Claims by International Union of Marine Insurance chairman Ole Wikborg that IUMI has an “active and well published stand in favour of armed guards” has surprised many who remain committed to a neutral position.
Speaking at the the IUMI meeting in Paris last week, Mr Wikborg said: “It took IUMI some time to get to this point, as the prevailing opinion has been that flag states should deal with this and subsequently discuss and decide through the International Maritime Organization.”
However, the Lloyd’s Market Association and the International Maritime Organization both hold neutral positions and LMA senior executive Neil Roberts said the decision to hire and pay for armed guards was one for the shipowner or asset operator, and was not something of which the LMA could approve or disapprove.
“Insurers will make their own individual decisions when presented with such risks,” Mr Roberts said.
“As long as the operation has been approved by the relevant authorities, the choice on whether to insure and on what terms will be based on commercial factors and whether the risk is perceived to be mitigated or enhanced by the presence of such guards.”
International Group of P&I Club’s chief executive Andrew Bardot said that the LMA view was mirrored by the rest of the industry.
He said it was the view of the shipping industry, the IMO and the naval forces that the use of armed guards was likely to result in the escalation of violence and that this would be a “game changer” for the industry.
While there is still no clear view from many of the major flag states, Mr Roberts said the legal complexities meant there could be little certainty for owners about liabilities in many cases.