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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

What price the specialist?

An insurance underwriter has launched a marine cargo policy which is apparently particularly suitable for brokers not used to dealing with traditional marine products. For the first time in the marine market, it is claimed, it will not be necessary to incorporate institute clauses.

This is supposed to make it easy to do business. Perhaps it will. But is it really what we want? For somebody who spent several years staring at the back of Bob Brown’s head at Willis Faber as he assiduously catalogued the wonderfully arcane marine clauses and their meanings, this is sacrilege.

Similarly, all those who spent a lifetime learning about the Inchmaree Clause and the Jason Clause (it worked both ways) will have to find something else not to understand if policies are going to start appearing without the institute clauses in them. It wasn’t just the clauses that appealed. It was the stories behind them, and how they got their names.

To be strictly accurate, a lot of the fun went out of the business when they dreamed up romantic names such as the Institute Cargo Clauses A, to replace what went before. But do we want marine business to be placed by brokers who are not used to dealing with it? The ones who know what they are doing are quite capable of making a mess of things without any help from tyro Tysers.

What is wrong with giving business to brokers who do understand the business? Is this part of the same thinking that is threatening to give us so-called Tesco law firms?

Move over, Cuthbert Heath.


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