New Zealand volcano: Will Royal Caribbean be found liable for passenger deaths?

New Zealand volcano: Will Royal Caribbean be found liable for passenger deaths?

By Sara Ametrano

 

A recent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. voyage turned from dream holiday to disaster the day the White Island volcano erupted in December.

Located 48 kilometres off the coast of New Zealand, White Island draws thousands of tourists each year. The day of the eruption, some of the Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas passengers had disembarked to explore the crater. The disaster resulted in the death of 19 passengers, with several others being injured.

Cruise passengers often have the opportunity to purchase day excursions to add to their cruise ahead of time. To create excitement around the White Island tour, the Royal Caribbean website referred to the volcano as “one of the most active” in the world. Going further, the description read, “Get close to the drama: Gas masks help you get near roaring steam vents, bubbling pits of mud, hot volcanic streams and the amazing lake of steaming acid.”

The month before the eruption, GeoNet, the organization that provides natural disaster hazard information for New Zealand, raised its alert level for White Island due to an increase in sulfur dioxide and volcanic tremors. The agency warned that the island “may be entering a period where eruptive activity is more likely than normal.”

The White Island excursion was not cancelled.

The GeoNet information combined with Royal Caribbean’s description of the day tour could help build a case in a class action suit against the cruise line, according to legal experts. “It all depends on what the cruise knew, and when they knew it,” attorney Carlos Llinás Negret explained.

However, as a volcanic eruption is a natural disaster (out of anyone’s control), the cruise line may opt to use “act of God” as their defense.

Similar cases:

Royal Caribbean is currently in another legal battle due to a natural disaster that impacted one of its voyages in 2016. One of their liners, Anthem of the Seas, was hit by a powerful storm off the eastern United States. The company is claiming that occurrence was an “act of God,” a term cruise lines use in an uncontrollable, natural event. Passengers who were aboard the vessel, however, have said that Royal Caribbean tried to outrun the storm, fully aware of the risks. A court decision has not yet been reached.

In 2005, a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel was hit by a “freak wave.” In that class action lawsuit, regulators agreed there was no negligence by Norwegian, as what had occurred was out of the organization’s hands.

 

Trisura Guarantee a 2019 Top Insurance Workplace

Trisura Guarantee a 2019 Top Insurance Workplace

By Sara Ametrano

Insurance Business Canada has released its inaugural list of top workplaces in the insurance industry, and Trisura Guarantee has made the cut. After surveying thousands of industry professionals across the country, the publication narrowed down the list to just 26 companies.

The methodology:

Organizations were asked to complete a form highlighting the details on the company’s offerings and practices. The next step featured a form with information provided by employees, where they were able to anonymously rate their company based on the following metrics:

Top Insurance Workplaces 2019 badge_cropped

  • Compensation and benefits
  • Diversity
  • Employee development
  • Workplace culture
  • Unique/special offerings

 

A certain amount of responses per company were required based on the overall size of staff. Employers with at least an 80% satisfaction rating received the title of “Top Insurance Workplace.”

Trisura’s score:

Appearing in the “100-499 employees” category (medium-sized companies), Trisura ranked in the top three with a score of 91.3%.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be included on the inaugural list of ‘Top Insurance Workplaces,’” Cindy Grant, senior vice-president of human resources at Trisura, says. “Our people have always been at the forefront of our success – always striving to do better, always focused on delivering a step above and always working together to create an award-winning culture.”

Two Turtle Doves and a P&C Insurance Policy in a Pear Tree

Two Turtle Doves and a P&C Insurance Policy in a Pear Tree

By Sara Ametrano 

 

Holiday_P&C_eggnogIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! The decorations, the gatherings, the food – the holidays are a time to get together and celebrate. They’re also the perfect time to understand a host’s duty of care.

While gatherings can provide opportunities to mingle casually with colleagues and promote camaraderie, employers need to know that they can be held liable for property damage, accidents and injuries caused by employees who overindulge with alcohol at the party.

Just as a bartender at a restaurant can be held legally liable for over-serving a patron, an employer can also be held accountable if they serve alcohol at an event and an incident subsequently occurs. A host found himself in this sort of scenario, when a court ruling made in 2018 was overturned earlier this year.

In the case of Williams v. Richard, it was originally found that the host (Richard) did not owe a duty of care to the guest (Williams), who was involved in a vehicle collision after consuming alcohol at Richard’s event. The original decision was ruled in favour of Richard, as Williams had initially driven safely home after the event, and the collision hadn’t occurred until Williams drove away from his home after his safe return. It could be argued that the duty of care ended upon Williams original safe arrival home. However, when the case was brought to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the initial decision was overturned, and Richard was indeed found liable.

A couple other examples liability issues that may arise at company holiday parties include:

  • An employee or his/her “plus one,” who might just be an enthusiastic dancer, slips and hits his/her head on the corner of a table resulting in a concussion;
  • Employees or their guests who don’t particularly care for each other come to blows.

Although having the proper coverage is certainly helpful in the event an injury, it does not negate the need for precautionary measures. So, how can you minimize the chances of an accident and potential lawsuit in the first place?

With the holidays finally (already) here, our gift to you is some useful tips to keep in mind for all your holly jolly events:

  • Review your current general liability insurance policy to determine your coverage before you host an event;
  • Host your party at a hotel, restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your office. That way you transfer the obligation to the provider of the liquor;
  • Ensure no one will be driving after drinking; cabs and designated drivers are great options for getting home safely;
  • Ensure any spills on floors are quickly cleaned, and have everyone avoid the area;
  • In the event of snow and ice, ensure there is sufficient snow shoveling and anti-ice measures in place;
  • Record all relevant information such as named and contact information of any witnesses who were present or have information relevant to the incident.

Throw the safest and most fun holiday bash this year! Get in touch with a Trisura Property & Casualty underwriter to learn more. Contact us here.

Happy Holidays!