Gard retrospectively covers diversion for repatriation of bodies of dead seafarers

Norway-based marine insurer and Group Club Gard has said that, to provide Members and their seafarers with the best possible support and cover in circumstances where ports have refused to accept the transference ashore of the bodies of dead seafarers, the Board of Directors of both Gard P&I (Bermuda) Ltd. and Assuranceforeningen Gard – gjensidig – have approved that insurance cover for the costs of diverting a ship for the purpose of enabling the repatriation of deceased crew members or other deceased persons on board, will be granted retrospectively to all Members with effect as from February 20th 2021.

Gard noted that, as a consequence of the global Covid-19 pandemic, some ports had refused to permit ships to transfer the bodies of deceased seafarers to shore for the purpose of repatriation to their home domiciles. Gard noted that many ports now applied a more restrictive policy, particularly if the cause of death was or was believed to be the result of the seafarer contracting Covid-19. Gard noted that this had led to the unfortunate and challenging situation for shipowners of having to keep deceased crew on board for much longer than usual.

Rule 31 of the Rules for Ships and other Floating Structures and Rule 21 of the Rules for Mobile Offshore Units provide cover for certain extra costs for a diversion. However, the existing wording did not include cover for a diversion for the purpose of enabling the repatriation of deceased crew members or other deceased persons on board.

That has now been amended. The retrospective cover is subject to a duty for the Member concerned to consult with and obtain approval from the relevant Association for such diversion as early as possible. Additionally, the Board of Directors of the Associations have authorised the Manager to amend the Rules to ensure that, going forward, insurance cover will include certain extra costs for diverting a ship for the purpose of enabling repatriation of deceased crew members or other deceased persons on board. The changes to the Rules are set out below and are effective from 1 July 2021.

Rules for ships – P&I entries

The amended Rule 31 shall read as follows (amendment in italics):

Diversion expenses;

The Association shall cover extra costs of fuel, insurance, wages, stores, provisions and port charges attributable to a diversion, over and above the costs that would have been incurred but for the diversion, where these are incurred solely for the purpose of securing treatment for an injured or sick person on board, or to transfer a deceased person on board to shore for repatriation, or for the purpose of searching for a person missing from the Ship, or necessarily incurred while awaiting a substitute for such person, or for the purpose of saving persons at sea.

The changed rule 21 reads the same for mobile offshore units.