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February 2, 2006

American Club makes medicals mandatory

The American P&I Club says its PEME (Pre-Employment Medical Examination) program will become mandatory on February 20, 2006, the P&I renewal date, for those members affected.

The program began in March 2004, and has resulted in substantial savings to the club. At least 11,000 seafarers from the Ukraine and Philippines have been examined at clinics that have been vetted and approved by the club.

The examinations ensure that seafarers are properly diagnosed for pre-existing illnesses or conditions that may lead to subsequent claims.

The club's directors have now decided that a member's deductible for crew illness claims will be doubled in cases where a Philippine or Ukrainian national seafarer signed on within the previous six months, did not undergo a PEME at an approved clinic and where, in the club managers' sole opinion, the illness causing the claim could reasonably have been identified in the course of a regular PEME.

There are currently five club-approved clinics in the Ukraine and six in the Philippines. Where a shipowner has a relationship with another clinic, the managers may be able to pre-approve it for PEME purposes, subject to prior notice to enable assessment.

Dr William Moore, vice president of loss prevention and technical services for the club, and the driving force behind the program, sees the board's decision as a significant, positive step for the club and its members.

He is now looking into other countries where the PEME program might be set up.

"My current initial targets are Gdansk and St. Petersburg, two major shipping hubs for Poland and Russia. It is more than likely we will have approved clinics in these countries before the end of the year," he says.