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Have we learned our lesson? Insurance carriers have, sort of (p. 4)

Sat May 5th, 2012 on     Insurance Claims,    

We are continuing our discussion of the Titanic, the Costa Concordia and other maritime accidents and what effect, if any, the disasters have had on the insurance and shipping industries. The Costa Concordia could very well cost more than the Exxon Valdez debacle. That doesn’t just include the damage to the ship, of course; if the crew or the cruise line is found to be at fault, the insurance company would have to pay any judgments awarded to passengers or their families.

When you think about how strange the Concordia accident was, it’s hard not to think there was no way the shipbuilder, the cruise line or the insurance company could anticipate the wreck. The same goes for the Titanic: Who could possibly guess that everything that could go wrong would go wrong? The confluence of the iceberg, the not-so-watertight compartments, the lack of binoculars for spotters, the crew’s response of turning the ship instead of ramming the berg head-on — who could anticipate that?

In 1967, a fire that lasted less than one-half minute took the lives of three astronauts. The Apollo 1 fire was a turning point for the space program, the race to the moon of the 1960s. The magnitude of the tragedy, among other things, led to a full investigation by NASA and the U.S. Senate. A year after the fire, the report was done.

In the preface, the second paragraph reads: “No single person bears all of the responsibility for the Apollo 204 accident. It happened because many people made the mistake of failing to recognize a hazardous situation.”

It hadn’t occurred to a phalanx of scientists that the Velcro would create a spark that would ignite the pure oxygen cabin atmosphere. They had done tests that way many, many times without incident. What could go wrong?

We’ll finish this up in our next post.

Source:, “Leveraging Hindsight into Foresight: Lessons from the Titanic,” Anya Khalamayzer, Laura Mazzuca Toops, April 11, 2012

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