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Collision Liability in Marine Insurance

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 12/04/2024
  • 2 min read

Imagine your ship is in the ocean, and a sudden disaster strikes. A collision with another vessel or a fixed object leaves both parties battered. The legal finger points to you, leaving you responsible for the other party's damages. This can be financially devastating.

This is where collision liability in marine insurance comes in. It's a lifeline for ship owners and operators, offering financial protection in such scenarios. This specific type of insurance covers the legal responsibility you face if your vessel causes damage in a collision. It can encompass repairs to the other ship, cargo loss, and even damage to docks or other structures.

By understanding collision liability and how it works within marine insurance, you can navigate the uncertainties of the seas with greater peace of mind. This article will equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and ensure you're adequately covered in case of an unfortunate incident.

Also Read: Different Types of Marine Insurance Policies

How Does the Collision Liability in Marine Insurance in India Work?

Collision liability’s meaning in a marine insurance policy is not as simple as it seems to be. It functions to shield shipowners from the financial burden of damages caused by their vessel in a collision.

is how it works:

Determining Fault:

The first step involves figuring out who caused the collision. Maritime law generally follows the principle of fault, meaning the party deemed negligent is liable for the other vessel's damages. This negligence could involve factors like improper navigation, failure to maintain a proper lookout or violation of maritime rules.

Insurance Coverage Kicks In:

Once fault is established and the shipowner is liable, their marine insurance policy with collision liability coverage comes into play. The insurer steps in to cover the costs associated with:

Repairs: The cost of repairing the damaged vessel that was struck by your ship.

Cargo Loss or Damage: If the collision resulted in damage or loss of cargo on the other vessel, your insurance may cover compensation.

Third-Party Property Damage: This could include damage to docks, harbour installations, or other structures hit during the collision.

Limits and Clauses:

It is important to understand the limits of your collision liability coverage. The policy will specify a maximum amount the insurer will pay for damages. Additionally, certain clauses may affect how much you are responsible for.

For instance, some policies include a "Running Down Clause" covering legal defence costs and third-party liabilities exceeding the main coverage limit.

Another clause, the "Three-fourths Running Down Clause," limits the shipowner's liability to 75% of the damages, even when entirely at fault.

Claim Process:

In the event of a collision, the shipowner must notify their insurer promptly and cooperate with the investigation process. The insurer will assess the situation, determine fault, and settle the liability and collision claim based on the policy terms.

Determining Who’s Responsible During a Collision

Determining who is responsible for a collision can be tricky. It involves looking at several things:

Actions of Each Vessel: What did each boat do leading to the crash?

Rules and Regulations: Were maritime laws followed? Did everyone stick to the right routes?

Mitigating Circumstances: Was bad weather or equipment failure involved? These factors can affect liability.

Degree of Fault: How much blame goes to each party?

Sometimes, blame is shared, or it is tough to figure out exactly who's at fault because everyone tells a different story. In these cases, legal action might be needed to resolve the situation.

For boat owners and operators, collision liability is a big deal. Getting good marine insurance can help cover the costs if there's an accident.

Claims and Compensation Process Under Collision Liability in Marine Insurance After a Mishap

Reporting a Claim:

When a collision happens, the first thing to do is inform your insurance company immediately. They will need certain documents, like your ship’s registration, your insurance policy, and a detailed report of what happened. After that, the insurer will send someone to check out the damage, called a surveyor.

Assessment of Damages:

Determining the extent of damage in marine insurance is crucial. The surveyor will examine everything that was damaged, including your ship, the cargo, and any other items involved in the crash.

The surveyor examines several things to determine the extent of the damage. They also determine the cost of repairing the damage, the value of your boat or cargo before the crash, and whether you lost any money because of the accident.

They might also consider how much your boat or cargo could be sold for if it's all busted up and whether the crash caused any harm to the environment.

Payment of Compensation:

Once the surveyor finishes checking things out, the insurance company decides who's responsible and how much they need to pay. If the insurance company says it's their fault, they will pay either you or whoever caused the crash, depending on what happened.

Also Read: How Does Marine Insurance Work?

Dispute Resolution in Marine Insurance

When arguments pop up in marine insurance, there are two main ways to settle them: arbitration and litigation.

Arbitration:

It is a common way to resolve disagreements in marine insurance. Here is how it works:

Both sides pick a neutral person, called an arbitrator, to hear their sides of the story. The arbitrator listens to both parties and then makes a decision that everyone has to follow.

Arbitration is often quicker and cheaper than going to court. Plus, you can choose an arbitrator who knows a lot about the specific issue, which can help you make a better decision.

Litigation:

It means taking your dispute to court. If the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator or if someone does not want to do arbitration, they might end up in court.

The good thing about litigation is that it is a formal way to solve problems. The court system helps both sides present their evidence and make legal arguments, which can lead to a fair decision.

However, going to court can be more expensive and take longer than arbitration. Also, the decision is made by a judge or jury who might not know much about marine insurance.

The Concept of Risk Management in Marine Insurance

Managing risks in marine insurance is crucial for ship owners, cargo owners, and others involved. It is all about understanding the dangers and finding ways to handle them. One big goal is stopping losses from happening in the first place.

Preventing losses means spotting possible risks and stopping them before they turn into big problems. Some things people do to prevent losses include:

  • Regularly checking ships and cargo to catch any problems early and fix them.

  • Making sure cargo is loaded and secured properly to avoid damage or loss while it is being moved.

  • Training crew members on safety rules to prevent accidents and injuries.

By doing these things, ship and cargo owners can lower the chances of having losses and having to make claims. And when they do not have as many claims, they might end up paying less for insurance in the long run.

Conclusion

Collision liability in marine insurance is your safety net in case your ship causes an accident. It covers repairs to the other vessel, cargo loss, and even damage to docks. By understanding how it works and the limits of your coverage, you can navigate with peace of mind.

Remember, prompt communication with your insurer after a collision is key to a smooth claims process. With the right insurance plan, you can weather the storms, both literal and financial.

Also, if you are looking for the right marine transit insurance for your business, get in touch with the insurance experts from Tata AIG. We might just have the right plans for you.

FAQS

What if the other vessel caused the collision?

Collision liability only applies if your vessel is found to be at fault for the accident. If the other party was negligent, their insurance policy should cover the damages.

What are some factors that might influence fault in a collision?

Maritime law considers various factors to determine fault, including:

Following proper navigation procedures.

Maintaining a proper lookout.

Obeying speed limits and traffic regulations.

Any mechanical failures or communication issues on your vessel.

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Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

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