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By Claes Isacson

Gard Services: an insurance partner of quality.

In shape - And on the move!
During the current hectic season the weeks elapsed between the time of writing this message and actual publication of Gard News make it difficult to be topical and up to date. At a time when spring flowers are supposed to grace the northern hemisphere, the climate outside my office windows here in southern Norway is still seriously arctic. But there are certainly topics galore to write about.

The year 2002 proved to be a strange experience in P&I claims: up to September, the monitoring of our monthly claims curve was a pleasure: a reasonable amount of small to mid-sized claims, but no big ones - and the total was far less than any other recent year. Then, as the autumn set in, a series of strandings, collisions and other calamities occurred in rapid succession, and at the end of the year we were just about "on budget" - in other words, where we had reckoned we would be when the year started. The law of averages - no pun intended - is indeed an active force!

While the claims situation in Energy has been encouraging, the Marine portfolio has proved somewhat less satisfactory claims-wise, affirming a general trend in the market. However, in all three Gard Services business areas the policy of strict selectivity based on quality long-term clients and correct application of sound underwriting principles pays off - we emerge from another round of renewals as a financially sound and predictable insurance partner.

The market for excess reinsurance has been severely hit in the past couple of years - by terrorist activities as well as natural disasters. The renewal of contracts for marine reinsurances - in particular the Group reinsurance contracts for P&I - has proved difficult and costly. Through circulars and information from the underwriters, by the time of publication of this issue of Gard News our clients will have been advised of both cost levels and structure of the 2003 arrangements. Gard Services personnel have been involved in the negotiations with the various reinsurance providers, and the importance of representing the voice of the ship operators has been felt very strongly. Although costly, the result was the best obtainable under the prevailing circumstances.

On the corporate scene within Gard Services we have finally got the organisation in place and operational with the integration of the Sampo Marine business. In Gothenburg, Gard Services AB has moved to new and larger premises in order to accommodate 11 new colleagues - and in Helsinki OY Gard Services (Baltic) AB has been "on stream" since 1st January 2003 with a total of 15 Marine and P&I professionals catering for the needs of our clients. All these organisational changes and additions have made it necessary to place emphasis on both group co-ordination and follow-up. To these ends, several administrative ICT tools have been designed and put in motion - customer relations are managed by a separate system and another programme aptly called The Pilot takes in our strategic plans, points out the way we have decided to go and checks that we are getting there. In addition, in May 2002 Gard Services was certified by DNV to comply with the latest version of the quality standard NS-EN ISO 9001:2000 for all three business areas.

Set against the background of recent events - political, economical as well as marine-related - the shipping industry needs an insurance partner of quality, with financial security, a risk selection that ensures stability and a range of products able to cater for traditional as well as innovative schemes. With a world-wide staff of 329 employees and a client base representing some USD 500 million in premium at the end of last year, I feel we are well positioned for the ensuing business activities. You'll see us around!

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editorial Team.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard Services AS, Arendal, Norway.