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Gard News 200, November 2010/January 2011

Gard News presents the members of staff in Gard's Hong Kong office.

From left: Sigvald Fossum, Tony Wong, Catherine Wong, Wallace Yeung, Gary Liu
Nancy Kam, Charmaine Chu, Louise Tsui, John Martin, Zoe Ho, Patrick Lee,
Tracy Chan, Terje Holte, Candy Wong, Sid Lock, Limy Leung, Einar Christensen.

Gard (HK) Ltd was established on 20th February 1998 to take over the role of Gard correspondent in Hong Kong from J. A. Lister & Co.  All staff were retained and this was the beginning of a new future for Gard in Asia.

Gard (HK) grew from a relatively small office providing local and regional correspondent services in the Asian region to its function today: providing a full range of claims and underwriting services to members and clients in the Asian region.  Furthermore, with an underwriting presence since 2007, Gard (HK) has established a branch of Assuranceforeningen Gard which is licensed with the Hong Kong Insurance Authority.  Instrumental in this transformation process was the arrival of Richard Corwin from New York, who headed the office from 2005 to 2007, and who subsequently became Gard Regional Director for Asia, based in Tokyo.

Gard (HK) now has a staff of 18: the Managing Director, two Underwriters, one Deputy Underwriter, and a claims team of ten people (two of them lawyers conducting solely FD&D work) plus four support staff.  It is continuing to expand and it is expected that another Deputy Underwriter will be recruited shortly.

Claims handling
Gard (HK) aims to provide full claims handling services.  It has an experienced and very hard-working staff, including several who worked closely with J.A. Lister before the conversion to Gard (HK).  Inevitably, the claims handling arrangements are slightly different from those in the head office, as Gard (HK) does not specialise in claims functions based on claim type, therefore the staff has a wide all-round claims handling experience, although some of the staff are highly experienced in particular areas. 

Because of the difficulty in recruiting ex-seafarers in Hong Kong, the office only has one underwriter with sea-going experience, but it does have two former average adjusters and three qualified English/Hong Kong lawyers.

As a result of this combination of talent and experience, the staff are qualified to handle the most complex accidents and problems that arise in the P&I and Marine areas, although there is much collaboration with the head office and Gard (Japan).  In addition to handling claims for members and clients in the region, Gard (HK) also assists other Gard offices with claims handling in the region and will typically be involved in all major matters arising in Hong Kong and China.

As regards FD&D, the experienced and qualified in-house solicitors at Gard (HK) are able to provide full FD&D servicing and also provide a valuable sounding board on other legal matters involving P&I or Marine claims. All staff are encouraged to use this resource to reduce legal costs.

The intention is that Gard (HK) should provide full P&I and Marine underwriting services throughout its area of responsibility.  The list of countries within its responsibility is extensive and exotic, and includes "Greater" China (China/Taiwan/Hong Kong), Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australasia. Japanese claims are dealt by Gard (Japan) and Norway, but the underwriting has recently been assigned to Team Asia East, with Gard (HK)'s Sid Lock as the Area Manager. Inevitably, covering such a large and diverse set of markets is a challenge. However, increased resources have helped to improve Gard (HK)'s profile in many of these markets, with the result that it is gradually seeing more quality business.  Claims staff also play an integral part of the marketing efforts in the region. 

Members of staff
John Martin is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and worked as an Average Adjuster in Richards Hogg Lindley for 14 years. In 2000 he qualified under the UK AAA adjusting examinations.  In addition to his adjusting  work, between 1998 and 2002 he was the Hong Kong correspondent for the Standard P&I Club as part of the Charles Taylor Consulting Group. He is Managing Director of Gard (HK) and is closely involved in Gard's activities in Asia.

Claims staff
Einar Christensen has a Law degree from the University of Oslo and is a qualified Norwegian lawyer. He has had a diverse claims handling and managerial career within Gard, mainly in the Casualty, Environmental and Property Claims section. Before joining Gard (HK) as Claims Director he had secondments to Gard's Oslo, London and Hong Kong offices and worked as Vice President in the Defence department.

