Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
3.20 Why did the Underwriters pay?
Accidents of different kinds are very common at sea and happen every day. Different ship parts are broken due to heavy weather or wear and tear or due to crew negligence.137 Ships collide and run aground. Seldom are the authorities or administrations interested in the accidents, which always are investigated and paid for by the insurance companies and the underwriters. The administrations are mainly interested in big and deadly accidents, collisions, grounding and oil spills, where criminal liability may come in play.
It is interesting to note that the 'Estonia' underwriters and insurance companies and their lawyers do not seem to have studied the 'Estonia' accident in any depth and investigated its cause(s).
The Commission seems never to have met any representatives of the underwriters/insurers (no correspondence exist) and the latter seem not to have followed the work of the Commission - the underwriters had no observer in the Commission. The underwriters have paid SEK100's of millions in claims (total loss of ship, loss of cargo, etc.) to the shipping company and cargo owners before the official investigation was finalized and have not participated in the investigation. Normally the lawyers of the underwriters first interview the crew and later assist the crew, when it is questioned by various authorities, police, e.g. In this case the insurance companies are totally absent.
The Underwriters never investigated the Accident
The underwriters have apparently only accepted all the early statements of the Commission and the insured to the effect that the cause of loss was valid, have paid the claims and then requested payment from the re-insurance companies. This is quite remarkable as underwriters normally do not pay a claim unless there are very good technical reasons and evidence.138 The facts are that hull underwriters quickly paid the full insured value of the ferry and that P&I underwriters paid all claims of the shipping company from survivors and relatives (which the shipping company had paid), before the official investigation was final.
In the latter case has the P&I club Skuld apparently paid more (or less?) than necessary as per its rules. Based on the information in this book the 'Estonia' was not seaworthy at any time and in breach of basic insurance conditions. The underwriters were not required to pay a penny! The underwriters have been duly informed but do not react. This is very strange.
Cannot the underwriters' technical experts make a simple stability calculation? 2.16 for help! The writer has worked as underwriters' inspector at Rotterdam and as average adjuster in Monaco in the 1970's and has handled >100 claims, all correctly analysed and presented, some to Lloyd's of London, for final approval and payment. In some cases the suggested cause of accident was not agreed and the claimant had to go to court. You wonder who agreed paying the 'Estonia' H&M claim?
Interesting enough the P&I club Skuld was also the underwriters of the 'Scandinavian Star' accident 1990, which has many similarities with the 'Estonia' accident. The 'Scandinavian Star' cover up is described at http://www.axdal.ninja.dk. It is alleged that the Scandinavian Star accident investigation was also manipulated to hide unseaworthyness, so that the ship owner could collect insurance.
Luckily there are relatives that are not happy just being paid and which have not accepted the alleged causes of accident as suggested by the Commission and have taken the matter to court. But all court proceedings have been delayed 1.45 by unknown forces. More than nine years after the accident these relatives have not managed to have the Final report discussed in court. It is an indication that something is wrong. The insurance companies should arrange (and pay) a new investigation - maybe they paid an invalid claim? Why should private insurance companies and their clients pay for an accident which was never properly investigated by three countries and the cause of which is still unclear?
That the falsified Final report (5) may be a part of a clever insurance fraud is possible. Many Swedish persons involved with the 'Scandinavian Star' investigation were also involved with the 'Estonia' cover up.
137 In the 1970's the writer worked as insurance surveyor at Rotterdam for Scandinavian underwriters and investigated more than 100 accidents.
138 The writer has tried to contact one of the underwriters of the 'Estonia' for comments without success.