Tour operator and insurance agent address vacation accidents

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – In the wake of a string of tour company accidents involving visitors to The Bahamas on both land and sea, one local tour operator and an insurance agent highlighted the importance of companies ensuring that they have public liability insurance.

“Negative news is obviously a concern for everyone in the industry,” said Jamie Lewis, founder of Island Tours, said.

“The challenge now is that people need to be operating at their optimum level and with regards to new entrants; the government has some regulation in some way, shape or form to ensure that they are abiding by the relevant rules.

“But, in addition to that each operator has its own regulations and one of them now is to primarily have liability insurance.”

According to BAF Financial Group of Companies Account Executive Shannon Darville, tour operators are mandated to acquire public liability insurance.

“Because of that boating accident in Exuma, they made it mandatory and we have had a huge influx in public liability subscription because the people who are offering these contracted services can’t just do businesses all ‘willy nilly’ now,” he said.

“A normal third-party liability will normally cover about $125,000 per person. No one has just $125,000 just lying around in their bank account; this is why I say liability is important,”

Their comments came on the heels of another boating accident in Exuma over the weekend.

Authorities said a boating accident in Exuma on Sunday resulted in an American being hospitalized in serious condition.

According to authorities, shortly before 5 p.m., the captain of a tour boat sailing in Elizabeth Harbour, George Town, felt “something hit the rear of the boat”.

“He and others made a check of the water and discovered a male with injuries to his hand,” police said.

In the last year, there have been three separate shark attacks involving visitors, one of which was fatal on June 26.

Last month, a tour bus accident on Eleuthera left seven people in critical condition, while numerous others sustained serious injuries.

A 37-foot boat operated by Four C’s Adventures, which set out on June 30, 2018, for a half-day tour in Exuma with two crew members and 10 passengers, ended in tragedy after the boat exploded, killing one woman — Melaka Jackson, 39 — and resulting in a Vermont woman losing both her legs.

Following the tragic boating accident in Exuma, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward wells assured that plans were underway to “tighten up” on boat registration and inspection.

“I move to issue certain instruction to the Port Department to have every ship and boat to come in and for us to inspect their vessels, so we can bring the requisite regulations to the industry; not just in Exuma but throughout the country,” Wells said.

In the last year, there have been sporadic incidents involving guests to The Bahamas and local tour companies.

The most recent incident over the weekend raised concern in some quarters about the potential impact on the tourism sector.