Crossing borders and overcoming barriers

Author – George Jennings

Technology has made the world more accessible than ever, but that doesn’t mean that working across borders is without any troubles. In fact, when crossing borders, insurance can become complicated and very time consuming if you don’t know your way.

At Consort Technical Underwriters, facilitating cross border insurance placement has become one of our growing interests. This was born from a simple need to help our clients/brokers comply more easily with insurance legislation within the sub-Saharan Africa region and navigate the many obstacles that come when working in foreign countries. At Consort, it’s crucial that we endeavour to assist brokers with access to trusted and reliable insurers and reinsurers, especially in countries where there is strict prescribed legislation.

Let’s take a closer look at the types of enquiries, challenges, and requirements one can expect when assisting with placements and reinsurance networks.

The most common enquiries we receive include:

  • Reinsurers looking for capacity and support from various different territories. •
  • Local requests for placements in countries outside of South Africa.

Important considerations and challenges:

  • Understanding insurance legislation in each country.
  • Identifying accredited insurers, underwriters, brokers, or correspondents.
  • Calculating fees, taxes, overriding commission, fronting fees, VAT, stamp duties etc.
  • Time constraints and turnaround times to finalise agreements.
  • Policy wordings and the legal ramifications, such as jurisdiction.
  • Payment of premiums (currency shortages).

From an engineering underwriting perspective, the majority of enquiries received relate to Project Specific Contract Works and Public Liability policies and indemnity.

When it comes to Construction Plant and Equipment, one of the challenges is that of repatriating damaged equipment to the nearest South African Border Post. Unfortunately, in some territories there are limited services available to execute repairs, and also limited recovery vehicles and/or rigging units to uplift equipment which is either immobile or out of reach at the accident site. Recovery and repatriation back to country of origin can be a very expensive process.

Aside from the above, language barriers and communication can be an obstacle, particularly when you start communicating about technical insurance matters. But it’s not just the language barrier itself that can impede work. Different languages can have different interpretations of words and nuances, which have legal and technical implications.

Another consideration is the seat of territorial jurisdiction. In some cases, you are required to accept the legal jurisdiction that prevails in that country. If one ends up with litigation whether it be a Contractors Liability claim or purely a technicality with the claim and the wording, you are then in the hands of the justice system that serves that country. Unfortunately, in some countries the legal systems are not as robust when compared to the Roman Dutch Law and English Law. This is where our clients can find themselves in quite a predicament.

Last but not least are placement costs, premium payments, and the time frames in which it takes to conclude a deal, and not to mention all the paperwork that goes along with that. This can be a mammoth task and very time consuming, so be prepared that in some instances it can take months to finalise. Then there are the technicalities of premium payments and different currencies to consider. It all adds up and this is where Consort is continually striving to open up new avenues and relationships in which we can operate as swiftly as possible to assist our intermediaries and mutual clients.