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Baltimore Bridge Collapse Expected to Cause Historic Insurance Losses

Posted by Tim Fox on Apr 1, 2024 12:14:01 PM

The recent catastrophic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD has shocked not only the city but also the insurance industry. A full understanding of the collapse is still under investigation, but as the damage becomes clearer, insurers are preparing for what could be one of the largest marine insurance payouts in history. With billions of dollars at stake, both property and liability claims, the aftermath of this disaster highlights the role insurance will play in recovery efforts and the importance of coverage in large-scale disasters.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

Tuesday, March 26th, The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after a large cargo ship crashed into a support column, causing an immediate crumbling of the structure. According to officials, the ship was a Singapore vessel carrier and reported losing proposition which led to the crash. The ship crew alerted emergency services and were able to close the bridge to save as many lives as possible. The collapse, which occurred during rush hour, left vehicles falling into the water, and numerous lives lost. The U.S. Coast Guard was called to perform an intense search and rescue mission, spending multiple days searching the water surrounding areas for potential souls. While some survivors were found during the mission, there are still individuals believed to be missing from the wreckage.

Beyond the human toll, the economic ramifications are significant. With businesses disrupted, supply chains severed, and infrastructure in need of repair, insurance will serve as a vital safety net to support those affected by the accident.

Lloyds Could Pay Significant Losses

According to reports from CNBC, Lloyd's of London, a leading insurance carrier, is preparing for what could be the largest-ever marine insurance payout. The scale of the damage and the complex web of liabilities involved make this a challenge for insurers. From property damage to business interruption claims, the fallout from the bridge collapse will require various lines of insurance and a complicated claims process

John Neal, an official from Lloyds, reported that losses are anticipated to reach over $1B and would require a significant amount of reinsurance. Approximately 80 reinsurers are involved in the coverage of the ship, and the extent of these losses could see long-term ramifications in marine insurance coverage pricing. He noted that “The boat is insured, the bridge is insured, the port authority is insured” So while the losses are dramatic, the good news is that coverage is in place where it needs to be to provide an adequate amount of recovery efforts.

However, one of the key questions facing insurers is the extent of coverage provided under marine insurance policies. While traditional property and casualty policies may cover certain aspects of the damage, marine insurance specifically addresses risks associated with maritime activities, such as cargo transportation and port operations. In the case of the Baltimore Bridge collapse, the involvement of maritime assets and infrastructure raises challenges for insurers and requires a careful and comprehensive assessment of policy terms and exclusions.

Another issue is the determination of liability among the parties involved. In complex cases like this, multiple parties, including construction firms, transportation companies, and government agencies, may share responsibility for the collapse. For example, while the cargo ship ultimately crashed into the bridge, there is speculation as to whether or not the bridge was being maintained properly for public use. Understanding liability requires further investigation and legal expertise.

The Significance of Risk Management

The Baltimore bridge collapse highlights the importance of risk management and planning in the face of potential disasters. While insurance provides essential financial protection, proactive measures such as regular maintenance, emergency preparedness, and risk mitigation strategies can help minimize the likelihood and severity of such events. The goal of insurers, in collaboration with their clients, is to promote risk awareness and implement measures to enhance resilience and protection.

There are many parties involved that could be responsible for poor risk management, however, it's also possible that it was merely a series of unfortunate events that could not be avoided. Either way, insurance is the factor that will reduce the long-term impact of the disaster.

The Baltimore Bridge collapse may prompt insurers to revisit their exposure to infrastructure risks and invest in innovative solutions. If measures were properly taken to avoid this risk, and it still occurred to this level, it could be a signal that standards for risk management need to be revisited and improved to prevent another similar event from occurring in the future. The Baltimore Bridge collapse is just one singular event, but the catastrophic outcome will make it an event that influences the insurance industry and the future market. Insurers can collaborate with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders to implement measures that enhance infrastructure resilience and mitigate future risks.

Insurance with ECBM

The Baltimore Bridge Collapse serves as an important reminder for businesses in any industry that insurance coverage can be vital in the event of a catastrophic event. Each industry has its own set of risks and liabilities, and insurance provides safety nets for various risks and potential events that would otherwise be detrimental. ECBM Insurance has extensive experience in risk management and insurance coverage to ensure that your organization understands your risks thoroughly, and has a comprehensive insurance program in place for all of these risks. Whether you need consulting services to ensure your program is suitable, or coverage for new risks, ECBM is here to help. Contact us to learn more about our services and expertise.