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INTERVIEW

09 Μαρτίου 2018.

         DOROTHEA IOANNOY                          

 

“Greek Shipping has played and continues to play a very significant role in the American Club’s business”

 

 

dioannouDorothea Ioannou has a Juris Doctorate from St. John's University School of Law in New York and a BA from the City University of NY. After relocating to Greece in 1997, Dorothea initially worked in local law firms and was involved in commercial as well as maritime law. In January of 1998, Dorothea entered themarine insurance industry joining Allied Insurance Brokers Ltd. to manage the Marine Insurance Claims Department. In 2005, Dorothea joined SCB (Hellas) Inc., the Piraeus Claims Liaison Office for the Managers of the American P&I Club, (Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc., NY) as a Claims Executive and in 2009 took on the claims management as well as general management of the office. In 2010 she became the first woman to be appointed to the Executive Committee of the N.Y. management company, Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc. In 2013 she became the Regional Business Development Director for Europe Middle East and Africa and since June 2015, she holds the position of Global Business Development Director and now also holds the position of Chief Commercial Officer making her the first woman to occupy a top level global executive position in the history of the American Club and its managers. Dorothea is active in the shipping industry, a frequent speaker at events, a known mentor for young professionals, served on the Board of WISTA Hellas for four years as Vice President, currently serves as a board member of the Piraeus Marine Club and is a member of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Propeller Club. Most recently she was also appointed as a board member of the American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company, Ltd., a wholly owned hull insurance subsidiary of the American P&I Club.

Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou states: «The American Club provides protection and indemnity (P&I) marine insurance which covers shipowners and charterers (who are referred to as “members”) against third-party liabilities encountered in their commercial operations. Typical types of exposures would be responsibility for damaged cargo, pollution, the death, injury, or illness of passengers or crew, and liability for damaged docks and other installations. In addition to P&I, the American Club also offers Freight, Demurrage, and Defense (FD&D) and charterers’ insurance.  FD&D covers the cost of legal representation and related expenses involved in the prosecution and defense of contractual claims against owners, while the Club’s charterers’ specialization specifically insures those liabilities which are intrinsic to the chartering (hiring) of ships». 

Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou also mentioned that «Offices now in seven cities enhance the ability to provide regional expertise and ultimately exceptional personalized service, a cornerstone of the American Club’s global strategy and mission. The American Club though its expansion has followed its member base to provide service in all major hipping hubs».

Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou says «In a world where insurance capacity is high and covers available easily, it is the service that differentiates the caliber of cover and product and that can only be done by a company’s people». 

Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou points out that «All of the American Club’s services and proactivity in connection with all its products is driven not only by the benefits it brings to the American Club, but it is also by a desire to support society’s common interest in the safety of life at sea and the preservation of the marine environment. All services are directly relevant to sea transport and the provision of P&I coverage in particular is vital to the conduct of international maritime trade».

According to Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou «The American Club’s loss prevention focus for 2018 is devoted to more face-to-face interaction with our Members to assist them in integrating the Club’s diverse and focused loss prevention initiatives and programs».

Untiring, positive, talented, creative, inspiring, successful, she enjoys working hard and she believes that «Εmpathy, patience and generosity is the key to any success».

 

 

Interview to: Georgia Ermidi

 

-Can you tell us a little about the history of your company from the foundation until now.

 

Founded in New York in 1917 and celebrating 100 years of service this year, American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, Inc., (the American Club), is the only mutual protection and indemnity club domiciled in the United States. The American Club provides protection and indemnity (P&I) marine insurance which covers shipowners and charterers (who are referred to as “members”) against third-party liabilities encountered in their commercial operations. Typical types of exposures would be responsibility for damaged cargo, pollution, the death, injury, or illness of passengers or crew, and liability for damaged docks and other installations. In addition to P&I, the American Club also offers Freight, Demurrage, and Defense (FD&D) and charterers’ insurance. FD&D covers the cost of legal representation and related expenses involved in the prosecution and defense of contractual claims against owners, while the Club’s charterers’ specialization specifically insures those liabilities which are intrinsic to the chartering (hiring) of ships. 

For much of its history, the Club insured only US–based shipowners and operated only in the United States. Celebrating its centennial this past year, war was raging in Europe when the Club began. At that time, P&I insurance was available primarily from clubs in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. In consequence of UK government trade-related sanctions which had been imposed on certain US shipowners in 1916, the American Club was established to provide a reliable source of coverage in the United States.

