Perhaps the most important relationship in the maritime world is the relationship between the vessel owner and the insurer. Both the vessel owner and the insurer should have a common goal of creating a strong, trustworthy and long lasting relationship. Clear communication, honest disclosure, due diligence and proper risk assessment is key. If either the vessel owner or the insurer cuts corners, fails to investigate, fails to inspect or survey, fails to disclose, and/or fails to properly assess future risk, the parties may be headed into dispute.
Moreover, the owner/insurer relationship does not end when the policy is issued and premium paid. Vessel owners and insurers should be in continual communication regarding the operation of the vessel modifying coverage throughout the life of the policy. The attorneys at McLeod Brock have over 25 years of experience assisting vessel owners and insurers with issues involving:
- Coverage Review and Analysis
- Coverage Options
- Coverage Opinions
- Claims Reviews & Audits
- Hull Insurance
- Protection and Indemnity Insurance
- Excess and Umbrella Insurance
- Cargo Insurance
- Marine General Liability Insurance
- Marina Operators Liability Insurance
- Dive Boat Coverage
- Declaratory Judgment Actions
- Agent Liability
- Broker Liability
- Bad Faith
The law governing marine insurance is not the same as the law governing land based insurance in many respects. The laws governing marine insurance are some of the oldest and closely monitored laws in the world. Named perils clauses in hull policies, for example, were drafted hundreds of years ago and are still used today.
Marine insurance law is complex with its own express and implied warranties, nomenclature and doctrines. Marine insurance is largely within the general maritime law which is federally based with an eye toward uniformity. While state law can supplement federal marine insurance law, it typically does so only when there is no “entrenched federal maritime precedent” on point.
When a casualty occurs, a clear line of communication is essential. Immediate reporting should be the standard in order to permit the carrier and the vessel owner to initiate the appropriate response and investigation into the origin and cause of the incident, preserve evidence, identify and notify potential parties involved, to determine coverage, to proactively protect and defend the insured vessel owner, and to vet the potential for subrogation. Delay in any respect can foreclose future opportunity.
Proactive conduct and clear communication results in efficient claims resolution and recovery, avoiding declaratory judgment actions, liability disputes, and bad faith actions. The attorneys at McLeod Brock have over 25 years of experience assisting vessel owners, domestic and international insurers with these issues and providing Coverage Review and Analysis, Coverage Options, Coverage Opinions, Claims Reviews & Audits and resolving insurance issues throughout the United States into the Caribbean.