North’s diversification strategy rises to unprecedented challenges

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Paul Jennings, CEO, North P&I Club

Following a challenging period for the global economy and shipping in a year which saw a record level of International Group (IG) pool claims, North is reporting positive returns for its 2020-2021 financial year.

North’s recently published Annual Review posts robust growth across a number of diversified lines and, at 6.67% (equivalent to US$64.5M), its highest return on investments for many years.

In continuing its transformation from a monoline P&I Club to a diversified global marine insurer, North achieved premium income growth of US$60M across its mutual and diversified business lines, reaching US$406M. Thya Kathiravel, North’s Chief Underwriting Officer, commented that “year on year, premium increases were especially notable for Sunderland Marine Hull, P&I and Aquaculture lines and the newer, diversified Owners’ Fixed Premium P&I as well as North’s Hull facilities.”

Ed Davies, Chief Financial Officer, North, commented: “Prudent growth through diversification provided shelter during a year when 19 claims were made via the pooling arrangements shared between the 13 IG clubs with an unprecedented value of US$463M. North absorbed over US$90M in pool costs for the financial year despite experiencing no pool claims in that period.”

North’s 113.7% combined ratio represented a “positive achievement given the twin pressures of pool claims and Covid-19”, following the peak of 125% for 2019-2020 year, he added.

COVID-19 had made 2020-2021 “a year like no other for all of us, and especially for seafarers”, said Paul Jennings, Chief Executive, North. “COVID-19 variants also mean that crew transfers are again becoming complex, while the pandemic’s long-term impact on the global economy is uncertain.”

“Working lives at North also changed in 2020-2021, although our offices have gradually reopened, with North’s Newcastle head office due to follow in the weeks ahead. Despite COVID-19 and an extraordinary level of pool claims, North’s core financial strength and diversification continue to inspire confidence.” In fact, North’s free reserves increased by US$6M, to US$450M, Jennings reported.

Prevailing economic conditions had brought challenges for achieving the 2021 P&I renewal objectives, but an equitable rating increase in line with business plans was achieved, he added. Future rates are expected to reflect the increase in claims and the hardening reinsurance market.

“We will continue to take the essential actions we know are needed to maintain our financial resilience in the years to come,” said Jennings, stressing that the Club is prioritising investments in technology, talent and sustainability.

In his first Annual Review, new North Chair, James Tyrrell, commented: “Through a period of exceptional challenge, we have supported all Members of North while continuing to be driven by our core purpose – enabling Members to trade with confidence.” He also saluted the contribution of previous Chair, Pratap Shirke, who oversaw a period of continuous growth for North during nine years in post.

Supporting the confident outlook, North’s overall P&I Owned and Chartered tonnage grew year-on-year to 248M GT.

Sea News, May 28

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News