The realities of sick pay for Superyacht crew | UAM

14th Aug 2019

Insurance and why it really matters for crew

When it comes to onboard accidents and illness, what you’re covered for varies depending on the conditions stipulated in your contract. Your employer may not always provide Health Insurance and if it does policies may not offer cover during probationary periods.

Check your cover in detail

Previous work-related conditions or injuries, even when successfully treated, may also not be covered. You may also find that long-term absence due to accident, injury or illness are excluded from your cover.

The resounding message emerging from the 2018 Superyacht Crew welfare survey by ISWAN was that

“crew put up with ailments and even extreme injuries, and are often ‘let go’ if unfit for work or if they request too much time for medical attention.”

The survey found that, for many, the main problem was getting time off work to see a medical professional. Especially for anything preventative, minor or routine. Even when Superyacht crew could get time off, they typically had to make up the missed time.


Given the nature of jobs aboard, many believe insurance should be mandatory for the yacht and that it should not be subject to any probationary period.  However, given the lack of a singular regulatory body to enforce this throughout the yachting industry, it comes down to individual yacht crew being more insistent about the inclusion of health and medical insurance when negotiating the terms of their contract.

The worst-case scenario, if you don’t have suitable cover, may mean you being unable to work. This may result in you losing your job and, depending on your contract, perhaps even not being able to claim benefits back home.

Conversely, the best-case scenario might be that your employer offers cover for long term illness cover, while your private insurance protects against loss of earnings.

Key steps for yacht crew

Have a look at your contract and check your cover in detail. Also, give some thought to what happens to your financial commitments should you should fall sick or have an accident. This is especially important when you have dependents or financial commitments like a mortgage or school fees.

In addition to checking what entitlement you do or don’t have contractually, ask yourself questions like:

  • How long is your sick leave entitlement?
  • Once this runs out, how long can you afford not to work?
  • Do you have an emergency fund?
  • If yes, do you have enough to cover any eventuality?

You can get in touch with us here to talk more about insurance and protecting your income.