Smiling ship commander standing with his arms foldedThe cruise industry has always provided an amazing opportunity for those looking to travel as well as expand their career to something different from the norm. However, seafarers don’t simply step onto the gangway and into a job. A cruise operator must place substantial time and expense in sourcing, recruiting and training of its seafarers.

With the cruise industry currently on the verge of a massive expansion over the next 5-7 years, sourcing, recruiting, hiring, training, and ultimately retaining quality competent and qualified crew will be a critical factor for the successful cruise operator going forward. At last count, there was a minimum of 125 new cruise vessels on order. Remarkably, this growth expands across the spectrum of this industry, ranging from gigantic mass market behemoths to small, medium sized, luxury and expeditionary vessels. Accordingly, a conservative estimate of new seafarers to be sourced, hired, retained and required to crew this influx of diverse vessels is upwards of 150,000. With all this growth, and new cruise ships of all types and designs on the horizon, what steps have you taken to get yourself ready?

Crew Will Require More Specializations Than Ever Before

Not only will a plethora of new crewmembers be required, but the future of the cruise industry will entail more advanced crew specialization, including sectors that have never been seen before. The evolution of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) power will necessitate new specialized technical education and training for engineers. Up to 40 new luxury vessels (and counting) implies a need for staff with a higher level of white glove, concierge service experience. The over 28 new expedition class vessels will look to combine LNG technology as well as luxury service, which will result in crew that may need to be specialized in several different areas to keep onboard staffing as low as possible given the smaller capacity of these ships. In short, the cruise industry overall will need to recruit, train, and retain a new generation of specialized seafarers.

How to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

Retaining the best crew in the wake of industry expansion will only become more of a challenge as the demand for quality specialized crew becomes more competitive. Thus, having a long-term strategy in place for employee attraction and retention will be imperative. A happy and contented crew results in higher productivity, less turnover, and as a result, hopefully, increased revenue.

There are many factors that affect overall job satisfaction: working conditions, opportunity for advancement, workload & stress level, co-workers & management and of course financial reward. Increasingly though, financial reward cannot be limited to just money in the bank at the end of the month. The solution lies in an integrated employee benefits package; and this package takes on an increased level of importance as it not only affects the officer or crew member but potentially their dependents as well.

MHG Insurance Brokers offers different insurance solutions for many areas of business. Our years of experience in working with the marine industry can assist you in maximizing the overall value that a solid benefits package brings to the table. If you would like to discuss a rolling benefits strategy, or are interested in purchasing marine crew insurance, contact us at mhginsurance.com or call us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to assist and guide you to the best coverage for your budget. MHG Insurance Brokers will be at Seatrade Miami this year! Come see us at booth 2349!

With the cruise industry currently on the verge of a massive expansion over the next 5-7 years, sourcing, recruiting, hiring, training and ultimately retaining quality competent and qualified crew will be a critical factor for the successful cruise operator going forward.

White yacht at the marina in the evening.Bon Voyage! It’s time to set sail on your dream career, and it may not have been one you originally considered!

Working as a crew member on a superyacht can be a very fulfilling job. At one point it was considered a job that you can do for a few years while you are young before settling down, and make/save as much money as you can before transferring to a position on shore. However, things are changing, and changing fast. More and more individuals are considering becoming a superyacht crew member as a career choice, find out why.

See the World

One of the most popular reasons people consider becoming a crew member because it is a means to see the world. Scratch that, get paid to see the world. How many jobs do you know of that pay you to travel to some of the world’s most beautiful locations?

Becoming More Appealing

Through the years, there have been more legislation and maritime laws put in place to make becoming a crew member more appealing. Many of the laws protect crew and require owners to provide insurance coverage and other benefits to crew, making the position more attractive.

Professionalism

Working onboard a yacht now often requires an extensive level of professionalism. There is much more to it than helping to keep up a boat while getting to sail around the world. You are serving guests who are paying for and expecting a high level of class and service, and the yachts are becoming more and more sophisticated. If you go through all the training, then there’s a good chance you will want to make it a long term career.

