Commercial vs. Private – Yacht Insurance

I enjoyed the various workshops I attended at the Global Superyacht Forum 2015 and the interaction and discussions with my industry colleagues.  One particular comment during the (Over) Regulation workshop caused me to reflect upon its implication.

A major yacht insurance company made a statement that they saw little difference between the number of claims lodged by ‘private’ and ‘commercial’ yachts.

I was surprised by this as I really thought that ‘commercial’ yachts with their requirement to comply with all the various Codes and Conventions, including International Safety Management (ISM) would make them safer and, therefore the incidence of claims should be lower compared to a ‘private’ yacht.

On considering the subject further I concluded that it is not quite so simple as the statement would suggest and there are probably a myriad of factors that should be taken into account, including how well the yacht is operated and managed and the quality of safety culture on board.

For example, most large ‘private’ yachts are either voluntarily complying with the various Codes and Convention, or have developed their own Safety Management System (SMS) with policies and procedures that meet, or may even exceed the objectives of ISM.  Similarly, as we have seen, full compliance and the SMS operated by a ‘commercial’ yacht is no absolute guarantee of better safety performance.  These factors alone would make it difficult to make a general statement unless it was backed by robust research and analysis – I don’t know if this is the case.

The unintended consequence of this sort of statement is that it may mask the truth and create an impression, especially amongst owners and representatives of  ‘private’ yachts, that there is no value in complying with Codes and Conventions as far as safety is concerned.   I would suggest this is not the reality and that most industry professionals believe the various Codes and Conventions, irrespective of how they are applied – compulsory or voluntary – have led to safer yachting.