News 22 Jul, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination of Seafarers: IG P&I FAQs

Monica Lambrou-Whiting
Monica Lambrou-Whiting
Senior Claims Manager

The International Group has published a series of FAQs dealing with the most frequently asked questions on P&I cover relating to vaccination of seafarers, which can be found below.

They have also collaborated with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on a publication entitled “Legal, liability and Insurance Issues arising from Vaccination of Seafarers”.

Further information and resources about the impacts of Covid-19 can be found on our dedicated webpage.


FAQ's

See also ICS paragraph 3.1.6 "Is the shipowner liable for the costs of vaccinating seafarers?"
 
Governments are providing free vaccinations for their citizens and, increasingly, to visiting seafarers. However, the provision of COVID-19 vaccinations is an operational issue and so neither the cost of the vaccine, nor any ancillary costs, are covered under P&I insurance.

See also ICS paragraph 3.1.7 "Is the shipowner liable for the consequences of vaccinating seafarers, including any side effects?"
 
If, during the course of their employment, a crew member is diagnosed with symptoms due to a reaction to a vaccination and both the vaccine and the vaccine administrator were approved according to the relevant protocol in that jurisdiction, then the shipowner’s liability for illness and/or death, under the terms of employment and any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), would apply as it would with any other illness. This liability would be covered by the shipowner's P&I insurance, with each case depending on its individual facts and merits.

See also ICS paragraph 2.1.2. "Informed and Voluntary Consent to the Vaccination" which deals with the situation where a seafarer chooses not to be vaccinated.
And ICS paragraph 3.1.9 "What would the shipowner’s liabilities be in the event that a seafarer refused vaccination and other crew members contracted COVID-19 as a result of contact with the unvaccinated seafarer?"
 
A seafarer employed under a contract of employment which does not make vaccination a requirement for employment cannot be required or mandated to be vaccinated, so P&I cover would not be prejudiced.

This would have to be decided on the facts of the case and would depend on the length of the stay and whether the seafarer is travelling to their assigned vessel. If the third country is not en route to the entered vessel, the stop-over would be operational in nature and is likely to fall outside the scope of P&I insurance.

Clubs do not have the local expertise to provide such recommendations but will make their network of correspondents and contacts available so that the shipowner can make an operational decision.
 
The following information on the availability of vaccines for seafarers in ports around the world may also be useful:
 
https://icma.as/vaccines

Whilst this is an operational decision, in an ideal world the preference remains for seafarers to be vaccinated before deployment so they are still ashore should they suffer any severe reaction. The crew will also be better protected from the start of their contract and the logistics of the administration of two-dose vaccines can be more easily managed. 
 
Now that countries are beginning to vaccinate foreign seafarers, a shipowner may decide to provide the opportunity to vaccinate the whole crew at once or only part of the crew. Particularly when deciding to vaccinate all their crew at once, a shipowner should consider the risk of adverse reactions and the potential impact on safe manning levels. Even the usual side effects from the vaccine may still affect the ability of the crew to perform their duties safely for a limited period of time.
 
If vaccinating part of the crew, shipowners may wish to select crew from various ranks to ensure that safe manning levels are maintained and also to prioritise according to risk, including age and health status.
 
If seafarers are to be vaccinated in port, it is important to coordinate closely with the vessel’s agent and provide them with the vessel's ETA so that they can liaise with the vaccine facilitator. The earlier these operational arrangements are started, the more likely they are to proceed smoothly.