The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a difficult and confusing time for many industry stakeholders. Many crew members are finding themselves in situations where they are unable to return to the yachts they work on, in need of repatriation, unable to leave vessels or otherwise facing life on board a superyacht with a COVID-19 outbreak. SuperyactNews speaks with the team from Yachtowners about the role of P&I throughout the crisis.
“We are predominantly getting a lot of queries and cover questions about certain scenarios around crew repatriations, getting to and from vessels, being restricted to certain ports and/or being required to stay in certain countries for 14 days before moving on,” starts Steven John, Yacht Injury Claims Manager at Yachtowners. “Certainly, for the first two or three weeks we had a raft of crew, brokers and members asking about a variety of issues and whether or not there is cover provided for these issues within their P&I policies.
“We currently have a number of open claims for COVID-19 outbreaks where cover does respond. For the most part, P&I cover relates to COVID-19 when a crew member falls ill whilst serving on board. Cover responds to the expenses and liabilities incurred by Members. In these cases, sick wages, medical expenses and repatriation are just some of the costs that will be covered under the P&I policy. If a crew member and/or a yacht is quarantined as a precautionary measure due to state restrictions on travel, the additional expenses are not covered as there has not been an outbreak on the vessel and no crew member is suffering from the illness. Where there is no outbreak on board, the issues that we mentioned before are an unfortunate operating cost for the member.”
In addition to covering sick pay for COVID-19 outbreaks on board, P&I insurers may provide financial security under the MLC in the eventuality that owners are no longer able to pay wages in the event of financial damage caused by the ongoing economic downturn. In this eventuality P&I Clubs may also provide a guarantee for repatriation. However, in normal circumstances it remains the responsibility of the vessel owning company to provide repatriation costs as outlined in the MLC. Additionally, many seafarers’ contracts will include provisions for repatriation.
“The cover that we provide is restricted to if there is an actual outbreak on board, or if someone has the virus. However, the MLC Certificate provided by us gives a guarantee for repatriation and unpaid wage costs in the eventuality that the owner is no longer able to pay,” explains Nicola Kingman, Syndicate Manager at Yachtowners. “That being said, we have a vested interest in the health and safety of the crew that fall under our policies as well as our assureds. Therefore, we are able to provide a wealth of resources to crew, as well as being able to redirect crew to the correct authorities to receive aid or advice. For example, we work closely with the ISWAN a charity who, in certain circumstances, may be able to provide advice and support on financial aid available to crew members in need. On our website we have a COVID-19 page set up with a link for crew through which they can find a great deal of information about what support is available for them.”
For more information on the above issues, Yachtowners invites crew to refer the following resources on their website:
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