Marine insurance data and collaboration


The use of data and technology in the marine insurance industry has made great strides in the last decade. In an industry that is often portrayed as more comfortable with tradition than disruption, there has been a realization that the vast amount of information available has enormous value, if harnessed properly.

There are two key areas where North’s claims prevention department has really embraced the use of technology by partnering with innovative and forward-thinking companies.

The first relates to how, as an insurer, we can better assess the risk of the vessels we cover and any potential new business.

Traditionally, we used simple but effective metrics such as claims history and regulatory compliance (such as deficiencies in port state inspections and detentions) to help us assess the risk presented by a vessel, fleet or operator.

These remain excellent indicators and we continue to rely on them. But harnessing the vast amounts of maritime data available in real time can tell us more. For example, AIS data, which tracks vessels around the world, when combined with casualty and claims data, can identify the highest risk trades and operations.

So we have partnered with Concirrus to develop an analytics tool that not only collects this data, but also makes sense of it.

So instead of basing our risk assessment solely on a small number of performance indicators, our analysis tool now has the ability to consider more than a hundred metrics and give them appropriate weightings.

And perhaps the most impressive aspect of this tool is that it learns. Using artificial intelligence (AI), it periodically undergoes a relearning process to refine its accuracy in predicting the future risk profile.

The second area helps us provide information and intelligence to our members. The creation and provision of loss prevention information is a key aspect of our role and, over the decades, we have built up a huge knowledge base.

Our members rightly take advantage of this information so that they can take appropriate precautions before setting new cargoes, trading in new areas or when encountering new problems and challenges.

In the past, we provided this information by posting articles on our website and responding to our members’ inquiries.

However, we have now partnered with geospatial intelligence experts Geollect to offer our members an interactive map-based information portal called MyGlobeview.

This allows easy access to key information specific to a port, country or region that can help a shipowner, operator or charterer assess the risks of a voyage, whether related to sanctions, maritime security, port operations or cargo-related risks.

Recent additions that enhance this tool include a “route risk assessment” function, where the user plots the vessel’s projected voyage on the map, and a report is produced containing the required risk information.

The report can then be sent to the ship’s operations team and the master so that they can take the necessary precautions. Forewarned is forewarned.

A simple example: a shipowner is considering chartering to transport a bulk grain cargo from the U.S. Gulf to China. A quick check on MyGlobeview will inform him of the risks of piracy and theft (identifying hotspots) in the Strait of Malacca and the risk of cargo damage claims on departure. This is supplemented with loss prevention tips and links to useful resources that will help mitigate these risks should the shipowner decide to fix them.

Another development concerns fuel quality. Since the introduction of the IMO 0.50% sulfur cap on January 1, 2020, the proliferation of the use of VLSFO (very low sulfur fuel oil) products has brought with it, as previously warned, quality and operational issues.

To help our shipowner and charterer members make more informed decisions on their fuel purchase agreements, we have collaborated with fuel quality experts VPS to provide bunker data from around the world.

VPS has a wealth of historical data based on the thousands of bunker samples it receives, and by sharing this information, those who buy the fuel – and, just as importantly, those who use it – have a better idea of what to expect.

MyGlobeView was already proving to be a valuable resource for our members, but the events of the last year have really demonstrated its value. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has affected nearly every nation in the world.

All countries have taken action to combat the outbreak, which inevitably has an impact on shipping, which has, of course, moved on. Ship owners, charterers and crews need to know the latest news on the measures in place in particular ports, and MyGlobeview has proved to be a useful way of providing this information.

By simply navigating the map and clicking on a country, information such as port entry and notification requirements, quarantine provisions and any restrictions on crew movement and crew changes is at your fingertips.

In addition to uploaded updates received from our worldwide network of correspondents and contacts, it includes information extracted by Geollect from numerous data sources. It has become a powerful tool to help our members continue to operate during these exceptional times.

It has been so successful in keeping our members up to date with the latest COVID-19 news that, together with Geollect, we have helped develop a similar tool for the International Group (IG). Although P&I clubs are competitors, there are times when we can work together for the good of the maritime industry and, more importantly, for the safety and well-being of seafarers around the world.

Alvin Forster
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