Satellite insurance still good biz

Chris Forrester, on 21-09-2008

The world’s satellite insurers have had a half-decent good year, according to insurance giant Aon Space. Aon looks after some of the world’s largest satellite operators including Intelsat, Inmarsat and others.

"Space insurers earned approximately $411 million in premium for the first two quarters of 2008, putting the market in a profitable position with claims reported to be $252 million," Aon says. "However, five additional in-orbit failures mean insurers will perceive market volatility persisting through the end of the year. The failures include partial failures of AMC 16, Nigcomsat, Galaxy 26 and Eutelsat W5. AMC 16, an A2100 type satellite, continues to lose solar array strings with power loss rumoured to be now at 25%, sufficient to trigger a claim."

Peter Elson, senior MD at Aon Space, said: "The market stiffened its resolve for premium rate increases following losses at the end of 2007 and early 2008. Some operators, such as Inmarsat and other Aon clients, took advantage of favorable market conditions in 2007 to buy long-term policies. Others that held back are feeling the brunt of the market's reaction. However, quality operators with good technical risks presented to the market effectively can still secure premium rates below long term trends."

The Inmarsat F3 satellite (successfully launched in August) is the third of the I-4 constellation, concluding a decade of development and a $1.5 billion investment by Inmarsat. Nick Palmer, head of risk management at Inmarsat stated: "We consider risk management in all its aspects as being one of Inmarsat's core capabilities and the launch insurance program developed over a number of years in partnership with Aon has been a valuable investment."