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Tuesday 19 Sep 2017
You are here: Home Health News The Crew Report - Asking the Insurance Experts
The Crew Report - Asking the Insurance Experts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maria Karlsson   
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:47

Insurance & Finance Focus - Asking the Insurance Experts



As part of the TCR issue focus on insurance and finance this month, we asked a group of specialist superyacht crew insurance providers about some of the most important considerations for crew when choosing their personal insurance. In an area that can be very confusing, with terms and conditions as long as your arm, it is important to make sure you have all the information you need. Here are the responses:


Should a crewmember expect to be covered by the employing yacht’s insurance policy?


It is in the interests of the yacht owner to provide medical insurance for their crew so that if an accident or illness arises they can be treated locally or evacuated to the nearest appropriate facility for treatment and then return to work as soon as possible.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

This is a very topical question in light of the current financial situation. Like any other employer, yacht owners feeling the pinch may need to look at reducing costs and one area they may look at is their insurance policy. Where an employer may have previously offered a high level comprehensive package they may have downgraded their cover somewhat or, worse still, cancelled their policies altogether and now leave it to the employee to source their own cover.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

Although crewmembers should not expect to be covered for health insurance it is perhaps something they should look for when selecting an employer and in an increasingly competitive employment market [vessel] owners should be looking to add such benefits to differentiate themselves from other employers.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

There may be substantial protections stemming from Admiralty law, while being “…a seaman, in service of a vessel, in navigation…”. However, those protective precepts for seafarers can evaporate instantly, depending upon specific factual circumstances. Furthermore, such controlling factors often shift abruptly and without forewarning, due to the typical operational and personnel practices prevalent within the yachting industry.
(a) Therefore, yacht crew should expect protection only from insurance policies on which they are “named insured’s”; for example, a health insurance policy which specifically lists them, either individually, or as a nominal member within a “group”. As a “named insured”, crew would have a personal ID Card and/or “declarations page” (or, similar documents), which reference the specific insurance policy or “certificate”. These documents should be available to the crewmember, personally. The covered benefits and “exclusions” are set forth by the contractual terms of the policy or “Certificate”. Read the policy!!! The insurance jargon is no longer boring once there is a need to tap its benefits. Thus, crew should be aware of their coverage beforehand. If you are uncertain about any features, ask the listed agent.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

The "medical payments" section of the yacht insurance policy has a separate deductible and usually offers a fairly low medical maximum per accident that may not be sufficient in a serious emergency. I have seen limits of $100,000 per crewmember for each accident, but with a max of $500,000 for all crewmembers for each accident. Especially if the yacht is spending time in the US, which has the highest medical care costs in the world, the above limit would not be sufficient enough!
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

Some yachts use their P&I or liability policies to cover crew medical claims while others have a full-time, specialized crew health policy in place. Because of the big variation in the scope of the cover provided to crew, they should not make assumptions. Instead, they should inquire during the interview process to find out what cover is offered to the crew, with particular emphasis on sickness, shore leave and vacation cover.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Crewmembers should not expect crew personal accident or medical expenses to be automatically picked up by the Yacht owner. Legally the yacht owner only has to cover “employers liability” or negligence for eeath, injury or damage to property. This is covered under the yacht’s protection and indemnity, P&I section or P&I Club entry or by an employers liability policy. Personal accident and illness including medical expenses should be seen as an extra crew benefit, offered by some yacht owners. The yacht owner has no liability for loss or damage to property or liability for injury whilst the crewmember is on holiday, unless there is negligence by the yacht/Owner. If the crewmember is snow skiing or participating in watersports during their leisure time, there is no legal liability for the owner to meet these claims, unless negligence is proved.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

Yes, most crew should be covered under a complete yacht insurance policy while employed on the yacht. For a full-time, permanent/seasonal position, it is now often considered standard practice that an additional health benefits policy is available for crewmembers, with a package of benefits appropriate to the vessel, location and crewmember status. Premiums can be paid by the vessel, or the crewmember, or as a shared percentage. There are many variables depending upon flag state of the yacht, location and nationality of crewmembers, in addition of course to the specific employment contract. Therefore, it would be advisable for crewmembers to seek the advice of a professional insurance broker if they have any questions relating to the group cover in which they are included.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

Absolutely.  The question of what benefits to be provided should be asked in the job offer interview process.  One should ask what benefits are provided and whether health insurance is provided on and off the boat, in your own time, not just for work related injuries.  
I see many crew added to their owner’s company health plan along with the land-lubbing personnel. Unfortunately these are usually domestic group plans and provide little or no cover outside of that country.  Unless the vessel is staying in that country and does not travel internationally, this does is not the right plan for crew.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health

There is little time since yachts were sold with the slogan of “no taxes, no charges”. Fortunately, the speeches change for crewmember protection with new regulations (eg the MLC 2006) and  professionals more liable. It is true that it is not always easy to work in harmony with all laws governing the yachting.
A crewmember could expect to be covered by two insurance policies when the shipowner or manager has subscribed to this type of insurance:
- P&I Club with an extension for the crew.
- Crew insurance programmes.
Mathieu Henry, Worldwide Yacht Crew Cover (WYCC)


If the answer to the question above is yes, what can a crewmember most likely expect to be covered as standard and what will not be covered? (Eg personal effects lost when not on the yacht, holidays, watersports etc)


