But even then, there's still the risk of hurricanes or bad weather. Ships will have to be able to move to avoid potentially catastrophic damage. Thankfully, modern cruise liners can travel a lot faster than your typical weather storm. But quick action and early warning systems are crucial to ensuring they can clear the area in time.
Naturally, as a marine insurer, RSA has a vested interest in this area. But during the pandemic, when almost all of the world's cruise liners are moored up, this concern is particularly pronounced. Mechanical failure or storm damage to ships worth hundreds of millions of pounds is in no one's interest, least of all the insurers that cover them.
However, like other areas of our business, our underwriting and marine teams have kicked into action and used ingenious thinking to tackle the problems thrown up by COVID-19.
Ships around the world use an automated tracking system called AIS to navigate and avoid other vessels in their vicinity. By tapping into this data feed, we've been able to cross-reference it against the ships that we insure. Our underwriters can then use this to live track the vessels, review their recent movements, and spot any causes for concern.
For example, if we found that a ship hadn't broadcast a signal on AIS for an extended period of time, it could be a sign that it's been completely shut down. This might mean it wouldn't be able to quickly avoid an approaching storm.
We can also use the data feed to see the distribution of ships, particularly if a number of them are moored in the same dock. This helps us to manage risk accumulations and talk to customers about mooring, safety, and supervision plans to help minimise risk.