Insurance costs in Ukraine exceed Iraq war levels, industry sources say

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Insurance for aid workers, journalists, engineers and others traveling to Ukraine is now more expensive and more difficult to arrange than during the war in Iraq.

Although initially nervous to provide cover in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, a few additional insurers have shown themselves willing to do so lately. months, according to industry sources, even if it is expensive. .

“Rates in Ukraine are currently higher than before in Iraq and Afghanistan…Primarily, this is a more active war zone than an insurgency situation,” said underwriter Alexis Fehler. accident and health at Lloyd’s of London, an insurer supported by OneAdvent.

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“The instability caused by Ukrainian gains and subsequent retaliatory actions by Russian forces will have an additional dramatic impact on costs,” he added.

Another Lloyd’s of London-backed insurer, Battleface, charges an average of 3,500 euros ($3,429) per week for a combination of 250,000 euros in personal accident cover and 250,000 euros in medical cover for Ukraine, said lead underwriter Roger Perry, although accident cover alone can be expensive. up to 4,375 euros per week for high-risk regions of the country.

“Our underwriters are billing in 7 day increments…because everything is changing so fast,” he said, adding “the further east you go, the higher it gets.”

Nevertheless, Battleface excludes Donbass – two provinces in eastern Ukraine that Russia has unilaterally declared part of its territory – and the Odessa region to the south, although it can make exceptions, especially for short periods. periods like a day.

During the 2003 Iraq War, Lloyd’s of London and other insurers carried out daily reviews of premiums charged to cover journalists operating in the Gulf, fearing that journalists could be used as human shields or executed, according to media reports. of the time.

A third insurance source who declined to be named said the daily insurance cost of sending a journalist to the riskiest parts of Ukraine could be 5-10% of the amount covered, meaning that an organization could blow up the total value of an individual’s coverage after 10 years. days, an untenable situation for most.

A typical policy covers accidental death and dismemberment, emergency evacuation, repatriation, and out-of-country medical benefits.

Organizations have sent more media, medical workers and reconstruction experts to Ukraine, sources said, but insurers and security experts are particularly concerned about risks to civilians after missiles rain down on cities Ukrainians, including Kyiv, following an attack on the bridge connecting Russia. to the annexed Crimean Peninsula on October 8.

“As the assets on the Russian side changed…they started using things like ballistic missiles, old anti-ship missiles, and then adapting them for land attack, they’re much less accurate,” James said. Dennis, regional security coordinator. at Healix Consultants.

The United Nations and other aid organizations in Ukraine said last week that the missile attacks had disrupted their humanitarian work.

“As Ukrainian counter-offensives intensify ahead of the planned new Russian mobilization, the situation outside areas directly affected by the conflict will remain unstable,” said Sally Llewellyn, director of regional security at consultants International SOS.

A shortage of providers is also increasing insurance costs, sources said, pointing in particular to the reluctance of some US insurers to offer coverage to Ukraine.

AIG (AIG.N), which declined to comment, was drafting broad exclusion clauses for Russia and Ukraine, Reuters reported earlier this year.

“We are seeing some willingness on the part of some insurers to consider taking out cover in Ukraine,” said Steven Capace, head of government contracts practice at brokerage Marsh, although he added:

“Recent Russian missile attacks in population centers like Kyiv and Lviv…will likely create new apprehensions among insurers.”

($1 = 1.0206 euros)

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Editing by John O’Donnell and Kirsten Donovan

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