We offer international medical insurance and would suggest that this is one of the required insurances. Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare
Again, what a crewmember can expect and what they may actually get are two different things. More now than ever they really need to read the policy conditions that an employer may offer. Individual medical plan providers alone can have several different levels of cover from a standard hospitalisation only policy up to top levels of cover including chronic and dental cover. In today's climate I don't think a crewmember can have expectations of what cover they should have.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

As a minimum crewmembers should be looking for cover for the big emergencies, so that can receive treatment when and where they needed. It is also a good idea to see if the policy includes evacuation and repatriation as standard. Such cover is a good idea for the crewmember, as it means they can be treated no matter where they are and even if the accident or illness didn’t occur onboard. In addition, it is a good idea for the ship owner as a good medical plan will ensure crew stay fit and healthy and can return to work as promptly as possible.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

[Disclaimer: The only means to determine such circumstances would be to garner, read and understand the yacht’s policy. This opportunity is usually not readily available to crew other than the captain.]
(a)    Regarding health maladies, accidental injuries, or similar perils: crew have virtually no protection from the yacht’s policy while “signed-off” on holidays, or “crew leave”, et cetera; unless, they appear as “named insureds” for specific coverages under an insurance contract. These scenarios relating to protection for crew from the vessel’s policy are very complex and are fraught with uncertainty; thus, not a prudent predicament for crew. Even if there might be legal recourse, successfully pursuing such a course of action can be problematic; and, possibly VERY expensive. In contrast, carrying proper health insurance that is always in force, is a nominal cost in comparison.   
(b)    Regarding the loss of the crew’s personal property (for example, laptop computers, other electronic devices, cameras, jewelry, navigation equipment, et cetera) through theft or otherwise, are usually specifically EXCLUDED from coverage by the yacht’s policy. However, “personal effects”, such as those listed above, might be covered if the yacht elected to include them in an add-on “rider”. Check the wording of the yacht’s policy; but the likely situation will be no coverage, for a variety of “insurance wonk” reasons beyond the scope of these responses.
(c)    Incidentally, the types of personal effects cited as examples just above, are usually covered – for landlubbers – as a separate, voluntary “personal articles floater”, attached as a “rider” to a “homeowner’s” policy form. The “homeowner’s” policy and “rider” usually contain some internal financial limits, or agreed-upon value for unique jewellery and artwork, and similar precious items. Obviously, most crew would not have such a “homeowner’s” policy-form in place. And, even if it were, protection may not apply for the modus operandi of professional yacht crew, due to other governing clauses of the policy form. In short, “homeowner’s” policies are designed to fit the lifestyle of those based ashore, not the risks posed for perpetual travelers. Unfortunately, currently, there does not seem to be a viable or cost-effective means to cover the hazards of loss in the circumstances related to personal valuable possessions.
In some instances, for example, “short-term travel” policies, there is a limited financial amount for coverage against losses sustained to property, due to “lost baggage”, theft while in-transit and similar perils. However, in their typical travel scenarios, professional yacht crew would rarely satisfy the contractual conditions to trigger such benefits. Thus, in most instances, these forms of protection would most likely be a false sense of security. If subscribing for such “travel” protections, be certain to read the policy carefully, especially its “Conditions” of coverage. “short-term travel” policies are designed with specific time-frames incorporated.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

Accidents and injuries while signed on to the yacht or part taking in water sports or driving the tender or dinghy are covered, but have a limit (see above answer to the question). The yacht insurance policy usually covers personal effects of the crew, but has a max limit, ie $10,000 per crewmember and with a per article max of $5,000. Illnesses that are not of emergency-related nature are not covered, regular check-ups are not covered, maternity benefits are not covered, dental/vision treatments are not covered, (unless accident related), under the vessel insurance. However, these benefits are usually provided by the crew medical insurance.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

Crew personal accident, if offered by the owner, can be extended to cover illness, medical expenses, dental, and in some cases maternity benefits. Cover is normally provided on a 24-hour, 365-day basis, including holiday and time spent off the yacht, not working.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

There are many variables in insurance coverage, but some of the standards include coverage when away from the yacht, water/winter sports (diving, skydiving, etc) medical evacuation and repatriation. Extra coverage for personal belongings is totally discretionary, although this can be added if requested by the assured.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

The crewmember has to be sure that certain policies are in place anyway and the action as an employed crewmember is covered by P&I, EL or TPL. The TPL/P&I should cover all claims that a third party asserts a legal claim incurred in the context of the ownership or use of the yacht, tenders and water toys.
Furthermore the crewmember should be covered in case of an illness/sickness. It is not possible for the crewmember to continue work and a wage continuation is agreed. This is also a part of the P&I and EL.
The owner of the vessel has also the possibility to buy a separate crew medical and crew accident insurance, which is also a big motivation for the crew.
The medical insurance covers costs caused by illness and accident during the working hours and the spare time as well as during vacation and business trips.
The crew accident covers costs if the crewmember stays permanent disabled caused by an accident or if the crewmembers dies.
Personal effects of the crewmember should be covered in the hull policy of the yacht. Mostly personal effects are only covered while on board of the yacht.
If cover during business trips or vacation is necessary a separate additional cover is necessary but has to be done privately by the crewmember.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Benefits offered by most vessels include international health insurance (whether it be 24/7 or just work related).  Some key personnel (captains) may also get eisability insurance.   At the owner’s discretion a crewmember may also cover his/her dependents. Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health
P&I Club: This is only a cover for shipowner’s liability. Not covered if a seaman has a medical problem during on leave period, illness or other accident or sickness not under the shipowner's liability
Crew Insurance (crew welfare): Personal accident (accidental death & disability), Medical expenses with high deductible per events ($100), dental care only in case of emergency, temporary total disability.
Crew Insurance with a real social approach (expatriate solutions): we could compare this coverage with previous coverage. This type of programme provides guarantees during on leave and lay off periods, dental and vision cares, pre-existing conditions. Group or individual subscriptions, each member is identified.
A real programme for the crew has guarantees adapted to the seaman’s life – not only during a job (winter sports, diving, watersports, motorbikes…)
Mathieu Henry, WYCC

