Corvus Team

[WHITEPAPER] Cargo in Chaos

How are market conditions and cyber risk conspiring to create chaos for companies that depend on the shipping of goods, and how can brokers and insureds get ahead?

A Changing Market

The longer an insurance market is forgiving of little sins, the worse the day of reckoning. 

More than a decade has passed since the Marine Cargo market experienced “hard” conditions.  It has been arguably the most stable and accommodating line for insurance buyers for almost a generation. 

Things have changed. The market is now “chaotic” according to U.S. retail brokers, a shift that took shape over the past two years in a series of actions that now threaten stability and performance metrics for insurance brokers in this critical coverage line. 

The first ripples of trouble appeared after 2017 when Lloyd’s syndicates experienced oversized losses coupled with falling premiums and created an unsustainable situation. Starting in 2019, those ripples grew to be waves that crashed over a number of specialty areas as Lloyd’s syndicates pulled the plug entirely on tough lines. Marine was hit hard in this pullback, and American and Asian insurers haven’t proven able to respond quickly to fill the huge gap left in the market by the Lloyd’s juggernaut.

How are market conditions and cyber risk conspiring to create chaos for companies that depend on the shipping of goods, and how can brokers and insureds get ahead?

Cyber Risk Meets Marine Cargo

Compounding the issue for brokers and policyholders is the intrusion of the Cyber peril into the risk profile for Ocean Cargo. It’s not enough that Natural Catastrophe claims have risen - now the industry must contend with ransomware attacks that can shut down logistics across the world in an instant. Carriers offering Marine Insurance have avoided specifying coverage for the results of cyber attacks in their policies. By not excluding cyber cover, they avoid having their coverage perceived as less than comprehensive when compared with competitors. Andy by not affirmatively covering cyber, they avoid the tricky task of actually underwriting the notoriously difficult peril. 

This forces insureds to contend with so-called “silent cyber” risk. Will they be covered in the event of a major disruption or data breach? Sure, they may have separate monoline cyber coverage, but in the face of a significant business interruption, the scale of claims will quickly overmatch the limits of almost any cyber policy. They’ll need their Marine policies to kick in to have any hope of mitigating costs, and without clarity, there’s no telling if they will. 

What Can Brokers Do?

A hard market is a challenge for brokers, but it also provides an opportunity for them to demonstrate their value as guides to next-generation options. In our latest whitepaper, we go into detail on how this situation has arisen and provide advice for brokers on how to respond, including expert advice from brokers dealing with chaos in the market now. Download your free copy now.

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Download Cargo in Chaos Whitepaper Here


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A single interruption in the shipping industry can ripple worldwide. Since the onset of the pandemic, the average consumer has heard the words “supply chain” more than they’d like to. Add to that, the Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal in 2021 — plus its sister vessel repeating the feat a year later in Chesapeake Bay — and the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’ve all gotten used to seeing much more of the behind-the-scenes movement of our goods on center stage. 

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Marine Cargo insurance is vaunted as the foundation of modern insurance, with its lineage dating to the insuring of ocean-crossing vessels, and their cargoes, in the fifteenth century. With all that history, change tends to come gradually to the line. (And with generally stable profitability, carriers could be forgiven for not rocking the boat.) More recently, technologies such as connected temperature sensors and GPS trackers have entered the picture for shippers. But the data they generate hasn’t been factored into insurance underwriting at scale. Today, we’re sharing an exciting update that will help to finally bridge Cargo Insurance into the 21st century.