Marine underwriters are assessing the higher risk faced by Israeli-linked shipping in the Red Sea following the dramatic seizure of a car carrier by Houthi rebels this week.
The 5,100-ceu Galaxy Leader (built 2002) is owned by Isle of Man-registered Ray Car Carriers, which is controlled by Israel’s Abraham “Rami” Ungar.
Market sources said the ship’s hull cover is led by Markel and placed through broker Gallagher. Markel has been contacted for comment.
The ship is entered with the West of England P&I Club for protection and indemnity cover.
Specialist news outlet The Insurer reported that the insured value of the hull is around $65m, substantially higher than the current market value. VesselsValue estimates the ship is worth $41.7m.
Sources in the London market said the higher risk faced by Israeli shipping has already largely been written into premiums in the Red Sea region following earlier attacks and sabre-rattling by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.
The insurance market has been on high alert since earlier this month when rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said the Iran-backed militia was monitoring the Red Sea for Israeli-owned tonnage, with or without Israeli flags.
However, it is the nature of the Houthi attack, revealed in a video showing the use of a helicopter and numerous armed attackers, that has alarmed underwriters.
Insurance sources said conventional onboard maritime security teams and anti-piracy measures would not be able to deter such an assault.
Underwriters said the airborne attack marked an escalation of the risks faced by shipping in the region.
Security firm Ambrey said the sophistication of the operation suggests Iranian involvement was highly probable.
While Israeli-linked ships are likely to face a higher risk rating, underwriters are reluctant to put a figure on it at this stage.
The Red Sea is already an additional premium area for war risk cover.
While Israeli-owned ships will face greater insurance costs in the high-risk Red Sea, the additional premium is usually picked up by the charterer — in this case NYK Group.
Following the attack, the Japanese operator said it had established a crisis management centre to assess the safety of the crew of 25. The vessel is believed to be held in Yemen.