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The London Crossrail project is a 21st century marvel. When it's finally completed towards the end of 2019, this major new railway line will straddle London from east to west. This GBP 14.8 billion project is a major enhancement of the city's transport infrastructure that will strengthen the economic resilience of one of the world's largest urban centres.

Given that Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has long drawn attention to how infrastructure investment drives growth, it should come as no surprise to learn that we have a leading role in enabling this endeavor. The project's main feature – 21 km of twin tunnels beneath the heart of the city – is an engineering feat. The client wanted their insurance to be simple – a project-wide multi-year coverage for an unprecedented nine-year term. We delivered. We were appointed lead insurer on the construction and primary third-party liability policy.

Rising to the challenge

We've insured many major infrastructure developments around the world, but Crossrail's nine-year construction period was longer than any previous projects in our portfolio. Added to that, the project's technical complexity required an especially rigorous underwriting process, which involved examining both the physical aspects of the works and the client's approach to risk management.

"We kept our eye on three goals: understanding in detail the client’s own risk management principles as well as the physical aspects of work; negotiating a clear, positive alignment between our interests and the client's; and building in the concept of ongoing insurers’ risk management throughout the life of the project,” said Cedric Wong, Senior Underwriter, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. "My background as a chartered civil engineer made me particularly excited about this significant undertaking. We formed a close partnership with the Crossrail project team that has helped us track the ever-changing risk profile throughout the project period. We also added value by providing independent risk management to complement the client's own robust risk management systems."

Fifteen years ago, tunnels were approaching the limit of insurability. After a series of tunnel collapses and the resulting prohibitive repair costs, a lot of major insurers stopped insuring these projects. Since that time, much work has been done by both the insurance and tunneling industries to identify best practice risk management. Tunnel projects now have the best chance of a successful outcome.

We worked with Crossrail to ensure their processes and procedures satisfy the strictest requirements. Our approach makes Crossrail’s insurance flexible, as our risk management continuously complements theirs. The result: budget stability for the client, acceptable risk for us, and a new engineering wonder for London.

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Cedric Wong
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