A long time ago when I was captain of an old wooden sailing vessel, I was bringing the boat into the harbor to tie up to the dock, something that I had done often. This time, when I put the engine in reverse to stop forward movement, the boat went ahead. I was quickly losing room in the congested harbor, so I tried again to put it into reverse, but to no avail. A wooden tour boat tied up ahead of me finally stopped my movement, resulting in season ending damage to the boat.

While my vessel’s hull and P&I policy took care of the damage claim, the Coast Guard felt that I had been derelict in my captain duties and wanted to conduct an admiralty hearing against my license.

I now needed professional liability insurance coverage.

Typically used by attorneys, accountants, consultants and real estate brokers, professional liability provides coverage against claims made against professionals who have not performed up to the standards of their profession. This type of liability coverage is also available to licensed mariners. Should a claim occur, and the captain be deemed negligent, he or she could be sued in addition to the vessel.

Coverage can include defense costs (both against your license, civil legal defense as well as criminal acts defense), coverage for fines and penalties, as well as a daily subsistence allowance. It is important to note that professional equipment, such as a personal GPS or similar navigational devices, can also be included. Loss of income can be added to compensate for lost wages due to down time resulting from a claim.

Whether you are driving a six-pack harbor taxi or a blue water tanker, your livelihood requires that you hold a valid Coast Guard license. When you are involved in a claim involving your license, professional liability coverage can both help alleviate the headache of defending yourself and help take care of some of the defense costs. Discuss professional liability coverage with your marine insurance agent before you need this kind of protection.

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]