“Currently, the yacht insurance market is going through a terrible time.”
Those were the words of Chris McGowan (pictured) when we asked the Topsail Insurance boss about the hurdles he’s facing. McGowan, who came onboard the Brighton-based firm fresh out of college in 2006, took the helm in September when Rob Stevens stepped down as UK managing director to take charge over in Australia.
Launched in 1996, Topsail provides specialist yacht and motorboat insurance worldwide.
“Insurance companies have made huge losses in past years and we are seeing a real shake-up in this sector, with many insurers steering away from writing this class of business,” McGowan told Insurance Business. “We are seeing some considerable rate increases, and securing capacity to be able to continue to write this business has been a real challenge for us.”
Now that he has taken the wheel, the “very hands-on” executive is busy ensuring that both his team and Topsail’s customers are happy. According to the long distance and blue water cruising insurance specialist, much of its success is down to client referral.
“We have built up some fantastic partnerships with marine clubs and organisations over the past years and continue to develop these and explore new opportunities,” noted the MD when quizzed about his goals and priorities for the business. “We will be pushing forward to further cement our position in the insurance industry.”
Topsail’s partners include Ocean Cruising Club and the Cruising Association.
Meanwhile McGowan, who described himself as “incredibly passionate” about sport, believes he would seek an opportunity within the sporting sector, perhaps as a personal trainer, if he were to leave the world of insurance.
“With a real passion for rugby, this year I decided to follow England around Europe for their Six Nations campaign,” he shared. “Visiting Paris, Edinburgh, and Rome, as well as the two home games against Ireland and Wales proved to be great fun.
“The sad part, despite a promising start with victories over Italy and Wales, England proceeded to lose their remaining three fixtures and subsequently finished fifth in their table – their lowest finish since 1987. Not an ideal year to follow England!”