Thomas Miller becomes first Brexit P&I club licensed to operate from the Netherlands
Almost a month following Brexit, both the UK and the EU have now entered an 11-month transition period. In the lead up to Brexit, many UK-based companies sought out European bases in order to continue operating. Rene Doff and Paul Van den Brom of Thomas Miller reflect on these developments and strategic advancements for P&I Clubs in the post-Brexit world.
Thomas Miller has a rich heritage and long-standing history in managing mutual clubs in the marine industry, which dates back to 1885 when ship owner Thomas Miller took over the management of what is now known as the UK P&I Club. The UK Club has now been providing protection and indemnity insurance to the maritime industry all over the world for 150 years – and counting.
Along with many other firms, Thomas Miller and the UK P&I Club also took measures towards defining its position in the European market by opening new subsidiaries in Rotterdam due to Brexit and both obtained a license to operate from its new European office. The UK Club insures 239 million tonnes of merchant ships from 50 countries and supports claims in 350 ports worldwide. Thomas Miller is indeed a valuable addition to the cluster of maritime business service providers in the Netherlands-based city, which is known for having the largest port in Europe along with its reputation as the European maritime capital.
As one of the oldest P&I clubs, UK P&I Club plays an important role in the discussion of maritime protection and indemnity insurance. The UK Club has been able to establish traditions, develop feelings of mutuality and a cooperative mind-set that reverberates through the entire maritime industry. The Club was initially set up for, and by, ship owners so its philosophy is based on collaborative risk mitigation, as well as a need to create a feeling of togetherness in order to become a shining example for others to follow. This mutual aspect is a special matter for many commercial insurance companies.
Aside from UK P&I Club, Thomas Miller also manages and owns a broad international insurance portfolio. Other marine insurance Clubs managed by Thomas Miller include UK Defence Club, TT Club, ITIC and UK War Risks encompassing all parts of the shipping and maritime industry. These Clubs cover various aspects including ships and shipping, port installations such as cranes and docks, as well as pilot tenders and containers.
First Brexit P&I club in the Netherlands to serve the European market
The need for a new subsidiary in Rotterdam can be ascribed to preventing risks deriving from the upcoming Brexit related changes and challenges. At the time when Brexit uncertainty was rife and the outcome and impact for the UK based insurance companies unclear, Thomas Miller started the process of opening a licensed subsidiary in the European continent which would allow the UK Club to continue serving Members after the UK departed from the EU. With the support of the Rotterdam Partners, Thomas Miller opened its office in January 2019 in the World Port Centre next to the river Maas in Rotterdam.
Additionally, Thomas Miller experienced receptive attitudes from the Dutch central bank (De Nederlandsche Bank) and relevant Dutch ministries, which helped UK P&I Club to acquire the required licenses and become the first Brexit-related insurance company to serve the European market for maritime insurances from the Netherlands.
From 20 February 2020, all Europe-based clients will be managed from Rotterdam bringing roughly 20% of the global portfolio and turnover to this city which makes it a very significant location for UK P&I Club.
Network of maritime business services providers and ecosystem in the Rotterdam region
It is crucial for UK P&I Club to be connected with local networks as global aspirations go hand in hand with local knowledge. From the beginning, Rene Doff and Paul van den Brom knew they wanted to become members of the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community.
René Doff said: “Being part of the RMSC helps us to get up to speed and gain a strong foothold in Rotterdam. Being insurance experts we know our business, but we need local knowledge to be able to do our job. Insurance coverage is a global game, but claims occur locally. As a result, it was a no brainer to join the network of maritime business service providers in and around Rotterdam.”
Paul Van den Brom adds: “When choosing Rotterdam as our place of residence, we also took the increased focus on knowledge sharing between partners and suppliers in the regional maritime ecosystem of Rotterdam into account.”