A guide to yacht crew insurance
Whether you are a captain choosing an insurance plan for an entire crew, or an individual crew member looking to make sure you’re fully covered and have the correct insurance plan, Yachting Pages has created a guide addressing some of the most important aspects you should be aware of when it comes to your maritime insurance plan, debunking some frequently misunderstood myths.
Top tips: Debunking industry myths
There is a certain degree of confusion among yacht crew in regards to how insurance works and what they believe they are covered for. Below, we examine some typical thought trains and explain why what you think may not be true:
Crew insurance plans are all the same
You may think that all crew insurance plans will offer similar benefits and cheaper ones are fine as they will still cover you for any major risks. However, this is a myth; yacht crew insurance plans vary a huge amount. Two policies with different costs may seem similar, but there have been many instances where cheaper policies have been misleading. Look closely at the deductibles, coverage and copay amounts.
It doesn't matter which insurance company I choose
It goes without saying that the company you are working with should offer prompt, friendly and personal service when you speak to them; otherwise, if and when you need them for something important, you may regret choosing them. Make sure to research the company’s service record and check that they have a good reputation working with yachts and crew specifically.
I am covered by the yacht owner
A common misunderstanding of many superyacht crew is that they believe they are covered, or have certain protection from the owner’s insurance. A general rule of thumb is, unless the owner has a separate group crew health protection plan, it’s best to have your own individual health insurance plan.
I'm covered by the medical insurance from my home country
If you have medical insurance at home, this probably does not cover you wherever you go. Typical medical insurance at home only provides coverage when you are in your home country, meaning you will be completely unprotected should anything happen on foreign soil (or waters).
I'm covered on and off the yacht
If the yacht offers (and pays for) your health insurance as part of your employment package, be sure that you’re fully covered at work, on and off the boat. Previous instances have occurred when a crew member has been injured while off of the boat and has not been covered for medical insurance.
Filing a claim may cause me problems at work
If you think filing a claim may harm your job security, or you are scared to do it, then don’t be. Filing a claim should have absolutely no effect on your job status, because it is your right to have proper health care and insurance while you are employed.
There is no one to talk to about my claim
Regardless of what happens, there is always someone on hand to talk to; typically an expert with huge amounts of experience in filing claims and offering advice. This may be one of the rare times that you actually use a professional company, as they can be very knowledgeable in insurance claims and will often give you the best advice for your individual situation.
A no claims bonus is always included
If you don’t make a claim in any given year, then you’ll receive a reduction on the premiums the following year (just like car insurance). It's commonly thought that these are included as standard, but some insurers don’t offer this.
Group insurance plans
We’ve also put together some tips in order to help captains to create the best group insurance plan for their crews.
Balance crew and owner needs
This is an important part of choosing any group insurance plan for the vessel: Marine crews tend to enjoy adventurous activities, so they are looking for coverage that will encompass scuba, winter sports, and other leisure activities. An insurance plan that provides a structured and appropriate response to medical emergencies with cover for your crew’s favourite leisure activities, will decrease liability exposure and protect both owner and crew.
Check your itinerary
Checking your itinerary is also important, as you will need to decide which carrier is best set up to support you in the regions you will be visiting/traveling. Check if they have resources in those areas: Do they have doctor and hospital relationships? Are differing time zones an issue?
Ask for recommendations
Simple but important; it is difficult to interpret how effective a plan’s benefits are from reading a brochure. Tap into the invaluable resources that are all around you – your fellow captains and crews. Asking other marine professionals what their experience was with a particular insurance plan will provide real world information that will help you make an informed decision among your insurance choices.
Seek a proven, long-standing plan
Your crew will be counting on this insurance policy to provide for their needs, especially in the case of an emergency. Make sure you select a long-standing marine crew insurance plan with a proven track record of providing service before, during and after claims are made.
The most important issue is, do you want to be fully reimbursed for every eventuality or just “the big stuff”? All insurance companies will produce benefit tables for their different levels of cover, though it’s difficult to fairly compare all plans. It’s about finding the best compromise for your situation.