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Reinsurers Could Prohibit Black Sea Voyages Starting January 1st

The Joint Coordination Centre officials board cargo ship Mehmet Bey as she waits to pass the Bosphorus strait off the shores of Yenikapi during a misty morning in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Calsikan

Reinsurers Could Prohibit Black Sea Voyages Starting January 1st

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December 17, 2022

by Carolyn Cohn (Reuters) Insurers may refuse to cover planes flying to Ukraine or ships sailing through the Black Sea as reinsurers – who insure the insurers – propose excluding the region from policies from next month, four industry sources said.

Reinsurers typically renew their 12-month contracts with insurance clients on Jan. 1, meaning they have the first opportunity to scale back exposure since the war in Ukraine started, after being hit this year by losses related to the conflict and from Hurricane Ian in Florida.

A proposed contract clause being circulated by reinsurers excludes war-related claims for planes or ships in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the four sources told Reuters.

Without the backing of the reinsurers, insurers themselves may be unwilling to provide cover for the region, they added.

Reinsurers are particularly concerned about the loss of planes owned by aircraft leasing companies that are stuck in Russia and have already generated $8 billion in legal claims.

As they operate on an “aggregation” basis with marine and aviation war risk insurance, totting up the losses as one, claims in one area make reinsurers wary about the whole war risk sector, David Smith, head of hull and marine liabilities at broker McGill and Partners said.

“They don’t care if it’s a ship or a plane, it’s all dragged along in the aggregation.”

While major reinsurers Hannover Re HNRGn.DE, Munich Re MUVGn.DE and Swiss Re SRENH.S declined to comment, Chris McGill, head of cargo at insurer Ascot, said the issue extends to the whole sector. 

Around 90% of the war risk market for marine and aviation is insured in Lloyd’s SOLYD.UL and the wider London commercial insurance market, the sources noted.

Although the sources said negotiations between insurers and reinsurers over next year’s contracts and the exact wording of the clause are ongoing, insurers fear the worst.

“It’s a fairly hard line that we’ve seen from the reinsurance market,” said McGill at Ascot, which is leading a cargo insurance facility for Ukraine’s grain export corridor. 

Aviation reinsurers are already reeling from claims related to two Boeing BA.N 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, while more than 400 leased planes worth around $10 billion have been unable to leave Russia after Western sanctions forced the termination of their leases.

As a result, aviation insurers are reducing the amount of cover offered for issues such as confiscation of planes, even before reinsurers have a say, a fifth industry source said.

Reinsurers are also wary of other war risks, the original sources added, including claims for ships stuck in Ukrainian ports, triggered after 12 months, and a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Jonathan Saul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.

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