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APIC17 lives up to its promise

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Dec 2017


by Kate Tilley, Australian Insurance Law Association communications consultant
The inaugural Asia Pacific Insurance Conference in Singapore on 18-20 October lived up to its promise, delivering a professional programme that focused on issues and challenges directly relevant to the Asia-Pacific region and explored wider global challenges.
   APIC17 was hosted by the international insurance law association, AIDA, with support from the Australian, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan insurance law associations, and the US-based Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.
   APIC17 began with a full day of presentations and reports from the AIDA working parties, covering climate and catastrophes; personal insurance and pensions; dispute resolution; reinsurance; motor; marine; state supervision; general principles of insurance law and distribution of insurance products; and civil liability.
   Plenary sessions ran across the next two days, let by master of ceremonies Mr Angus Kench, who is AILA President and Vice President Casualty Claims, Asia Pacific, at Liberty International Underwriters.
Keynotes and panel sessions
Justice Quentin Loh, a Singapore High Court judge and one of 22 specialist judges on the Singapore International Commercial Court, encouraged the insurance industry to use the court’s jurisdiction “if it suits your case”. “It addresses some of the shortcomings of international arbitration while providing the benefits usually associated with the arbitral process,” he said.
   Ms Luz Foo, Executive Director and Head of the International Department at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, outlined progress towards the ASEAN Economic Community’s goal of financial and economic integration across the ASEAN nations.
  New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Anthony Meagher examined the history of the development of specialist courts to resolve insurance disputes and how they influenced the establishment and evolution of equivalent courts today.
   Mr Ashish Jain, Vice President and Managing Director of AIR Worldwide in Singapore, identified ways to overcome the protection gap that is prevalent in many Asia-Pacific nations.
   Mr Cameron Green, CEO of Willis Re Australia, said regulators and ratings agencies are now putting pressure on insurers to better identify exposures and, in particular, aggregation risks for casualty catastrophes. 
Cyber attacks
Mr Andrew Mahony, who developed Aon’s cyber practice in Asia, discussed the appropriate responses to major cyber attacks. “No matter what security you have in place, every company is vulnerable,” he warned. Response planning was the key to mitigating the risk.
   Business interruption following a cyber loss was the theme for a presentation from Clyde & Co lawyer Nick Sykes and MDD’s Phil Taylor. They both stressed that traditional and standalone policies differed markedly in what they would and would not cover after cyber events.
“Price gymnastics” and blockchain
Mr Matthew Jackson, Head of Casualty Underwriting Asia for Liberty International Underwriters, explained the industry’s “price gymnastics” using then F&G president Paul Ingrey’s 1985 clock that detailed the 12 points of the insurance cycle.
   Mr David Piesse, Chief Risk Officer at Guardtime, the world’s first blockchain company, explained the complex concept concisely. He defined blockchain as “a way connected computers or devices reach agreement across a shared decentralised data source. It provides transparency and auditability for all stakeholders to establish decentralised trust and verify truth between parties”.
Inherent vice, suit in US and marine claims
Auckland, New Zealand, barrister Neil Campbell QC detailed the concept of inherent vice, which can leave insureds “surprised and disappointed” at claim time.
   Ms Meryl Lieberman, a partner and founder of the US-based firm Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry, outlined pitfalls for foreign companies being sued in the United States”. She warned of “scorched earth discovery” but emphasised the importance of pre-planning to manage lawsuits.
   In a joint presentation on marine claims across Asia, Mr Mark McGurran, Group Director, Hull & Machinery Services, with London Offshore Consultants in Singapore, said shipowners were risking greater machinery damage claims by skimping on crews.
   More than 50% of operating costs were for fuel; port charges were 19%; insurance was 13%. Crews were only 5% of operating costs, but many were “not up to the job and it’s the biggest cause of machinery failure”. 
   Co-presenter Iain Anderson, a partner with RPC Legal in Singapore, said the marine market was changing and coverage questions were less frequent. “Lawyers are now saying ‘you will pay, let’s talk about how much’.” Brokers had been adept at removing exclusion clauses, including war and breach of customs, “and the market is going along with it”.
   APIC17 attracted 280 delegates from across the globe. A 
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