Room for Growth

There are many different positions on a superyacht crew. From Deckhand, to Captain, there are plenty of opportunities to move up the ladder. Yachts are being built every day, and those new positions must be filled by someone, preferably with some experience.

Great Compensation

Superyacht crew members can make a great salary. The amount of money you make usually coincides with the size of the yacht you are working on. Not only is the money great, but while working onboard you can save a large portion of it because you won’t need to spend much while on a yacht. You live on the vessel, so there is no rent, and your food is normally also covered.

While the money may be great, there is a catch. You will be required to be away from home and/or your family from home for long periods of time. This may be why a career choice is often for those who are single.

Highly Specialized Field

Anyone can become a crew member, but no one can become one overnight. Working onboard a yacht can require you to have training that is highly specialized. Whether you are the person setting the tables, or the person cooking the food, there are training and classes one must take before working at sea. Depending on the position, you may need a combination or training, licenses and certificates, and practical experience.

There are many reasons why being a yacht crew member is a great career choice, however it is a big decision to make. It will require a lot of dedication and commitment, so do your research in order to assure that this is the career of your dreams.

Having proper insurance is important whether you are at sea or docked at a shipyard. MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing, or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.

Bon Voyage! It’s time to set sail on your dream career, and it may not have been one you originally considered!

African man browsing work opportunities online using job search computer app, black jobless seeker looking for new vacancies on website page at laptop screen, recruitment concept, rear close up viewEver wanted to work on a yacht?

Being part of a yacht crew can be a fulfilling career experience. Getting to travel the world, sail the open seas and meet new people, are just a few of the many benefits of joining a yacht crew. From first glance, it seems like a no brainer, this profession may be one of the best career paths you can choose. However, there are further assessments one must take when looking into a new position. That goes for those who are looking to get into the profession, as well as those who are currently part of a crew that are looking to jump ship. Follow these tips to help you decide what you should be looking for in a new yacht crew position.

Don’t Just Look at Money

Have you ever heard the saying, “Cash is king!”? Making money in life is important, but it isn’t the only thing you should be focused on. Your happiness is as important as making money. Don’t let salary be your only motivator when looking at a new yacht crew position, or any job for that matter.

Check Out the Itinerary

For some, the itinerary of a yacht is an important dictator of whether they will want to fill a position on a certain yacht. There are parts of the world that some do not want to visit for personal reasons, and there are some who may have spent a large amount of time somewhere and want to see a different part of the world. Just remember that itineraries can easily change, so be flexible and consider all the factors before deciding.

Don’t Be Seasonal

Depending on where you’re located, the yachting business can be very seasonal, with some parts of the year being busier than others. But just because it may be a seasonal industry, doesn’t mean you should be a seasonal worker. Yacht captains like to hire individuals who have proven longevity and commitment. If you are looking for a seasonal job, you may need to look elsewhere.

More than Just a Job

Working as part of a yacht crew is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Being away from family for months at a time and living in close quarters with others for long periods is not for everyone. It’s clear to see how it may be taxing for those who are not fully committed. There is a lot to be sacrificed, however the rewards can be well worth it.

Benefits are Important

Sometimes, the benefits that are offered by a job can be just as important as the income. That is because those benefits will have a variety of different coverages depending on the program the yacht has for the crew. When looking at a new position, you must try to make it a priority to review benefits such as health insurance coverage, disability insurance, life insurance, etc. That’s just one area where MHG is here to help!

Having proper insurance is important whether you are at sea, or docked at a shipyard. MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing, or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.

Follow these tips to help you decide what you should be looking for in a new yacht crew position.

Shot of a businessman using a digital tablet while woking late at the officeWorking onboard a superyacht can be a very fulfilling job. You will probably receive great benefits, have unforgettable experiences, and develop lifelong relationships. While there are many positives to working on a yacht, there are still aspects of the job that can be quite taxing on someone, and make them consider transitioning to a job onshore. If you find yourself wanting to settle down, and have a more stable position, the following is a list of things you need to consider when transitioning from a yacht crew member to working a 9-5 job!

