Thursday, July 26, 2012

From the P&C Files: Iran, Shipping, Insurance and Oil

Although we primarily concern ourselves with life and health insurance, we're certainly no strangers to the Property and Casualty side of the biz. This item in the Washington Free Bacon Beacon (oops, sorry), piqued my interest:

"The insurance industry and ... lawmakers are attempting to water down a new Iran sanctions bill that would penalize any company that underwrites Iranian affiliates"

Since this is rather outside my bailiwick, I turned (again) to our resident on-call P&C guru, Bill M, who helped me get my head around it.

Here goes:

Acme Industries, which ships oil-drilling equipment to Iran, calls AIG (hey, it's called American International Group for a reason) for a quote. AIG asks all the pertinent questions (including what's being shipped, from where, to where, etc) and generates a quote. Acme likes what it sees, and purchases the policy.

Six months later, Acme is sanctioned for "bolstering the Iranian oil industry."

Under the bill currently wending its way through the House, AIG would then also be sanctioned.

The "prominent lawmakers" mentioned above would prefer to let AIG (or whomever) off the hook.

This item raises a number of questions:

First, would it have mattered if Acme had already been sanctioned before seeking that AIG quote? Are "sanctions" to this process what speeding tickets are to auto insurance?

Second, what if Acme had bought the policy from a broker in London? After all, it's not unreasonable to presume that a carrier might have offices in other countries in addition to a presence here.

If you have experience in this market, we'd appreciate any thoughts you might have on this.
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