As we begin celebrating our 85th year of business, I can personally attest to many changes in the protection and indemnity, and hull and machinery business.
The most recent trend is one that makes a tremendous amount of sense and whose timing is prudent.
Clubs listing and designating their correspondents in two categories: commercial and legal.
Commercial, or business, correspondents — like our business — are those whose business is exclusively, or certainly primarily, the work of representing clubs, shipowners, charterers, et al.
One could argue that they are the experts in the field, as it is their primary concern.
Legal correspondents are very typically regional law firms, which handle many types of both maritime and business law.
They are normally regional because the local laws that govern each state in the US differ, as do the bar exams and associations.
Staying up to date on changes to the law is something of a Herculean effort. So lawyers and correspondents, historically, have been different animals, but that has only been a recent development, in the past couple of decades.
The very role of correspondents has evolved in the past hundred years. With changes in technology, the nature of our business too has morphed.
In a post-pandemic era, we are seeing clients and their members and customers requiring much more prompt, concise and yet thorough communications, now, even more, on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week and 365-day-a-year basis.
We must adapt to applying our service to these needs, while also maintaining the level of service and quality that we all, collectively, are known for in a well-earned reputation.
Clubs and clients that have increasingly been listing both commercial and legal correspondents are doing so for, what would in hindsight seem, obvious claims cost-cutting logic.
Not every new claim requires the time and attention of a law firm. And, conversely, a complicated and challenging claim can turn into one that necessitates being passed along to partner law firms. It’s built in efficiency that is just good business.
Harold Halpin is chief executive of Lamorte Burns & Co,
a marine insurance correspondent based in Westport, Connecticut.