February 21, 2017
It can be tricky to find the right protection coverage for fishing boats at the right price.
How much a vessel is insured for is traditionally determined by a marine surveyor but boat owners also must protect against risk. A new guide called “Getting the Most Value When Buying Fishing Vessel Insurance” gives simple tips and outlines buying pitfalls.
At least some boat owners new to the industry or new to owning boats may not be fully aware of the responsibilities of a vessel owner are under general maritime law and various versions of the Jones Act. Those two areas of law provide a high degree of protection not just to crew members but others who provide services to boats.
Terry Johnson is a Professor at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, a Sea Grant Marine Agent and guide author.
Which means if a painter falls off a ladder then he is entitled to his living and medical coverage until he is able to return to work. There is some basic subsistence amount of money that you are required to pay for him to stay in a residence and be fed and all of that. And that is irrespective of any issue of negligence.
Protection and Indemnity coverage, or P&I, protects boat owners against injury lawsuits. If a person is hurt or killed because something was wrong on deck, such as a sling breaking or no safety shield on the winch, a boat can be classed as unseaworthy. Johnson says that’s a very broad category.
If somebody got hurt that serves as evidence that the vessel was unseaworthy. It’s pretty broad and lots of people might not assume that such a broad range of factors could be considered unseaworthiness. But that’s what case law has shown to be.
And, Johnson points out, it goes beyond injuries.
And it’s not just injuries. If a person gets sick while in service to the boat they are entitled to maintenance and cure and that can be a substantial amount of money over a period of time.
So how much P&I insurance is enough? Johnson says it depends on how much you can afford to lose.
With regard to P&I the simple answer to the question is how much can you afford to lose. If you have a shoestring operation and you don’t own any personal assets, and if someone gets hurt you can throw up your hands and declare bankruptcy and walk away from it. But most people by the time they get to be vessel owners have a considerable sum into the operation itself, and they also have personal assets, all of which are accessible to someone who sues them. So the question is what’s your home and your savings and your investments and all those things worth, because that’s what you’re trying to protect with P&I.
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