Posted by e-shark on May 23, 2003 at 18:05:08:
In Reply to: Re: Read Your Policy posted by Jim Hoffmann on May 23, 2003 at 09:59:00:
While what Jim says is correct, it is not the primary issue raised in the letters. NAUI's insurer wasn't refusing to provide a defense on the basis that the DM wasn't at fault. Instead, NAUI's insurer argued that a "dive boat operator" as that term is used in the policy is a legally distinct entity from a "dive boat." A "dive boat" is allegedly not within the scope of the insurance policy. Here, Great Escape Charters and/or Tim Burke are different from the M/V Great Escape.
For many people this is counter-intuitive. It is as if a person injured in an automobile accident could sue both the owner/driver of the car AND the car itself, and then the automobile insurer responded by saying that it would defend the owner/driver but not the car.
As a matter of admiralty law, the distinction NAUI's insurers seem to be making may not be entirely far-fetched. (Actual admiralty lawyers feel free to step in.) The problem is that arcane rules of admiralty law are not within the common knowledge of most dive professionals and NAUI's advertising did little or nothing to make the exclusion clear. As the insurer is the one writing the policy, it is only fair that any exclusions from insurance coverage be written in clear language and be obvious to the insured.
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