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Crew Corner: Problems With Reparation

Working in the superyacht industry often means spending a lot of time far away from home and sometimes in fairly remote areas. What is usually regarded a great opportunity and an enriching experience might become an issue when it comes to an accident or illness. Pantaenius has recently been asked about possible problems with repatriation. Find out what to look out for in your medical insurance policy in order to be on the safe side.

Crew medical insurance usually has defined geographical limits – often the area limits will be worldwide or worldwide excluding USA.Every appropriate yacht crew medical insurance product should cover the transport to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment or, if medically necessary, to a specialist hospital. This can mean that in some regions such as the Caribbean, additional transport will be required if the nearest appropriate hospital is located, for example, in the United States. And if return transport to the insured person’s place of residence is medically advisable, or the nearest appropriate hospital is in the country of residence of the insured person, this should be included in the coverage of the policy as well. After the hospital treatment is finished or the crew member is discharged, a return flight is usually reimbursable, so the crew member is able to return to the country where they have their principal place of residence, or to the yacht on which they are employed.

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 makes it clear that seafarers are entitled to repatriation, at no cost, in the event of illness or injury which requires their repatriation when found medically fit to travel. The Pantaenius Crew Medical Insurance includes all the above and provides employers and crew with a maximum level of financial security. 

Problems with repatriation may occur if the crew member wants to be transferred to a hospital which is not in the country of his/her residence or if they would like to be transferred mid treatment but the transport itself is not medically appropriate or advisable.

For example, if an Australian crew member is in France and needs urgent medical attention, the insurers would not cover a flight back to Australia for the medical treatment if the Australian did not want to go to a French hospital. If there was no medical reason for them to fly home for the immediate medical care, they would pay for transport to the nearest appropriate hospital in France that could treat his/her medical condition. Then after he/she is discharged from hospital, either the crew member could fly home for further rehab treatment or go back to the yacht.

The other issue to check is the repatriation benefit limit; it is important that the policy states full refund – otherwise there could be a financial shortfall if the medical evacuation/repatriation is complicated and for instance, a flatbed is medically necessary on a long haul flight due to back injury. 

Apart from having adequate cover in place, crew should always be aware of administrative issues. If in an emergency for example, a hospital has not received a clear cost guarantee from the medical insurance, the medical service might be limited or postponed. That’s why contacting the insurance provider in the event of an illness or accident is of major importance. 

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