Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacts shipping safety, insurance

According to marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) Safety & Shipping Review 2022, the shipping industry has been affected on multiple fronts by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the loss of life and vessels in the Black Sea, disruption to trade, and the growing burden of sanctions. It also faces challenges to day-to-day operations, with knock-on effects for crew, the cost and availability of bunker fuel, and the potential for growing cyber risk.

The invasion has further ramifications for a global maritime industry already facing shortages. Russian seafarers account for just over 10% of the world’s 1.89 million workforce, while around 4% come from Ukraine. These seafarers may struggle to return home or rejoin ships at the end of contracts. 

Meanwhile, a prolonged conflict is likely to have deeper consequences, potentially reshaping global trade in energy and other commodities. An expanded ban on Russian oil could contribute to pushing up the cost of bunker fuel and impacting availability, potentially pushing ship owners to use alternative fuels. 

If such fuels are of substandard quality, this may result in machinery breakdown claims in future. At the same time, security agencies continue to warn of a heightened prospect of cyber risks for the shipping sector such as GPS jamming, Automatic Identification System (AIS) spoofing and electronic interference.

“The insurance industry is likely to see a number of claims under specialist war policies from vessels damaged or lost to sea mines, rocket attacks and bombings in conflict zones,” explains Justus Heinrich, Global Product Leader, Marine Hull, at AGCS. “Insurers may also receive claims under marine war policies from vessels and cargo blocked or trapped in Ukrainian ports and coastal waters.”

The evolving range of sanctions against Russian interests presents a sizeable challenge. Violating sanctions can result in severe enforcement action, yet compliance can be a considerable burden. It can be difficult to establish the ultimate owner of a vessel, cargo or counterparty. 

Sanctions also apply to various parts of the transport supply chain, including banking and insurance, as well as maritime support services, which makes compliance even more complex.

Photo credit: iStock/ alkir

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