The Club was the brainchild of W. H. LaBoyteaux, President of Johnson & Higgins, the leading US marine insurance broker in the United States at that time. The Club was an immediate success, enjoying the support of many of the foremost US steamship companies and by 1922 entered tonnage reached 9.4 million tons making the Club one of the largest P&I Clubs in the world at that time. During the decades that followed through to WWII, the tonnage fluctuated settling at a significant 7.1 million tons in 1945. 

Although the Club only admitted its first foreign-flagged member in 1980, it had ambitions of further international growth over the years which followed. These ambitions gained momentum in 1995 when the Club implemented a major strategy for growth and diversification. Entitled Vision 2000, it called for new leadership, the expansion of the Club’s membership internationally, the establishment of overseas offices, the development of new insurance lines and many other initiatives designed to place the Club at the forefront of its industry peers. Through this global vision implemented by new leadership of its Managers, NY based Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc., and with the steadfast support of the Club’s Board of Directors, the American Club embarked on its great journey of growth and diversification on an international scale. 

Since then, the American Club and its managers have undergone a remarkable transformation. Its achievements over the period include:  a five-fold increase in tonnage, four-fold premium growth, eight-fold growth in total funds, and a ten-fold increase in free reserves, a broad and expanding international membership, about 50% of its revenue now coming from EMEA, 30% from the Americas, and 20% from Asia. Twenty years ago, less than 10% of its income came from non-US sources. Today, the American Club has extensive international service capabilities. In addition to its New York headquarters, its managers now have dedicated offices in Houston, London, Athens, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Limassol with exceptional staff specializing in all sectors of the marine industry which support its shipowners clientele in managing P&I risks.

The American Club has also expanded its line of other insurance products in recent years. It has pioneered fixed premium P&I coverage in the form of its Eagle Ocean Marine facility. As a specialist brand of the American Club, Eagle Ocean Marine provides attentive, competitively-priced Protection and Indemnity and Defense insurance to the operators of smaller vessels who prefer a fixed premium approach to their P&I needs. Backed by the American Club in conjunction with underwriters at Lloyd’s, Eagle Ocean Marine offers a gold standard International Group club service underpinned by the excellent security of reinsurance at Lloyd’s.

The Club recently further diversified into the hull insurance market, which covers shipowners for own damages to the ship insured, by way of establishing a subsidiary insurance company, the American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company in Cyprus in 2016.  American Hellenic is a Solvency II compliant hull insurer based in Cyprus and Greece and managed through partnership with Hellenic Hull Management, marine hull insurance experts with over 20 years of experience in the sector. In a transaction negotiated during 2015 and accomplished as to its final details early in 2016, the American Club has made a significant investment in the establishment of this new company in Cyprus, American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company, Ltd., in order to develop a presence in the hull and machinery market, an area which compliments the Club’s activity in the P&I sector.

dorotheaioannou4Offices now in seven cities enhance the ability to provide regional expertise and ultimately exceptional personalized service, a cornerstone of the American Club’s global strategy and mission.  The American Club though its expansion has followed its member base to provide service in all major hipping hubs. This is not only about providing claims service to locally based members but also investing in the local shipping market through its expert talent pool. The American Club has seen that when you show your commitment through investing resources directly in the community, emphasizing first rate personalized service, this ensures member satisfaction which in turn raises the profile and reputation, ultimately attracting further growth.

As the American Club continues its journey of growth looking beyond its 100th birthday this year it takes pride in receiving prestigious accolades during its lifetime such as the highly regarded Lloyds List Awards in 2005, 2016, 2017 as well as the Seatrade “investment in People” Award for 2017 for its Loss Prevention Initiatives. However, what the American Club really prides itself on are its people, both from its outstanding membership and most certainly from its team, across the globe which has made the American Club what it is today. In a world where insurance capacity is high and covers available easily, it is the service that differentiates the caliber of cover and product and that can only be done by a company’s people. 

 

-What do you do to promote loss prevention across the shipping industry?

 

All of the American Club’s services and proactivity in connection with all its products is driven not only by the benefits it brings to the American Club, but it is also by a desire to support society’s common interest in the safety of life at sea and the preservation of the marine environment. All services are directly relevant to sea transport and the provision of P&I coverage in particular is vital to the conduct of international maritime trade. No ship can safely go to sea without P&I coverage. In addition, the guarantees which clubs are able to provide with regard to liability exposures, for example in the form of certificates of financial responsibility under international conventions for oil pollution etc., are key to protecting victims of maritime accidents throughout the world.

