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Marsh Finds that Improvements to Vessel Capabilities and Support Services Are Key to Future of Arctic Navigation
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The rapid development of fledgling Arctic shipping routes is dependent upon improvements in the capabilities of vessels navigating them and the upgrade and expansion of the support facilities in the region.

According to a report published today by Marsh, Arctic Shipping: Navigating the Risks and Opportunities, Arctic shipping routes, including the Northwest Passage, present the global maritime community with financially attractive alternatives on Europe to Asia trades through the Panama and Suez canals. The routes are also increasingly relevant to the oil and gas sector, as energy exploration and production expands into the waters off the Russian Federation, northern Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. However, shipping firms need to ensure they have a full understanding of the risks involved in order to gain the confidence of insurers.

Marcus Baker, Chairman of Marsh’s Global Marine Practice, commented: “While marine insurers are largely supportive of the development of Arctic shipping routes, they are extremely wary about incurring large, high profile losses while the market is still in its infancy.

“Currently, the majority of ships and their crews lack adequate experience, are unprepared, and the support facilities are not yet in place for full-scale commercial voyages through the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. In the absence of hard facts, it is extremely difficult for marine insurers to price an insurable risk, or even to agree to cover a voyage in the first place.”

According to Marsh, in considering the provision of marine hull and protection and indemnity (P&I) insurance, insurers and P&I clubs require more detailed information about vessel capabilities and available salvage services, with wreck removal, pollution risks and crew health and safety of major concern to underwriters.

Steve Harris, a senior vice president in Marsh’s Global Marine Practice, added: “The majority of transits that have already taken place in the Arctic were one-off voyages that have been permitted as extraordinary ventures, and were usually government-backed or sponsored.

“Risk presentation is critical. Only if shipping firms can present insurers with the information they require, and all parties concerned take a collaborative approach to calculating these risks, will insurance capacity be readily available to support the growth in Arctic navigation.”


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Marsh is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management. Marsh helps clients succeed by defining, designing, and delivering innovative industry-specific solutions that help them effectively manage risk. Marsh’s approximately 27,000 colleagues work together to serve clients in more than 130 countries. Marsh is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and people. With 57,000 colleagues worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Guy Carpenter, a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; Mercer, a global leader in talent, health, retirement, and investment consulting; and Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting. Follow Marsh on Twitter @MarshGlobal, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.