What You Need To Know About Maritime Workers’ Compensation for Employees


As a business owner with employees at work on the water and on land, it’s essential that you understand the differences between maritime employers’ liability and workers’ compensation insurance. If you don’t have the right coverage, your workers and your business could be at risk.

Workers’ Compensation for Maritime Employees

First, take a look at maritime workers compensation. This insurance is available to help workers who are injured or become ill while working. The coverage is a resource for employees who aren’t receiving paychecks or normal funds because of events that they couldn’t control while they were working.

There are four separate areas of coverage:

  • Wage replacement benefits
  • Medical treatment
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Other benefits

The specifics of these and related programs are explained in detail at the United States Department of Labor website. For example, your employees may also qualify for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation program. This program ensures that compensation benefits are distributed appropriately.

The US Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The USL&H Act governs the workers’ compensation you must provide. It isn’t just limited to longshore workers; it also outlines coverage for shipyard workers and civilians working with the military, as well as other professionals. When workers are covered under this federal insurance, they may receive insurance coverage, care from their chosen medical doctor, and disability compensation benefits. You should also understand that you are legally required to share this information and benefits with your employees.

Maritime Employers’ Liability Insurance

Maritime employers’ liability insurance provides coverage for a couple of situations. These include offering coverage for employees working on a vessel you don’t own and for employees who are on your vessel temporarily. The types of vessels that can be covered by this type of insurance include oil rigs, regular boats that are large or small, and yachts.

It’s important to understand that maritime employers’ liability is not a compensation policy. You also need to understand that your employees may find themselves in situations that aren’t covered by maritime workers’ compensation or the US Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation program. If you don’t provide the appropriate insurance coverage, you could be held financially responsible.

Your Responsibilities as an Employer

Specifics about the types of insurance you must provide your employees are outlined at the US Department of Labor website. However, you are responsible for understanding the factors that influence the type of insurance you need to provide, such as the nature of your business and where your business is located. You should also be well-versed in the exclusions to providing insurance coverage.

There are many federal agencies and programs concerned with making sure that employees are given proper insurance coverage and financial assistance. Fortunately, you can get help and information from federal websites, local government offices, and experienced insurance brokers.

As an employer, you have responsibilities regarding the safety and well-being of your maritime employees and their families. In addition to providing a safe work environment, delivering training and the appropriate protective gear, reducing risks, and protecting workers from negligence, you are also responsible for providing fair compensation when those workers are injured or become ill while working. Make sure you thoroughly understand what fair compensation means.

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