If the yacht does provide them with insurance cover, should a crewmember still take out a personal policy of some kind? If so, what sort of policy?

If the yacht owner provides medical insurance there is no need to take out a personal medical insurance policy.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

This can be a very important choice for two main reasons:
1.    Does your employee crew medical plan only cover you whilst you are onboard and working? You may find that you will need to have separate cover in place for when you are onshore.   
2.    Does your crew cover give you a continuation option should you leave your current employment? This could be very important to ensure that you have continuation of cover for any conditions that you may suffer. Trying to find a new medical plan to cover pre-existing conditions is very difficult and can prove expensive. 
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

The crewmember should ensure they have medical insurance. They should look for a policy that has comprehensive benefits and covers them in the parts of the world they will be travelling in. Big medical insurance companies with well-known brands, such as AXA, have contacts all over the world and are often able to settle medical claims directly with the treating hospital, which means the crewmember can concentrate on getting better whilst the insurer deals with the bills. Crewmembers should ask about the size of the hospital networks, but also find out if it is compulsory, as they may wish to have treatment elsewhere. For example, AXA PPP Healthcare has direct settlement arrangements with over 1,100 hospitals around the world and our customers can receive treatment with around 20,000 medical providers worldwide. However, if the crewmember wants to use a medical provider we don’t have contact with, they can.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

In short, YES! Even if the personal policy form is primarily for “catastrophic” protection (ie large medical bills stemming from accidents or serious illness). Whatever coverage may exist from a yacht’s policy protecting crew, it might terminate abruptly, due to a variety of operational characteristics of the yachting industry. Therefore, any crewmember is best served by an “individual” policy in their own name. This is the most reliable means to assure the coverage is portable when changing jobs.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

Yes, I highly recommend it! Many crew insurance policies will cover the crew 24/7/365, while working and during their time off as well. As a crewmember, I would not rely solely on the yacht insurance policy for “around the clock” health insurance coverage. What about a situation where a crewmember on a day off, rides a bicycle, falls off and gets hit by a car? The crew insurance policy will cover that scenario.
There are several suitable policy options available for crewmembers. A permanent comprehensive crew medical insurance policy is the best option that the crewmember can continue with from “yacht-to-yacht”, or a simple travel insurance plan may be sufficient in some incidents. Keep in mind that the travel insurance plan will not cover “work related accidents or illnesses” while working onboard the vessel.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

There’s no easy answer here as it really depends on the individual circumstances of the crewmember. If the group plan is insufficient for whatever reason, be it the geographical area or the cover (or absence thereof!) for any pre-existing conditions or activities/hobbies that the crewmember participates in, a personal policy may be the right answer. Additionally, a crewmember may also want to consider taking out a personal policy if they are frequently between jobs to ensure continuous cover is in place. This list is not exhaustive and we do recommend that crew contact a health insurance broker to discuss their individual needs.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

There are many crewmembers who hold personal health policies. Given the increasing quantity of seasonal employment, this is likely to rise. Also, for crewmembers with children, homes ashore, or other responsibilities, this may well be advised. Crewmembers may wish to have personal health insurance coverage to include such items as added sick leave pay, disability coverage, life term policy, personal property or family policies. The coverage suitable for any individual should be discussed with your insurance broker.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

Of course the crewmember has to think about what happens after being a crewmember and therefore a private life and pension insurance. Also an additional private health insurance to cover possible gaps or get additional cover is reasonable.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

A problem with going on a boat’s group health plan is that when you leave the boat and are no longer on the payroll, your group cover will be terminated and crew that have manifested a pre-existing condition can have a problem getting cover again, particularly if the vessel’s plan is ‘unregulated’ or ‘non admitted’ and not recognized as creditable cover. Portability is needed between health plans
Regulated plans are designed to protect the consumer and making it unlikely that buyers will be facing tricky language,  unexpected  penalties and loopholes, harsh exclusions and difficult claims procedures.   A consumer can file a complaint with state insurance departments who have direct recourse with an Admitted insurer to demand fair claims payment.  See the attached documents on ‘Admitted’ v ‘non admitted’ plans.
Few lay people understand the language in those twenty page certificates. Policy definitions and terms should be in clear English and not misleading.
For example:
Admitted plans define a pre-existing condition as one that was treated or diagnosed prior to the effective date of the policy.    
A Non Admitted plan may define a pre-existing condition as   a condition that was diagnosed or treated or could have manifested itself whether symptoms existed or not prior to the effective date. This definition is a common reason why claims get denied. Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health
It depends on the programme subscribed to. Yes with all basic insurance (crew welfare) but it is very difficult to find the coverage adapted to the first coverage with an attractive premium. In this case you will be covered for the same risk. The best solution is only one guarantee, subscribed individually or by the employer.
Mathieu Henry, WYCC


If taking out insurance personally, how much geographical cover should a crewmember have?

