Accidents happen in any business, and when they do, companies need to be prepared for the fallout that can accompany them. In many cases, these accidents may not be any sort of big deal, but for firms that work at least in part on boat contracting jobs, the problems can escalate relatively quickly. That’s because they can be held liable not only for any work they might have done wrong, but also leave their clients quite literally sunk in certain instances. To that end, it’s vital for them to have the right kind of liability insurance to insulate them from the costs that can arise from a marine accident.
This is also a concern which boat owners themselves must be mindful of, especially if they use those vessels for nominally commercial purposes. Commercial boats tend to be used for long stretches of time – often decades – and as such operators may not keep up with all the necessary repairs and upgrades they should have during that period. Contractors may therefore need to do more to let those owners know about the risks they face if they go too long without proper maintenance.
A perfect example
One instance where a commercial boating operation stretched things to their limits in this regard arose for Christian Island, Ontario, about two and a half hours north of Toronto, according to a report from the Barrie Examiner. There, the ferry that brought island residents back and forth from the mainland was recently classified by Transport Canada as unsafe. First purchased by the island in 1998 as a “temporary” ferry solution, the vessel is now north of 60 years old, and has been acting up for some time.
The need became so pressing back in 2013 that funding from the federal government – some $1.8 million – was pushed through, but efforts to upgrade a vessel built in 1970 stalled and were pushed back 18 months, the report said. This came after an abandoned 2004 project that would have brought a totally new ferry for the island, at a cost of $30 million. Since the island, which is home to hundreds of First Nations people, got a new chief in 2010, the efforts to upgrade have been renewed. Efforts to lease another ferry while the current one is being worked on by contractors are pending.
What’s the lesson?
Obviously, a 60-year-old ferry being unsafe isn’t going to come as a shock to anyone, but the fact there weren’t any serious problems in that time is very fortunate. Still, operators and contractors alike need to make sure they’re consistently reviewing their insurance needs, especially for any older boats they may have used or worked on. That kind of vigilance can often be the difference between a company being in good shape, and potentially facing major financial issues if gaps in general liability coverage are exposed.