Insurance

Whilst it is beyond the scope of this course to give the issue of insurance anything more than the most cursory of treatment. The question of insurance is obviously of paramount importance, not only in general shipping terms, but also in respect of oil pollution. Under English law, a shipowner is required to take out compulsory insurance in respect of oil pollution. Much of the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act 1971, incorporating CLC, is devoted to the issue of compulsory insurance. Under Article VII of CLC, the owner of a ship registered in a contracting State (as is the United Kingdom) and carrying more than 2,000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo, is compulsorily required to maintain insurance or other financial security, such as the guarantee of a bank or a certificate delivered by an international compensation fund, to cover his liability for pollution damage under the Convention. The amount of insurance involved is fixed by applying the limits of liability as prescribed in Article 5, paragraph 1 of the Convention. The regulations to be compiled with are now more clearly set out in English law under the Oil Pollution (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1981. (SI 1981). The type of insurance involved – third party risks – enters the realm of shipowners’ Mutual Insurance Associations (P&I Clubs) which act in the role of third party liability underwriters generally. Oil pollution damages, costs and expenses (including clean-up costs), are one of the P&I  risks which the ‘Clubs’ cover. The Clubs provide the guarantee which the CLC requires of oil cargo carrying tankers (unofficially known as the Blue Card). It is a certificate certifying that there is a policy of liability insurance covering CLC liabilities in force for that particular vessel. Additionally, there is a separate ‘Mini’ Club, especially to cover oil pollution risks with exclusively tanker owner members. The name of this Club is the International Tanker Indemnity Association Ltd. (ITIA).