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In May, Gard reported its results for the financial year ending 20 February 2018, showing a surplus after tax of USD 193 million on an Estimated Total Call (ETC) basis. Despite competitive market conditions, an underwriting profit was made across all areas of the business with a combined ratio net of 91 per cent, and the group also benefitted from a first-class investment result. The combination of these factors means that, for the 11th year in a row, the group was able to give money back to Members by reducing their premiums through cancelling part, or all, of the deferred call.

The 2018 year has also started well. We have seen some good developments in our Hull & Machinery portfolio in the last several months, with new owners choosing to put significant tonnage with Gard. The strength of our claims handling, and ability to lead claims efficiently to get businesses back on track, is a seen as a strong proposition in the current market environment. At our core is the ability to help our Members and clients to manage their businesses effectively when they have a casualty and reduce their reputational risk. From a wider perspective, proper claims handling has a highly beneficial effect in reducing the cost and suffering for society at large.

Being part of a bigger society

Gard is a small company when compared to many other carriers in the insurance industry – and definitely in comparison with global giants such as Amazon and Google. We operate from a small town in southern Norway and focus only on serving the maritime industries and enabling sustainable maritime development. 

That might sound quite niche until you look at the bigger picture. 70% of the planet is ocean and 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea, and Gard is directly involved insuring more than 40% of the global merchant fleet, measured by gross tonnage. So, protecting international maritime trades and the environment in which they operate – and on which so many other people dependent, is quite a global responsibility. And we know that this is a responsibility that we share, and which requires us to collaborate and influence the many other parties whose lives and livelihoods are as linked to the seas as ours.

As part of the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG), Gard has a key role in the sharing of marine risks to protect society from the potentially catastrophic consequences of casualties at sea.  We take our responsibility to the IG very seriously as its largest member – both in terms of input into the operations of reinsurance purchasing but also in terms of outreach to other parties and in giving voice to issues that concern our Members. Gard experts sit on around half it subcommittees and working groups and contribute to policy and position papers, and we want to help it develop further.

Most recently, the United Nations acknowledged the importance of marine insurance in protecting the environment by inviting Gard to join the UN Global Compact’s Business Action Platform for the Ocean, a cooperation between business, governments, academia and NGOs. It will explore commercially attractive and viable solutions, suggest industry standards and establish guidelines and best practices to ensure the commercial development and sustainable use of the ocean. Gard is one of approximately twenty companies represented, along with amongst others Maersk, Wilhelmsen, Grieg, Total, Equinor (Statoil), DNVGL, Lloyd’s Register, DNB, ABN AMRO, Cermaq/Mitsubishi and Munich Re.

Working together works

We know co-operation works. During the press conference at the launch, I highlighted the work that has gone on to reduce oil pollution from tankers. This has been so successful that the amount of oil, from major tanker spills, has reduced by 97% on a 10 years average in 40 years through:

  • international conventions,
  • a focus on quality from shipowners and oil companies,
  • new ship design,
  • improved working processes to handle casualties, and
  • robust solutions for compensations financed by the P&I clubs and the IOPC fund.

Oil pollution from tankers used to be regarded the major marine pollution threat. Now we have the opportunity to reduce the current threats in the same manner for the benefit of the industry and the society. Gard’s role will also include exploring ideas and inspiring innovations for technical, operational and commercial improvements to ensure a healthy and productive ocean and improve sustainable cean businesses. We will be represented at high-level workshops and events, as well as contributing expertise on various issues, delivering concrete improvement initiatives that may enable positive maritime development throughout the three-year project period.

It has been a busy first half year and we know we can never stand still. Being excellent at the fundamentals, assessing and handling maritime risk, is our first priority in delivering on our Members’ needs. Yet, it is combining this with using our industry-leading position to bring knowledge and people together for higher industrial standards that we will help build the future – supporting smoother operations and lowering the long-term insurance cost for our Members, while contributing to a sustainable maritime development.