Pay

Wages for yacht crew members are unique to each position. Crew members can make anywhere from $25,000 per year to upwards of $250,000. If you have been part of a yacht crew for an extended period of time, and worked your way up the ladder, there is a good chance that when transitioning to a corporate job, you will be making less money than what you have become accustomed to working onboard a yacht.

Expenses

Something else that must be considered by yacht crew who are transitioning to a 9-5 job is the additional expenses that you are going to incur. While working onboard a yacht, you don’t have to worry about expenses such as rent, car payments, grocery shopping, etc. These are expenses that are sometimes unavoidable in order to live. Also, many times people assume the cost of living is a lot less than it actually turns out to be in the end.

Work Environment

The work environment in an office is much different than on a yacht, so you may experience a bit of a culture shock. While working on a yacht, you are usually on call 24/7, and much is expected of you. Go above and beyond to keep guests happy, as they are usually paying top dollar. While you should still go above and beyond in any workplace, working in an office won’t require the same demands. For example, if something is broken on the vessel, you may be required to get your hands dirty and do some physical labor. Working in an office typically doesn’t require much physical labor.

Rules

Rules are rules, and they are not meant to be broken if you wish to have a successful career. An office setting has different rules than a yacht. There are privacy laws regarding clients, privacy laws regarding colleagues, local government laws that must be followed, possible federal ones, and everyone’s favorite, HR. Working in close quarters allows people to become close and maybe develop special relationships that may be inappropriate for the corporate world.

Benefits

The employee or job based benefits that people get working in corporate positions are different than those of people working on a yacht. For one, many places only cover 50% of your health insurance, while onboard a yacht it is usually covered 100%. Also, most jobs will offer some sort of retirement planning program like 401K that you can use to prepare for retirement.

Something to keep in mind if you are working for the United States for the first time is that the U.S. does not have socialized healthcare like many European countries do.

Having proper insurance is important whether you are at sea, or docked at a shipyard. MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing, or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.

If you find yourself wanting to settle down, and have a more stable position, the following is a list of things you need to consider when transitioning from a yacht crew member to working a 9-5 job!

luxurious yacht motorboat in the sea, luxury private boat cruiseMany people consider chartering a yacht one of the most luxurious ways to go on a vacation, or see different parts of the world. Sailing the open seas while having a crew cater to your needs can be the ultimate way to relax.  But what if something comes up and you can no longer go on the vacation of a lifetime? Or you need to reschedule? Things come up all the time, and there is no better way to protect yourself from the unexpected than getting the proper insurance coverage. Who wants to pay all that money for a trip that they can't even go on?

Things Go Wrong

Based on life experiences, it is safe to say that at some point in life things won’t always go as planned. Life is unpredictable and plans often change. One of the basic issues that insurance protects us against is the fact that life is unpredictable. So while you may not be able to prevent a situation from happening, you can prevent an issue from becoming a worst case scenario. There is no need for something to go wrong and ruin your plans. Vacations are about having fun and creating memories, not headaches that could have been avoided if you had trip cancellation insurance!

Protect Your Investment

Success isn’t reached without a proper management of risk, so don't let your investment go unprotected! Many of your assets such as your business, home, cars, and other items have the protection they need in case of an unexpected issue. There is no reason that your vacation shouldn’t have similar protection as well.

Can No Longer Go on the Trip

For some, going on an extravagant trip like chartering a yacht can be a large expense. There are many different obstacles that can arise that may keep you from being able to go on your trip. Here is just one example.

You have decided to charter a yacht for you and your family to visit a few islands in the Caribbean. The total cost of your trip let’s say is $50,000. The day before you leave for the trip, you become ill and need to go to the hospital. You have a bad case of the flu and need to stay in bed for a few days, just in time for your vacation. Clearly, not a good time to be on vacation, so there goes $50,000 down the drain. Unless you have the proper trip cancellation insurance!

