Since marine insurance is already complex to begin with, it helps to have at least a basic understanding of what you should be looking for before you go shopping. Even if you’ve already purchased insurance, a more thorough understanding of your risks as a marine contractor will help you evaluate whether or not your current coverage levels are adequate. Of course, those risks will depend, in large part, on the nature of the work you’re performing. If you’re doing catering and/or janitorial work, then your risks are naturally going to be quite different from those of a company engaged in drilling, dredging, bridge inspection, or the construction of docks and piers. Commercial diving operations will also result in a unique set of requirements.
Of course, the nature of the work you perform isn’t the only factor which will be evaluated in the process of determining what kind of coverage you need. For example, consideration should also be given to your expenses and profits. That way, you can insure yourself against lost profits in addition to damages and liabilities. The particular location your work is being performed in will also have an impact on your insurance needs. Any watercraft owned by your company should also be covered, and if you have any hold harmless needs, those must also be taken into account. As you can see, it’s best to do business with a firm that specializes in marine insurance. You obviously also need adequate worker’s compensation insurance. Normal state worker’s compensation isn’t enough, particularly with marine contracting operations. You also need adequate USL&H and Jones Act coverage. The former of these two is designed to provide coverage in the event of injury or death upon navigable water in the United States. The latter covers masters and members of a flagged vessel. These types of employees are not covered under state worker’s compensation, which explains why that type of coverage is inadequate for marine contracting obligations.
As you are aware, not withstanding civil liabilities; there are rules, regulations and laws on every level of government which dictate what type and how much of each type of marine insurance coverage you should carry. However, carrying only the minimum amounts of any type of insurance, in any industry can be a risky proposition. Since marine contracting is already one of the riskier industries, we highly recommend a conversation with an independent consultant in order to determine the safest levels for your business.