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To excel in marine insurance, it helps to earn stripes in the marine sector

Paul Mendham, president of Vancouver-based Navis Marine Insurance Brokers, didn’t get his start in insurance by working behind a desk at a brokerage. Instead, he launched his career trajectory in the marine side of the business, initially working on a tug before his then-girlfriend and now-wife, whose father was a retired deep sea captain, decided that she didn’t want Mendham to go down the same path.

“I took my passion for the marine industry and went back to school, and there was a program that BCIT [British Columbia Institute of Technology] offered in shipping and marine management,” said Mendham. “They had a marine insurance and marine law course, and I fell in love.”

During a work practicum for the program, Mendham was placed at managing general agent Coast Underwriters and was exposed to the marine insurance industry. He never went back to the BCIT program – the now-president received a job offer and decided that marine insurance was where he was meant to be.

“I spent nine years working at Coast Underwriters in marine claims and underwriting,” said Mendham, though he then spent two years working at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia away from the marine industry, managing garage and fleet underwriting.

Mendham quickly realized he was a marine guy through and through, and got back into marine insurance working at HUB International as the VP of marine before going out on his own in March 2011 to start Navis.

“We only really sell and service marine insurance products and work with marine clientele. We do some homeowners, but we would only do it for marine-related business,” said Mendham.

He finds that his own career path is a good pattern to replicate when expanding the Navis team.

“A large portion of our team has come from the marine industry and is now in the insurance business. Instead of me hiring people that have insurance backgrounds and then trying to teach them the marine trades, we’ve been very successful bringing people from the marine industry,” he explained, highlighting one of the Navis brokers, Christopher Goulder, who was previously the president of Volvo Penta Canada. “He spent his whole career selling Volvo engines in the marine industry, and he’s now taken that passion and is bringing it forward, and we’ve taught him the insurance side of the business.”

As for the most fulfilling aspect of Mendham’s work in the marine industry, he loves being a problem solver.

“The marine insurance market is complex – everything from small pleasurecraft up to commercial vessels – and as much as I enjoy placing coverage and working with clients and selling insurance, I really enjoy the claims side and helping clients through problems,” he told Insurance Business.

Source: Insurance Business

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