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sail-world.com -- So just who is Pantaenius, then? (Part II)

So just who is Pantaenius, then? (Part II)    
Sat, 3 Nov 2012

In Part I, we got to discover that whilst Pantaenius is very old, he is not actually the fourth Musketeer or an ancient Greek philosopher. In fact, he is probably an it, or really a they when you come to think of it, and they are Europe’s largest marine insurer.

With a huge, global following of over 70,000 policy holders and some very unique and great cover options, the Australian market is now set for wonderful new choices when you have to seek cover for your water born assets. Whether sail or power, large or small, recreational or commercial, James MacPhail and the team at Pantaenius are there for you, the Australian mariner.

Shortly, we’ll hear what James has to say about his background in the business and appointment as the CEO of Pantaenius Australia. Prior to that, let’s just do a quick review from Part I of some of the highlights from the suite of products. Now having said all of that, please always remember to thoroughly read, evaluate and understand all the material relating to your policy, just as you would with any financial services product.

• An agreed, fixed value that does not become a current market value.
• No deductions deducted from your payout in many cases.
• No limit to the salvage cost.
• Extensive cover over many types of incident.
• You can select new for old replacement on parts of your vessel.
• Transport and storage within your designated cruising area is included.
• So too, normal wear and tear.
• And natural disasters.
• Unpaid crew and guests are covered for injury and claims against either an uninsured third party or even yourself!
• You, personally, are covered as Skipper if borrowing or chartering a vessel in another country.
• A specified limit of AU$150,000 is available, should your vessel be impounded by overseas authorities.
• You are covered for the costs associated with an unintentional activation of your safety systems.
• You get some regatta coverage included as standard.
• The scope of your liability cover extends to injury, death, financial loss and property damage to third parties.

Let’s get straight in to with James MacPhail then, as he explains why Pantaenius is such a large entity. ‘The company started out and is still based in Hamburg, Germany, which has an immense seafaring and shipping history. From there, Pantaenius expanded into the UK and all of Europe, and around 10 years ago, into the USA, as well.’

‘Australia and the Western Pacific was the last region to be added, which means Pantaenius can offer a truly worldwide service to all of our blue water cruisers and superyacht owners. Pantaenius is one of the top three, production pleasure boat insurers in Europe and one of the world’s largest when it comes to superyachts.’

‘Nearly every Australian who goes off cruising worldwide, or buys a boat in the States or Europe to sail them around and then bring them back, has Pantaenius insurance.’

‘We are one of the few companies that can offer a single policy, which then allows someone to cross multiple jurisdictions. Instead of working with a single underwriter, we work with pools of underwriters. They are licensed and able to work in different jurisdictions independently, which then allows us to tie a single policy together and thereby cover someone on a worldwide cruising basis’, explained James.

Incidentally, for the reasons outlined above and because some overseas people choose to keep their boats here in Australia, the office already has a client roll to service, literally from the moment the office door opened.

Now of course, that was not the only reason Pantaenius set up shop on our shores. Growing the business was a key element to it, as well. ‘In terms of differentiation, we are able to insure people who want to take their boats outside territorial waters and we can insure people that want to do things that other insurance companies can’t, won’t or are uninterested in insuring’, said James.

‘Within our policies, we offer a whole range of different features that some of our competitors either don’t offer or certainly don’t promote. Things like agreed fixed value, which we actually offer as standard.’

‘In terms of excesses, we provide a no excess clause on a range of different losses, including total loss. For example, when someone loses their boat under accidental circumstances, then they won’t be contributing to an excess.’

‘Consequential loss or damage is quite possibly the biggest feature to mention, however. This is where damage occurs as a result of something failing due to wear and tear or outright malfunction. We don’t cover the part per se, but we do cover the resulting damage, which can be very extensive. It’s called consequential loss and a lot of our competitors do not cover it at all.’

‘This is pretty unique inside the insurance industry, I can tell you.’

Now for yachties, this is really important if the rig were to come down, for instance. You know the boat will be back in working order, as quickly as can be expedited. However, it’s not all about yachts. Think about the legs of the sterndrives or the shafts, skegs, cutlass bearings and props that make your powered vessel go.

So not only are there some unique features in the Pantaenius offering, there are some decidedly unparalleled ways they go about the business of marine insurance, too.

‘We actually manage our own claims, in-house. Where required, we will use the services of marine surveyors and loss assessors, but we don’t appoint them and they are not appointed on behalf of our underwriters or the insurance companies, either. They produce an independent report for us.’

