Only three months ago, SGC Group lauched its new division, SGC Marine Services, offering the market a broad range of maritime insurance services, within Chile and abroad. The new area took the task of maritime insurance settlement that was traditionally serviced by other areas, adding maritime insurance commercial correspondance services (H&M, P&I, TT Insurers), inspections and integral maritime operator complaint management.
According to José María Sánchez, head of the new division, “the Group realized that maritime intervention petitions were increasing significantly and there was no especific department to handle all the requests. Also, maritime insurance requires expertise and exclusiveness, so it was decided to create an independent unit only for maritime affairs.”
The executive also highlights that “there was a market need,” and that “there aren’t that many suppliers in this area in Chile.” In this sense, he emphasized that “we came to fill a market void and in this good time the company is going through, we decided to invest tin this business line.”
SGC Marine Services’ essential characteristic, says Sánchez, is that it operates as a separate and independent area from the rest of the Group. “In general, the P&I commerical correspondance, hull and machinery, and maritime insurance has to be a completely pro-liner, pro-maritime, and it can’t mix with any other business lines or activities from other areas of the company. That was one of the key issues considered to launch this new division.”
Despite the fact that this is a new area, the team behind it has vast experience in maritime insurance settlement. “We have been correspondants for settlers such as Richards Hogg Lindley and Cunningham Lindsey for more than 20 years,” he said.
There is also a long-time maritime tradition, hull adjustment and general average, among others, says Sánchez, being nearly the only ones in Chile with this level of specialization. “This is why, the Group is used to having international insurance correspondance, especially in the United Kingdom, which is where most of our clients are and whith whom we are constantly in contact.”
The new division has already debuted in the European market, area that groups most of the maritime insurance companies worldwide. “We have been with all of the International Group of P&I clubs, which subscribe almost all of the fleet tonnage that sails around the world, as well as the main hull insurers in the Netherlands and northern countries. They showed a very positive interest in our launch and we were very welcome there. We are excited and, in fact, we have already been nominated by Clubs, which is very good considering that we have been operating for a very short time.”
SGC Marine Services’ offices are in Santiago, Chile, but their personnel is present all along the country’s coast , with permanent presence in Punta Arenas and Iquique. “We knew that it was essential for our business to have local presence in every port, especially in the southernmost part of the country, which is heavily affected due to the difficult navigating conditions and the heavy ferry traffic.”
SGC Marine Services is also present in Argentina through an alliance with a law firm and maritime correspondants in Buenos Aires. “Our clients in Europe have approved this operating structure because they know we can handle their cases in the southern cone. It was an ambitious idea, but it is working out well,” allowing the client “to leave the case in a single file, without having additional administrative costs.”
The team led by José María Sánchez is composed of two other claims handlers with vast shipping experience, as well as a third collaborator that provides support when needed.
Advantages for the client
“Immediate responce is essential in our business, because the first notifications of an event are usually part of a tense and complicated environment. Immediate investigation, client support and personnel asignment (experts, lawyers, etc.) will make a significant difference in managing the casualty and the eventual complaints our clients may face. We want our clients to feel protected in these most delicate times. First measures are almost always urgent,” highlights Sánchez.
This advantage is due to the existance of an emergency contact network that operates 24/7, year-round. “We have a duty phone where we can be reached anywhere, anytime.”
As per inspection services offered by the new office, Sánchez emphasizes on the relevance of the containerized cargo expertise. “In a country like Chile, where a large percentage of exports are refrigerated cargo, especially fish and fruit, it is very important to offer a especialized inspection service for containers, as well as risk management prevention for reefer cargo.”
The director of international risk for SGC Group, Arturo Contreras, highlights that the Group is internationally reknowned, representing “ a strong support for the new division, allowing us to have more connections in different parts of Europe, Asia and Oceania, one of SGC Marine Services’ strong suits.”
Finally, José María Sánchez added that “the basic idea is that the client may leave everythng in our hands, we want our clients to know that our work will be efficient and diligent, looking out for their interests at all times and trying to offer the most adequate price for the services provided. Our service is impecable and we truly believe that the maritime community will also see it like that.”
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