The American Club has always had a devoted and focused loss prevention strategy strongly supported by its Members and its Manager’s senior management. The American Club’s loss prevention focus for 2018 is devoted to more face-to-face interaction with our Members to assist them in integrating the Club’s diverse and focused loss prevention initiatives and programs.

Additionally, the Club is working on a program to assist Members in identifying and managing holistic risks to safety from both shore-based management and shipboard operational perspectives.

A full list of the American Club’s loss prevention tools, products and services can be found at our website at http://american-club.com/page/loss-prevention

 

-The American Club is part of the international group of P&I Clubs which basically ensures about 90% of the worlds tonnage for third party liability. What do you do and you stay on top of what your membership needs?

 

As the P&I mutual system is quite unique, we are not simply an insurer like one would have for their car. We are not simply here to pay when you have a claim. Clubs exist as a support mechanism for ship operators to assist and guide from the very first step of notification of an incident through to conclusion. This means that our experts get exposure to a wide range of matters that all the members deal with. Through this exposure we are able to gauge the trends in operational difficulties, claims and issues of concern. We are then able to extract from our experiences to hone in on what our members need or expect of us. We also have a systematic approach to member maintenance through consistent visitation from all members of our expert team as well as regional workshops for face to face discussions to ask for further input.

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-What are the advantages of the mutuality system and being a member of the International Group of P&I Clubs?

 

The American Club is a full member of the International Group of P&I Clubs. This alliance of leading insurers provides outstanding security and technical resources to the maritime community. It also supports the industry's broader interests as one of shipping's most influential voices. The International Group P&I Clubs is a collective of thirteen mutual associations which together provide protection and indemnity insurance for some 90% of the world’s merchant fleet.  As a result of reinsurance agreements, members of the Group are able to provide cover for P&I liabilities reaching billions of dollars. This financial security of the Group provides peace of mind to all stakeholders involved in sea transport. When a ship is entered with a Group Club, it sends a message of security to other typical stakeholders such as shippers and cargo owners as well as major global stakeholders responsible for coastal lines such as government authorities, that the ship has the financial strength to deal with any type of casualty that might arise which would impose legal liability on the ship. 

The mutual members of the International Group of P&I Clubs, like the American Club, have unique features which allow them to provide the highest limits of cover (reaching billions) for shipowner third party liability (indeed the cover is limited in each incident only as limited by law under applicable convention) while at the same time affording them the ability to charge the very minimum level of sustainable premium. First of all the mutual nature of the Clubs make them subject to the will of their membership represented through an elected Board of Directors. The members contribute by way of premium calculated based on tonnage and loss ratio. In years where premiums may exceed losses, the excess may be used to the benefit of the membership subject to their will as decided by the representative board of directors. Second, their mutual nature affords them the ability to weather a year of excess level of claims: the membership may agree to additional contributions or to apply an amount equal to the deficit from excesses of premium from past years built up in the Club’s free reserves. This mechanism prevents any one year from being unsustainable. It also ensures that the Clubs can charge the bare minimum necessary to cover forecasted costs and losses. These factors have been key to the Clubs adapting to the increased pressure to bring rates down. Of course there is also the need to meet rising regulatory compliance which demands an ever-increasing commitment of human and economic resources.

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-You celebrate 100 years of American P&I Club. You have developed strength through the years. What is your vision for the future? What strategy do you follow?

 

As the American Club continues its journey of growth looking beyond its 100th birthday this year it takes pride in having received prestigious accolades during its lifetime such as the highly regarded Lloyds List Awards in 2005, 2016, 2017 as well as the Seatrade “Investment in People” Award for 2017 for its Loss Prevention Initiatives. However, what the American Club really prides itself on are its people, both from its outstanding membership and most certainly from its team, across the globe which has made the American Club what it is today. In a world where insurance capacity is high and covers available easily, it is the service that differentiates the caliber of cover and product and that can only be done by a company’s people. As a result our strategy is about developing and maintaining relationships through all departments, with all members, with all associates, in every community we have a presence in and beyond. We are a small boutique like business that builds on personal relationships and is not distracted by the thought of becoming “large” but about delivering quality personalized service and I believe we have achieved that. We target growth carefully and steadily in a manner that supports sustainability, and this is the track we aim to continue on.

 

-The American P&I Club completes 100 years. Do you believe Greek shipping plays an important role in the club?

 

Greek Shipping has played and continues to play a very significant role in the Club’s business. Tonnage that is managed by Greek domiciled operators counts for about 45% of the Club’s total tonnage. Indeed it was the Greek market that so warmly embraced the Club when it entered the international market in the 90s through to today. The Club values the Greek market to such an extent that it has 12 specialized staff devoted to the region through SCB (Hellas) Inc. the Piraeus office of its managers Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc. and the Club’s Board has 8 members that have Greek heritage. 

 

-What are the advantages of AHHIC?

 

As mentioned, the Club has further diversified into the hull market through the new insurance company American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company Ltd. The new insurance company is a Solvency-II compliant, wholly owned subsidiary of the American Club and is being managed, operated and run by the well-known hull expert team of Hellenic Hull Management, which aims to offer commercial, fixed-premium hull insurance with high quality services and innovative customer solutions. The company’s headquarters are in Cyprus and Ilias Tsakiris with his team of experts are available around the clock to assist. American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company Ltd. Is an insurer that is literally the underwriter “next door” for the Greek and Cypriot market but also spans across all continents through the Club’s management offices, thus offering personal access to all major shipping hubs as a global insurer. Other Clubs have also expanded into the Hull market and struggling to do well with the current depressed rates but the advantage of AHHIC Ltd. Is that it is not being run from London where operational costs can be disproportionate to the projected income under current market conditions.

 

-You are untiring, positive, creative, inspiring what is philosophy about life? How can a strong woman like you keep the balance? What is your biggest challenge? What is your greatest  accomplishment?

 

I’ve never been one to overanalyze or overthink things. I simply do what I need to do and I rely on a lot of other people to assist me. I believe that when you have the right people around you, you can do just about anything. I am a restless person who always looks ahead and never broods about the past. My philosophy about life is three fold: First, always try to have empathy. Think about how other people perceive things, think about how other people will understand things. Think about how other people feel. Second, be patient and take one step at a time. Nothing worth anything happens fast. Third, be generous, whatever that means to you whether its time or money. In my experience, when you follow these principles, good things tend to happen and complicated situations usually work themselves out.  When you have empathy, are patient and are generous, you will find that you usually end up rewarded by being surrounded by people that want to work with you, want to be with you and are eager to help you implement your visions. This helps you to have balance although balance is an interesting concept. You can’t be balanced all the time and you have to be willing to accept that sometimes life will be very stressful. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice personal time and other times you will have to sacrifice work time. So balance in my opinion is about knowing that the scale will ride up and down depending on the needs of the moment. The scale will never ever really be balanced. This juggling of sorts through the demands of life and business has been the greatest challenge for me but also the greatest accomplishment.

 

-You have received the next generation shipping award for 2017 at the Loyds List Global Awards in London on September 27,2017. What does this mean for you and what does it mean for the American Club?

 

This past year I was very honored to receive the Lloyds List Global Next Generation Award. How did I do that and what did it/does it mean to me? I was able to do it because I had great mentors that were willing to invest time in me and after investing time in me, trusted me enough to allow me to introduce new ideas and new methodologies and strategies. They embraced me in such a way that they allowed me to assist in having a positive impact on the business. Now don't get me wrong, I worked very, very, hard throughout my career from day one, based on the three principles of empathy, patience and generosity and ultimately that is the key to any success. But I also embraced the wisdom of people I trusted to guide me. I trusted their experience and their voice as well. While it’s evident that I am a firm believer in mentorship and giving freedom to the next generation to expand on the ideas and methodologies that you pass down, mentorship is absolutely a two way street and in order for mentorship to be successful, not only does the mentor need to be effective in their guidance, but the mentee has to be someone who is open to and capable of accepting and trusting the guidance.

What did this award mean to me and for the Club? Well first, it means to me that hard work pays off of course but also that when you take measures to ensure you have the right people around you, you can create a stronger platform for success. Second, it says a lot about the organization I work for. The support of the American Club and its managers Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc., were key to my success and it was through their initiative that I was even nominated. Not every employer allows the next generation to have an impact, but the American Club and SCB not only allowed me, they encouraged me. It sends a message that we, as an organization are forward thinking and always looking to improve what we do. It sends a message of recognition for the Club of that ethos in the industry. Finally, most importantly, it gave validity to how I've lived my life and through that my career and also how we do things at the Club. You see, when you are making your way up and It’s not an easy path for you, with people sometimes even trying to step on you, and you still stick to your professional moral code so that when your turn comes to manage people coming after you, not to think about making them live what you lived but actually trying to make things a little bit better for them, that's what getting this award recognizes.