‘In a lot of cases, where it’s a fairly standard loss or pretty basic claim and all parties are comfortable that the resolution makes sense, we are the ones that write the cheque to the customer.’

‘Where there is no compliance for us to engage an external specialist or involve any other third party, we are authorised and appointed by the insurance companies to process the claim and that is a unique and incomparable structure inside the whole Australian insurance industry.’

Of course, the major benefit to you, the policyholder, is that this allows Pantaenius to process claims both significantly faster and more efficiently. You also get to deal with just the one person and not some new party brought in for just this particular time.

‘We hear gripes every day, where claims are being held up with red tape inside the insurance companies. You find yourself dealing with one person and then five months later they have disappeared and you have got to explain the claim and argue the point with a new employee of some insurance company who really doesn’t understand anything about marine insurance.’

‘It can become really cumbersome and desperately time consuming. I know of a number of claims that are well outside of 12 months since occurring, where the owners are more than keen to get a resolution. This is not something that happens with us. Our settlement record worldwide is normally within 45 through 60 days’, James pointed out.

So if going to sea is all about choosing a good skipper, with a well prepared boat and competent crew, then you’d have to say the same needs to be said about selecting an insurer. Bring on a brief history of James himself, then.
‘Primarily, this is a great role for me, because I have got a really strong relationship base, born out of an extensive marine industry background. There are friends and people I know all around our great country, that I have either been yacht racing with, worked alongside in the industry, sold boats to or been co-located at various marinas.’

‘As a sailor, I have a fair handle on where all the rocks are in Australia. I have navigated my way to pretty much all of them and know what it costs to fix the consequential damage of incidences with those rocks’, said James with a distinctly wry smile.

‘Additionally, I have had both project management and hands-on building involvement with vessels ranging from Etchells to IMS and IRC ocean racers. So construction methods, techniques and acceptable building standards are part of my general knowledge base. When working with customers and claims alike, I have more than a good understanding of what is required to get a solution.’

‘We won’t be putting prices on damages and repairs. That will be done by people who are appointed to quote to repair the project, but I will know instantly whether the quote is realistic or sensible and just as importantly, if it is comprehensive enough to return the boat into its previous condition.’

‘The other thing that helps me with this great role at Pantaenius Australia, is that I have worked in both the powerboat and the yachting industries for the bulk of my career, since 1985. Whilst there are people who have worked in one or the other, very few people have a broad understanding of the entire industry in the way that I do.’

‘In terms of insurance, I have been the owners representative on a number of major claims over the last 30 years. I think it is fair to say that I have got a really strong understanding of how the industry works and what are the customers’ expectations.’

‘The final and linking piece of the picture is that I have been selling marine insurance in Australia for over 30 years. It has afforded me a good understanding of the underwriting, claims and commission aspects of the industry, if nothing else.’

Out of that last comment, particularly, comes the very next question. Just how is James going to direct the team at Pantaenius to build the customer base? ‘There are a reasonable number of marine enthusiasts out there with a requirement that our competitors just don’t want to insure. We’ll work with the media and advertise accordingly, but our real push is with a small nucleus of dealers that are not traditional brokers, but rather, they are involved in all the ancillary and maintenance type operations.’

‘Of course, whilst relationships are going to be a key element of our focus, I really do believe we have a far better mousetrap and our policies will literally do the talking for us. I think you’ll find that the market will have to move towards our style of policy offering. As a result, there will be significant changes in the way the commission structures are paid, just as there have been with the Telcos in the last five or so years.’

‘Yes. We are really looking forward to our first year. The market needs the changes and the customers will love the way in which Pantaenius deals with their claims. We are strong, well credentialed, have a big underwriting pool and a product that is both unique and serves the customer well. It is a good time for us to enter the Australian scene.
In finishing, James commented, ‘I think we are pretty price effective to, you know. We have a 50-foot racing yacht coming to Australia, which we have covered for the sum of $750,000. The premium is $7,500 and that includes doing the Sydney Hobart Race!’

So if price shopping your bank for the best interest rate is now the done thing, then it may also well be time to do exactly the same with your marine insurance. To reach Pantaenius Australia and ask for your quote, call 02 9936 1670, email info(at)pantaenius.com.au or go to the website.

Happy sailing – it is not just days of fair winds, blue skies, moderate seas and fish that are biting. It is very much about peace of mind for the unexpected and that’s exactly what tends to happen around boats!









by John Curnow



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