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Suez Canal blockage a huge loss event for global reinsurers

March 30, 2021

The blocking of the Suez Canal and the resulting disruption to global shipping is likely to cause a large loss event for the reinsurance industry. It is estimated that losses may easily run into hundreds of millions of euros.

The shipowner’s protection and indemnity club will probably face claims from the owners of the cargo on the Ever Given and of the other ships that are blocked in the Suez Canal for losses related to perishable goods and supply chain disruptions.
In addition, they may face claims from the Suez Canal Authority itself for loss of revenues. According to press reports, more than 300 ships are stuck at either end of the canal.

A large share of those losses will probably be reinsured by a global panel of reinsurers. It will add pressure to global reinsurers’ 1H2021 earnings—earnings that have already been knocked by catastrophe events such as winter storms in the US and flooding in Australia, as well as by additional coronavirus pandemic-related losses.

Last year, global reinsurers reported heavy declines in earnings due to paid claims and claims reserves related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, underlying performance improved due to significant price increases in non-life primary and reinsurance, and their capital positions remained very strong at end-2020. The sequence of catastrophe events in 2021 will put additional strain on commercial insurance and reinsurance markets, pushing prices even higher in an already hardening market.



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