Working with a specialist broker will be essential in what is likely to remain a challenging market for cargo insurance, according to Miller experts.

The cargo market has seen a number of large warehouse fire and weather losses in recent years – the latest being a series of tornadoes that tore through Nashville, Tennessee, in March. As a result, a growing number of domestic insurers in North America are realigning their books, in the main refocusing on less complex business. 

“We are now seeing a steady increase in enquiries into London, which has a long standing reputation as a centre of cargo expertise and capacity. By partnering with a specialist broker like Miller, customers can find the most cost effective ways to insure their risk,” according to Jamie Kearney, who leads Miller's cargo & stock throughput team.

Solid partner

Despite challenging market conditions, problems can, will and should be met with solutions for insureds both new and old, and partnership is key through this turbulent time. This year Miller has continued to place large placements in excess of USD400m cost effectively for existing and new clients.

As one of the largest cargo & stock throughput teams in London, Miller has developed solid relationships with carriers, which put clients in a strong position. By working with clients to prepare submissions and present quality risk data, Miller is able to sell individual stories to the market, increasing the chances of attracting underwriter support and converting the business.

“One particularly challenging renewal this year was passed over by over thirty underwriters before success was found. We are happy to persevere to find the best solution for our client, and if a solution is out there we are confident that we will be the ones to find it,” explains Rebecca Eagles, Account Executive within Miller's cargo and stock throughput team. 

Market update

Following Lloyd’s Decile-10 initiative, which led a number of syndicates to withdraw or pull back from this line of business, stability had started to return to the cargo market. However, losses in early 2020 and the wider potential impact of Covid-19 will now most likely see continued upwards pressure on rates and terms and conditions. 

“Recent renewals have seen primary stock throughput rates increase by around 15-25%, with even larger increases in the excess market, where capacity has halved in recent years as insurers have withdrawn or reduced capacity”, says Kearney. 

“We have already seen a clear demarcation emerge between the primary and excess markets for stock throughput in London. Capacity for primary risk is still readily available, but a reduction in market capacity continues to drive rate increases on excess stock placements,” he says. 

Tighter wordings 

While price remains a key issue, underwriters have started to turn their attention to wordings, with a particular focus on windstorm and coronavirus exposures, says Eagles.

An example of this is that insurers are beginning to limit windstorm losses, extending aggregate limits beyond named storms to include tornadoes. These restrictions could reduce insurance recoveries for an insured that has inventory stored at multiple locations hit by one or a series of tornados in the same storm.

“Increasingly we see underwriters seek to reduce potential losses through tighter wordings, such as more restrictive tornado cover and/or extra expenses cover for non-physical damage claims,” she says. 

A busy port

Cargo & stock throughput insurance

Cargo stalwart 

Despite recent adjustments, London remains one of the most flexible and consistent markets for cargo insurance. With over 40 insurers offering cargo and stock throughput insurance in the London market, Miller is able to create more options for clients in terms of conditions and building capacity. Miller also offers a number of cargo and stock throughput facilities which provide efficient placement alongside far more common open market risk. 

Miller continues to build out its dedicated stock throughput team, recently adding Rebecca Eagles, Daniel Leveridge and George Saunders, who joined to service cargo and stock throughput business emanating from North America. The team now contains six brokers and six technicians, all focused purely on cargo and stock throughput placements.

“In our experience, London remains one of the most cost effective ways for many buyers to insure their risk, with the market still offering higher limits and catastrophe aggregate than any other market globally,” says Eagles.


Stock throughput remains an essential product for clients and Miller’s experience continues to see business placed at the best available conditions and pricing. In today’s market, the knowledge and experience of a specialist broker is critical to a successful placement, according to Kearney.

“We believe in working with our clients, taking a proactive, strategic and creative approach to placing their risks. The strength and depth of Miller’s stock throughput team has enabled us to successfully navigate some difficult market conditions over the past three years, and we continue to attract the support of underwriters and obtain the best outcome for our clients,” says Kearney.