IUMI conference meets the future

A reminder of the technological challenges that lie ahead came as delegates gathered for the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) conference in Tokyo this week.

Delegates were welcomed by Pepper, a friendly humanoid robot who helped reinforce the conference theme that developments ranging from big data to autonomous vessels, the Internet of Things and blockchain initiatives will change the way insurance is written.

More than 500 delegates from insurance markets around the world attended the event, which was held in Japan for the fifth time since 1975.

It was not all high tech. There was traditional music from the Japanese koto zither and flute and plenty of kimonos in evidence as the event got underway.

But the IUMI conference is mostly about meeting with colleagues and competitors to discuss the big issues affecting the marine insurance industry.

"Disruptive times: Opportunity or threat for marine insurers" was the official theme of the conference. But there was at least as much concern about how to keep one’s head above water in the face of falling premium income and fierce competition across insurance markets.