Friday, December 8, 2017

P&I Club Celebrates its Centenary with an Unusual Twist

American Flavour in the Most British of Surroundings
Shipping News Feature
UK – US – The prestigious surroundings of Merchant Taylors' Hall, which has occupied the same site in the very heart of London's commercial centre four well over four centuries before American Independence, provided a graceful and imposing setting for the celebrations this week of the American Club (formal title the American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, Inc.) hosting the latest stage of the P&I outfits centenary celebrations. This however was no ordinary insurance bash, doffing its hat to its US roots as well as the insurance history of the City.

Anyone outside the industry (and indeed many in it) may be puzzled by the complexities of P&I insurance matters and see it as a rather formal, even occasionally stuffy profession. Such delusions were well and truly put to bed at an event that saw, not only no long and tedious speeches, but the presence of a modern brass band and an acapella version of a Frank Sinatra song rendered by a senior director putting a lie to the traditional image.

Vince Solarino, president and chief operating officer of the Shipowners’ Claims Bureau, it was who can work in the industry safe in the knowledge he always has the career of a crooner to fall back on back in the ‘states, and who supplemented his performance, with those present singing the chorus, with plaudits for the organisation’s work around the world in this, its centenary year.

Mr Solarino was preceded by a brief introduction from the company’s chairman and chief executive, Joe Hughes, not deigning to ply the crowd with insurance facts but rather ending his short speech with a joke, albeit a clean one, involving a particularly American icon, the Barbie doll.

The event was well attended seeing the presence of many members of the club interspersed with clients, fellow insurers and a variety of brokers and assorted media and analysts in what was a very relaxed atmosphere and a particularly untypical, but enjoyable, event.