A new insurance product for corporate manslaughter claims arising out of the use of armed guards has been made available to shipowners.
The shipowner’s legal expenses cover for the carriage of armed guards policy has been launched by UK-based Seacurus to cover the legal costs an owner might incur fighting a claim.
The policy, which can indemnify shipowners for up to a maximum $1.5m per insured event, is specific.
“Claims must relate to allegations of corporate killing, manslaughter, maiming or personal injury arising as a consequence of the accidental or deliberate discharge of weapons on board the insured vessel,” according to Seacurus.
The risk is insured by underwriters at Lloyd’s of London insurance market and can be written for a single voyage or on a fleet-wide basis.
Seacurus managing director Thomas Brown said: “The cover is suitable for owners who employ armed guards to protect their vessels whether or not they buy kidnap and ransom insurance.”
According to Mr Brown, the legal costs arising out of an insured event “would not be covered by the traditional insurances”. Nor would they come under specific policies such as kidnap and ransom.
“K&R insurance is only triggered by a demand for ransom,” said Mr Brown. “It is most likely that claims would arise during efforts made to avoid a hijacking, consequently the K&R policy would not be covered.”
According to one marine insurance broker, K&R usually comes with a section covering owners if they are sued. “While the policy is not specific to armed guards, logically, it covers the owner’s liability for that transit or voyage,” he said.
The broker said that a third party claim related to armed guard activity had yet to be brought against a shipowner.
Protection and indemnity cover extends to defending a claim wrongfully placed against the shipowner. Equally, some private security firms carry their own liability cover for their own personnel and for accidental injury or death to third parties.
Mr Brown said that while P&I and security companies’ cover did afford some protection, the Seacurus policy offered shipowners clear and specific cover.
Moreover, there could a divergence of interest between shipowner and security company. “The shipowner could have a cross-claim for damages against the armed guard company,” Mr Brown said.