You cannot watch the news lately without the graphic photos of the Costa Concordia cruise ship being plastered on your TV or computer screen.
On January 13th, the Costa Concordia ran aground on a reef off Isola del Giglio, Italy and began listing heavily towards the starboard side. The ship was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members at the time of the accident. At the date this post was written, the search for 21 missing people resume.
Espirito Santo Investment Bank released a report expecting the insured losses from the Carnival Corporation cruise ship disaster estimated to be between $500 million and $1 billion. That would make the disaster the largest marine loss in history. This number is up from the first estimate released which estimated losses around $513 million.
The new estimate takes into consideration the liability losses as well as those stemming from the potential cleanup and environmental costs associated with the disaster. To understand where the Costa Concordia losses in context of past accidents, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker crash which included $500 million in pollution losses.
With losses reaching at least $500 million, the claims will be spread across 10 or so different writers so no one insurance company should see more than 10% of the losses. The lead insurers for the ship are XL Group, Assicurazioni Generali and RSA Insurance Group plc. The risk is expected to be relatively fragmented considering most marine policies are written by syndicates of different companies and protection and indemnity clubs.
The London-based Standard Club confirmed it is the lead protection and indemnity insure for the stricken ship.
The liability side of the insurance can be a little more complicated due to the amount of individuals who file claims, if the captain is found guilty, etc.
The removal of the wreckage is estimated to cost about $10 million. Considering the small percentage of passengers who were injured or deceased due to the accident, the human cost will be relatively low. Liability claims get tied up in litigation and take longer to be paid. A delay will also be made when determining if the ship’s captain Fancesco Schettino will face criminal charges. He is facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship; if found guilty, he could be held financially accountable for the disaster.
While the losses are likely to be absorbed by the market, it is unclear if the disaster will be enough to change the current prices in the marine insurance market. Unlike a hurricane or serious storm where you see prices go up the next day, this would be a much slower process.
The marine insurance industry is still absorbing costs of the damage caused by the flooding in Thailand and the earthquakes in Japan. Considering the industry is still feeling the strain from these past disasters, the Costa Concordia incident could put pressure to increase prices.
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