Michelle Pun has been a Claim Executive at Gard (HK) since its opening and previously worked for Gard's Hong Kong correspondent  J.A. Lister & Co. With extensive experience, she has handled many different types of claims, but her particular speciality has been dry cargo claims and ancillary covers. She also has experience in casualty matters, and has travelled extensively for Gard in the Asian region on both marketing and claims business. She spent several years working in Beijing and gained experience in handling Mainland China-related matters.

Catherine Wong is a Lawyer in the Defence Department.  After obtaining a degree in Comparative Linguistics from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Catherine started her career working for the TT Club as an Underwriter, based in their Hong Kong office, and qualified as a lawyer in 2000. She is qualified to practise law in England and Hong Kong. Before joining Gard Catherine worked at Richards Butler, where she focused on advising shipowners, charterers and their insurers on disputes involving Mainland Chinese parties. 

After obtaining a degree in International Business Studies from Hong Kong City University, Tony Wong spent several years training and working in the TT Club's Hong Kong office as a Claims Handler.  In 2002 he decided to leave the TT Club to re-qualify as a lawyer, which he completed in 2004.  He then worked with Healy and Baillie and subsequently Richards Butler's Hong Kong office. At Gard (HK) Tony handles FD&D claims and more complex P&I claims.

Wallace Yeung is a Claims Executive and works mainly with hull and machinery claims and P&I casualty work. He started his career as an Average Adjuster for Richards Hogg International, where he spent 15 years handling and adjusting a wide variety of hull and machinery claims. He then joined Houlder Insurance Brokers Far East Ltd, where he spent a further 15 years, latterly overseeing the placing and servicing of hull and machinery and P&I risks and the claims team.

Nancy Kam is a Claims Executive. She initially obtained a degree from City of London Polytechnic in Business Economics and then spent several years working in trade credit insurance as both underwriter and broker, before re-qualifying as a solicitor in Hong Kong through the HK U Space (in conjunction with Manchester University). Nancy trained with Clyde & Co. HK and was with Ince & Co. HK before joining Gard. She handles both P&I and Marine claims. 

Patrick Lee has a degree in Shipping Technology and Management from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and also an LLB in Law. Before joining Gard he worked with Hong Kong shipowners Kingstar Shipping, initially as a commercial executive, which included claims management, then as manager of their business department. During his time at Kingstar he also obtained a Master's degree in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution. Patrick handles both P&I and Marine claims.

Zoe Ho has a Bachelor's degree in Shipping Technology and Management and a Higher Diploma in Shipping and Management Studies from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. As a Claims Executive she specialises in cargo claims (both dry and wet) for Asian members and claims arising in Mainland China. She has also worked extensively on other types of claims, particularly in mainland China and Taiwan.

Before joining Gard, Charmaine Chu worked in medical insurance. Since then she has developed strong competence in dry cargo claims and crew and personal injury matters, but, like all Gard HK employees, she undertakes all types of P&I claims as part of her job as a Claims Assistant.

Tracy Chan has a Master's degree in International Shipping and Transport Logistics from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prior to joining Gard she worked for a freight forwarding company. She works as a Claim Assistant.

Underwriting staff
Terje Holte is a Vice President and Special Adviser with Gard AS. He is a Norwegian Master Mariner with 16 years' experience from sea service and the shipping industry.  Before joining Gard he worked as hull underwriter for Storebrand.  In addition to general P&I underwriting, Terje is involved with development and underwriting of specialist P&I products.

Sid Lock transferred to Gard (HK) one year after having joined Gard (UK) as an Underwriter. Born and educated in London, prior to joining Gard Sid worked for Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL) and Evergreen, as well as Thomas Miller & Co. He is currently Asia East Area Manager, being responsible for members based in South-East Asia, Greater China and Korea.

Sigvald Fossum has a degree in Business from Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales at Lausanne University. He joined Gard in Norway as a management trainee and was able to gain insight of the different business areas of the group.  He then worked in the Risk Management department as an analyst specialising in business development and risk capital assessments, and now works as Deputy Underwriter.