Are you covered? A guide to yacht crew insurance
Last updated: 18/01/2019
Whether you’re an owner or captain choosing a crew insurance plan for an entire staff, or an individual looking for some personal medical cover, it’s important to ensure that all are fully covered with a correct and dependable plan.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to crew insurance, so, with so many different plans and such conflicting information, Yachting Pages has created a guide to address some of the most important aspects to be aware of when it comes to marine insurance plans, from both a crew and an employer’s perspective.
What insurance do yacht captains and crewmembers need?
A crewmember working on board a yacht or boat will need to be insured with a comprehensive, compliant insurance plan that will cover their health and activities worldwide, and offer substantial protection for a wide range of unusual risks while they are both on and off the clock – weekends and holidays included.
A yacht may offer its paid crewmembers accident/injury insurance and medical/health cover as part of a group plan. Alternatively, a crewmember may have to take out their own policy to ensure they are covered for all eventualities – extreme sports included.
Maria Karlsson, president and broker at Superyacht Insurance Group explained, “Even though the yacht’s Protection and Indemnity insurance will cover crewmembers for any ‘work-related’ injuries and accidents on board, it’s important to point out that P&I is not regular health insurance and shouldn’t be treated as such.
“With this in mind, it’s imperative the yacht has specific crew medical insurance in place for its staff to cover regular visits to the doctor, hospitalisation, surgery, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, physical examinations, preventative care, dental care, vision, air-evacuation and so on and so forth, when working and during time off. These medical plans should act primary to P&I, meaning they should pay first to avoid claiming under the P&I policy, which has a primary purpose of protecting from major liability claims.”
Tips for crew selecting a crew insurance policy
There is a certain degree of confusion among crew in regards to how crew insurance works and what they believe they are covered for. Below we examine some typical thought trains and offer tips for crew comparing and selecting plans for the best individual coverage:
Not all crew insurance plans are created equal
Whether you are part of the yacht’s group insurance plan, or you have your own, it’s important to realise that not all crew insurance plans are created equal. Although policies with vastly different costs may seem to offer similar cover and benefits, a cheaper policy may only cover you for the major risks at work, while offering only basic coverage beyond this. As such there have been many instances where these have been misleading in the amount of cover offered.
When buying individual insurance be sure to look closely at the deductible, coverage and co-pay amounts before selecting the best policy for you and your needs. If you are joining a group policy, be sure to ask for the documentation to check exactly what you are covered for.
Choose a reputable yacht or marine insurance company
It goes without saying that the insurance company you are working with should offer prompt, friendly and personal service when you need them, as well as when you don’t. Clear communication is vital from first enquiry through to claim settlement, so make sure to select a reputable marine insurance company or broker and check for reviews and service records online. It’s always best to opt for a company that has an established background with yacht or marine insurance 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 plan, it’s best to have your own individual insurance plan.
You are not always insured by the yacht or its owner
Many superyacht crew commonly believe that they are covered, or have certain protection from the owner’s Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurance. As Maria explained above, this is not always the case. Unless the owner has a separate group health plan, it’s vital to have your own individual medical insurance and/or personal accident cover in place to protect yourself.
Do not rely on medical insurance from your home country
If you have medical insurance from your time on shore, this probably does not cover you wherever you go, or whatever you do. Typically insurance purchased at home provides coverage only when you are in your home country, meaning you will be completely unprotected should anything happen in foreign waters. These policies may also only cover you for certain activities, and may not cover you in a work capacity at all.
Check for no-claims bonuses
If you don’t make a claim against your medical insurance in a given year, then you’ll typically receive a reduction on your premium the following year, just like with car insurance. Some insurers don’t offer this so if it is something you are interested in, ensure to ask for policies that include this bonus.
Don’t be scared to file a claim
Finally, it’s important to realise that filing a claim on your yacht’s group insurance plan will not harm your job security, or your employer’s perception of you on board. Filing a legitimate medical claim should have absolutely no effect on your job status on board, as it’s your right to have access to this health care whilst you are employed on the yacht.
If you have are struggling to make a medical claim or have a problem with your employer in this area, there are experts on hand with huge amounts of experience in filing claims and offering the best advice for your individual situation.
Tips for captains choosing group insurance plans for crew
We’ve also put together some tips in order to help captains create the best group insurance plan for the crew:
Balance crew and owner needs
When choosing a group insurance plan as an owner or captain, you will always have to balance cost and coverage options to suit both employer and employees. Marine crews tend to enjoy adventurous activities during work and downtime, so they will often be in need of more comprehensive coverage that will encompass water sports, scuba, winter sports, and other hazardous 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
The yacht’s planned or typical itinerary is always subject to change, so it’s important to consider appropriate geographic cover, as you will need to decide which carrier is best set up to support you in the region(s) you will be visiting. Before purchasing any policy, check if they have support in those areas; do they have doctor and hospital relationships? Will differing time zones be an issue in event of a claim?
Ask for recommendations
Simple but important; it’s difficult to interpret how effective a plan’s benefits are from reading a brochure. Tap into the invaluable resource that is all around you – your fellow captains and crews. Asking other marine professionals what their experience has been like with a particular insurance plan will provide real-world information that will help you make an informed decision between the available insurance providers and policies.
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 – 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.