Infrastructure support is required to facilitate the provision of adequate insurance for the high Arctic as a trade route, fishing ground and potential tourist destination according to the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI).
With changes in ice conditions making the Arctic route navigable, Maersk is currently carrying out a trial sailing.
Helle Hammer, the IUMI’s policy forum chair, said: “The marine insurance sector, like all sectors, wants to see enhanced safety for ships operating in Arctic waters. We would strongly encourage an improved infrastructure to provide the required level of search & rescue capacity alongside suitable places of refuge.
“We would also like to see updated surveys and more reliable charting of the region. This would assist marine underwriters to quantify the risks involved.”
A position paper by the organisation listed several considerations to be accounted for when assessing individual voyage risk including regional rescue and salvage facilities, potential places of refuge, expected weather conditions, experience of crew and the operational performance of the vessel itself.
Historical information – due to the current limited number of sailings and constantly changing ice conditions – is not available and this is forcing marine insurers to take a more cautious approach to risk assessment.
Hammer added: “When assessing risk for insurance purposes, historical loss data is a key factor, and that’s missing for Polar operations. This means that underwriters must assess each voyage on a case-by-case basis.
“Alongside the availability of suitable infrastructure, IUMI is encouraging insurers to consider the vessel’s Polar Ship Certificate and take into account the vessel operator’s level of preparedness and planning.”