It depends on what area of the world they are living and working in – we offer cover at any hospital, any doctor any dentist in Europe, Worldwide excluding the USA and Worldwide – owners can choose the relevant area they want.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

This is very much a personal choice. If a crewmember only intends to work in the Mediterranean then buying a full worldwide policy is not really necessary as a Europe-only plan could be significantly cheaper. However, you do need to consider your future requirements, ie will you ever need cover in the US/US territorial waters and if so does your plan have the option of upgrading to worldwide cover.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

The member should consider where they are going to be travelling to or where they will want treatment. AXA PPP healthcare have 3 areas of cover Europe, Worldwide excluding the US and Canada and Worldwide. However, if you need to change your area of cover med-term we will be happy to arrange this for you.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

Worldwide, including the USA. NB: As crew proceed through the typical changes prompted by the life cycle, some crew elect to remain only within certain geographical areas. Such instances are a small fraction of the crew population. But, in such circumstances, then “local” regional coverage may offer some advantages, and should be investigated. Nevertheless, a “crew policy” will probably serve best for the typical sea-going crew member; who has no way to predict, and limited or no control over all the continuous – and often sudden and unannounced – career changes.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

The geographical coverage area all depends on where the yacht will travel. If the yacht stays in Europe, the crewmember doesn’t need to include the US coverage, and the policy will be less expensive. There are policies available that will cover the crew worldwide with no country exclusions, and there are policies that cover specific areas or countries. To be safe, I recommend a well-rounded policy that will offer worldwide coverage, because you never know where the future (or next yacht) will take you!
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

The international insurance world is essentially divided into two areas: North America/Caribbean and the rest of the world. If a crewmember, or the yacht that they are on, has any intention of making either frequent or prolonged visits to North America/Caribbean they should look for worldwide coverage. If there is no intent to come to North America/Caribbean, then typically you can exclude it from your plan which can reduce the premium by as much as 30 per cent or more bearing in mind that the area of cover can often only be decreased not increased after the policy has been purchased. For those relying on domestic cover in their home country, the rules vary significantly from country to country and it is important to check whether the area of cover is sufficient and that there are no restrictions on time spent abroad.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Normally if a crewmember takes out cover personally, it is better to restrict cover to the areas the yacht is working. It is cheaper, if say restricted to the Mediterranean but if the Yacht moves to the Caribbean etc or the crewmember changes job, it can be extended. The policy is transportable but crew need an emergency medical telephone number if travelling frequently to new territories, and preferably a Lloyd’s policy that is recognised worldwide. One important point: always advise insurers if cover for US waters or North America is required. Most policies exclude the US and an additional premium would be applicable. Normally policies are issued for a 12-month period, so they can cover working anywhere in the world.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

This depends entirely upon the travel of the vessel. Policies can cover as close or far as required, including worldwide, Mediterranean only, and the United States will usually be added or excluded specifically. The place of residence of the crewmember, and normal home port of the yacht are also relevant factors in determining suitable geographical coverage.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

The scope of cover of the contracts should definitely be the same as the cruising area of the yacht policies to avoid administration work to adapt the crew policies and if possible it should be possible to choose the scope of cover worldwide from the beginning.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Annually renewable international health plans provide worldwide cover including private insurance in your home country (unlike short term travel plans).  Some plans may give the option to exclude cover in US/Canada, which reduces the rates and this could be a consideration for Mediterranean-, Asian- or Pacific-based vessels.  
A vessel cruising the Caribbean or Bahamas with no plans of entering US waters should still take cover in the US as all emergency evacuations are brought to the US (it happened to me!) and you do not want to have your health care compromised in the US!        
When seeking insurance be wary of an insurance agent who is ‘captive’ to one particular company.  They will not advise you on the options available that an independent broker will.  Find an ethical independent broker who will help you with the policy best suited to you – not the one that pays them the most commission!
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health

Does a crewmember’s nationality affect the cover they need or that they receive from a personal insurance policy? (Eg are there any areas where they will be covered if they pay social security contributions.)

No.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

This really needs to be investigated on an individual basis – an EU citizen for example may be entitled to medical treatment in other EU countries but even this can change from each EU country to another. The advice should always be make sure you do have some form of medical cover.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

Medical insurance regulations vary from country to country. Our policies are designed for people outside there country of nationality. However, we look at policies on a case-by-case basis and can sometimes cover crewmembers who are based in their country of nationality.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

