Volatility and uncertainty are not necessarily what insurance executives want, yet for Paul Jennings, CEO of the North P&I Club, this is the new normal for businesses the world over, something that has required much adaptability in recent years.
“Businesses across the globe are having to adapt to volatility and uncertainty as a way of life and North P&I is no different. An uncertain international economic outlook driven by Brexit and President Trump’s tariffs, combined with an ever-widening range of commercial threats continue to test even the strongest organisations. Businesses are now facing a variety of challenges as they strive to find growth and stay competitive,” Jennings tells Maritime CEO.
North P&I is currently providing P&I, FD&D, war risks and ancillary insurance to 142m gt of owned tonnage and 53m GT of chartered tonnage via its headquarters in Newcastle in the UK and regional offices in Greece, China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Japan and Singapore. With the risk of a hard Brexit next March, North has also opened up a subsidiary in Dublin. Moreover, this month North P&I opened a new office in Piraeus and it is also opening a new office in New York.
The veteran head of North P&I has recently seen a number of long-standing economic challenges abate to some extent and freight rates have shown some signs of improvement across a number of areas.
“However, we are yet to see conclusive evidence that this improvement is permanent, or that it will lead to a shipping market that can provide a stable foundation for sustainable growth and profitability,” Jennings maintains.
In these uncertain trading conditions for global shipping, Jennings believes it is more important than ever that members can confidently rely on the support of P&I clubs.
As with so many other facets of shipping, P&I is also ripe for some form of consolidation, the North boss reckons, saying that over time there may well be discussions between clubs around possible mergers as a way of dealing with the costs and management overheads associated with ever increasing regulations and delivering operational economies of scale.