FAQ – License Insurance
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MARINE LICENSE INSURANCE
WHAT IS LICENSE INSURANCE?
License Insurance is a type of Malpractice Policy. There are many on the market. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other licensed professionals are the best known groups that use this form of insurance. Reduced to its bare essentials, a Marine License insurance policy provides an attorney to defend your license should the Coast Guard, State Pilotage Commission or other issuing authority question your competence to hold the license or tankerman’s endorsement. In addition, the policy also indemnifies you against loss of income for up to a year – if there is a revocation or suspension. Additional optional coverages are also available. These include Civil Liability and Civil Penalty coverages. Example – you are named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit seeking monetary compensation for property damage or bodily injury. Or, you are named as a respondent in a Civil Penalty action in which a government agency files a penalty action against you on the basis of a violation of a navigational law or environmental regulation of the Federal government, a coastal state, city or municipality.
DO COMPETENT MARINERS REALLY NEED LICENSE INSURANCE?
Absolutely! Statistics of actual cases show that highly skilled and trained mariners often find themselves in situations requiring legal assistance. Once a marine casualty occurs, the Coast Guard is mandated by law to investigate which means interviewing and taking statements from those involved. At this point you need legal assistance.
- First – No one can perform flawlessly 100% of the time. Let’s get real. We all make mistakes. Negligence does not mean incompetence. It simply means that on a particular date and time, your conduct was at a level below that which the law requires. The fact that your wife, kids and peers say you were great on all other occasions is just not relevant.
- Second – The maritime industry is a demanding one. Fatigue, crew shortage, adverse weather, and the ongoing need to make immediate decisions without the luxury of time for reflection can stack the deck against even the best.
- Third – Performing competently and proving it is not the same thing. You may know what happened and believe you were not negligent; the investigating authority however, may not be so easily convinced. Moreover other outside factors necessarily are involved. News and media coverage of a marine casualty unfortunately create high visibility situations. This in turn invariably cranks up public and governmental pressures which has nowhere to vent but towards the mariner.
WILL THE POLICY DEFEND ME IF I WAS NEGLIGENT?
Absolutely! That’s when you need it most, isn’t it!
Fact of the matter is, the primary purpose of the policy is to defend you when you are negligent or at fault.
WON’T MY EMPLOYER OR UNION PROTECT MY INTERESTS?
This is a difficult question to provide a generalized answer. A review of the records would probably show a number of possibilities. At one extreme are instances in which ship’s officers have been fired and set adrift or worse, actually sued for damages by the employer, all without any union support. The other extreme finds instances in which the officer is fully defended by the employer or the union. The business or operating ships has built-in conflicts between the employer and the mariner-employee. It is totally unlike anything shoreside. Situations exist in which the best interests of the company are just not in the best interests of the mariner. For example you may find yourself in a situation in which a collision, grounding or other casualty was actually caused by faulty equipment or the absence of equipment which the shipowner knew about but failed to correct, notwithstanding prior requests from you to do so. You may also find yourself in a situation in which the decision you made which resulted in a casualty was not yours but rather that of shore side management. The bottom line is that with a marine license insurance policy, you are assured that the policy has only one client and one interest in mind – you.
WHY SHOULD I PURCHASE A MOPS POLICY?
The reasons for trusting your livelihood to MOPS can be summed up in a few words: Reliability and Exceptional Competence. Over the years, a number of different underwriters have drifted in and out of the business of license insurance, treating it as if it were the oil spot market. MOPS has provided continuous coverage for almost sixty years. No other underwriter has a track record of any comparable significance.
Competence in this business depends on a network of highly skilled Admiralty attorneys and a data base of decisions and legal documents pertaining to license revocation proceedings. A team of this quality cannot be put together overnight. It has taken MOPS many years to select the attorneys it relies upon to provide its legal defense team. The MOPS legal data bank, which is the most comprehensive in the US is the result of 60 years of experience. MOPS is the only underwriter that has a complete library of all the Commandant and NTSB decisions involving license and suspension hearings. These decisions are invaluable in defending such actions, because they are not published by the Coast Guard and are not available in any law library in the country.
DO I NEED AN AGENT AND WHAT CAN R.J. MELLUSI DO FOR ME?
As a Maritime attorney, Professor or Maritime law and former ship’s officer, R.J.Mellusi can provide highly competent and personalized service supporting the coverages provided by the MOPS policy. Remember, the cost of the policy is the same whether it is purchased with or without an agent.
HOW MUCH DOES THE POLICY COST AND HOW CAN I GET COVERAGE?
In general, the cost depends on your grade of license, average monthly income and whether you select any of the optional coverages. Also, discounts are available for groups and association. The best way to find out is to contact us to discuss your situation and to obtain an application.