For more than a decade, a number of different persons have worked to develop health insurance benefit programmes that are specifically designed for professional yacht crew. Consequently, strong international individual, as well as employer-sponsored group health policies are available for crew, regardless of nationality. However, portability of coverage between successive employers is still lacking, for the preponderance of employer-sponsored group health” programmes. This serious pitfall presents potentially hazardous risks for any crew saddled with “pre-existing” health conditions. Thus, “individual” coverage is preferable.
a)    Any discussion of the “social security” arrangements for the countless different nationalities of crew, would comprise a tome. Furthermore, the “social security” protections may still not be applicable, due to the unique peripatetic life style of professional crew. Suffice to say, for those nations or “Home countries” providing valuable “social security” benefits: crew should definitely try, if possible, to continue satisfying whatever requisites to remain eligible for participation within their respective nationality, or adopted country. It is valuable to remain entitled for prospective benefits after their yachting career, and, eventually for benefits afforded under “old age”/”pensioner” entitlements; whatever they may be. Even youthful and vigorous crew, will face the ravages of chronology much sooner than one may believe.
b)    Some countries with “social security” mechanisms require “continuous coverage” as an expatriate, to maintain eligibility. Thus, another reason to have an “individual” policy with a solid, verifiable track of “continuous coverage”.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

No, the nationality shouldn’t affect the coverage they need while travelling. I guess as a citizen of a country that offers national health, the crewmember should be able to go back home and access their healthcare system if necessary, but while travelling in foreign countries, we all need sufficient healthcare coverage. In the US, foreign nationals have fewer restrictions on how their time is spent in-and-out of the US, ie a US crewmember who signs up for a worldwide crew insurance policy has to spend a certain amount of time outside the US in order to be eligible for the coverage. The time frame is usually between three and six months outside the US within a year. As a non-US citizen, certain policies don’t have any time restrictions and they can stay in the US as long as they’d like.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

As stated above, social systems or domestic insurance policies vary from country to country (eg some have automatic eligibility for local nationals, some require contributions through taxes; some are strictly home country while others provide cover for a certain amount of cover for accidents or sudden illnesses outside the home country, particularly of use within the rest of the EU in the case of EU social systems).  
With regard to whether a crewmember’s nationality affects the benefit they would receive from a personal insurance policy, only indirectly in the sense that some policies are “secondary” to government-sponsored healthcare meaning that they will only pay what is not recoverable under the home country social system. In any case, residence rather than nationality would typically be the more important factor.
Many crew contribute to their home social system as well as maintaining a separate international policy (either individually or through their employer) for coverage elsewhere and for access to private care both inside and outside their home country (eg to get around long waiting lists which for a yacht crewmember can significantly delay a return to work and the associated income!).
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Yes, if a crewmember is paying taxes and social benefit charges in their home country, then generally health insurance will cover in addition to any social benefits payments. This is entirely dependent upon the nationality and tax status of the crewmember, and any questions should be discussed with a tax and also an insurance specialist.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

It is always important to know the nationality of the crewmember, however it only has an effect on the premium in the P&I and EL. Crewmembers having a US nationality have to pay a much higher premium because of the local US legal system. Sometimes US crewmembers could not be covered. We at Pantaenius have the possibility to cover US crewmember – but only with an additional premium.
Furthermore the registration of the yacht is very important as in several countries different health systems are mandatory. The management companies or the owner have to check if there are legal health systems in place (eg for German flagged yachts the crewmembers have to be registered in the German See Berufsgenossenschaft).
It’s also very important to have a look in the policy wording if there are any time restrictions for the duration of stay in certain countries. There are insurance companies that do not allow US crewmembers to stay longer than 180 days in US waters. This is of course very time consuming administration work to count days in order not to lose insurance cover.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Citizens who plan one day plan to return to a country that has good socialized medicine are more fortunate than US citizens who (at this point still) have poor and expensive healthcare. US citizens hanging up their epaulettes and returning to a land-lubbing life in the US are in a much better situation if they have had an Admitted plan whilst yachting and US insurers will recognise it as creditable cover. And those returning to a country that has (not always perfect) socialised medicine and want to maintain private insurance can also buy plans that they can keep upon returning ‘home’.  Diabetics for example may have a hard time finding cover if they have to change plans.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health

A crewmember could have access to social security; it depends on the nationality, the ship’s flag and country of residence. The contributions are very high and you need to find a personal insurance policy for dental treatments, eye care.
Mathieu Henry, WYCC


Will a crewmember be covered by their personal insurance policy if they move yachts? What are the key phrases to look for to make sure they are covered?

The crewmember can transfer to an individual policy when they leave the yacht, in fact it is very important to do so if they have developed a condition whilst being on the policy as they can then continue to be covered for this condition.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

If a crewmember has a personal policy then this will almost certainly be able to follow them from one yacht to another. They really only need to be concerned on this front of they have cover provided by they yacht as this will probably end when they leave that employment.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