What Will Be Covered?

Typically, a good trip cancellation insurance plan should protect you from many issues that may come up causing you to cancel your plans. Some of the items covered are usually injury or illness, natural disasters, property damage, traffic accidents, schedule conflicts, theft, etc. For more information on the different types of coverage that trip cancellation insurance offers, contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.

Liability is often unavoidable in life, which is why you need to have protection in all stages of life. Read our previous blog, “Planning to Charter a Yacht? Why You Need Yacht Charterers Liability Insurance.” Our ‘concierge service’ can assist you in finding the proper coverage for all aspects of your life. Our insurance specialists have the experience and knowledge to get you the best life insurance, health insurance, marine crew insurance,marine general liability insurance, business insurance, expatriate insurance, or travel insurance for your budget. For more information on marine general liability, read our previous blog, “Marine General Liability vs. General Liability”.

Things come up all the time, and there is no better way to protect yourself from the unexpected than getting the proper insurance coverage. Read more!

846202328Have you ever heard the saying, “You can do things the easy way, or learn the hard way!” Many say the best way to learn is through experiencing something that will have an impact on you, whether you personally experienced it, or someone close to you did. The important part is that whatever the impact was, it will motivate you to make the right decision. It could have been something bad that made you never want to go through that again, or something good that made you want to have the same result. The following is a case study of two different scenarios of clients who are experiencing the same issue. Both scenarios are handled in different ways, resulting in different outcomes.

The Synopsis

A client recently became ill white working onboard a ship in South America. Since the client was from Europe, they were unsure of how to proceed because they were in a foreign land. Instead of going to seek medical treatment using their international medical insurance coverage plan, they decided to try and remedy the illness on their own.

It didn’t take long for the for the client to become increasing sick and in need of emergency medical attention. Thankfully, the Captain was proactive about getting his crew member the medical attention they needed, but that could have turned out to be a much worse situation.

The Scenario

The Captain reached out to his insurance broker and they were able to guide the Captain through the next steps and the proper course of action. In this case, extreme measures were needed to assure the crew member received the medical attention they needed. Tests needed to be conducted to figure what the treatment plan was going to be to take care of this crewmember. Once the tests were completed, it was decided that an emergency medical evacuation was needed to bring the crew member to the United States. Luckily, the insurance broker was experienced in handling these situations and knew what to do every time a challenge came up, and this contributed to the crew member’s full recovery.

The Service

At MHG, we pride ourselves on our service. Below is just a fraction of the steps our insurance broker took to ensuring the client received the care they needed.

· Set up a text line of communication to keep track of everything.

· Spoke with the local hospital and facilitated contact with the insurance carrier, which advised the carrier’s “emergency team” to step in.

· Remained in constant contact with the emergency team and the Captain throughout the weekend.

· Provided the emergency team with a list of healthcare facilities that were in the network of the insurance plan.

· The emergency team contacted our insurance broker when they needed vital information to proceed with the medical evacuation.

· Provided the necessary information and paperwork to receive a Humanitarian Visa.

The Lesson

Thankfully, everything turned out to be ok after receiving the necessary medical treatment and attention. Different companies and teams worked together seamlessly which was aided by an experienced and dedicated insurance broker. In situations like these, you can’t put a price on customer service, and in this case, it may have saved a life.

Having proper insurance is important whether you are at sea, or docked at a shipyard. MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing, or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com. For more information on preparing to work on a yacht, read our previous blog, “Yacht Crew Insurance Terms 101”.

The following is a case study of two different scenarios of clients who are experiencing the same issue. Both scenarios are handled in different ways, resulting in different outcomes.

175511857Working onboard a yacht can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Yet, being at sea for extended periods of time can present some dangers, from big waves, storms, mechanical issues, etc. But what many don’t realize, that there can be just as many dangers for yacht crew while docked at a shipyard. Yes, you may essentially be on “land” but all that does is raise new opportunities for accidents and tragedies. So if you are scheduled to be docked at a shipyard, be aware of the following mishaps, which can help prevent an injury, or worse.

