Protection and indemnity mutual the Shipowners’ Club has reported a $17.4m surplus for the year to the end of December 2021.

Overall its profits are down on the $39.1m reported at the end of the previous year.

However, the club has seen a positive turnaround in its underwriting performance.

Shipowners’ Club underwriting activities contributed $2.4m to its profit at the end of 2021, compared to an underwriting loss of $2m in 2020. The club had a positive combined ratio, which reflects underwriting performance, of 98.7%.

Although modest, the underwriting profit will be regarded as something of an achievement in a year in which all the other P&I mutuals have been running at an underwriting loss because of Covid-19 and high-value casualty claims.

While insurers' profits can vary widely because of the influence of investment returns, underwriting performance is taken as a more reliable indicator of the overall performance of the core business.

Most of Shipowners’ Club’s 2021 surplus was made up of investment gains which reached $15.6m in the year.

Shipowners' Club also managed to improve its premium income by 7.3% to $249m which it said was ahead of budget. The club’s free reserves now stand at $396.4m.

Shipowners’ Club insures mostly small and specialised ships, a market which has been targeted by other P&I clubs.

Strong position

Shipowners’ Club chairman Philip Orme said: “The club finds itself in a strong position. We know members and their brokers have a choice as to where they insure their vessels and we will continue to invest in and work on improving our service to remain the club of choice for smaller and specialist vessels.”

Chief executive Simon Swallow said that the impact Covid-19 has had on crew showed importance of the club’s membership of the International Group of P&I Clubs.

“Never was it more important to be part of a collectively stronger International Group of P&I Clubs, who sought to ensure that we placed the welfare and safety of seafarers high on the agenda,” Swallow said.