Excellent financial results have been reported by the Shipowners’ Club for the trading year ending February 2011. Positive growth or improvements across almost all parameters have been recorded, from increased tonnage and numbers of vessels entered, to an up-lift on gross earned premiums to US$196.8 million (up 13% on last year) and an underwriting surplus of US$25.2 million.
Chairman of the Club, Donald MacLeod puts the recent success of the Club down to the diversity of its Members and the results of organisational changes over the last two years that are now coming to fruition. “Our strong performance coincides with the culmination of a period of change for the Club. The most significant of which was the process of rationalising activities between our London, Singapore and Vancouver branch offices, which has brought us closer to more of our Members and their brokers,” he said in his Chairman’s Statement. Additionally, the volatile trading environment did not affect Shipowners as dramatically as it did others. “The Club is uniquely suited to volatile conditions. Our Members, by and large, are not dependent on freight rates or commodity pricing. Club vessels can be found throughout the world, engaged in a broad spectrum of activities from fishing to offshore to passenger carriage, dredging and towage. Such geographic and sectoral diversification acts as a natural hedge for the Club against regional, industry-specific trading volatility,” said MacLeod.
The Club’s operational performance, resulting in the underwriting surplus, contrasted with a small deficit in the previous year and, together with a 6.8% return on investments producing an income of US$27.6 million, returned an overall surplus of US$52.9 million. This addition to free reserves brought an increase of 39% to US$187.9 million and a combined ratio for the 2011 year of 85%; total funds under management rose by 17% to US$431.0 million. Claims reduced by 9% compared with the previous year and totalled US$107.2 million, while operating expense increased by just over US$6 million to US$40.5 million.
The Club’s strength in diversity was emphasised by a 9.5% increase in tonnage entered to 17.8 million GRT, an advance of 8.4% in vessel numbers to two short of 29,000 and 7% more Members than last year. Commenting on the very encouraging results, the Club’s Chief Executive Charles Hume said, “After a positive year of growth, coupled with organisational change, the Club looks forward to a period of consolidation as the three branch offices look to grow within their regions. Looking forward, the Club primarily recognises the need to develop closer ties with its customers - the six hundred plus insurance brokers who place business with the Club and ultimately its worldwide membership. We need to demonstrate the benefits of mutuality, the benefits of Member ownership, the benefits of belonging to, and of being insured within, an environment where the insurer seeks to find solutions. We look forward, in particular to innovating; to launching simplified products; to delivering peace of mind to our customers and to assuring owners of small and specialised ships, of all shapes and sizes, that they may go about their tasks safe in the knowledge that their P&I insurer is working alongside them in partnership.”