State of Ocean Marine Market: Flat to ‘Slightly Off’

The U.S. Ocean-Marine insurance market is “certainly not hard,” says Bob Gallagher, president of International Marine Underwriters, part of the OneBeacon Insurance Group. He says the market is flat to “slightly off.”

“New conditions are not tightening,” Gallagher adds, and new competition from overseas is adding capacity to an already capacity-drenched insurance sector.

Rate increases are “spotty,” with corrections to insureds with bad records or those that have experienced loss, such as marinas affected by the severe weather seen in the United States in 2011, he adds.

Economic conditions have led to a drop in the amount being shipped. “Values are down,” says Gallagher.

These circumstances have led insurers to become creative, he adds: “You have to be innovative in order to grow—broaden coverage with companion policies, like auto.”

Coverage for yachts, specifically, has taken a downturn, as fewer people can afford them and credit to finance them is hard to come by.

Internationally, Donald Harrell, senior vice president of marine for Liberty International Underwriters, says prices are stable, with some slight increases: “The impacts of [natural catastrophes such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan] have yet to show impacts in [carriers’] balance sheets.”

Nigel Fitzgerald, marine and energy practice leader for Crum & Forster, says the market is “inconsistent.” C&F has been focused on “segments within segments” of the market.

“We’re not trying to be everything to everybody,” he adds.

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