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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How behavioural science can help insurers (with Ella Morrison)

Season 2, Ep. 15
Welcome to Insurance Covered. In this episode we discuss the role behavioural science can and does have in the insurance industry. Our guest is Ella Morrison, Senior Behavioural Designer at Cowry Consulting.We start by exploring what behavioural science is. "It's the study of human behaviour. It's made up of the different aspects, from cognitive psychology, social psychology, behavioural economics, neuroscience, but what it boils down to is understanding how humans make decisions and how we can use that to improve products, services, procedures, so that they're more in line with how we think". The idea that getting into the mind of the consumer, seeing their perspective can help you tailor a proposition to their specific needs and requirements, a strategy that has become increasingly popular in the last 10 years. Ella then gives some examples of how it works in a business environment. She explains the work Cowry Consulting do is working with private sector companies to develop their behavioural science capabilities internally. The idea of creating 'exceptional experiences' for both the end customer and employees. Fixing the user / customer journey, making sure that the products and the services that businesses are developing are actually in line with what motivates us and what appeals to us. We go on to look at it in the context of insurance. Ella explains Cowry Consulting have worked with a number of insurers to build their own behavioural science capabilities. She gives an example of working with Saga. "We worked with Saga in their contact centres, they were really struggling with customer retention. We needed to help the customer understand why their premiums are going up. Saga's client base is typically the older generation, so we needed to redesign the process to be user friendly and easier to understand, to prevent the customers feeling unsure and overwhelmed by the information they were being given. we wanted to make sure that they fully understood why their premiums were changing and to help them guide them to the right policy for them. So we used behavioural science to redesign the conversation so that it was clearer and easier to process, the type of content and explain the policy details in a way that they could understand." Ella goes on to explain that it's crucial to change the process to meet the customers needs rather than make the customer change to fit the process. Finally, we briefly touch on what the future of behavioural science might look like in the next 10 years. Ella believes that we will see the behavioural sciences intertwining with data science which will result in both technological and psychological innovations, for example being able to have a fully bespoke and tailored 'nudge' for each customer depending on their own personal behaviours. Ella also suggests that behavioural design will become a key part of every business, ensuing that processes used are effective in meeting the needs of customers. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Insurance Covered, if you did please subscribe to keep up to date with future episodes.

A look at space insurance (With David Wade)

Season 2, Ep. 14
Welcome to Insurance Covered. In this episode we discuss space insurance, these policies cover and why companies take these out.Peter is joined by David Wade, Underwriter at Atrium Underwriting where he specialises in Space insurance. We discuss, the insurance of space projects, satellites and the future of space exploration.We start by talking about the history of space exploration, the key projects and achievements and where that has left us in the present day. David explains space exploration as we know it came from advancements in rocket weaponry in the second world war. Following the end of the war the science was used to create ships that could break out of the earths atmosphere with the overriding goal of exploring the solar system. David also mentions satellites, and how they are crucial to life as we know it and made fast paced communication a reality. There have been around 12,000 satellites launched and 4000 of those are currently still active. We then discuss how insurance of satellites works. David explains that some of the first satellite policies came through Lloyd's in the mid-1960s. Most of what Atrium cover is the more commercial space activity, satellites used for television and different policies are taken out at different phases of a satellites life cycle. "Typically, separate policies for each phase, so, before the satellite is launched there's a pre-launch cover that is available, this is really offered by the cargo markets.At this, at that stage a satellite is just another piece of equipment being transported from a factory to a place of use. That policy ceases when the launch cover starts, that usually really means the first year of life of the satellite.So that policy attaches at intentional ignition or lift off, or launch.So that would cover the satellite whilst it was on its, on its rocket going into space. Once that first month has passed and the satellite has been thoroughly tested and it starts commercial operations that would be a different policy".Finally, we discuss what the future of space insurance holds. David indicates that with the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson, commercial space travel will eventually be available to the public and with that a whole new type of space insurance policy. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Insurance Covered, many thanks to David for joining us. If you did enjoy, please subscribe to be notified when new episodes are released.

A look at micro insurance (With Rose Goslinga)

Season 2, Ep. 13
Welcome to Insurance Covered. In this episode we discuss micro insurance with Rose Goslinga, co-founder of Pula, a micro insurance company based in Kenya. We will look at why micro insurance exists and why it has become a vital source of cover for so many people in Kenya and beyond. We start by discussing how Rose found her way to founding a micro insurance company in Africa. Rose moved to Rwanda to take up a job in the Ministry for Agriculture and worked with a team to implement 'the green initiative' with plans to help farmers increase their crop yield in order to ensure there was enough food to feed them and the villages they belonged to. It was in this role the need for insurance was clear, when such investment into agriculture was highly dependent on their being a good amount of rainfall. Rose goes on to explain what micro insurance is explaining that it is exactly what it sounds like, small premiums and the limits of indemnity are also small " the average farm size that we deal with is maybe half an acre, our average premium, I think this last year, was $8". Rose goes on to explain that with the micro insurance they offer it is essentially a form of parametric insurance. To visit every individual farm would be logistically and financially very costly (and would drive the premiums up making it unaffordable to the farmers). So instead they rely on technology and sampling in different areas to provide data on a good harvest, if there have been issues (flooding or droughts for example) and pay-outs are based on data received back.We then go on to discuss how Pula 'sell' insurance policies to farmers. Rose explains it comes down to behavioral economics and the value proposition but forward. It is heavily built on trust. "You are now telling people, give me money first, and then if something goes wrong, you have to trust me but I will pay you compensation". One way Pula have sold policies is through credit providers or through fertilizer providers or seed providers that the farmers are using. Working with the companies providing the credit to build and work the farms almost mandating that they take insurance cover to protect them and the harvest should anything go wrong. We then discuss how the claims side works. Rose explains the farmers don’t make claims, the technology in place calculates claims based on historical data and sampling. If a harvest in a district in lower than historically measured a payment is calculated. If the areas have been affected by adverse weather a payment is automatically calculated and paid. As soon as a trigger happens a payment to the farmers is made. Finally, we discuss the future plans for Pula. She explains last year they had 1.7 million policies in place a number they expect to grow as they expand across Africa and beyond, with Asia and Latin America being other continents to focus on. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Insurance Covered, if you did please subscribe to keep up to date with future episodes.