Strangers

When the yacht is in the shipyard, there are many people coming onboard which can make a tight area quite crowded. People stepping all over each other, turning a corner and running into someone, there are many scenarios that can lead to an injury. Especially since the majority of the people that will be on the yacht are not familiar to the vessel’s environment. Make sure to have some caution signs to warn the crew of work in progress, or workers that are coming onboard.

Clutter

Being on a yacht for months at a time, you begin to know every nook and cranny like the back of your hand. Knowing everything from certain creaks, slippery areas, changes in floor elevation, can help keep you from injuring yourself. With many people coming aboard and different crews working throughout, there can be a lot of tools, hoses, drop clothes, wires, open panels, construction materials, and a plethora of other items lying around, just waiting to be tripped over. Also, when docked, there is good chance your yacht is going through an extensive renovation, which can lead to many things being moved around, and not put back in their proper places. Make sure you go around and check if everything is put back correctly, and that equipment is ready to go once cleaning has finished, and watch your step for any materials just laying around!

Land Legs

Did you know that some people suffer from motion sickness once they’re back on land after spending a long time on a boat? When you’re on a boat for a long period of time you get used to the rocking motion and when returning to solid land, some can still feel the rocking sensation which can cause motion sickness. Take the time to obtain your land legs if you will be doing work on solid ground, this way you don’t lose your balance. Do some exercises (jumping jacks, yoga), get some sleep, or try some other stress relieving tips to help you get your legs.

Chemicals

Usually when a yacht is docked at a shipyard, it is time for an extensive cleaning. With cleaning comes some chemicals and fumes that can be very dangerous. Have you ever heard what happens when mixing ammonia and bleach? There are also many other chemicals that can stem from your vessel being docked, from stripping varnishes, water treatments, and new urethanes. Not having the proper protection from harmful chemicals can lead to problems. Be sure to have proper gloves, masks, suits, etc.

MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. For more information on yacht crew insurance read our previous blog, 5 Things You Should Know About Crew Insurance. If you are interested in purchasing or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, or would like some advice, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com. See you at the Newport Charter Yacht Show!

If you are scheduled to be docked at a shipyard, be aware of the following mishaps, which can help prevent an injury, or worse.

MOC002-edited222Having insurance is a necessity in today’s world, whether you work on land or on water. There are so many different types of insurance available to you, many times it can be confusing what you should be including in your plan. Even more so for yachties! Yacht crew need a different insurance plan than normal, because they live a completely different lifestyle that those who are land based. Also, crew may be traveling around the world rather than staying in one country. So if you’re a crew member, here are 5 things you should be thinking about when purchasing crew insurance.

1. All crew insurance policies ARE NOT created equal.
There are many different types of crew insurance. You can have coverage for a variety of different things depending on what your preferences are and the yacht owner’s needs. Just keep in mind, the more coverage you have, the more you are protected.

2. Price should not be the first or only thing you look at.
Although you may not want to pay more for more coverage, you may want to rethink your strategy. Anything can happen while at sea, so it may be a smarter idea to have a more comprehensive plan that offers better coverage in the event that there is an emergency or something tragic happens, which may do even more damage to your wallet. After all, your health and safety should be a bigger priority than trying to save a buck.

3. Work with a specialized broker.
It is important to work with a specialized broker when buying crew insurance, because, as stated before, there are so many intricacies in a crew insurance plan. There are certain liabilities that need to be covered that a normal broker may not think to include in your plan. Also, a broker will work for you to get you the best package for you and your crew, and also work for you when needing to file a claim. Many agents can sign their clients up for a policies and not fully understand the conditions of the policy that could leave the owner exposed. So you don’t have to stress, let the experts handle it!

4. Crew insurance means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
What does crew insurance mean to you? Crew insurance is not P & I insurance and not personal accident insurance, it is a type of medical insurance. Believe it or not, there are group and individual crew plans. Sometimes owners will leave it up to the crew to fend for themselves when selecting insurance and reimburse them up to a certain amount. This can make things tricky because there will be a lack of uniformity on board, with crew members having different plans from different companies. If that is the case, be sure to know the contact information for their insurance in the event of an emergency.

