The world’s space insurance market is likely to be in loss for 2013. This conclusion is the result of market reports that the Digital Timing Unit fault seriously affecting telemetry of the first four 03B communications satellites (O3B PFM, O3B FM-2, O3B FM4 and O3B FM5) launched in July, may result in an insurance claim, in the worst case scenario, for a total of $328 million.
If this scenario happens then according to insurance loss and expected loss figures collated on the Flightglobal/Ascend SpaceTrak launch and satellite database, the net total loss for 2013 is likely to be circa $813 million. This compares to insurance market expectations of a total gross premium paid for space insurance policies in the calender year being $660-675 million depending on outstanding launches occuring this year. This expected result, in effect, means that the market will fall into net loss for the first time since 2007.
Whether this now leads to a hardening in premium rates remains to be seen. New underwriting firms are entering the market in 2014 and this extra capacity may help to keep rates down.