Editorial: Spring 2011


The annual insurance renewal demand in January saw a few more  pilots deciding to withdraw from the UKMPA. What is it about our insurance that these pilots don’t understand?

Whilst it is true that the Limitation of Liability clause in the Pilotage Act means that it isn’t worth pursuing  pilots for recovery of physical damage costs to vessels or structures, these incidents, although stressful, aren’t what pilots need to fear. There have been many articles in this magazine highlighting the fact that one of the greatest risks to pilots is the trend of criminalising seafarers for any maritime incident.

For example, tankers now have double hulls to reduce the chance of pollution but ship’s bunker tanks are not so protected and are easily punctured. Pollution in the UK is a criminal offence and, as the one with the conduct of a vessel, a pilot is therefore open to criminal charges. A CHA has no obligation to support even employed pilots in such cases, indeed, they may come under extreme pressure to suspend the pilot involved. The UKMPA insurance provides legal representation cover for both these eventualities as well as for many more.

As Don Cockrill mentions in his Chairman’s report there are several reasons why legal support cases are not fully reported in this magazine but I can mention  that in the last year the cover has resulted in a suspended pilot being re-instated and there are currently other cases in progress, one of which is particularly serious.

The UKMPA insurance scheme was originally introduced because the limitation of liability clause didn’t cover many of the cases brought against pilots. None of the pilots who have benefitted from the cover ever expected to  need to make a claim but were extremely relieved that it was there when they needed it which really does beg the question as to why some pilots consider themselves to be so invincible as to consider the UKMPA insurance an inaffordable luxury!

3 Responses to “Editorial: Spring 2011”

Simon Allen
August 24th, 2011 at 11:17

Dear John, what is it that you do not understand about pilots not wiahing to be members of the UKMPA?
I noticed the opening comments of this article re insurance. I can assure you that I understand about insurance and the reasons for it. it is up to individual to decide based on obviously many factors, I for one do not appreciate comments from neer-do-wells apparently criticizing me and others who have made a decision not to be a member of the UKMPA, in part due to being blackmailed in to taking out an insurance policy from a sole-provider. If I continue to notice adverse press for those who just happen not to share your point of view or want to be a member of your club,then I will start a campaign ogf my own.
Yours Sincerely,

Simon Allen


August 25th, 2011 at 08:55

Dear Simon.

Thank you for contributing to the Pilotmag blog , especially since your post raises some important points that indicate that some clarification of the insurance element of UKMPA membership is required.
The insurance policies for UKPA (as it then was) members were introduced sometime in the early 1980’s as a result of claims arising against pilots who naturally turned to their professional association for help which resulted in the cash reserves of the association being eroded. An insurance policy specifically tailored for pilots was introduced with the Navigators & General Insurance company as a result of the association responding to the requirements and wishes of the membership. The premiums were incorporated into the general subscription and were accepted by all members as providing not only good value for money but also the peace of mind that comes from knowing that should the worst happen their legal defence costs would be covered. Since then there have been many who have benefitted from the cover provided and nobody ever complained.
In the early 2000’s two things happened. Firstly, the N&G insurers withdrew the policy as part of a corporate business restructuring. At the same time the UKMPA was advised that under the recently enacted Financial Services Act including the insurance premiums in the general membership subscription was not permitted as it effectively placed the UKMPA as an unlicensed financial services provider. It was therefore necessary to make the premiums a separate element paid directly to the insurers. The dedication and hard work of the UKMPA Section Committee resulted in an enhanced policy for pilots being sourced and negotiated at a very competitive group rate which was subsequently proposed to and accepted by members (by a significant majority) at a conference vote. The new premiums were higher due to the enhanced nature of the cover so two levels of cover were offered to members.
For some inexplicable reason a few members decided that a professional association providing specialist insurance cover for members was unacceptable and considered that the requirement for all members to participate in order to enjoy a group discount in premiums amounted to blackmail and decided to resign their membership.
The majority of members understood how a group insurance policy works and a campaign by a minority of members of presenting resolutions to remove the insurance as a requirement for membership was repeatedly voted out by the democratic process of majority voting at several conferences, unanimously on the last occasion. Currently several members are extremely relieved to have the legal protection insurance provided to members by the policies and the rest of us are realistic enough to understand that we aren’t invincible and are reassured to know that cover is there should we ever need it. The Chairman and committee keep a very close watch on the level of cover provided and the premiums demanded and annually re-negotiate with the underwriters to obtain the best possible deal for members.
Information from members on any alternative equivalent policies available that they might become aware of is always most welcome.
It is also worth mentioning here that due to similar concerns over the increasing criminalisation of professional mariners other maritime professional associations are offering group insurance although the level of cover is very low compared to that offered by the UKMPA.


Simon Allen
September 13th, 2011 at 21:39

Dear John,
thank you for this comprehensive reply, and the time and effort which you give to your post which assists us all in all kinds of ways.
Simon A


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