Speaking on this week´s The Voice of Insurance podcast, Clive Washbourn, CEO & CUO, Navium Insurance, and a legendary figure in the marine insurance market, chats about why he started his own marine MGA Navium at the age of 60, the state of the market, technology´s impact on the marine insurance industry, and why laughter is a fundamental aspect of the Navium office culture.
At an age when most people see retirement within striking distance, Clive Washbourn decided to build a new business and has not looked back since. Established in May 2021 on Fidelis´s Pine Walk platform, Navium Marine offers insurance across the full range of Marine classes. Speaking to Mark Geoghegan about building Navium, Clive´s vision for the organisation is very clear: “we have an ambition to grow a first-class marine business....with a first-class service ethos we want to be able to turn around risk very quickly, and let us not forget what insurance is about, and that is it´s about a promise to pay.”
When asked what motivates him, Clive discloses that it´s not about the money but about delivering a fabulous business for clients. Commenting on selecting risk, he says, “in terms of underwriting, as I´ve always done, you have to underwrite selectively for profit; if you don´t, in time, you will lose money.” Speaking further on risk selection, he adds: “all our concentration and discussion in the office is around risk selection and getting the brokers in…. it works beautifully; it´s a very clean way of underwriting.”
As the conversation turns to the state of the current state of the market, Clive comments: “this is only my observation; I would say cargo has had an upward trend for about four years, the rating is, I think, robust.” Clive also comments about the state of liabilities and hull and that the overall marine book will be profitable if written with care.
The marine insurance industry, like many other sectors, has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. With crews displaced or stranded all over the world, Mark asks Clive what effect Covid has had on the sector; commenting on this, he says: “I don´t think it really has, the most visible area it has affected is the cruise industry and all those underwriters that write large portfolios of cruise ship owners that´s been a dramatic decrease in income.”
Turning back to business, Mark asks Clive if he wants Navium to compete with everyone in the wider marine market or to be known for having a specialism: “we do want to play across the board because we´re very specific in that we´re a Marine MGA… I just want to be known for being a high-class business”, adding further that he wants the business to be also be recognised for paying its claims quickly and efficiently.
Turning to technology and the use of data and algorithmic underwriting in the marine sector, Clive mentions that duplication of information and efforts is still high but that technology should never replace face-to-face negotiation. “The actual transfer of data needs to be seamless; it can´t be interrupted or mistakes made in the transfer of that data.” Asked about technology´s impact on the market and exposures, Clive says, “anything that can help inform aggregate exposures has got to be really neat because that´s the most important things you can get wrong in underwriting - not knowing what you’ve got on risk, where you´ve got it on risk - so having that data is absolutely imperative to protect your capital base and make a profit.”
Addressing Mark´s question around the type of culture being established at Navium, Clive is very clear about the kind of atmosphere and culture he wants to create: “in terms of the office environment I don´t like boyish atmospheres, I like a real mix of cultures, female and male, and the most important thing in my office is this, laugher – we spend a lot of time in the office, we need to respect each and just laugh out loud on a regular basis. I love to employ top-class people. Empower them to get on with it… let talent flourish, and the company will flourish with it.”
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