June 10, 2002 by Canadian Underwriter
New requirements for marine insurance proposed by the B.C. government are coming under fire from the province’s tourism operators. The Council of Tourism Associations is concerned that the new requirements may not respect “the unique nature” or individual marine-based adventure tourism operations.
“Reputable tourism operators already work with their insurance brokers to carry coverage that is appropriate to the nature of their business,” says COTA president Don Monsour. “COTA is concerned that if set too high, mandatory levels [of marine coverage] could place insurance out of the reach of the average marine tourism business person.”
He notes that 90% of the province’s operators run small to medium-sized businesses.
Monsour does note that operators are pleased with the proposed $350,000 per passenger limit on liability, but adds concern that the new Marine Liability Act makes waivers null and void. “Experience shows that these releases of liability keep tourism operators out of court on minor incidences,” he says, while calling on Transport Canada to exempt adventure tourism operations from this segment of the act.
In some cases, the act also puts the “burden of proof” on operators in some cases, including shipwreck, collision and stranding. “Because it has been oriented towards large vessels, the language of the act includes grey areas and more uncertainty for the small vessel tourism industry and its insurers,” says COTA CEO Mary Mahon Jones. “For example, the courts may interpret white water rafts and kayaks bumping into rocks and logs as ‘collisions’, thus immediately placing the operator in a position of fault should anything occur.”
COTA notes that so far the act has been pushed forward without consultation from the tourism industry, and is making the release in advance of consultations on the act with Transport Canada this week.