Standard Club Asia is celebrating its 25th year in Singapore in 2022. An offshoot of the Standard Club, it was the first protection and indemnity mutual to pick the Lion City as its regional head office for the Asia-Pacific region.

Most others started their Asian operations in Hong Kong.

The club has its own shipowner board, with Bhumindr Harinsuit of Thailand’s Harinsuit Transport as its chairman.

Speaking to TradeWinds, Standard Club Asia managing director David Roberts said Singapore’s keen interest in expanding its maritime services, coupled with the strong support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, attracted the Standard Club to the city-state.

Standard Club’s 2022 renewal saw the global fleet it covers grow by 11m gt to 158m gt, despite a 10% general increase in rates. The Asia fleet accounts for about 17% of that.

Roberts said he was expecting a hard market for the renewals but was pleased with the outcome as business volumes from the Asia-Pacific region grew by about 7%, and are still expanding.

Citing Clarksons data, he said the region controls about 50% of the global fleet and is set to increase further as Asia’s economy powers ahead.

“We are optimistic about the future but certainly not complacent ... because we are operating in a very competitive landscape,” he said.

Standard Club Asia recently enhanced its suite of services with the launch of a coastal and inland insurance class.

Roberts said the service is for small vessels of up to 10,000 gt, typically on inland waterway vessels.

Barges, tugs, offshore supply ships, small tankers, feeder container ships and small bulk carriers are also vessels that fall under this small ship category.

“We [Standard Club] have been writing coastal and inland insurance for over 50 years in Europe, but we have never had the class here in Asia until 20 February this year,” Roberts said.

The club believes the coastal and inland vessel cover will provide its members and owners with more insurance choices when it comes to coastal vessels.

Roberts sees demand in the region as there is a fair volume of small vessels being used for inter-Asia and inter-island trade.

Roberts said countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines are potentially huge markets, with thousands of islands that are involved in inter-island and coastal trades.

Roberts expressed excitement over big projects underway in India to develop the inland waterway transport systems so as to take cargo traffic off roads and railways.

“This is to increase efficiency as India has a rather large river system,” he said.

The roll-out of the coastal and inland class will initially be focused on Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. The club’s members will be supported by its office in Singapore.

Standard Club Asia also runs the Singapore War Risks Mutual (SWRM). It was established in 2015 as an initiative of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and is the only mutual war-risk insurer in Singapore or South East Asia.

The SWRM class offers hull war-risk cover up to the value of the ship, with P&I war-risk cover provided to the same limit.

Roberts said the SWRM has amassed coverage totalling 736 ships, with a total value of $14.5bn.

“Most of the major owners in Singapore are members of SWRM,” he said. “It has been particularly comforting to see it grow from zero.”

Roberts said the war-risk mutual is also made available to any shipping companies that have a “connection with Singapore”.

The Standard Club has also offered strike and delay cover to its clients since 2019. This protects a shipowner or charterer when vessels are held up by strikes, port closures, collisions, breakdowns or other unexpected delays.

Singapore icon: The Merlion is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish Photo: Irene Ang