – and allow them to trade with absolute confidence regardless of what 2022 may bring.”