United Marine Insurance
is primarily engaged in arranging insurance cover
for commercial marine risks, including for marine
hull and liability and marine related enterprise.
The following explanation of 'marine insurance facts'
primarily concerns commercial marine insurance matters
rather than recreation marine risks such as for pleasure-craft.
Introduction to Marine Insurance
Each country typically have their own laws dealing
with insurance matters however, marine insurance is
peculiar in that by the very nature of international
marine transit there are common factors governing
marine insurance across the world, expressed as 'over
the seabed and the ocean floor'
While each country has its own 'consumer protection'
based insurance laws applying to pleasure-craft and
similar locally registered non-commercial vessels
moored or flagged in that jurisdiction, commercially
operated vessels will most likely be subject to
'Admiralty Law' which is generally silent on matters
of consumer protection.
Introduced in England in the mid 1700's, most common
law based countries have an Admiralty division attached
to their higher Courts which tend to follow the English
statutes and case law but, not in every case.
Admiralty Courts assume jurisdiction by virtue of
the presence of a vessel being in its territorial
jurisdiction irrespective of whether the vessel is
national or not and/or whether registered in the specific
country or not and wherever the residence or domicile
or their owners may be.
Some of the common primary aspects of marine insurance
across the world are;
Seaworthiness of a Vessel
of Ship owner's Liability
injuries to passengers
injuries to Seamen & Maintenance and cure
Liens and Mortgages
and Treasure Salvage
That means, an Australian vessel in New Zealand waters
could be subject to New Zealand Admiralty laws and
visa versa - the same if an Australian vessel is operating
in Indonesian waters it would be subject to Indonesian
However, from the perspective of an operator's marine
insurance cover, will their insurance cover include
decisions made under the laws of a different country?
- In a surprising number of circumstances no.
A New Zealand owned game fishing
boat, crewed by New Zealanders, undertakes
a one month charter in Vanuatu waters. Before
departing NZ the Game Boat's owner arranges
an extension of insurance cover from their
local NZ insurance company to include Vanuatu's
While moored in Vanuatu, the
vessel comes adrift in high winds, colliding
with other vessels before becoming beached.
Claims for damage are made against the NZ
Game Boat from the other damaged vessels owners
- which law applies?
Liability usually only arises
as a result of negligence, but not in every
case because each country applies its laws
differently thus, if there were to be a difference
between the subject laws of Vanuatu and New
Zealand, would the NZ Game Boat's insurer
pay the claim, indeed would they defend a
case if it were to proceed to court in Vanuatu.
The NZ Game Boat's insurance
policy may only cover legal liability arising
under New Zealand laws, not another country's
laws which might have 'no fault liability'
as opposed to negligence based laws.
While the NZ insurer may pay
for repairs to the NZ Game Boat, it may not
be obligated to pay for the damage caused
to other vessels thus, potentially leaving
the NZ Game Boat's owner adrift. [so to speak]
In fact, we have seen cases
where owners of vessels have been injuncted
from leaving a country until damages are paid,
forcing one to have to abandon their vessel
to the effective ownership of the owners.
Given that maritime vessels can be flagged in a number
of jurisdictions there became a need to have common
rules and laws that transcended across boarders and
territories which in affect guaranteed uniformity
of primary marine requirements for vessels and their
operators to abide by, from navigation procedures
through to seaworthiness and marine insurance liability.
The 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea' in 1982 established the framework for the the
'International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea' (in
the Hague) to adjudicate disputes under an agreed
Convention which provides an effective international
regime over the seabed and the ocean floor beyond
a clearly defined national jurisdiction by the recognition
of a comprehensive legal framework to regulate all
ocean space, its uses and resources.
It contains, among other things, provisions relating
to the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the continental
shelf, the exclusive economic zone and the high seas.
It also provides for the protection and preservation
of the marine environment, for marine scientific research
and for the development and transfer of marine technology.
One of the most important parts of the Convention
concerns the exploration for and exploitation of the
resources of the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil
thereof, beyond the limits of a country's national
Finally in this regard, vessels of any type, recreational
or commercial, which travel on the high seas beyond
their home county's territorial waters are likely
to become subject to the 'United Nations Convention
on the Law' and/or the Admiralty laws of the particular
jurisdiction's waters they are traveling in at any
These are some of the issues requiring specialist
marine insurance advice from a marine insurance expert
such as United Marine Insurance.