Sitting with Captain Malcolm Jacotine in Monaco, The Crew Report was asked an interesting question by the captain: what role do insurers play when it comes to a captain’s experience?
“In my past commands, the insurers have generally wanted to see my CV and claims record, and on a number of occasions I have had insurance audits where an assessor will come on board and look at the yacht, its procedures, operation, SMS and crew. I don’t know if this level of interest and type of audit is a common occurrence, or just limited to larger yachts,” poses Captain Jacotine, “but I can imagine it helps the underwriters have a better appreciation of their exposure to a claim and possibly used to calculate premiums.”
The Crew Report approached the maritime insurance industry and put this question to Paul Miller, director of underwriting at Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd, who responded: “If there’s a change of captain mid-term or something, we’ll potentially get sent the CV from the captain, which we will look at. Sometimes we get it with a vessel when they’re looking for insurance, sometimes we don’t. I think on the big boats, where they have professionally crewed and the flag states set the rules, we don’t have a lot of input quite frankly.”
But much hangs on the edge of a captain’s experience, as we have seen too much in the media over the past year, so why isn’t the insurance sector taking more notice of those who are being employed to run and man these increasingly complex vessels? “Our issue is, there are vast numbers of crew out there with different sets of qualifications from different places. We don’t have a library of books here that tells us what is equivalent to what, whether you’re Australian, English, Indonesian or Filipino. Quite frankly, we take the view that it’s not our job to do that. It’s the owner’s or manager’s job to make sure the yacht is manned properly, and the crew comply with regulations. If they don’t, then they may have a problem with their insurance.”
“Is the captains’ experience taken into account when calculating premiums? Is the cost of insurance lower with a highly experienced captain?”
However, there is definitely a sense in the industry of everyone thinking someone else is dealing with the problem, continues Miller. “I think there are probably a lot of people thinking somebody else is doing it and they’re not. There are a lot of people ducking down behind their contract wording. But I certainly think that the recruitment agencies need to step up a couple of levels, particularly in terms of providing crew that come with a confirmed CV, experience and qualifications. The MLC deals with some of that, but if these guys aren’t qualified to be on the boats then Port State Control will sort them out pretty quickly.
So, while some within the insurance sector feel the responsibility to ensure crewmembers hold the necessary qualifications, there is still a role there for them to play should they want to, explains Captain Jacotine, and this role is based around an understanding of a captain’s experience. “Is the captains’ experience taken into account when calculating premiums?” asks Captain Jacotine. “Is the cost of insurance lower with a highly experienced captain? I suspect that in general they do not take experience into account, as they are covered by the implied warranty within maritime insurance that the insure will man the vessel with a competent master, there the responsibility is on the owner or manager to ensure the competency of the captain and indeed the crew, for the insurance to be valid. Whilst a certificate of competency may serve to fulfill that requirement, there may be issues in the event of a claim if it is shown that the captain, although qualified, was not suitably experienced on a similar size vessels – something that might be an impediment to pa payout.”
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