TT Club: Automation Insurance and SOLAS VGM Doubts


Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director, has explained automation's impact on port and terminal insurance and shared doubts about SOLAS VGM compliance in a new Port Technology interview. 

The veteran of the international transport and logistics industry insurer has revealed how a wide range of factors are affecting insurance premiums.

He pointed out that although a terminals value increases as more machines are automated, insurance prices still depend heavily on the danger posed by an environment, meaning that a reduction in workforce removes many insurance costs.

The interview also covered why Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Verified Gross Mass (VGM) rules are yet to truly impact safety in the shipping sector.

Brought into force by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on July 1, 2016, SOLAS VGM has made it a requirement that shippers declare the weight of a packed container to the shipowner and charterers before stowage to ensure the safety of ships and workers both on board and ashore.

Storrs-Fox explained why he believes the legislation is not being embraced —  a standpoint shared by Simon Everett, Managing Director at container weighing systems provider Strainstall

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Storrs-Fox said: “The feedback we’ve had from the limited number of places where there are check-weighing processes happening would appear to indicate that there is nominal compliance.

“In other words, someone has found a value to put in the VGM bulks, but not necessarily the right value.

“We’re finding quite significant discrepancies in excess of a tonne.”

Storrs-Fox added that national government implementation has also been “restricted”, but that safety has improved due to an increase in stakeholder interaction.

He concluded: “Weight alone is not the major cause of accidents, it’s all to do with eccentric packing or poor packing processes that most of the time will give rise to the incidents happening.”

Read more: Two container industry bodies have published an in-depth guide for those seeking to use refrigerated containers in a non-operating mode

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