How does a shipowner prove that they have all the mandatory insurance policies in place? With a Blue Card - the “stamp of approval” marine insurers provide to shipowners.
The general process is:
- Shipowner applies for a Blue Card from their marine insurance provider
- Marine insurer verifies the shipowner has all the compulsory insurance coverage and provides the shipowner with a Blue Card
- Shipowner submits that Blue Card to their flag state (or other applicable institution) to obtain a Certificate of Insurance
(Shipowners obtain Certificates of Insurance from the state where their vessel is registered. Some flag states will issue Certificates to shipowners registered in a different flag state, but many will not.)
A Blue Card typically includes the vessel:
- Call sign
- Port of registry
- IMO number
- Name and address of the registered owner’s principal place of business
Blue Cards originated from The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which oversees numerous conventions and their protocols related to maritime safety, security, pollution, and liability and compensation. Liability and compensation conventions include:
- International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC), 1969
- 1992 Protocol to the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND 1992)
- Convention relating to Civil Liability in the Field of Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Material (NUCLEAR), 1971
- Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea (PAL), 1974
- Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC), 1976
- International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), 1996 (and its 2010 Protocol)
- International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001
- Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007
The “Bunker” convention initiated a Blue Card more prominently relevant to pollution.
Bunker Blue Card
The Bunker Convention Blue Card is proof that a shipowner has insurance coverage that will fully meet the liability claims set out in the Bunker Convention. This 2008 Convention assigns liability to the shipowner for pollution damage from a ship’s bunkers. Any ship docking at a port in one of the participating countries must have a Bunker Blue Card from their marine insurer.
If you wish to visit a port in a flag state that is party to the Bunker Convention, you must apply for a Blue Card from your insurance company in advance. Be sure to choose a reliable insurance partner like Safe Harbor, who is approved by over 30 countries and can easily provide you with a bunker Blue Card.