In conversation with S&P Global Market Intelligence: Navigating emerging maritime risks 

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InsTech’s Tara Allsopp spoke to George Devereese, Product Management Director at S&P Global Market Intelligence. The two discussed the products within the Maritime, Trade and Supply Chain division, emerging maritime risks and how S&P Global Market Intelligence’s data is being used to enhance insurers’ understanding of these risks.

What advice and services does S&P Global Market Intelligence provide to the insurance community? 

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides an array of datasets to the insurance market in sector-specific areas such as ESG and credit ratings. Following the merger of IHS Markit and S&P, the company has introduced a wider selection of datasets in areas such as maritime, trade and energy. 

I work in the Research and Advisory Specialty Solutions (RAS) sector of the business in the Maritime, Trade and Supply Chain Team, which handles all forms of maritime data, including global cargo, automatic identification system (AIS), political risk and terror.

What type of insurance clients does S&P Global Market Intelligence work with?

S&P Global Market Intelligence works with clients across the entire insurance value chain. This includes owners of commodities and operators of vessels, to brokers and underwriters as well as those working in back offices actuaries and claims teams. Different clients will use our data in different ways. For example, actuaries seeking to determine long-term trends will require extensive historical data. In contrast  a broker or underwriter will be looking for medium-term data, dating three years back, to understand an assets’ possible risks.

What data and analytics products do S&P Global Market Intelligence offer to the maritime insurance industry?

S&P Global Market Intelligence was the first company to commercialise vessel tracking. The Maritime, Trade and Supply Chain team offers a variety of products. The two main products are Seaweb and AIS Live. The former provides detailed information on vessels that have an IMO (International Maritime Organization) number. An IMO number is a unique identification number issued by S&P Global on behalf of the IMO. The team also offers AIS Live, a vessel tracking system. These products are combined in the Maritime Portal offering which companies use to track and better understand vessels. 

Finally, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a Maritime Intelligence Risk Suite which overlays risk and compliance onto the directory of vessels and companies. We have direct access to every state flag globally which is used to assess and verify the number of vessels per state flying the correct flag. Insurers use this information when conducting compliance assessments to discover which vessels and companies are under sanction. S&P Global Market Intelligence also uses its AIS Live to provide further information on such vessels including analysing transmitted location data to flag suspected dark activity, which is when a vessel is trying to hide itself.

What technologies is S&P Global Market Intelligence using to provide these insights?

S&P Global Market Intelligence’s AIS Live product monitors over 3000 ground based antennae from 450,000 vessels to track their movements as well as access to satellite data. The company also receives a sanctions list daily which is analysed by a combination of manual and automatic processes. For vessels operating under suspected dark activity, S&P Global Market Intelligence uses algorithms to determine the probability of illicit activity.

What types of recent maritime events are currently affecting ship operations?

There are still supply chain disruptions from COVID-19 lockdowns in mainland China, with ports in places like Shanghai being intermittently shut down. Sudden disruptions from lockdowns mean that vessels are dislocated and thousands of containers have been stranded. It is challenging for vessel owners to re-route and get back on track. 

The war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russia are also affecting ship operations, especially as some vessels seek to evade sanction regulations. This has been difficult for the insurance industry to manage, because sanction issuing bodies have imposed stricter reporting requirements on insurers. Additionally, insurers face the additional challenge of sometimes limited knowledge of the ownership management structure of the vessels they are insuring.

How is the marine insurance sector responding to these events?

Insurers need more data to understand the vessels they are covering and their ownership structure. For example, information about the ship owner, captain, crew and charters and any interlinkages the parties have can be difficult to source. S&P Global Market Intelligence is sourcing data for vessels and their ownership, including interlinkages to provide a holistic view of the vessel and its command structure. This data is helping insurers better understand whether a vessel is compliant with current sanctions.

How else is S&P Global Market Intelligence aiding the insurance industry’s response to sanctions?

S&P Global Market Intelligence is providing insurers with up-to-date war zone data. It can be difficult for insurers to understand where war zones are being drawn and how they are changing. For example, the Joint War Committee, comprised of Lloyd’s and IUA market representatives which demarcate areas of heightened maritime risk as a result of warfare, changed the Russo-Ukraine war zone border four times in one week in February 2022. S&P Global Market Intelligence’s products highlight when vessels, already on the water, enter a war zone. S&P Global Market Intelligence also provides data on companies under sanction. Not all Russian companies are under sanction, therefore S&P Global Market Intelligence’s ‘command structure’ data can be used to identify whether a vessels is under sanctions, for example, if it is owned or operated by the Russian government.

How is S&P Global Market Intelligence working with maritime insurers to promote ESG stewardship? 

S&P Global Market Intelligence has developed a managed service to assist the Poseidon
Principles for Marine Insurance signatories in collecting, validating and analysing the data ship owners make available to insurers annually to calculate their portfolio’s carbon footprint and alignment with various decarbonisation trajectories. The Maritime Sustainability Team works closely with our clients to interpret the results of their portfolio’s carbon footprint and the carbon intensity of certain ship types, with the ambition that these insights will be embedded in underwriting decisions. As maritime insurers are in the infancy of developing an ESG strategy and emissions reduction targets, S&P Global Market Intelligence is eager to contribute with data and industry expertise.

Why did S&P Global Market Intelligence join InsTech?

I have been part of the community since IHS Markit joined and also worked with InsTech in previous roles. InsTech provides its members with good networking opportunities and allows S&P Global Market Intelligence to understand insurance market trends and align its services with these market needs.

How should insurers get in touch if they want to learn more about S&P Global Market Intelligence’s maritime offerings?

Insurers should visit S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Maritime, Trade & Supply Chain website or email me, at George.Devereese@spglobal.com. Those interested in maritime sustainability should reach out to Kristy Asseily, Maritime Sustainability Lead kristy.asseily@spglobal.com.  You can also watch Kristy speak at the 24th November InsTech live in-person event in partnership with S&P here.