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Business & Economy

Shipping insurer North strengthens global standing despite COVID-19

A shipping insurer says it has confounded the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen its position in the international marine market.

North P&I Club says it has “met the challenges of 2020 and delivered on its commitment to offer member and client support and financial stability” after securing a 17 per cent increase in premium income.

The Newcastle Quayside-based mutual saw income rise by £42 million to £287 million for 2020/21.

It also reported year-on-year premium growth in its hull and machinery, fixed premium and aquaculture businesses.

Furthermore, bosses say the launch of its North Hull insurance product line – aimed at ocean-going vessels – helped the business diversify its portfolio.

During the year, they say North also saw a strong investment return of £45.5 million, or 6.67 per cent, an increase from 6.37 per cent on the previous year.

Paul Jennings, chief executive, said: “Despite the unprecedented circumstances, we’ve continued to diversify our product lines and maintained our outstanding support to shipowner members as they navigate the impact of the pandemic.

“From providing much-needed services and digital tools, to assisting several international maritime charities in the support of seafarer wellbeing; our shipowner members’ needs have always been front and centre of our business.

“On a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of our team here in the North East, and our colleagues across the globe, who have all had to adapt to a new way of working.

“Despite the lack of face-to face contact with colleagues and members, we have continued to provide outstanding service and strengthened our position as one of the leading marine insurers in the world.”

As well as increasing its income and investment return, North says its overall owned and chartered tonnage – the measure of ocean-going vessels insured – grew to 248 million gross tonnes, with cash reserves available to cover claims increasing by £4 million to £317 million.

Paul added: “North has retained its ‘A’ capital rating from credit ratings agency, S&P Global – which is yet another indicator of our financial strength.

“Looking forward, we remain vigilant to the fluctuation of the COVID-19 virus and are prepared to take further steps to manage the commercial and economic impact of this on our business where necessary.

“And, as always, we will continue to adapt to the evolving requirements of our members, clients, brokers, colleagues and communities across all our business areas.”