Brexit prompts ship insurers to look south
LONDON (Reuters) – UK-regulated ship insurers are preparing plans to open new outposts in European Union jurisdictions such as Luxembourg and Cyprus, fearing that Brexit will hinder access to the EU’s financial market, industry sources involved say. Britain dominates the global marine insurance market and losing access to specialist Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs – marine insurers owned by shipping firms – could further weaken other parts of its multi-billion-pound shipping services sector. Several Greek shipowners have already moved operations out of Britain anticipating changes that could remove their favorable “nondomicile” tax status. Shipping sources said Cyprus was a possible destination, keen to boost its maritime industry and recently attracting more shipping compa- nies, including Greek shipowners previously based in London. A Cypriot official said there had been early communication over potential interest by clubs to establish a base there, declining further comment. Andrew Bardot, executive officer of the International Group of P&I Clubs – the umbrella association for the 13 insurers – said other possible jurisdictions included Ireland, Germany and Greece. “‘Wait and see’ is not an option given the time that it will take [to set up] a regulated subsidiary within an EU member-state,” he said.