Yes.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

By being the “named insured” on a crewmember’s personally owned crew health insurance policy, the coverage will be portable when the crewmember moves to different yachts. This presumes the individually-owned policy is properly “in-force” and hasn’t lapsed for some reason; for example, non-payment of premium. Crew should exercise due care and caution, especially regarding any “pre-existing conditions”, before terminating (ie “cancelling”) any in-force “individual” health insurance coverage. 
(a) A typical problem for crew is financial non-payment due to administrative oversight.  However, it doesn’t matter if there is a sound reason, not the fault of the crewmember, for the non-payment of premium. If the coverage has lapsed, it is not in force; and, thus, payment for claims incurred during that period is very unlikely. Even if the health coverage is “re-instated”, future problems with claims may arise. Avoid any lapse of coverage due to not properly “renewing” it at the anniversary, or due to “non-payment of premium”.  Avoid any lapse of coverage, regardless of the excuse.
(b) Key words:
(1)    Individually owned: signified by being the specific “named insured”, personally; as opposed to the name of a yacht, or other “employer-sponsored” company name being the shown on the ID card, as the “owner” of the plan.
(2)    Annually renewable: regardless of health condition, with the same premium rates characteristic of the same “class of insureds”.
(3)    A true “health” insurance plan, which is governed under the typical laws relating to “health” insurance; as opposed to coverage stemming from “protective and indemnity” insurance schemes, used for property and casualty coverage’s. Always be aware of the legal venue or jurisdictions, and the attendant procedures, for resolving any disputes about “claims”. If one has never had a problem with insurance claims, then those persons probably haven’t had the need to file a claim. Read the policy! Ask the agent!
(4)    Exclusions: read, no matter how boring the list. If “excluded”, the item will not be paid upon “claim”.
(5)    Covered benefits: vital section of the contract – Read, no matter how boring!
(6)    Pre-existing conditions
(7)    Waiting Periods
(8)    General Conditions of the contact. Ask the agent!
(9)    Specified financial limits of the policy; both in aggregate, or for specific procedures and factors related to “conditions”. Ask the agent!

Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

The policy has to be an “individual policy” that would just cover one crewmember, as the name indicates. Many yachts offer a group policy for the crewmembers and the key phrase is then “fully Pprtable”, meaning that when a crewmember leaves the employment on the yacht, (or is fired), he or she can then transfer the “group coverage” over to an “individual plan” that they can take with them. Be aware that there may be restriction as to how long time the crewmember was on the group insurance policy and they may also have to apply for the individual plan within a certain time frame after the termination from the group. Any pre-existing, or other coverage waiting periods will be counted towards the new individual policy, and there’s usually no medical underwriting. Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services
If a crewmember has a personal policy, which means he/she is the policyholder rather than the employer, then they can typically take it with them from yacht to yacht. International policies will, however, often require that the crewmember spend no more than six months of any given year inside the US. If for whatever reason that is likely to be the case (either due to the vessel’s itinerary or due to the crewmember just spending more than six months in the US between jobs), it is important to check the policy’s restrictions in that regard.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Cover can be extended from yacht to yacht and crew just need to advise insurers when they change jobs, if they take on a different role.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

Most group yacht health insurance policies are dependent upon the full time employment of the crewmember. Crewmembers who expect to change jobs, or work seasonally, may wish to hold individual health policies. This can and should be discussed with their broker for professional advice on whether or not additional personal cover is necessary.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

It is very important that the crewmember is not excluded as a professional sportsman and that sailing is not excluded. This is important to check in the medical policies as well as in the TPL policies of the yacht and the possible additional private policies.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Individual plans belong to the insured regardless of who is paying the premiums. As there is often high turnover on yachts – and currently there is even less job security –  having your own plan (that the employer may or may not pay for) might be the way to go.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health


Should crew cover themselves for personal accidents when in a yard period?   

There is no right or wrong answer here. It does not just affect crewmembers, anybody in any walk of life could be injured in an accident and so the individual needs to consider the implications of suffering an accident and being unable to work. If the financial ramifications worry the individual then they may want to consider a personal accident plan to pay out a lump sum, which may prove invaluable at the time.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

The eligible treatment necessary following an accident is covered and on our top plan we also have some personal accident benefit included.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

If crew are properly insured by either an “individual” or “employer-sponsored group health” plan design developed for professional yacht crew, there should be no need for crew to cover themselves for personal accidents in a yard period. Ask the agent! However, the key words here are “properly insured”. The respective “plan design” must cover, and certainly must not “exclude”, whatever perils might be involved. Most important: the contract must not exclude injuries or illness sustained while engaged in employment. Due to their own potential liabilities, some yards will not permit crew to work there, unless the crew are specifically insured, personally. Therefore, it is best for crew to always have their respective insurance ID card on their person, or readily available.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

No, crew shouldn’t have to cover themselves while in the yard. The yacht owner is ultimately responsible for the welfare of the crewmembers. I believe that it’s in every owner’s best interest to offer crew medical insurance coverage for the crew, and not rely solely on the yacht insurance. In the whole scheme of things, crew insurance premiums are very inexpensive and by covering the crew, it decreases the liability for the owners. Average premium for a crewmember is only $100–150 per month.
In addition, many group crew insurance policies are “primary” to the yacht’s insurance coverage, in other words, the crew medical insurance plan will then cover even work-related accidents and illnesses onboard the vessel. I’m sure many yacht owners want to avoid using the yacht insurance policy as much as possible until it’s seriously necessary, to avoid premium increases and the risk of cancellation.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

If the yacht has a full-time crew health policy in place, that will usually not have any kind of restrictions in place for yard periods and would cover the crew as normal; however, if the yacht is relying on P&I or liability cover only, the crewmember needs to look at personal insurance. In the case of a delivery, P&I is not in place until the delivery happens so does not provide protection. For regular yard periods, crew often spend considerable time on shore (eg they may be living in an apartment for the duration) and at that point it is important to check whether the P&I/liability policy does extend to cover accidents/illnesses that might occur onshore.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Although crew are still technically employed when the yacht is in the yard, cover for personal accident should be maintained. Although they might not be physically working and there is a reduced risk, they are still susceptible to Illness.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

Additional coverage during yard periods should not be necessary, as this will be fully covered under the yacht insurance policy. However, personal accident can occur at any time, so it is always advisable to check that your employer has suitable coverage in place.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

Stays at the shipyard have to be included in all policies without informing the insurer. Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance
Your policy should cover you on and off the boat – in the yard, in between jobs, on vacation.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health

It depends on the shipowner’s wishes but we can find guarantees during this period with crew insurance based on social approach. The employer could pay for this.
Mathieu Henry, WYCC

What are the most common claims that crewmembers make on insurance policies?

