Safety Through Implementation of a Marine Product Liability Program

The marine manufacturing industry involves many elements and individuals all performing particular tasks in order to ensure that the products they produce are safe and seaworthy. All work must be well executed and properly inspected, and the team must often work in adverse conditions in order to complete projects on time and within budget.

Whether working on a yacht or a large seafaring vessel, the activities taking place must be carefully planned and strategized, the goal being to complete the work in the fastest but safest way, because the trust of your client’s customers is at stake. One of the biggest challenges in this process is safety, whether we’re talking about the safety of the workers, or creating products that are safe from defects. Liability issues will always be a huge concern and your clients will need to have a marine product liability program that is structured to deal with these issues.

Manufacturing and design defects are a primary concern

Manufacturing defects are those that occur in the manufacturing process and usually involve poor-quality materials or shoddy workmanship. Design defects occur where the product design is inherently dangerous or useless (and hence considered “defective”) no matter how carefully they may have been manufactured. This may be demonstrated either by showing that the product fails to satisfy ordinary consumer expectations as to what constitutes a safe product, or that the risks of the product outweigh its benefits. Ultimately, the manufacturer is liable if the product is defective, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making that product defective.

Many hazards and risks can often be eliminated or controlled in the product design phase. When designing products for tankers and other large vessels, a safety review should take into account how a product will be used and the kind of hazards that may result from its use. Products should comply with all industry and government safety standards. Labels, warnings and instructions should adhere to these standards and be prominently displayed, as well as easy to understand and be provided where applicable. A regularly scheduled safety review can help to confirm that products comply with the latest standards currently in place.

Poor workmanship in this industry could ultimately cost lives. A marine product liability program is meant to deal with these serious issues and provide solutions to problems often before they occur.

Inland Marine Rating Systems and A Brief History of this Coverage

An often-misunderstood policy, inland marine insurance provides coverage to businesses for property that is mobile in nature or requires a certain valuation that the shipper bears ownership to, or have in their custody and care. Many different types of property are covered, including those related to transportation, construction, communications, and fine art, to name a few.

Agencies can determine the cost for this coverage through a well-designed inland marine rating system. These policies are often highly complex, and therefore need a high level of knowledge by the insurer in order to anticipate any and all possible risks.

This coverage was created years ago for specific business models

Back around the 1700s, several underwriters began writing insurance on property that was being transported over inland waterways and over land by railway or truck. This was not actually considered “ocean marine” insurance, and the underwriters of ocean marine coverage didn’t have the necessary expertise to effectively underwrite these new types of exposures. The purpose of these policies was not to insure property at a fixed site.

As underwriters began realizing a need for this specialized insurance as a way to provide coverage for the expanded exposures, they needed a name for the product, since it didn’t logically fit into the fixed-site type insurance mold, nor could it be classified as “ocean marine” insurance. Since the product was actually designed to cover property for loss exposures that could move from place to place, it seemed more like “marine” insurance than, for example, standard property insurance, and they came up with the name “inland marine.”

The key was to first, decide who is responsible for those goods, and then how to appropriately insure goods in transit. It was determined that the “bill of lading” would be the factor. The bill of lading would also determine at which point in time the goods become the responsibility of the buyer as well as the obligations of the firm transporting those goods.

Property and inland marine policies cover a slew of special exposures, including everything from buildings and their contents, to bridges and radio towers, as well as artwork and electronic data. An agent with expertise in this field can help garner the most favorable rates through the use of an inland marine rating system, based on what is being insured and the amount of travel required to get the property to its destination.