5. Having proper crew insurance is YOUR responsibility.
Having proper insurance is your responsibility. Not that of the yacht owner. As stated earlier, there are instances where the owner leaves it up to you to insure yourself and will reimburse you up to a certain amount. Just because you are working on a yacht, doesn’t automatically mean you have coverage.

MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing crew insurance, or would like some advice, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.

If you’re a crew member, here are 5 things you should be thinking about when purchasing crew insurance.

yacht crew insurance optionsThere are two words no one ever wants to hear, you’re fired! Those words usually carry a little more sting hearing them from your boss. Being part of a yacht crew and losing your job can make for one mess that most people don’t look forward to cleaning up. Whether you were fired, laid off, quit, or are transitioning to a new job, having health insurance coverage through the process may not be the first thing on your mind. Typically, with loss of employment comes loss of health insurance. Maybe you didn’t realize that you lost your coverage in this process. If that is the case, don’t worry, there are four options you can chose from if you find yourself in this situation. Let’s break them down.

Go Naked

For those that are wondering, “Go Naked” doesn’t mean what you may be thinking. It means to go without insurance coverage, leaving you vulnerable and unprotected, or better yet, naked. We don’t recommend going through any stage of your life without coverage, but there are times when it may make sense. For example, if you lost your job as a part of a yacht crew, and you are going back to your home country, in some scenarios you can go back home to socialized coverage. In countries with socialized care, assuming you have been properly contributing, you’ll have coverage there. Other than that scenario, this option is probably not the one for you.

Elect COBRA (if available)

Some insurance plans, particularly the US based ones, will allow a crewmember to continue their insurance for up to 18 months after loss of employment. However, this is not widespread in yachting so you will need to ask about this option, should you wish to explore it. While the coverage will probably be better than a private plan that can get anywhere else, it unfortunately be probably also quite expensive. This may make it an unattractive option, particularly if you’re unemployed. However, if you have ongoing medical issues, this is an excellent option.

Purchase Travel Insurance

The next insurance option for yachties without a job is to purchase travel insurance. Travel Insurance will typically offer insurance coverage all over the world, which is great for yachties who rarely know where they will be traveling in advance. There are limitations, however. Yes, you may have worldwide coverage, but it doesn’t usually include your home country. That is because travel insurance is designed to offer you coverage outside of your home country, under the assumption that you already have local insurance. It should also be said that is less costly than purchasing a full time insurance plan, partly because it only offers coverage for accidents and illness, not routine check-ups, appointments, etc.

Purchase a Full Time Plan

Your last insurance option is to purchase a full-time insurance plan. This is typically the same type of plan that you had when you were working, however there may be different amounts of coverage depending on what your budget is and what you feel you need coverage for. Also, depending on your previous job, you may not have had to pay for your insurance or only had to pay for a percentage. In this instance, you will be responsible for 100% of payment, but you get to choose the coverage you want. It is also important to mention that the plan will be yours no matter what yacht you’re on.

MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. For more information on yacht crew insurance read our previous blog, “Yacht Crew Insurance Terms 101”. If you are interested in purchasing or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, or would like some advice, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com. Don’t forget, the Palm Beach International Boat Show is this week, see you there!

Typically, with loss of employment comes loss of health insurance. Don’t worry, there are four options you can chose from if you find yourself in this situation.

671763714As has been broadly reported, the French government implemented legislation in 2017 requiring employers of French resident crew to pay into ENIM, the French social system fund for seafarers.

