Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Why is Longshore Coverage Important for Marinas?

Section 902(3)(C) of the LHWCA states that “individuals employed by a marina and who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of such marina” are excluded from coverage.

This exclusion may lead agents and marina operators to believe that Longshore coverage isn't beneficial for their marina operations, but that's not necessarily true. 

At the very minimum, marinas need Longshore coverage on an “IF ANY” basis so they're covered in the following situations:

 If marina employees ever do construction, replacement, or expansion work, they fall into an exception to the “marina” exclusion and, as such, would become Longshore.

When contractors come to the marina to work on the docks, jetties, storage buildings, racks, etc., they are Longshore. If their employer does not have Longshore coverage in force, that can pass directly back to the marina.

➡ In situations with vessel service/repair work, the marina exclusion only applies to employees directly employed by the marina. If a contractor/subcontractor comes into the marina and works on a commercial vessel (sea tow, city/state vessel, most charter boats, etc.), they can claim Longshore even though direct employees doing the same work cannot.
Learn more about it in the What is a Recreational Vessel? webinar.

➡ Any marina employee can bring a Longshore claim, and even if they are unsuccessful in getting those benefits, marina operators could incur a significant defense cost bill. No Longshore coverage = No defense costs.

Fortunately for most marinas, the additional premium cost to add “IF ANY” Longshore coverage is a few hundred dollars — a small price to pay for peace of mind and protection in these situations. 

If you have questions about your marina client’s coverage needs, contact our expert Longshore team at Ask@LIGMarine.com

Ian Greenway

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Keep your choice-of-law clauses – Supreme Court comes back with unanimous decision on: Great Lakes Insurance SE v Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC

Background of the Case

The dispute arose from a maritime insurance contract between Raiders Retreat Realty, a Pennsylvania-based company, and Great Lakes Insurance, headquartered in the United Kingdom. The insurance policy, which covered a boat owned by Raiders that later ran aground, included a choice-of-law provision designating New York law for any future disputes. When a claim was denied by Great Lakes, citing a breach of contract by Raiders, a legal battle ensued over which state's law should apply; Pennsylvania, where the lawsuit was filed, or New York, as specified in the contract.

The Ruling

The opinion of the Court underscored the primacy of federal maritime law in governing such disputes. The ruling unequivocally supports the presumption that choice-of-law provisions in maritime contracts are enforceable, offering clarity and predictability for parties involved in maritime commerce. This decision emphasizes the importance of respecting contractual agreements regarding jurisdictional law, thereby reinforcing the sanctity of contract law in maritime disputes.

Insurance Implications

As vessels tend to move about, the idea of determining appropriate jurisdictions would be difficult and costly in some cases. Allowing the clause to stand is going to remove a potential topic of debate when tough claims come in.

As of recent, we have found a general movement in the marketplace to a neutral choice-of-law state as opposed to variation as the home state of the insured.  This is likely to continue, and with insurers paying more attention to the topic, it might be an area of negotiation going forward.  Those negotiations would necessarily include at least considering the potential for which if any of the exceptions would apply to any decision made.


Narrow Exceptions to the Rule

1. Contravention of a Controlling Federal Statute
(see Knott v. Botany Mills, 179 U.S. 69, 77 (1900))

If applying the law chosen by the parties would contravene a controlling federal statute, the choice-of-law provision cannot be enforced. This means that even if a contract selects a particular jurisdiction's law, that choice cannot lead to outcomes explicitly forbidden by federal law.

2. Conflict with Established Federal Maritime Policy
(see The Kensington, 183 U.S. 263, 269–271 (1902))

The choice of law must also not conflict with established federal maritime policies. Federal maritime law aims to provide (and sometimes actually provides) uniformity and predictability across the nation's navigable waters. If enforcing a choice-of-law provision would undermine these fundamental goals—such as exempting a party from liability for negligence in a manner that federal maritime law prohibits—then the provision may not be enforceable. This exception aligns with the judiciary's role in maintaining a coherent and consistent maritime legal framework supporting national and international interests in maritime commerce. 

3. Absence of a Reasonable Basis for the Chosen Law
(see Cf. Carnival Cruise, 499 U. S., at 594–595; The Bremen, 407 U. S., at 10, 16–17.)

This exception is designed to prevent the arbitrary selection of a legal jurisdiction with no substantive connection to the parties or the contract. The rationale behind this exception is to ensure fairness and to avoid situations where the choice of law would significantly disadvantage one party over another without a legitimate reason. While the Court emphasizes deference to the parties' agreement, selecting a jurisdiction's law purely for its perceived advantages, without any rational connection to the dispute, could lead to unenforceability.


This post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Supreme Court's decision and its implications for the insurance industry. As always, parties involved in maritime contracts should consult with legal experts to fully understand how this ruling may impact their operations and legal strategies.