Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Force Majeuer or Capitaine Paresseux Majeuer - Trip Insurance And Professionalism Save The Day

The following is a based upon a client's true story.

A lucky man's amazing wife booked a weekend charter as part of a European birthday. The charter was scheduled to begin in Italy and make a quick passage to France, but when the clients arrived at the yacht they were told by the captain that the seas were too high to depart.

The charterer was upset at the prospect of their $15,000 trip being cancelled, but wisely they had purchased trip cancellation/interruption insurance so they were confident that everything was going to be okay.  As this was their first experience with chartering in Italy they soon realized that all the confidence in the world won't supplant the reality of the dark side of the Italian chartering experience.

Let’s set up our real-life scenario:

1)The charter client arrives for the charter. All furniture is covered up, the interior has not been readied, the hot tub is empty, the boat is not provisioned correctly and two crew members are unaccounted for;

2)The captain refuses to leave the dock saying the seas are too high, forcing the guests to spend their entire weekend at the dock (in spite of the fact that weather reports, sea state reports and photos of boats departing and arriving in the marina revealed no such adverse weather) or abandon their charter altogether with no refund and no offer of re-booking;

3)The charterer, wanting to file a trip interruption claim, requests from the captain confirmation in writing that the boat would not be departing due to inclement weather;

4)The captain refuses the request while continuing to prep the boat for its next charter and while boats of all types and sizes arrive and depart to and from the marina - in spite of his claims of inclement weather and all the while serving the guests with leftover provisions... and no hot tub;

5) The charterers - forced to make changes to prepaid hotels and helicopter/auto transfers at their expense - now seem to have no way to recoup the expenses incurred as a result of an unresponsive, unprofessional and unaccommodating captain;

6) The captain charged the guests 1,100 for arranging (not paying for) transport to France and withheld another 1,000 from the balance of the APA as a gratuity.  When the guests complained the captain threatened them with police action.

Happy birthday.

When the charterers got me involved, along with their US-based charter broker, I explained to them how to file the claim and what the insurance company would need to process the claim.   The charterer's broker went above and beyond her call of duty and - as a team - we were able to make headway in resolving this issue in spite of the unprofessional and unaccommodating yacht captain and his owner's representative.

Fortunately, the claim was eventually settled by the travel insurance company - but not before unnecessarily running the charterers/victims around in circles and, more than likely, souring them on ever chartering again.

There are three types of people in this industry:  problem creators, problem solvers and those unfortunate few who can't make up their minds which one they are.  All stakeholders in this industry need to remember that we are in business not simply to drive boats, sell insurance, sell yachts or sell charters; we’re in this industry to build relationships - and people pay us a lot of money to do so.