Top 10 in marine insurance 2022
Most classes are hardening after years — and sometimes decades — in the doldrums; most underwriters are even making money again
Marine insurance has been well to the fore in 2022, providing war risk cover for both ships and cargo carrying vitally needed grain from Ukraine to markets in the developing world, as well as day-in, day-out P&I and H&M policies
01 / Chris McGill, Ascot
Chris McGill is head of marine cargo at Ascot Group, where he has worked since 2007, and is active underwriter for syndicate 1796.
He was in the headlines in 2022 after Ascot, together with leading broker Marsh, launched a $50m marine cargo and war risk facility designed to cover the continued export of grain from Ukraine despite the Russian invasion of that country.
The initiative was a vital lifeline for millions of people in North Africa and the Middle East who depend on Ukrainian grain as a staple foodstuff.
Mr McGill’s LinkedIn profile offers an obvious clue to his interests outside work, highlighting his level three advanced certificate in wine tasting from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Grade: distinction.
02 / Frédéric Denèfle, IUMI/Garex
The International Union of Marine Insurance elected a new president at its conference in Chicago in September 2022, with the job going to French war risk underwriter Frédéric Denèfle.
Mr Denèfle started his career on the legal side of claims handling, first with Paris-based Reunion Européenne — now subsumed into AXA — and then with Cesam, an organisation that handles big claims for the French market.
He joined AGF MAT/Allianz Group in 1998 and worked there until 2012.
In 2013, Mr Denèfle started a new role at Garex to become managing director of underwriting of marine war insurance in Paris.
The company acts as a war risk pooling arrangement for eight European insurers and is certainly the dominant player in France, with $200m capacity for hull and $50m for cargo. It also partners with other war risk reinsurers.
03 / Song Chunfeng, China Shipowners Mutual Assurance Association
Song Chunfeng wears many hats in addition to being the managing director of China Shipowners Manual Assurance Association, known as China P&I Club.
These include being a member of the Shipping Economics Review Committee of Asian Shipowners’ Association and a board director of Steamship Mutual.
Under his leadership, the club — a dominant player in China’s P&I insurance market and a major domestic hull insurance provider — has won its first international credit ratings in 2022 from AM Best.
The agency has assigned a financial strength rating of A- and a long-term issuer credit rating of ‘a-’ to reflect the Chinese association’s strong balance sheet and adequate operating performance.
It said China P&I’s risk-adjusted capitalisation was assessed as being at the strongest level, as of year-end 2021, and expected to remain so over the short to middle term, underpinned by continued growth through full earnings retention and a low underwriting leverage.
While its current portfolio focuses heavily on Chinese-owned vessels in domestic markets, the club is said to be looking at opportunities in overseas markets such as Southeast Asia to diversify its member base.
Mr Song holds a doctoral degree in Chinese civil and commercial laws from Peking University and a practising certificate in China.
04 / Dorothea Ioannou, The American Club
It has taken until 2022 for an International Group P&I club to appoint a woman chief executive, with Dorothea Ioannou taking over at Shipowners’ Claims Bureau, manager of The American Club.
Ms Ioannou is a lawyer by training, practising in Greece and New York. She is also a previous head of the claims and legal department at Allied Insurance Brokers.
She has taken on a tough job. The American Club is one of the smallest in the International Group and, in 2021, it was forced to levy supplementary calls on its members.
In an interview with Lloyd’s List to mark her promotion, Ms Ioannou promised to adopt a no-nonsense approach.
“I do believe in being very straightforward and transparent. I was always like that,” she said.
“I am not saying you should come out with all guns blazing; but I think it’s important to be ready to resolve issues and you need to be direct.”
05 / Louise Nevill, Marsh JLT Specialty
Career marine underwriter Louise Nevill has been chief executive, marine and cargo at Marsh JLT Specialty UK — one of the world’s largest marine brokers — since the start of 2020.
Her wide-ranging CV saw her start as an assistant marine underwriter at Markel after graduation in 1996, since when she has also worked as head of marine at Talbot, director underwriting at W/R/B and, latterly, vice-president underwriting at Gard, prior to her current role.
06 / Nick Shaw, International Group
It has been a good year for the International Group, with — at least at the time of writing — only one pool claim two thirds of the way through the policy year, after two successive years of record payouts.
However, the reported $200m-plus deterioration in prior policy years will no doubt be cause for concern.
The pool scheme is the ultimate backstop for the major casualties that are unfortunately an unavoidable part of shipping life, which gives the IG an obviously crucial role.
The influential trade association is headed by Nick Shaw, a British lawyer who previously worked for Reed Smith. He has been in post since 2019.
07 / Paul Jennings and Jeremy Grose, NorthStandard
North Group and Standard Club will merge in February 2023 to form what is expected to become the world’s largest P&I club.
NorthStandard, as it will be branded, will have a slightly larger market share than Gard, the current leader.
The new entity will be jointly led by North’s Paul Jennings and Standard’s Jeremy Grose.
Mr Jennings graduated in law in 1984 and took a job with the Newcastle P&I Club, which merged with North in 1998. He became North’s chief executive in 2018 and is also outgoing chair of the International Group.
Mr Grose is also a law graduate, joining Standard Club’s manager Charles Taylor in 1991 as a claims executive, rising up the ranks to become chief executive in 2014.
08 / Clive Washbourn, Navium
Legendary marine insurer Clive Washbourn was asked why he launched his own firm, Navium Marine, in May 2021.
“Two words come to mind,” he replied. “One is ego and the other is latent ambition.”
That’s three words, actually. Yet Mr Washbourn’s standing in the sector is such that few would quibble. Other underwriters speak of him in hushed tones of admiration.
Mr Washbourn previously led a marine-based account at Beazley’s Lloyd’s syndicate 623 from December 1998, leaving in 2019 for unspecified personal reasons.
Before that, he had been active underwriter at ACE’s syndicate 375.
In his spare time, he is a horse-racing enthusiast and is a former racehorse owner.
09 / Ju-Ann Lee, Berkley Insurance Asia
Based in Singapore, Ju-Ann Lee heads the marine desk of Berkley Insurance Asia, providing coverage not only for cargo and hull but also marine liabilities.
She leads a team from two offices, one in Singapore where she resides, and another in Hong Kong.
Her more than two-decades-long experience as an underwriter, primarily in Asian and Middle East markets, has helped ensure the competence of her current employer of being a specialist in its region.
Before moving to her current position in 2016, Ms Lee was in charge of the Southeast Asia commercial lines team at Chubb, overseeing property and casualty as well its marine practice. She started her career at ACE Insurance.
Ms Lee has a B.Bus (Insurance) degree from Nanyang Technological University and is a chartered insurer of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
10 / Bjørnar Andresen, Gard
Gard is currently the world’s biggest P&I club, but it might not be for much longer. The impending merger of Britain’s North and Standard in February 2023 will create what will be a new standard-bearer for the niche.
However, the Norwegian marine mutual also accounts for around one-third of the Nordic hull market — now established as the world’s largest, thanks to the decline of Lloyd’s.
Gard’s P&I cover is, of course, provided on a not-for-profit basis, but Gard Marine & Energy is a fully commercial concern, with profits subsidising the mutual members.
As chief underwriting officer for both books, Bjørnar Andresen wields a considerable degree of clout in both sectors.
Mr Andresen served in the Norwegian navy between 1985 and 1999; he joined his current employer in 2010.
The Top 10 in marine insurance list is collated by the Lloyd’s List editorial team and considers a mixture of traditional power-brokers in an insular niche, as well as those doing noteworthy things within it