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The following article by Gene McKeever was published in the June 2010 issue of WorkBoat magazine

We’re all probably sick of hearing about health insurance. But what if I told you about a major medical health insurance program for vessel crews that is very affordable, portable, and has a $5 million lifetime limit? You think it sounds crazy? Well, it has been available for about a year now.

This is not an infomercial. I am an insurance person who works with vessels, shipyards, boatyards, tug-and-barge operations as well as tall ships and historic ships. I don’t sell health insurance of any kind. I was made aware of this very sound health insurance product and I’m merely passing along useful information.

When crews are under contract with a vessel and are in service of the ship, they have maintenance and cure. This takes care of injury and illness that occur while on such duty.

But what does a crewmember have when he or she is not on duty? What health insurance does their family have?

Crew health insurance may be the answer. It’s available to individual crewmembers as well as groups such as a vessel crew or fleet crew. It can be paid for by the individual, set up as a payroll deduction, or paid for by the vessel owner.

Vessel owners who pay for the crew’s health insurance are finding that they’re getting more loyal mariners who return trip after trip because they receive a health insurance benefit paid for by the vessel owner.

Here’s the hard-to-believe part. The monthly premiums I’ve seen have run from between $99 and $260 or so a month per crewmember. I’m told that the premiums are low because they’re based on international medical care rates and because there is no need to duplicate health insurance coverage while “in service of the vessel” because the crew is covered under the vessel’s maintenance, cure and wages.

Keep in mind this health insurance is for mariners who work in international waters (meaning three miles or more offshore). This includes most mariners in U.S. coastal waters including the Great Lakes.

Contact Gene McKeever: 207-230-5822.
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