Commercial and
Marine Insurance
221 S. Ocean Drive Suite C
Fort Pierce, FL 34949
Fax 772-882-9856

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Hers is a list of some commonly asked questions, however this is barely the tip of the iceberg. If you have any questions or concerns one of our agents will be happy to assist you. Please contact our office.

What is a "SEAMAN" under the Jones Act? - The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed and attempted to clarify the issue of Jones Act "seaman" status. In Chandris v. Latsis, - Chandris v. Latsis, U. S., 115 S. Ct. 2172, 132L.Ed.2d314(1995) - the lower court had held that a worker could qualify as a Jones Act seaman if he was "either permanently assigned to a vessel or performed a substantial part of his work on a vessel". The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a seaman must have a connection to a vessel in navigation in terms of both its duration and its nature.

No specific finding was made as to whether Latsis was a Jones Act seaman, but the court set forth the following guidelines for determination of seaman status:

  1. Those working aboard a vessel for the duration of a voyage in furtherance of the vessel's mission are not necessarily seamen.
  2. Jones Act coverage depends not on the place where the injury is inflicted, but on the nature of the seaman's service, his status as a member of the vessel, and his relationship as such to the vessel and its operation in navigable waters.
  3. A distinction must be made between sea-based workers and land-based workers who have only a transitory or sporadic connection to a vessel in navigation.
  4. Land-based maritime workers do not become seamen because they happen to be working aboard a vessel when they are injured, and seamen do not lose Jones Act protection where the course of their service to a vessel takes them ashore.
  5. In evaluating the employment-related connection of a maritime worker to a vessel in navigation, courts should not employ a "snapshot" test for seamen status , inspecting only the situation as it exists at the instant of injury; but rather, the total circumstances of an individual's employment must be weighed to determine whether he has a sufficient relation to the vessel. Thus, a worker may not oscillate back and forth between Jones Act coverage and other remedies depending on the activity in which the worker is engaged while injured.
  6. The essential requirements for seaman status are:
    1. An employee's duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission;
    2. A seaman must have a connection with a vessel in navigation (or to an identifiable group of such vessels), that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature;
    3. The duration of a worker's connection to a vessel and the nature of the worker's activities, taken together, determine whether a maritime worker is a seaman because the ultimate inquiry is whether the worker in question is a member of the vessel's crew or simply a land-based employee who happens to be working on a vessel at a given time.
    Complete Supreme Court Decision - Chandris Inc. v Latis

Will my General Liability insurance cover me if I drop a valve down a well shaft and damage the valve? - Your General Liability Insurance is third party insurance. So if you do third party damage (to someone other than yourself or an employee) you should have coverage. However there is the Care, Custody and Control (CCC) exclusion. If the valve is owned by a third party and in your Care, Custody or Control damage to the valve is excluded. Bailee coverage can be bought to cover property in your CCC. If the valve hits someone or something then your liability insurance should respond.

If you bought the valve to install it in a pump station, it is not third party, but first party insurance and you need an installation floater or builders risk coverage. This type of coverage would respond.

Q:  What is USL&H?

A:  USL&H refers to the United States Longshore and Harborworkers' Compensation Act. This is a federal workers' compensation law enacted to provide benefits for employees in the event of their injury or death while working on or near the navigable waters of the United States and engaged in maritime employment. The Act excludes certain employment such as masters and members of the crew of vessels.

Q:  Where can I find a copy of the USL&H Act?

A:  The U.S. Department of Labor provides this information on their website: U.S. Department of Labor, USL&H Act

Q:  Where can I find information about State Act Workers' Compensation coverage?

A:  Information about state workers' compensation coverage can be found here.

Q:  Who needs USL&H coverage?

A:  Here are some sources of information to help determine your coverage needs however we recommend you consult with one of our agents to evaluate your situation:

United States Dept. of Labor

Ryen Marine Insurance Group, Inc.

Q:  How do I apply for coverage?

A:  Applications and additional details on applying for coverage are available on this website under the "Applications & Forms" quick links. Applications can be submitted via Fax: 772-882-9856 or E-mail: (Preferred Method).

Q:  Is my states USL&H Assigned Risk Plan the only option for USL&H coverage?

A:  No. In fact, applicants to the assigned risk plan are only eligible for coverage if they are unable to secure USL&H coverage through the private insurance market. We recommend you contact our office to determine what insurance companies can provide USL&H coverage. We represent a number of authorized carriers, for each companies unique situation. A complete list of insurance companies authorized to provide USL&H coverage can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website: Authorized Carriers

Q:  Is Maritime Employers' Liability (MEL) available?

A:  Coverage is available and we represent a number of different carriers. Applications and additional details on applying for coverage are available on this website under the "Application  & Forms" quick links.

Q:  How much does it cost for USL&H insurance coverage?

A:  The cost is based on the nature of an employer's business operations. Premium charges are primarily based on payroll and rates per $100 of payroll. An accurate estimate of the cost can only be determined by submitting an application.

Q:  Does my State Act Workers Compensation coverage include USL&H insurance?

A: More than likely no. Workers' compensation coverage typically does not provide coverage for the USL&H Act. However you may have an USL&H endorsement on your State Act Workers Compensation policy, please contact our office and we will be happy to review your policy and answer any questions you may have.

Q: Are there penalties for an employer who does not secure coverage for the USL&H Act?

A:  The requirement for employers to secure coverage can be found in §932 of the USL&H Act and the penalties for non-compliance can be found in §938 of the USL&H Act. If an employer is not insured, the injured employee may under §905 of the USL&H Act decide to either claim compensation under the USL&H Act or sue for damages for his/her injury under general tort law. Additionally, corporate officers can be held personally liable for payment of compensation and are subject to fine and/or imprisonment for their failure to secure coverage.

Q:  Where can I find a list of navigable waters?

A:  The USL&H Act states that the Act applies to disability or death resulting from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States but there is no list of pre determined navigable waters listed in the USL&H Act. Often the U.S. Coast Guard list of “navigability determinations” is used as a guide but navigability determinations made by the Coast Guard are only for the purpose of Coast Guard authority and jurisdiction. They should not be used as determinative of jurisdiction for USL&H purposes.

There is a long list of court decisions that discuss whether an injury occurred on navigable waters as covered by the Act.  Courts have held that bodies of water much smaller than lakes and rivers can constitute navigable waters; even shallow streams that are traversable only by canoe have met the determination. One of our agents can provide advice to an as to whether the Act applies to the your business activities.

Q:  Are wavier of subrogation and/or an alternate employer endorsements available through the carriers you represent?

A:  Yes. Both waivers' of subrogation endorsements and an alternate employer endorsements are available. However they are subject to underwriting restrictions and additional premiums.


Copyright © 2017 Ryen Marine Insurance Group, Inc.
Last updated: December 06, 2017