Lloyd’s has been insuring risks at sea for more than 300 years but as technology develops (and thrill seekers become ever-more daring) the type of cover required by those venturing off-land is evolving.
The mystery of what lies beneath has enraptured seafarers for generations. Since the 1930s, scientists have been developing increasingly sophisticated equipment to explore the deepest depths of the ocean – with deep-sea divers relying on specially constructed steel chambers to protect themselves from the immense pressure.
And it’s not just marine-biologists getting in on the action. Earlier this year, film director James Cameron made it to the ocean’s floor with a solo expedition 10, 898 metres down the Mariana Trench. The record breaking dive, in a “vertical torpedo” submarine, saw Cameron become the first human to reach the 6.8-mile-deep undersea valley alone.
Entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson is planning his own deep-sea expedition to the Puerto Rico Trench this summer in a custom made ‘Virgin submarine’, which it’s claimed can withstand six million kilos of pressure across its surface.
Meanwhile, submersibles manufacturer Triton Submarines plans to charge $250, 000 per person for a trip to the ocean floor in its latest three-man vessel – which it claims “will offer an unrivalled view of the deepest part of the ocean”.
So what opportunities can this new wave of deep-sea exploration open up for insurers? Despite the frenzy for deep-sea exploration among the super-wealthy, it remains a small and specialised part of the market, according to Judy Knights, marine and energy class of business executive at Lloyd’s.
“Most insurance provided would be for physical loss, damage to the craft, or for liability – for example, if there was to be pollution or damage to third-party property, ” she said. She added: “Ventures into previously unexplored depths are new and exciting, but the marine-insurance products that can be offered are centuries old.”
(source: Lloyd’s of London 22 June 2012)