Making an Insurance Claim
You have just found that you have a situation where you will
be making an insurance claim. The following are some guidelines
which you may find helpful.
YOU THE INSURED
Immediately following loss or damage to your vessel or injury
||You should not admit liability or assume any obligation.
|You must take reasonable steps to safeguard your property.
|You should always act as if you are not insured. Do not assume that
your insurance will apply to this loss, you may not be covered under
|You should make an aural report to your insurers as soon as possible
followed by a written statement. Your Insurers will relay your report
to the Underwriters concerned. The written statement is called a "Masters
1. Exactly where, when and how the incident occurred
2. Detailed description of damages to property or injury to persons
3. Names and addresses of witnesses
The underwriters or your insurance company will then appoint a Marine
Surveyor to act as their representative "without prejudice", that is on
an impartial basis. The timescale of the appointment of the Surveyor varies
from hours to weeks after the loss and is dependant on a variety of factors.
These factors include the timing of communications, urgency of the problem
and availability of Surveyors.
IF YOUR CLAIM IS FOR THEFT OR VANDALISM
You must notify the local police and obtain a copy of the police report.
You should take measures to prevent further loss or damages, including
replacement of locks etc.
IF YOUR CLAIM IS FOR INJURY OR COLLISION
You must notify the Coast Guard or Marine Police or Police and obtain
a copy of their report.
IF YOUR CLAIM IS FOR STRANDING, DISMASTING, ETC.
It is your responsibility to make your best efforts to organise salvage,
towage, emergency repairs or whatever is required to minimise the damages
to your vessel. If a Surveyor has been appointed, he will usually try
to work with the Salvor and yourself, to advise on the best way of actually
carrying out the salvage. However what actually happens to your vessel
is your decision.
THE ROLE OF THE SURVEYOR
The Surveyor is employed by the Underwriter to act on an impartial basis
|To advise you regarding salvage, towage where necessary.
|To make an assessment of the incident and to determine the cause
of the damage or the cause of the accident.
|To make a list of the damages together with recommendations for
repairs. This list is copied to you to help you as a guide to the
repairs for damages resulting from this loss.
|To review the estimates for the repairs and to discuss with you
and the Repair Contractors any estimates that appear unreasonably
high or unreasonably low. It is the Surveyor\'s role to attempt to
have the damages repaired to the pre accident condition.
|Once all the estimates have been reviewed and appear to be satisfactory,
the Surveyor reports the facts to the Underwriters.
|If more damages are found during the repairs, it is YOUR responsibility
to inform the Surveyor so that he can confirm to Underwriters that
these damages were part of this loss.
|When the repairs have been completed, the Surveyor will review all
the invoices and confirm to Underwriters that the bills are "fair
and reasonable" to repair the damages resulting from this loss.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AFTER THE INITIAL
1. It is your responsibility to select the repair contractors
and obtain estimates.
2. It is your responsibility to instruct the repairers to commence
work. If there are delays in commencing repairs, and the delays
result in further damages, these damages will not be covered
by your policy.
3. It is your responsibility to pay for the repairs.
4. It is your responsibility to monitor that the repairs are
Most marine insurance policies are of the indemnity type. This
basically means that Underwriters are responsible for compensating
you for the legitimate costs of your loss. The only way actually
to establish those costs is for you to pay the costs in the
first instance. Underwriters have no obligation to make advance
payments to you and have no obligation to pay contractors.
Underwriters will study the Surveyors report and then advise
you whether this loss is, or is not covered under the policy.
Assuming the loss is covered under the policy, the Underwriters
will compensate you for the legitimate costs of the loss which
have been reviewed and agreed by the Surveyor, less the policy
deductions, when the repairs have been completed.
Occasionally Underwriters do make advance payments on large
claims, if requested by the assured and the amount requested
has been agreed by the Surveyor.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
1. Appoint a Surveyor on behalf of Underwriters
2. Assist you with the presentation of the claim to Underwriters
3. Assist with the requests for advance payment if required.
4. Act as an mediator in the event of a dispute with the Surveyor
5. Some Insurance Companies are able to settle claims which
total less than US$25,000.00 if the Surveyor recommends that
the figures are "fair and reasonable"
If you are not able to be present at the initial stages of the
claim, it is helpful if you can appoint a representative to
work with the Surveyor and repair contractors, getting estimates
etc. Your representative should have the authority to instruct
repair contractors etc. The cost of this representative will
not be covered by your insurance, as it is not Underwriters
responsibility that you are not able to be present at the initial
stage of the claim.
Many owners decide to have alterations and improvements carried
out during major damage repairs. Provided that this is discussed
during the "estimate" phase of the claim and the additional
cost of the improvements (to be borne by you) can be agreed
with the surveyor and repair contractor, improvements may be
agreed. For example if the plywood cabinet work was damaged
and you wanted to replace it with varnished teak, the Surveyor
would recommend to Underwriters that the reasonable cost of
the plywood should be included in the loss but the additional
cost of the teak should be to your account.
Communication between you and the Surveyor is essential for
the smooth processing of a claim.
The above guidelines represent the opinions of Caribbean Marine
Surveyors Limited and are based on previous experiences with
a number of different insurance companies and Underwriters.