Illegal attempts by migrants to enter the United Kingdom via Calais have created new challenges for the insurance sector
Cargo underwriters have been receiving calls from clients desperate to understand their rights and looking to move the shipments of their goods from road to sea as the migrant crisis continues at Calais and the Eurotunnel terminal.
As the United Kingdom and French governments and law enforcement agencies struggle with what has been described as an unprecedented number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel via the Channel Tunnel or aboard cargo containers or trucks going through Calais, cargo owners and freight companies have asked underwriters for more cover.
In the London market, there is growing evidence that cargo owners are seeking to move increasing amounts of freight via container ports, fearing the impact of trying to move their goods through northern France by road.
This year has seen record numbers of migrants seeking to breach the Channel Tunnel. It is estimated that so far this year there have been 37,000 people who have been apprehended trying to access the tunnel.
Scenes of migrants breaking into containers carried by trucks stacked up awaiting entry to the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel have sent the cargo owners running for advice and additional cover.
Insurers have warned that the situation could potentially increase not only delays but also physical damage to the containers and their contents. In addition, hauliers are faced with fines of up to GBP2,000 (USD3,121) per migrant if they are discovered in the containers by immigration officials.
Specialist freight transport insurer TT Club has issued guidance to its clients and the wider market and warned that simply breaking the transport unit seal immediately brings into question the integrity of the cargo within. “Unfortunately, breaking the seal to gain entry may just be the beginning,” it said.
The guidance added, “Even one person climbing on top of the cargo can crush cartons and physically damage cargo. There have been reports of up to 30 people entering a single freight container; the cargo in these instances can be seriously affected. Furthermore, given that these individuals may spend several hours in the transport unit during the transit, there are often less pleasant results than simply crushed cargo.”
One London market cargo underwriter told IHS Maritime, “The situation has continued to escalate and the risks involved in transporting cargo through Calais and the Channel Tunnel are now reaching a point where we are being told by clients they are looking for other ways to transport their goods to the UK.
“We have been offering advice to our clients with regards to the migrant situation in the area for a considerable time. The situation is now such that the precautions that had been recommended are not proving to be sufficient. Claims are starting to come into the claims departments and they are beginning to mount up.
“If the situation continues there is likely to be a revision in the rating levels for those that choose to ship via that route,” the underwriter said.