If you operate a business in the marine industry, you have many liability exposures that must be kept at bay. Ship repairers, yacht clubs, recreational marine repair facilities, marine products distributors, shipping companies and other marine businesses face unique risks that can be covered with the right insurance products.
Marine Liability: Understanding the Risks
Rough seas aren’t the only threat companies in the marine industry need to consider. Liability exposures can stem from a wide range of sources, and they can occur in multiple phases of operation.
Property damage is an ongoing threat. For example, watercraft can suffer damage while in your care for maintenance, docking, fueling or other purposes. During loading and unloading, both the watercraft and the cargo could undergo damage.
Bodily injury is another threat. When passengers are killed or injured while on a vessel, maritime laws can complicate liability issues. Nevertheless, lawsuits are common, and they can be expensive.
Injuries and property damage could occur due to an incident at sea, such as those cause by a fire or storm. However, incidents at sea could also be the result of problems caused by faulty repairs or dangerous cargo.
Recent cases show how serious marine incidents can be:
- In September, a fire aboard a dive boat in Southern California resulted in the death of the 34 people, including 33 passengers and one crew member. According to the Santa Barbara Independent, the widow of one of the victims has filed a lawsuit against Truth Aquatics, the dive boat company. NBC Los Angeles reports that one of the surviving crew members is also suing the company.
- Last year, a duck boat sank during a thunderstorm, resulting in 17 deaths. According to the Springfield News-Leader, 33 claims were filed against Ripley Entertainment, the company that operated the duck boat. So far, 19 of the claims have been settled for what is being described as a “substantial” amount.
- A 9,000+ TEU container ship caught fire, resulting in damage and an emergency change of course. According to Marine Insight, the fire was caused by a container of charcoal that had not been declared as dangerous as it should have been.
Marine Insurance: One Size Does Not Fit All
Coverage starts with marine general liability insurance, but it doesn’t end there. To protect against your unique risks, you need to add specific endorsements and coverage types, such as traveling workman and ship repairer’s legal liability. Other adjustments may be called for as well. For example, if you’re working on vessels overseas, an amendment of coverage territory may be needed.
However, getting the coverage you need may become increasingly difficult. Based on recent claims and emerging exposures, marine insurance underwriters are exercising caution. Some carriers are exiting the market completely, while others are scrutinizing pricing adequacy and overhauling their risk selection criteria, according to MyNewMarkets.com.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have an experienced marine insurance broker advocating on your behalf. Wilson, Washburn & Forster is a boutique independent insurance agency that has been in business since 1961.
We have expertise and connections in marine insurance and can help position your business as a desirable underwriting risk in this tightening market. We can also help customize the right mix of coverage and endorsements to protect against the unique exposures of your business. You will find that our experience, claims handling, service, and community commitment is unrivaled.
Contact us today for a complimentary analysis of your current insurance program by an insurance specialist in this field at 786-454-8384.