Illness and accidents.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

Speaking to one insurer recently, they commented on the fact that crewmembers tend to work hard and so tend to play hard too! Alcohol related treatment does seem to be significantly higher in crewmembers than it does in non-crewmembers!
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

These vary extensively and are often nothing to do with being a crewmember, as illness can strike at anytime.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

Historically, the impetus for most claims from males relates to sporting injuries, or a “slip-and-fall” of some sort (eg down a ladder on a vessel, or slipping off the vessel.) However, as the males become more aged (ie usually circa 40+ years of age), various problems with physical joints (eg knees and shoulder rotator-cups) manifest themselves. In many instances, these latter physical maladies prove to be an early type of arthritis, but often with a root cause suffered from athletic or sporting injuries when much younger. Nevertheless, caveat: potential for “pre-existing condition”.  For females, the more typical claims stem from the … very complex feminine biology. In addition, and to the surprise of no one, maternity is a widespread cause for specific claims, even though many crew deny such a need. The typical episodes for claims are prevalent; and, are why it is imperative for both the older males and all the women, to maintain continuous, portable coverage. Otherwise, normally legitimate claims might easily and legitimately be declined due to “pre-existing conditions”, “waiting-periods” or other similar pesky provisions of health insurance contracts. Ask your agent!
NB Check with a crew health insurance agent; especially if you have ANY atypical health history, or any current medical treatments, which include medication. DO NOT terminate existing, in-force “Individual” coverage to join a “Employer-sponsored Group” without assuring the integrity of your coverage, even if a somewhat different level of benefits, will be transferred. Ask your agent! If still uncertain or dubious, request written assurance.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

Accident-related claims while working onboard the vessel and during time off are common crewmembers claims. Preventative claims are fairly common as well, mainly among the female crewmembers.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

Claims from yacht crew are made for a very wide spectrum of conditions; however, they tend to include quite a lot of physical injuries due to the active lifestyle, eg broken bones and back and knee pain. Where routine dental cover is offered, that tends to be used quite heavily across the board. The same applies to “wellness” coverage, particularly from check-ups in the US where costs are much higher.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Most claims under crew cover are for minor accidents, illness or dental claims. Illness is always a danger with the change of cuisine, antisocial working hours and generally getting run down. Slips and falls are the most common accident and loss of fillings and broken teeth all contribute to dental claims.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

Most crew medical claims occur following an accident as opposed to sickness, typical injuries include broken limbs etc.
Claire Lecorche, OnlyYacht

Medical costs caused by illness and accident (back problems after lifting heavy gear).
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Many crew do not realise how long they have after the incident to file the claim. The nomadic lifestyle may make it difficult to get the claim in time and find the claim being denied. Know what the time period is on your policy. Usually 90 days on non-admitted plans, one year on admitted plans.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health


In which ways are policies tailored to superyacht crew more suitable than standard insurance policies? Please give examples.

We are a global insurer underwritten by Standard and Poors-rated company Allianz Worldwide care and we can therefore offer cover throughout the world and have accounts with hospitals throughout the world.
Sue Wilson, à la carte healthcare

There are two significant areas where crew medical plans differ from ordinary plans. The first relates to my previous point, if you took a look at most international plans then you would find that alcohol related conditions would be excluded from cover. However, a crew medical plan can provide cover for alcohol and substance abuse and this can be a very good benefit to have.
The other significant point is ship-to-shore rescue. A standard international plan will usually only cover the medical costs or evacuation costs incurred once the insured person has returned to try land. However, a crew medical plan should also provide cover for ship to shore rescue should you need to be removed from the yacht when out to sea.
Steve Nelson, April Medibroker

Our policy hasn’t been specifically adapted for superyacht crew. Due to its extensive nature it is just as relevant whether you are a member of crew in the middle of the Mediterranean or if you are on safari in the middle of Africa.
John Hunt, AXA PPP Healthcare

