Hong Kong’s iconic tourist attraction, Jumbo Floating Restaurant, was forced to leave its home behind. Having faced financial troubles for years, its company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, finally announced its departure. However, its first trip outside of Hong Kong was also shrouded in mystery.
First, Jumbo was said to have sunk on its way to Cambodia before the company backtracked to clarify that while it has capsized near the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, it is still afloat. As citizens/HongKongers speculated on whether this was a calculated scam for an insurance payout, the company claimed that it would not receive any.
In this Kwiksure article, we’ll take a look at why Jumbo received no insurance payout and what property and casualty insurance can do for you.
What is property and casualty insurance?
Let’s get you up to speed with what property and casualty insurance is before diving into this interesting case study. Also known as P&C insurance, it financially protects business owners from liability or damages in case of disasters or accidents. Notably, it can also cover less tangible elements such as your business reputation.
Individuals may secure property and casualty insurance in the form of vehicle and/or home insurance. Put simply, property and casualty insurance can be considered separately. Property insurance covers your possessions, whereas casualty insurance offers liability coverage.
Boat insurance, a type of property & casualty insurance
All boat or marine pleasure craft owners in Hong Kong are legally required to secure boat insurance. Of course, Jumbo Floating Restaurant is no exception. Much like car insurance here, there are two types of boat insurance policies: third-party and comprehensive.
Third-party boat insurance
The former protects the liability of the third party, such as compensation for property damage or personal injury/death in collisions or accidents.
Comprehensive boat insurance
On the other hand, a comprehensive plan includes all of the above plus coverage for any damage done to the vessel itself. For instance, a sunken boat may receive compensation only if it’s under a comprehensive policy. Some policies also include salvage costs though it’s wise to check with your insurer before buying.
Keep in mind that it’s generally more difficult for older boats to secure comprehensive insurance as they have a higher risk profile. Unless otherwise specified, vessels are covered in Hong Kong waters only. It’s therefore good practice to inform your insurer in advance if you’ll be sailing outside of Hong Kong or before purchasing the plan altogether.
Why was there no insurance payout for Jumbo Floating Restaurant?
“The vessel is covered by a ‘Protection and Indemnity Cover for Third Parties Liability’ in accordance with maritime regulations. This insurance covers third party losses, not losses to the company,” said Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises.
According to the Hong Kong Maritime Ordinance, shipping companies are required to purchase at least HKD $5 million worth of personal injury protection for all vessels. Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, the company that owns Jumbo Floating Restaurant, confirms that they possess third-party boat insurance only. This explains why they didn’t receive any insurance payout for the capsized vessel.
Towing straight out to sea vs. on a semi-submersible
Sea Palace Floating Restaurant, the sister boat of Jumbo Floating Restaurant, was transported to the Philippines on a specialized semi-submersible earlier this year. When asked why they towed Jumbo directly out to sea this time, experts pointed out that there is a low supply of semi-submersibles in the market. The cost of towing can also be upwards of hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars. Thus, due to cost concerns, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises might have opted out of professional semi-submersible.
Having said that, the shipping company emphasized that direct towing to the sea is in line with international maritime regulations and practices. Before leaving the port, marine engineering experts had been hired to inspect the hull structure and install the hoardings. What’s more, the voyage was approved by the government. The shipping company had also entrusted a licensed third party to arrange for a tugboat company to hire an expert to conduct the voyage.