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Insurance For Foreign Vessels Entering New Zealand

23 January 2001


The Insurance Council is today calling for legislation requiring all foreign vessels entering New Zealand waters to carry a minimum level of liability insurance. This comes in response to reports that two ships carrying nuclear fuel are likely to sail close to New Zealand waters in coming months.

The Insurance Council has voiced concern about the risk of foreign vessels that sink or run aground in New Zealand waters.

"These vessels pose a threat to the environment because of the risk of pollution, and high clean-up and salvage costs. These costs are currently met by the New Zealand taxpayer", said Chris Ryan, Chief Executive of the Insurance Council.

A 1999 survey by the Insurance Council shows that many port authorities around the country support this view.

New Zealand’s open trade policy welcomes almost any vessel from any part of the world, and many foreign vessels enter New Zealand waters to undertake charter fishing and cargo carrying activities. A few of these vessels enter New Zealand waters in a sub-standard condition and are often detained by the Maritime Safety Authority because they are not seaworthy. Many other vessels enter New Zealand waters because they are banned from other ports around the world because they do not have acceptable insurance cover.

Older vessels, and those that are also sub-standard, are being refused into many European ports. Similarly, these vessels are not able to obtain liability insurance cover from secure insurers.

The Insurance Council is aware that many jurisdictions around the world now require evidence that foreign vessels entering their waters carries an adequate level of liability insurance through a secure (rated) insurer or Protection and Indemnity Club (P & I Club).

The Government already recognises the risks with foreign vessels as it has put forward the Foreign Vessel Crew Wages and Repatriation Bond Bill. If passed, this Bill will require vessel operators, owners or charterers, to pay a bond guaranteeing crewmen’s wages.

The Insurance Council will be making submissions to the Government this year urging New Zealand to adopt compulsory liability insurance.


For further information, please contact:
Christopher Ryan, Chief Executive
Tel (04) 472 5230; Mobile, (025) 441 767

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