2001 Maritime

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June 27, 2001

WQIS offers protection against tougher state pollution laws
The United States has the most stringent marine pollution liability laws of any country on the planet. But now the states are making the laws even tougher for the marine community, says WQIS, the Water Quality Insurance Syndicate, the largest underwriter of marine pollution liability insurance in the U.S.

WQIS is now offering two new insurance endorsements to protect the marine community from increased state legislation.

WQIS provides a new option to cover state spill requirements even when they are broader in scope than the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90).

In the past, when a federal officer signed off on effective cleanup of a spill but a state official demanded further cleanup, the assured was unprotected for additional cleanup costs.

The new, broader in scope, WQIS coverage removes the gap that exists between new state requirements and federal legislation.

WQIS also provides a new option to cover state civil fines and penalties.

In recent years, states across the country have become more active in writing laws dealing with pollution. As part of this development, they have been imposing a growing number of civil fines and penalties. Additionally, these civil fines and penalties have been for higher dollar amounts.

The states of Texas and New York are among the more active in assessing fines. For example, on consecutive days, Texas recently assessed a spill penalty of $10,000 for a 3,000 gallon fuel spill from a dredge and $5,000 to a seafood operation for a discharge into Texas waters during a fuel transfer. Legislation is on the books in states like California and Maryland to assess penalties of $30 to $100 per gallon spilled, which can create assessment fines of millions of dollars.

“We saw that many assureds were being hit with these fines and penalties on top of the more traditional ones and that it was creating a real hardship. With this coverage, we are helping to close a gap created by some states’ new laws,” says Rich Hobbie, the president of WQIS.

[Hobbie will be among several speakers at Marine Log's upcoming conference on Maritime Legislation, Regulation & Policy, being held in Washington, D.C. on September 19 & 20, 2001. To get on the mailing list for full program details, e-mail us.]

To assist brokers and assureds in understanding the requirements of each state in which a vessel operates, WQIS has launched a new website, www.wqis.com, with a powerful, interactive State Law Directory. Brokers and assureds can select a state and learn immediately if state requirements are broader in scope than federal requirements and find what remedies are available.