OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company part-owned by the UK Government, has signed an agreement to insure its GEN 1 (Generation 1) constellation’s remaining launches up to an aggregate value of more than US$1 billion. The insurance placement is being carried out by the space risk team at the international insurance broker Marsh. The previous multi-launch policy placed by Willis had expired.
The deal arranged by Marsh covers physical loss or damage to the future launches of 317 satellites. These will be insured by specialist space insurance underwriters worldwide.
OneWeb has recently secured all funding necessary to take its satellites into commercial service later this year, recently announcing additional funding from Bharti Global as well as Hanwha. Often investors insist on sufficient insurance before funding such programmes. The exact premium rate is believed to be close to that of the previous Willis deal. This will have been a struggle to place given that launch insurance premium rates have more than doubled.
Comment by David Todd: While operators of satellite constellations usually insure launches of multiple satellites (with the notable exception of SpaceX), the satellites’ lives in orbit are not covered. Constellations normally have enough satellites in orbit to ensure continuity of service in the event of one or two satellite failures and so do not usually bother with in-orbit insurance.
This article has been corrected from an earlier version, which incorrectly stated that in-orbit cover had been placed (as implied by OneWeb’s original press release).