Insurance Covered


A look at the Zong Massacre (With Trevor Burnard)

Season 2, Ep. 6

Welcome to Insurance Covered! The podcast that looks at the inner workings of the insurance industry with the help of expert guests. Our guest this week is Trevor Burnard and we will be discussing the most notorious insurance coverage case in history, Gregson v Gilbert also known as 'The Zong Massacre'. Trevor is the Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and the Director of the Wilberforce Institute.

The Zong massacre is a notorious event in insurance history and involved the despicable murder of enslaved people in an attempt to claim back losses in insurance. We start by setting the political scene in the 1780s. The first murder of enslaved people, or captives, on the Zong happened on 29th November 1781. It was only a month after Britain had lost the American Revolution with the battle of Yorktown. French ships were at that stage just moving in towards the Caribbean. It looked like Jamaica was going to get taken over and conquered by the French fleet. At that point, Jamaica which was Britain's most valuable and important colony was in a terrible state. The great majority of Britons were invested in the slave trade and Britain was the greatest slave trading nation in the world.

We then move specifically on to the story of the Zong. The Zong was a ship captured in Ghana and by a British family, the Gregson's who wanted to make a bit of profit from the slave trade, these Liverpool slave traders, used this captured ship to put on a very large number of captives with a very small crew and send them across ideally to Kingston. The ship encountered trouble and found itself off course and running low of supplies.

The crew had three choices that they could have made. The first and the most obvious one was to wait for water to arrive, in other words, rain, and to sail for Montego Bay as quickly as possible or wait for another ship to come by. The second one, which is one you would expect them to do, would be to batten down the hatches so slaves could not escape, accept that slaves would die from dehydration and disease and then when they got to Montego Bay to try and sell as many slaves as they could for whatever price they could get and that's what normally happened on slave ships in this sort of situation. The third one was what they did do which was to decide to throw overboard 54 women and children in order, they claimed later on, to stop an insurrection, a rebellion. They did this on 29th November, they threw over another 42, all men on the 1st December and sometime after 6th December they threw over another 26 captives while 10 Africans threw themselves overboard. This equates to the abhorrent murder of 122 captives.

The Gregson's then put in an insurance claim, citing the action taken to be lawful to prevent insurrection and rebellion, which at the time was a common claim to make. The underwriter however refused to pay out the claim on this matter, its thought that the actions of the Gregson's made him doubt this was a legitimate claim and more of a scheme to maximise profits and make up for their poor voyage. The decision was then taken to the courts to decide, initially the decision went in favour of the slave traders, but on appeal, Lord Mansfield reversed the decision. Two key reasons for this; the manner in which a number of captives which threw themselves off the ship and also the claim that lack of water was the reason for insurrection when in fact there had been heavy rain before, during and after the massacre.   

Despite the case going against the slave traders the story unfortunately has an unsavoury ending, they did not win their claim but the ultimately got away with murder. The Zong was one of the first cases that signaled the changing of attitudes and the kickstart of the abolitionist movement.

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Insurance and environmental conservation (With Rob George)

Season 2, Ep. 9
Welcome to Insurance Covered! The podcast that looks at the inner workings of the insurance industry with the help of expert guests. This week we are joined by Rob George, Head of Corporate Governance and Risk at the RSPB and our topic for discussion is the role insurance can (and does) play in environmental conservation. We start by looking at who the RSPB are and what they are trying to achieve. The RSPB or Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, are a nature conservation charity based in the UK that focuses on the protection of endangered bird species. They have about 2,000 paid staff, around 18,000 volunteers, and a net charitable expenditure of around £100 million a year which provides essential funding to conservation projects across the globe. They have over 200 protected wildlife reserves that provide endangered species a habitat that protects them from extinction and helps them to thrive. When a species is identified as being at risk or endangered the RSPB plan and carry out projects to protect birds with the help of Governments, their members, who help fund the projects and of course insurance companies, which will be the focus of this podcast. We go on to explore the impact insurance has on environmental conservation, focusing on key projects undertaken by the RSPB. One project discussed by Rob is an international project on GoughIsland which in the South Atlantic, between South Africa and Brazil and is an important site for breeding endangered birds like the Albatross. The RSPB as well as working with mainland UK also conduct conservation projects in other UK overseas territories, however remote they are. Rob explains "around 2 million chicks are born on Gough island each year, but they are at risk due to a non-native mouse population accidently introduced by passing ships". The project to eradicate the invasive mouse species involves flying helicopters over the mountainous terrain in often difficult decisions and drop poison traps using hoppers. The difficulty of the task meant specialist pilots and ship captains were needed which meant getting pilots from New Zealand to come across to the remote island to help. "The insurance requirements are pretty bespoke, so it's not just marine and air cargo which I mentioned earlier on but abandonment insurance.So, we were concerned about whether we would have enough flying days to get the project done in a season given the conditions that you get in the South Atlantic and we needed to be able to at least clawback some of the costs if we have to give up during the year of operation because of the weather conditions so we had abandonment insurance when we tried first during 2020".When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and restrictions were imposed the project had to be abandoned, the abandonment insurance helped to cover the losses. In 2021 the project was resumed and the work to save the Albatross natives of Gough island is well underway. In this kind of scenario, without the backing of Insurance companies' projects like these would not be able to even be attempted and conservation efforts would be far more difficult to undertake.We finish the podcast by discussing what more insurance companies can do to aid conservation projects and how that relationship is likely to evolve in the future. We hope you enjoy the podcast! Please subscribe to stay up to date with the latest episodes.