THE ISSUE

Applicable to both commercial and private vessels, the intent of the French government
is reportedly to align seafarers with other French residents in regard to social security
protection. By ratifying MLC, France committed itself to providing its resident seafarers
on commercial vessels with access to all nine branches of social security, yet the reality
is that ENIM is only set up to deal with employers rather than individual seafarers and, as
ENIM have stated to us, only an exceedingly small number of foreign employers have
sought to arrange contributions in respect of their French resident crew, leaving many
others with no way of either paying into or enjoying the benefits of the social system
scheme to which they are entitled. The most publicised case which triggered the
legislation was that of the French crew employed on the Condor Ferries services out of
St. Malo. France has attempted to address that flaw in the system by requiring foreign
employers to pay into ENIM in respect of their French resident crew (with certain
exceptions). An employer who fails to fulfil that obligation risks serious sanctions and it is
doubtful that the French authorities will be understanding of employers simply claiming
ignorance as to the residency of their crew.

THE IMPACT

This legislation has, however, had serious economic consequences for France with the
French shipyards as well as many other businesses which depend on the yachting sector
suffering catastrophic losses of business (compounded by separate issues relating to
VAT on fuel). There is also widespread talk of French resident seafarers being avoided
by yacht employers. In a first attempt to stem the bleeding, an amendment was
implemented in January 2018 which allowed employers to use a private scheme rather
than contribute to ENIM but only if the private scheme provides “equivalent protection”
to that provided by the French social security code. This is, however, of limited help
because the French authorities, including ENIM, are resisting any requests for them to
deem a particular private scheme to be compliant and indeed all indications are that this
will not change in the future. As such, any claims from crew insurance providers that a
particular plan is “compliant” in this context should be treated with a healthy dose of
scepticism and caution! Private international schemes serve an important purpose but
they do have limitations too, some of which risk leading to dissatisfaction in the long-run
amongst seafarers relying on them as a stand-alone solution rather than in combination
with a home country social system.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Much of the concern surrounding this issue has focused on the fear of port state control
inspections. With limited resources, it seems highly unlikely to us that port state control
inspections will in fact present the greatest risk of unwanted attention by the authorities
in this regard. If an inspector finds a properly maintained Maritime Labour Certificate and
DMLC, it is questionable whether they will be digging any further than that unless there
has been a complaint from a seafarer and that, in fact, is where we see a far greater risk.
So, while it is worth considering carrying a Maritime Labour Certificate and DMLC even if
not required to do so (e.g. the vessel is under 500gt), even more importantly it would be
advisable for employers to ask their seafarers to state their country ties and document
those answers. This could be as brief as asking the seafarer to state their country of
residence but could also encompass other ties such as the repatriation destination and
the country of the bank account to which the salary is being paid. The seafarer should be
required to notify the employer in the event of changes to this information. Where the
answers indicate that the seafarer may be a French resident, advice can be sought and
contributions to ENIM can be arranged if appropriate. Where the answers do not
indicate French residency, the employer now has back-up documentation showing good
faith in the event of the seafarer later seeking to claim that the employer has failed to
arrange the necessary contributions to ENIM. We understand that some employers are
already requiring their seafarers to answer such questions.

WHAT’S NEXT

The French social system rules themselves do talk of the concepts of “stable” and
“regular” residence in France, “stable” meaning that it is continuous for three months or
more (to be documented by, for example, confirmation of rent payments, electricity
bills, phone bills etc.) while “regular” is a requirement for non-EU citizens and means that
the individual must have an appropriate “titre de séjour”. British crew working on a
foreign (non-EU) flagged vessel but living in shore-based accommodation in France are
the sort of situation that does need to be more fully understood on an individual basis
in order to minimise the risk of problems and again a questionnaire about country ties
can help with this.

CONTACT

Looking forward, further developments are expected to try to curb the unintended
consequences to the French economy and seafarers. Meanwhile, any other countries
trying to figure out how to fulfil their social security obligations under MLC will no doubt
be watching carefully in an effort to avoid similar challenges.

For more information, please contact Peter Dudzinski at peterd@mhginsurance.eu or
Mark Bononi at markb@mhginsurance.com.

As has been broadly reported, the French government implemented legislation in 2017 requiring employers of French resident crew to pay into ENIM, the French social system fund for seafarers.