There are many critical differences: a few key ones are listed below:
a.    Most “standard policies” do not provide cover worldwide. Indeed, standard policies may EXCLUDE coverage in particular regions, or restrict coverage to within specific geographical areas.
b.    Occupation. Simply, there are often several adamant Underwriting criteria, or other contractual requisites on “standard” policies. Often, professional yacht crew cannot properly satisfy those conditions and requisites.
c.    Many “standard” policies EXCLUDE any peril stemming from, or arising out of employment.
d.    MEDEVAC. Caveat: Given the need, is the MEDEVAC benefit in force, even if the instant malady may not be a COVERED expense? Potentially huge financial matter!
e.    Coverage, specifically and unequivocally, while working aboard a marine vessel.
f.    Coverage within “home country”, without typical time limitations or other restrictions.
g.    Occupational injuries as covered expenses.
h.    “Annually renewable”, with the same premiums prevalent for the same class of insured members, regardless of present Health condition.
i.    Adventuresome sports (ie but, in insurance parlance, often referred to as “hazardous”). Nevertheless, there are still some extremely important caveats for crew. Carefully read the wording of the specific Certificate, and fully understand any conditions, limitations, specified monetary limits or particular triggering conditions or requisites. 
j.    Provide coverage for crew, despite their “…not fitting the boxes…” of the typical insurance applications, which normally required by insurance Underwriters.  For example, “standard” Underwriters often avoid persons with the profile of crew such as no permanent address; relatively frequent changes of geographic locale; multiple changes in employers, varying and unfamiliar nationalities.
Chuck Bortell, Crew Insurance Associates

The main tailored reason is that the coverage is usually “primary” to the vessel insurance policy, (as explained above). The policies tend to be more flexible in coverage than “regular insurance policies” and offer many optional benefits that the crewmembers can choose, according to their needs. Also, the insurance companies tend to be fairly flexible because they understand the “nature of the yachting business” and that it can be difficult to communicate with the crew because they are unreachable when underway. In example, the insurance company may keep the policy enforced during an additional time frame, even though they didn’t receive the premium payment on time.
Maria Karlsson, Crew Insurance Services

Standard international policies are firmly targeted at expats and require that the individual be living outside their country of citizenship. For yacht crew, this can be a problem as even though they are living outside their country of citizenship they often reside there. This is not an issue on policies designed specifically for yacht crew. Other features of a yacht crew policy include coverage for scuba diving, amateur sailboat racing, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, global support and if desired, global coverage. A variety of online features and services are also included in superyacht crew policies due to the nomadic nature of the occupation. Items such as online enrolment (or enrolment via census) and the ability to scan and email claims are also quite popular, because it minimises administration time and effort.
Mark Bononi, MHG Marine Benefits

Superyacht insurance is tailored and includes a lot of extra benefits. Cover is normally extended to cover illness and some dental. Cover can also be extended for winter sports and other outdoor pursuits, even when not working or on holiday. Younger crew tend to be more active and participate in a variety of hazardous sports, these can be included. Also cover is provided for flying in helicopters and private jets etc. Cover can includes personal effects, worldwide travel cover and also cancellation and repatriation expenses.
Nichola Dunne, OAMPS Special Risks

As health insurance, like all insurance, is highly regulated, most policies will cover standardised incidences. But some of the potential issues for crew include such items as extreme sports, repatriation, extended geographical coverage, etc. What is special to yacht insurance is that the agent who represents the policy will be familiar with the working atmosphere of crewmembers, and will be able to respond quickly and appropriately in any emergency, or as required to handle the special needs of crewmembers. OnlyYacht representatives are always standing by to respond swiftly and immediately to all yacht and yacht crew insurance claims.
Claire Lecorche,  OnlyYacht

Worldwide cover without any time restrictions should be possible. The closing of insurance is very easy as Pantaenius does not need a signed application form for the crew medical policy and pre-existing conditions are covered automatically as well. The underwriter has a call centre that is multilingual and a 24/7 helpline.
Furthermore sailing has to be included – participation in regattas as well as crewmembers as employees.
Martin Baum, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Insurers who have online management tools where one can add or terminate crew from their group plan, as well as online application capability, insurance cards, claim forms and renewal forms make it easier for crew.  Being with a company that has contracted internationally with screened English speaking medical facilities for direct payment is a great plus for mariners on the move as it can eliminate the claims process. Provisions have been made for ‘rotating’ crew by some marine insurers. Many insured crew may be surprised that an accident whilst inebriated is not covered.  HTH Worldwide plans, for example, do cover accidents and injuries that occur when inebriated.  Their plans also fully cover amateur and professional sailboat racing  (an exclusion or limited benefit on many policies), as well as accidents/illness related to terrorist attacks.
Anita Warwick, Seven Seas Health
       

These include: worldwide cover; cover during professional and private life (eg Captain Jody Hill, who had a motor accident that left him paralysed when not working); sports activities (winter sports, watersports), motorbikes; accidental and permanent disability (table of indemnity designed for seamen eg: Loss of a thumb, loss of one hand or one foot, loss of sight in one eye…); medical expenses after accident or illness (including dental treatments, vision care); daily benefits in case of temporary total disability
assistance and repatriation.
Mathieu Henry, WYCC

With thanks to à la carte healthcare (alchealth.com/alctravel.eu), April Medibroker (medibroker.com), AXA PPP Healthcare (axappphealthcare.co.uk), Crew Insurance Associates (+1 954 491 3422), Crew Insurance Services (CrewInsuranceServices.com), MHG Marine Benefits (mhgmarine.com), OAMPS Special Risks  (oampslondon.com), OnlyYacht (onlyyacht.com), Pantaenius Yacht Insurance (pantaenius.com), Seven Seas Health (sevenseashealth.com) and Worldwide Yacht Crew Cover (wycc-insurance.com).


As featured in The Crew Report, issue No. 34 - September 09 http://www.thecrewreport.com

Please contact www.crewinsuranceservices.com  for more information
 
 
 
 




Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:56