Gard Crew Claims Report 2024: 64% Of Crew Claims Relate To Illness

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Gard P&I Club has issued its 2024 Crew Claims Report to provide an analysis of key statistics and trends from crew claims observed over the past five years.

According to Gard, while some trends are encouraging, others indicate areas needing improvement. The maritime industry continues to grapple with significant challenges in safeguarding seafarers from the inherent operational hazards of life at sea. Achieving an ideal state of safety and protection for seafarers remains a work in progress, the report finds.

In this report, Gard analyzes crew claims data from the 2019-2023 period, during which Gard handled over 20,000 people-related claims, primarily involving crew but also including others onboard such as stevedores and passengers. On average, Gard registers over 3,000 people-related claims annually, with an increasing frequency noted since 2019.

We are publishing this report because for Gard as a marine insurer, the safety of seafarers is a top priority. They are the backbone of shipping that make global trade go round. Every year we deal with a lot of incidents and claims related to crew. We hope that sharing key figures and insights will ultimately contribute to enhanced crew safety and wellbeing,” explained Christen Guddal, Chief Claims Officer at Gard.

Trends in crew illnesses

Crew illnesses account for nearly 64% of claims, with the average cost of these claims rising since 2020, even when excluding COVID-19 cases. The most common illnesses in 2023 were abdominal pain, back pain, and heart-related issues, replacing COVID-19, which topped the list during the pandemic. According to Gard, early medical intervention is crucial for conditions like appendicitis, highlighted by the high frequency of stomach and back pain claims.

Impact of mental health

Mental health issues are significant, with an annual average of 47 cases of mental health disorders, 18 suicides, and 16 missing persons since 2020. The pandemic exacerbated these numbers, emphasizing the need for mental health awareness and preventive measures.

Studies also show a correlation between physical and mental health, stressing the importance of a healthy lifestyle, proper rest, reduced noise, and safety on board.

Injury claims

Injury claims, though only 32% of total claims, often involve higher costs due to urgent medical needs. Common injuries include crush injuries, burns, heavy lifting incidents, and falls. In 2023, injury claims increased by 44% compared to 2020, necessitating attention from vessel operators and seafarers.

Most frequently reported causes of crew injuries (2019-2023)

Common causes of injuries and fatalities onboard

Slips, trips, and falls are the most frequent causes of injuries, followed by being hit by objects during mooring operations. Despite efforts, the industry still records high injury rates and fatalities, with over 400 crew deaths in the past five years. Alarmingly, 11% of these fatalities are due to suicide, a number likely underreported.

When it comes to the cause of death, 74 per cent of the fatalities registered with Gard are due to illness. This correlates well with other data sources, as according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 74 per cent of all deaths globally are due to non-communicable diseases. The most common causes of death are cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic respiratory disease, and Type 2 Diabetes, according to WHO.

As an industry, we are unfortunately far from where we would like to be when it comes to crew fatalities and injuries. Respecting human rights at sea also relates to making sure seafarers’ place of work, on keel, is safe, healthy, and attractive,” said Lene-Camilla Nordlie, Vice President and Head of People Claims at Gard.

Read the full Gard Crew Claims Report 2024 report here

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Source: Gard