The Oceangate Disaster – One year later

    The Oceangate Disaster – One year later

    June 18th 2024 marked one year since the accidental implosion of Oceangate’s Titan submersible which killed five people who were on their way down to see the sunken Titanic. With the dust having settled, the investigation complete, parts of the craft salvaged and documentaries being produced, some questions remain unanswered:

    Was the Oceangate submersible insured?

    What insurance paid out to the victims’ families?

    In terms of liability, it is clear that OceanGate would be responsible for the accident since it was reportedly aware of the carbon-fiber design defects and danger involved in reusing parts. But it had obtained from all its passengers waiver forms releasing them of any responsibility, even in case of death before embarking deep-sea expedition. Whether or not this is enough would be for the Courts to decide as Oceangate would have to prove it had no knowledge of potential defects with the submersible.

    OceanGate was founded with the goal to pursue the highest reasonable level of innovation in the design and operation of manned submersibles. By definition, innovation is outside of an already accepted system. Oceangate, by its own admission, had not applied to the American Bureau of Shipping for classification, which in the USA is a leading classifier of submersibles.

    Classification is a process that assures ship owners, insurers, and regulators that vessels are designed, constructed and inspected to accepted standards.

    OceanGate’s compliance with international safety laws is complex and questionable. The Titan submersible did not comply with the Passenger Vessel Safety Act in the United States, as it was operating in international waters.

    Insurance companies require vessel classification to ensure that the submersible meets all the requirements. Since the Titan was not classified, it is unlikely that any insurance company agreed to insure them.

    Non-indemnity insurance policies generally exclude cover for death resulting from adventurous activities, so it is unlikely their life insurance policies paid out unless their policies were specifically negotiated to cover such risks.

    As of September 2023, it was reported that the families of the deceased passengers seek damages from Oceangate.

    In India, only a few travel insurance covers such as the ones from Bajaj Allianz or Digit Insurance cover high-risk activities such as paragliding or bungee jumping. Such insurance covers pay for the medical expenses that arises in case you get injured while participating in such activities.


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