Interview with Rüdiger Voß, Managing Director of ATS Insurance Brokers:
Insurance issues play an important role in the cotton trade, particularly in logistics in the handling and securing of contracts. This is especially because the cotton must travel long distances by truck and ship from its production site to processing. In doing so, it is exposed to not insignificant risks and stresses, which must be covered under the contracts. The Cotton Report editors talked about this with Rüdiger Voß. The Managing Director of ATS Insurance Brokers, Hamburg, better-known within the trade as Krafft & Co., is seen as an outstanding authority on the industry. ATS is also a member of the Bremen Cotton Exchange Association.
Cotton Report: Mr. Voß, Krafft & Co. recently changed its name to ATS Hamburg Versicherungsmakler GmbH. What was the background for the renaming?
Rüdiger Voß: We decided to merge all the activities of the ATS Group, to which Krafft & Co. has also belonged for more than a decade, under the ATS roof this year. However, to call this a ‘name change’ would not do the job justice. The background was that, like many other companies, we have had to experience how laws, regulations and requirements at German, European and other international levels have made our activities ever more complex and thus time-consuming, without generating any added value at operational level. It was necessary to reduce this considerable and costly workload for the benefit of our daily work and our customers, who traditionally also come from the cotton industry. Since the support of the ATS and Krafft & Co. clientele has been carried out from the outset by the same team, nothing changes for the customers except the name.
What were the core competencies of Krafft & Co.? Will these continue to be maintained under the new company?
The main field of activity of Krafft & Co., as well as of ATS, was and continues to be the worldwide support of our commercial customers from trade, industry and logistics in all operational insurance matters. Our roots, focuses and core competencies lie in the area of maritime insurance, such as the marine cargo insurance. This also benefits our long-term customers in the cotton industry.
What are the advantages of working under the umbrella of the ATS Group? What are the strengths of ATS?
For me personally, the work at ATS provides the opportunity to live out on the job what I have learned over the years and still enjoy doing: getting to know people and their companies, understanding their operational risks, implementing their insurance coverage and then actively accompanying the clients. I see ATS’ strengths in our internationality and know-how, our good mix of young and old, i.e. innovation and experience and, above all in the maintenance of trusting relationships with our customers and business partners. For all the digitalisation and globalisation, we still value the people behind it.
What liability risks are insured in the area of international cotton trade?
The collection of possible risks and liability scenarios is manifold, as is the insurance cover as well. Starting with the liability for the product itself through the protection against bad debts up to the good old cargo insurance, which covers the loss or damage of the cotton on the journey, to name only the classic areas.
In addition to the above, what other risks and insurances do you consider important for the cotton scene? What’s new?
In recent years, the issue of safeguarding against crop failures as a result of weather influences has become increasingly important worldwide. In addition, kidnap and ransom insurance has undergone a renaissance, an issue that many business travellers in the cotton industry, including their management, cannot avoid. Last but not least, I am thinking of the rapidly increasing risks of cyberattacks, whose sometimes business-threatening consequences are still underestimated by many companies.
Can you give specific examples of common insurance cases affecting cotton shipments? When does the liability start during transport? When does it end? Who is responsible and when?
Basically, marine cargo insurance follows the agreements of the individual trading contract, for example the transfer of risk in the underlying INCOTERM rule. Generally, the transport insurer provides insurance cover within the scope of all-risk cover and then checks whether a carrier may possibly be liable for it.
Typical damage to cotton occurs as a result of fire, wetness, spontaneous combustion or beetle infestation. Losses through robbery or theft are also not rare. The ‘country damages’ described within the industry represent a special case for which the insurance cover is to be specially negotiated.
Which consulting services do you offer when concluding the contract?
Our work usually starts well before that. Together with our customers and sometimes external help, we record and analyse the risks and then develop insurance solutions that provide our customers with an orientation for their further risk analysis. This can be based on individual projects, as well as their general business activities. For a long time, we have been available to the members of the Cotton Exchange as advisors as part of our regular training programmes.
What services do you provide in the event of a claim?
If it is still possible, we help immediately with the loss mitigation limitation. Depending on the nature of the damage, we directly appoint the appropriate average agents or investigators. The sooner this usually happens, the better. Furthermore, we also help with the necessary preliminary claims and recourse guarantees, as well as the adherence to deadlines. Subsequently, our aim as a technical insurance broker is to prepare the respective claim for the insurer in such a way that nothing stands in the way of a quick settlement. Moreover, 70 percent of all transport damage is considered avoidable. In this respect, we try to draw conclusions from claims that have occurred together with our customers for future loss prevention. The saying “(hopefully) learning from one’s mistakes” still applies – at least with good advice.
What advantages offers ‘MY ATS?’
Despite all our efforts to maintain personal contact, our online portal ‘MY ATS’ offers our customers the opportunity to generate the usual insurance certificates in international trade at any time and from any internet-capable location. We will soon be expanding this online service with additional customer-oriented features in order to remain competitive here as well. Because, as the saying goes, “the future is now”.
Thank you for the interview!
The interviews in the column “Question Time“ embody the opinion of the respective interview partner and do not represent the position of the Bremen Cotton Exchange as neutral, independent institution.