[Editor’s note: In our survey about issues in yachting this month (see story, page C1), this captain offered a detailed opinion about discrimination as it applied to nationalities (in this case, American), and her interpretation of the new U.S. Affordable Care Act. (See also a story on page A17 about how the ACA impacts yacht crew.) This captain’s comments are included here in their entirety, with her permission.]
Often, the reasons that yacht owners or captains (mostly captains) state for not hiring U.S. citizens is based upon false information that U.S. crew are more litigious.
This is absolutely false, and every P&I insurance provider — European, UK or otherwise — has stated that, in fact, it is other nationalities that have led for many years in lawsuits against yacht owners, not U.S. crew.
There is also false information that “most” P&I insurance providers charge an extra premium to hire U.S. crew. In fact, this is not as common as many purport it to be and is only required by a very few P&I providers, and it is dwindling. Any extra cost is usually minimal in the scheme of things.
Very importantly, the reason has nothing to do with litigiousness. It has to do with the cost of hiring lawyers in the U.S. Because U.S. citizens have an “inalienable right” to take any lawsuit to a U.S. court, the “risk factor” is calculated as higher by insurance actuaries, who do not use statistics from an individual industry (such as yachting). They use more broad-based statistics, like national averages.
Also, some nationalities have no choices and must take any claim to the court in the country in which the claim happened, which may or may not cost less for the insurance company.
However, many captains will use the excuse of “my insurance policy will not allow me to hire Americans” as an excuse not to hire U.S. crew just because they can. Who is going to check their policy to prove that what they say is false?
Not one insurance provider has told me that they will not insure Americans, and most do not charge any extra premium. It becomes a personal choice by the captain, and many captains, out of their personal discriminatory desires, choose not to hire U.S. crew based upon completely false information.
On a related issue, with the ACA health care reform in the U.S., it must be made clear in our industry that this does not make U.S. crew less desirable to hire, nor does it affect the yacht owner and their health insurance premiums. The rumors have already started circulating in Monaco, rumors that are based upon wrong information.
The ACA with have no affect on yacht owner premiums or the cost to hire U.S. crew. In fact, with ACA requiring U.S. citizens to hold their own insurance, if U.S. crew members have their own health insurance policy, they are of less expense to a yacht owner.
Any yachting crew professional of any nationality should be responsible for their own health coverage “assurance” to some extent, be it a nationally provided or private policy, and not depend upon the insurance coverage of a yacht owner.
U.S. crew have many choices for health coverage and many are better than the nationally provided health care of many Western countries. U.S. crew can be insured in the U.S. and abroad. I have a policy that does just that, and it is not so expensive. I suggest that U.S. crew put it on their CV that they are covered.