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IUMI calls for more infrastructure support on Arctic routes

The change in ice conditions and recent rise in the use of the high Arctic as a trading route requires more infrastructure support to facilitate the provision of adequate insurance, the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has stated in a position paper.

Chair of IUMI’s Policy Forum and co-author of the position paper Helle Hammer 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 and 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".

IUMI's position paper lists a number of considerations to be taken into account when assessing individual voyage risk. These include 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.

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Hammer explained: "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."

IUMI is an active supporter of the Polar Code (International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters) as a method for lowering the risks associated with Arctic sailings. IUMI would also like to see an instrument in place for non-SOLAS vessels (ships of less than 500 GT, including fishing vessels) to ensure there is a safer regime for all vessels operating in Arctic waters.

IUMI believes the sharing of best practice is also important and participates in the Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum.