Ukraine/Russia – Insurance Market Update

Ukraine/Russia – Insurance Market Update

With the ever-changing situation being experienced at this time in Russia/Ukraine, there are a broad range of issues to consider from both a risk and insurance perspective following the global sanctions that have been imposed in the past week.

Although sanctions have been imposed, there remains a level of uncertainty amongst insurers (UK/EU based as an example) regarding interpretation of certain aspects and their actual impact insurance response wise particularly in relation to non-Russian domiciled aviation organisations / airlines operating into and out of Russia.

Many insurers are seeking independent legal advice and have their own interpretation of sanctions and how they might impact clients – therefore there may be differing views from different Insurers given the complexities.

Earlier this week, Lancashire Insurance Company Limited, advised they are prohibited from providing benefit or cover in relation to any aviation operator that has a Russian nexus, including providing such benefit or cover in relation to aircraft or parts used in Russia regardless of the domicile of the operator.

We understand that this is the Lancashire interpretation of the EU/UK sanctions imposed to date, following their independent legal advice.

Ambiguity remains within the market however as to what the term ‘for use in Russia’ means. Consequently, several insurers have raised their concerns directly with the EU Commission to obtain clarity around this definition.

Insurers for the moment are keen to remind the market that aviation insurance policies are in the main subject to a market-based sanctions exclusion clause. Essentially this exclusion confirms that no payments (e.g. claims) can be made which would breach applicable sanctions. Now that sanctions have been applied either to countries or to individuals, this could affect claims payments depending on the individual situation even where it is accepted that insurers are able (legally) to provide coverage in the first instance.

Separately, Russian airlines have been highly reliant on the global aircraft leasing industry to support fleet modernisation and it is estimated that there are approximately 500 leased aircraft in Russia currently. The aviation insurance sector remains heavily focused on potential insurance implications that may arise following the European Union’s mandate that all EU-based leasing companies have until 28 March 2022 to terminate existing contracts with Russian airlines. As reported by various agencies, retrieving aircraft could be challenging due to airspace bans, potential SWIFT payment transfer issues and industry concerns that the Russian government could nationalise the fleet to maintain domestic capacity.

This is a complex situation with policies arranged by airline lessors on a contingent and possessed basis, potentially being impacted subject to policy trigger and sanctions considerations, if lessors are unable to re-take possession of their aircraft. Broader implications across the global aviation insurance sector could be seen dependant on the loss magnitude if claims eventuate.

We continue to closely monitor the situation in the market, and as always, the Aerosure team will communicate further information as and when it becomes available.