Making sure your working vessels and business are covered for liability claims does not stop at the water’s edge. While you may be focused on the liability you face while working on the water, don’t forget about the liability you may be exposed to on dry land.  

Chances are vessel crews are covered under protection and indemnity (P&I) for an injury or illness occurring while they are in service to the ship or ships. This coverage extends to crew while they are away from the boat but on ship business. 

But what if a crewmember gets into an accident while driving to the marine supply store and, worse, another person is injured? In a motor vehicle accident, the vehicle’s coverage is primary. This means that if you send an employee to the store in their own vehicle to pick up some supplies for your boat and they get into an accident, their personal automobile coverage will be the primary insurance should someone get injured. Required automobile liability limits vary from state to state, and if the accident is severe your employee’s personal auto policy may not carry sufficient limits to pay for the damages. In a case like this, you can expect your business will be dragged into this.

This is where non-owned auto coverage comes in. This coverage extends third-party liability limits for accidents involving your employees when your business is sued. There are a number of ways to have this rolled into your overall insurance package. 

A non-owned auto policy can be attached to your business’s commercial auto policy thru an endorsement. Alternatively, non-owned auto coverage often can be included in your general liability policy. A last resort would be a stand-alone policy. And don’t forget to have this included in your policies that your excess liability policy extends coverage over. The premium for non-owned auto is based on the number of employees and generally is reasonably priced. 

While your workboat’s insurance coverage is an obvious area to focus on, keep in mind the other areas that your business may be open to for liability claims.

Chris Richmond is a licensed mariner and marine insurance agent with Allen Insurance and Financial. He can be reached at 800-439-4311 or [email protected]