Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) shipowners must have insurance to assist the seafarers on board vessels if they are abandoned.

All ships, to which the convention applies, whose flag states have ratified the MLC must have the insurance certificate on board and on show in English. (You can check who has ratified here)

If you think that you are in danger of abandonment, don’t wait. If your ship owner doesn’t respond, contact the insurance company (helpline numbers are below).

Abandonment occurs when the ship owner:

  • fails to cover the cost of the seafarer’s repatriation; or
  • has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support; or
  • has otherwise unilaterally severed their ties with the seafarer including failure to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months

The insurance will cover you for up to four months' outstanding wages and entitlements in line with your employment agreement or collective bargaining agreement (CBA), so don’t leave it too late. If you wait six months to apply, you’ll only get four months' backpay.

The insurance must also cover reasonable expenses such as repatriation, food, clothing where necessary, accommodation, drinking water, essential fuel for survival on board and any necessary medical care. It will apply from the moment of abandonment to the time of arrival back home.

The International Group of P&I Clubs have set up 24 hour emergency helplines. The details will be on the insurance certificate that must be publicly visible. Check it now. If you think it isn’t real or you feel you are in danger of being abandoned, use the helpline number now.

See here for further information about abandonment, or contact the SeafarerHelp team.

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