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New boss takes the helm at Hollard Marine


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Hollard Marine has a large energetic team that works daily to ensure the lives of those whose cargo they insure run as smoothly as possible, says Cynthia Nanthalall, head of the Marine Centre of Excellence (CoE). Nanthalall takes the helm from Frank Ponnen, who headed the CoE for nine years before officially retiring this month.


                        New boss takes the helm at Hollard Marine


Marine insurance covers loss or damage, with certain exclusions, of goods that are imported, exported or transported from or within South Africa. It is suited to exporters, importers, professional hauliers, ship repairers and builders, charterers, project managers, financial institutions and stevedores.

This type of cover includes marine cargo, advance loss of profits and delay in start-up. Protection is also provided for a carrier’s legal liability, plus hull and specialist liability.

Another aspect is marine hull insurance, which responds to the physical loss of, or damage to, a watercraft, and by extension certain liabilities to passengers or third parties. Craft typically insured in the South African market include private pleasure craft and commercial vessels such as the fishing fleets working in local waters.

Hollard’s Marine Liability products respond to the legal liability needs of ship repairers, ship builders, charterers and stevedores.

Depending on the kind of insurance requested, exclusions can and do apply. Typical exclusions to cargo cover include, amongst others:

  • Loss, damage or expense resulting from deliberate damage or wilful misconduct by the assured
  • Ordinary leakage or wear and tear of the insured goods
  • Loss caused by delay
  • Unseaworthiness of a vessel or craft
  • Insufficiency or unsuitability of the packing by the insured

It was Ponnen who first introduced Nanthalall to this class of insurance 28 years ago. “I started out as most do, as a declaration clerk, and have not looked back since,” she says. “I’ve only ever done marine insurance. I’m not sure that another class of insurance would keep me as mindfully engaged as marine.”

Each cargo is different and has different requirements and specifications, so that an insurer is learning every day, Nanthalall says.

“It’s a fascinating area of insurance, unlike any other. You won’t see the same thing cross your desk in a month – livestock, clothing, plastics, gold, explosives – it’s a very rich, dynamic, learning curve. You never feel you know all there is to know.”

Hollard Marine evolved from the merger of Etana Marine and Astra Maritime in 2014.

Reacting timeously to unceasing regulatory requirements has been one of the leading challenges for most insurers over the years, says Nanthalall.

Since 2012 regulations that mean that freight forwarders and transporters are not permitted to arrange insurance on behalf of cargo owners if they are not licensed financial service providers, have been enforced. This saw the market scurrying to align its practices accordingly.

A more recent trend observed is the upsurge in general average losses, where cargo is voluntarily sacrificed or extraordinary expenditure is voluntarily incurred by the master of the vessel with the aim of preserving the ship, cargo and lives of the crew on board.

Nanthalall is a fellow of the Insurance Institute of South Africa, and in the final stages of a Masters of Business Administration degree at Henley Business School.


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