Insurers not keen to insure ships in the Gulf of Aden

Kidnap and ransom premiums for shipowners navigating the Gulf of Aden are increasing tenfold because of escalating piracy attacks, according to Aon Risk Services.

An American crew and cargo ship, Maersk Alabama, became the latest ship to be seized by Somali pirates last week. A British-owned cargo ship, the Malaspina Castle, and her mostly Bulgarian crew of 24 were hijacked on Monday. Somali gunmen raided 130 ships last year, with 50 successful hijackings.

Shipowners could end up paying as much as $30,000 premium for $3m cover.

Ashley Leszczuk from Aon’s crisis management team said: “Despite the presence of naval ships, the spate of piracy attacks over the past six months does not seem to be abating with increased civil unrest and pirates’ easy access to rocket launchers and AK47s. As such we’ve seen enquiries for cover escalate.”

A Health Lambert spokesman said most hull and cargo cover excluded “acts of terrorism”, which might include piracy. Also insurers were unwilling to cover ships travelling the Gulf of Aden. He said most shipowners would probably get a specialist insurance policy.