A look at LIIBA (With Christopher Croft)

Season 2, Ep. 8
Welcome to Insurance Covered! The podcast that looks at the inner workings of the insurance industry with the help of expert guests. Our guest this week is Christopher Croft and we will be looking at the London and International Insurance Brokers Association or LIIBA and the role they play in the insurance market.We start by discussing some of the projects Chris has been involved in, he highlights three key projects, producing the first London Matters report in 2014, filing the form that incorporated Placing Platform Limited which is now the predominant electronic trading platform in London and convening the first meeting of the working group to try and develop a way in which insurance linked security business could be written in London. We go on to discuss the role LIIBA play. Chris explains there are two main roles. "Our role splits more or less neatly into two halves is part lobbyist and part expert analyst and input into market debate". The lobbying aspect is the crucial role of representing the interests of their members to government. One example Chris draws on is during the pandemic they have been talking to the government around the possibility of having some sort of private/public partnership that will allow event cancellation insurance to be written again so that live music events and conferences and weddings even can start happening again. The role of expert analyst relates to them playing a role in shaping regulation that will impact the market and weighing into debates with the interests of their members and the market as a whole in mind.We then discuss the three biggest issues facing Lloyd's brokers from the perspective of Chris and LIIBA. Chris identifies them as; maintaining the efficiencies post-COVID, Brexit and the changes that brings and finally the modernisation of Lloyd's.Chris goes on to mention the overarching importance of insurance. "there is a theory that if you were to start again from scratch to create a global economy the first thing you'd do is open up a patent office and the second thing you'd do is open an insurance company because economic activity only works if people can protect their intellectual property and take risk and I don’t think enough people in governments understand how pivotal insurance is". We hope you enjoy the podcast! Please subscribe to stay up to date with the latest episodes.

Treating customers fairly (With James Daley)

Season 2, Ep. 7
Welcome to Insurance Covered! The podcast that looks at the inner workings of the insurance industry with the help of expert guests. This episode we are joined by James Daley, founder of Fairer Finance, and we will be discussing the concept of treating customers fairly. We start by discussing James time as a journalist and how he became involved in the insurance world. The concept of holding up standards and ensuring customers are treated fairly is something that has been at the heart of James work from the beginning. When looking at the financial services and insurance market James saw there was this real information asymmetry between what customers knew and understood and the reality of these complex product offerings. He identifiedthe that there was a role for the press to play in helping to keep the industry honest and ensure customers are treated fairly.James goes on to explain why he set up Fairer Finance in 2014. "I set up FairerFinance with the idea of having a company that was first and foremost something that we would try and support consumers to make better decisions but also very much recognising that a successful market for consumers had to be one that was fair to businesses as well". They developed a I created a rating system called 'customer experience ratings' that are a clear indicator to consumers which companies are the most customer focused. The ratings are developed partially through polling of customers but also takes into account the 'uphold rate' at the financial ombudsmen. The idea of these ratings are not to attack companies but something they can take to them with recommendations on how they can make their business more client friendly. "We ended up creating a consultancy business that specialises in re-writing policy documents. Helping companies create clearer customer journey, even helping them with regulatory response or product development with the focus on treating customers fairly".James goes on to explain while they do this for businesses across financial services, from an insurance perspective they focus on personal lines. We then discuss what James thinks are the biggest concerns in the insurance world from an insured's perspective. James mentions trust, the struggle of finding the right product (customer experience) and the customer expectation gap as his three biggest concerns from an insureds perspective. He goes on to explain that they are linked in many ways. "Trust has been lost as a result of the customer expectation gap, the difference between what the customer expects to get vs what they actually get can sometimes differ, it goes back to the lack of knowledge and understanding of complex products". We then get to the main question of the podcast, what does treating customers fairly really mean. "So, I think it really does mean acting in customers' best interests and the phrase that we say specifically to companies when we work with them is it is your responsibility to do everything you possibly could to give the customer the best chance of getting a good outcome".We hope you enjoy the podcast! If you did, please subscribe.