Mining Industry Seeing More Transparency, ERM Practice

NU Online News Service, Feb. 29, 4:03 p.m. EST

ST. LOUIS—Mining is viewed as a high-risk industry, but mining in North America is safer than some other industries, such as agriculture and lumber, in terms of the number of claims, according to experts.

The biggest challenge in the industry for underwriters is a lack of understanding of the true exposures, says Chandler Cox, president and chief executive officer of American Mining Insurance Co.

Cox was one of several casualty underwriting experts speaking on a panel yesterday at the 2012 North American Mining Summit, hosted by Kansas City, Mo.-based insurance broker Lockton. The summit had 140 attendees representing 56 mining companies, according to Lockton.

William Rabl, chief operating officer with ACE Risk Management, notes that because exposures, including coal dust, are challenging, examining clients’ loss history and safety record is critical.

Robert Rheel, executive vice president, sales distribution and marketing with Aspen notes that a challenge in the industry is predictability. “Insurers look for this,” he says, pointing to large losses and black lung disease regulations.

Stephen Blankenship, assistant vice president, national mining practice leader at Chartis and Gregory Cropp, vice president, excess casualty with Zurich both stress the importance of insurers staying for the long haul. “We understand this is a commitment [we're making] to the mining industry,” Rheel says.

When reviewing an account, Cropp says he is looking at past losses and what is being done to tackle those issues.

Rheel says he looks for insight: “If underwriters are guessing, they go to the dark side and assume the worst. We look at what makes you different from the average [mining company].”

Rheel adds that he looks for enterprise risk management in a mining company, and whether it is part of the culture. Also important are safety and prevention measures and how the company demonstrates that it cares for its employees—including the attitude of human resources toward employees.

Rabl says that while he looks at a company’s structure, financial program, exposures and loss experience, what is most important is the company's safety culture.

Asked how risk managers can do a better job with submissions, Cox says that knowing employee concentrations is important. He also notes the value of getting data quickly from risk managers.

Rheel stresses the importance of getting to know the insurer’s claims people before a loss happens.

Rheel’s advice to risk managers:

• Choose a broker with expertise in the industry.

• Find out about the broker’s relationship with the insurer.

• Be “best in class,” or have a disadvantage with pricing.

• Establish global access with London and Bermuda markets. 

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