Roger Duchamp

Roger is one of France’s best known and most respected marine underwriters, and joined Hiscox MGA as Senior Yacht and Marine Trades Underwriter in March.

How did you get into insurance?

I was working whilst also attending Université Paul Cézanne Aix en Provence and the only lecture I was able to attend was the one on marine law. But, it started my deep interest in that matter, and particularly marine insurance.

What job did you dream of doing when you were a boy?

I wanted to be a cook like my grandmother, but only for friends and relatives and to organise big lunches!

What prompted your move to Hiscox MGA after a long career with AXA?

I have known Paul Miller for a long time and I like the way he writes business. I was happy and honoured to be called by him, because, for a continental underwriter, Lloyd’s and Hiscox are considered the places to be if you want to see the entire international market. Also, I think Hiscox MGA is the right answer to the current market situation: building up a proper capacity and sharing the risk, with more flexibility in the organisation than in any other company – we are close to the decision maker and therefore we can react more easily to the evolving market.

What are your immediate objectives and priorities in your new role?

The immediate objective is to create new insurance products compliant with French law and regulation; the priority is to access the Mediterranean markets, which do not usually do business with London.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

My career allows me to meet new people from many different backgrounds and some became friends.  The large number of students I have helped to find internships and apprenticeships across the world are now my captive network, and wherever I go I can rely on some people with whom I do business. 

And what has been the lowlight?

When the managers of AXA decided to close the P&I book. I had invested a lot of work into building it, and so it was a heart-breaking move for me.

How would you describe the yacht insurance market at the moment?

It is losing its marine foundations, and is becoming closer to the high-net-worth personal lines market.

What will be the market’s biggest challenge over the next 12 months?

Overcapacity in the main insurance markets means that the only source of growth will be if we become more accessible to the high street brokers and those specialising in yacht insurance, who together account for a large part of the yacht book. So, we are looking to develop simple underwriting solutions with plain English wordings and with an easy and fast underwriting tool.

If there were one thing you’d like to change about the industry, what would it be?

To knock down the regulatory barriers which are distorting competition. The licence to operate a yacht should be the same everywhere, as it is the case for cars.

What do you do to relax?

I swim and walk in the mountains. All my worries vanish.

Do you sail?

Yes, from time to time, with Ecole de Croisière de Paris in Normandy.

Do you have a favourite book?

Jean Giono’s novel “Que ma Joie Demeure” (in English “Joy of Man's Desiring”). The story takes place in a farmer's community in Provence, where the inhabitants are suffering from a mysterious disease, which a healer tries to save them from by teaching the value of joy. I was 14 when I first read that book and I have never stopped rereading it since. It is a never-ending source of pleasure to me.

Tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?

I had a career as a primary school teacher in Provence for a few years before moving into insurance.