Proteus and Vanbreda develop insurance policy for autonomous vessels

Autonomous vessels form an important part of the future for the maritime sector. Yet this phenomenon is so new that at present, there are not yet any solutions on the current insurance market for the risks that these autonomous vessels both run and cause. That's why Proteus Risk Solutions and Vanbreda Risk & Benefits have joined forces with insurer MS Amlin to develop a tailor-made policy for the autonomous vessel Mahi One.

Project Mahi is a private project launched by four engineers and friends, who came up with the idea of building an autonomous, unmanned vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. During this crossing, the boat will collect atmospheric and oceanographic data such as the amount of oxygen dissolved in the ocean or the salt content.

“The crossing of such an autonomous boat has never been done before and this meant there were some difficulties in finding a good insurance solution”, says co-founder Pieter-Jan Note.

Who is liable when there is no captain?

It is not easy to provide insurance for autonomous vessels because traditional maritime insurance products have not yet been tested on the new aspects of autonomous sailing. With autonomous sailing, the boat is fully controlled by a computer and nobody is needed on board. However, sailing regulations are such that the captain of a ship may be held liable in the event of a collision, for example. As the Mahi One does not have a captain on board, it is only natural that there will be doubts surrounding who is liable in the event of a claim. Insurers do not have a clear solution for this within their current range.

Our colleagues at Proteus Risk Solutions, the specialised marine broker partly owned by Vanbreda Risk & Benefits, went to talk to the engineers and look for solutions together. “We ultimately chose MS Amlin as the insurer because we saw that they have the same mindset as Proteus”, says Kristof Olyslager, Marine Insurance Broker at Proteus. “They demonstrated they were ready to help analyse the risks of autonomous vessels and develop suitable cover.”

Insurance solution for autonomous vessels

Both Proteus and Vanbreda Risk & Benefits have one eye on the future and are on the look-out for innovative projects. “We firmly believe that unmanned and autonomous sailing will be the future”, says Kristof Olyslager.

Proteus and Vanbreda have much to offer in covering the risks of autonomous boats. As such, Proteus can offer traditional, maritime insurance such as hull insurance or liability insurance, and together with Vanbreda we can add cyber risk cover and E&O insurance. “Together, we can provide tailor-made cover for autonomous boats”, says Kristof Olyslager.