The maritime industry has another conundrum to deal with; vaccine-related insurance
Nations with crippled supply chains were lobbying for vaccines to be extended to seafarers. Now that this is gradually in place, reports of side-effects had seafarers change their minds about getting vaccinated. This unfortunately complicates insurance for seafarers.
Spotlight on seafarer insurance
13 P&I Clubs have collectively produced a Frequently Asked Questions literature focusing on seafarers’ vaccination. These clubs are members of the International Group of P&I Clubs, and have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on a publication named “Coronavirus (COVID- 19): Legal, Liability and Insurance Issues arising from Vaccination of Seafarers”.
The world supply chain is badly wounded by the border restrictions. It also devastated crewing given charterers are not inclined to hire non-vaccinated seafarers in the name of safety. Some countries became the major providers of vaccinated crew. However, supply can dwindle and the final destination everywhere still is labour shortage.
Governments are now stepping up to offer vaccinations for visiting seafarers, exempting shipowners from more costs. However, in the event of a crew exhibiting symptoms due to reactions from the vaccine, the shipowner’s liability for illness and/or death, under the terms of employment and any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), would apply as it would with any other illness. This liability would be covered by the shipowner’s P&I insurance, with each case depending on its individual facts and merits.
Is COVID-19 even covered?
In the issue of seafarers refusing vaccination, it gets trickier. Quoting the ICS’ publication, clause 3.1.9 questioned: “What would the shipowner’s liabilities be in the event that a seafarer refused vaccination and other crew members contracted COVID-19 as a result of contact with the unvaccinated seafarer?”
The answer was “A seafarer employed under a contract of employment which does not make vaccination a requirement for employment cannot be required or mandated to be vaccinated, so P&I cover would not be prejudiced.” When vaccination is not a mandate for some employers, what exactly is the club skirting around? As subjective as it is, this is guaranteed to start another long debate dancing around employer obligations, compassion and even ethics. In fact, the key question is: are the employers prepared to include insurance for COVID-19 in their employment terms?
Crewing Online News Team
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