Understanding USL&H Coverage

What Is United States Longshore & Harbor (USL&H) Workers’ Compensation?

While most businesses are familiar with the standard State Act Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage, there are actually other, more specialized types of coverage that certain industries may be required to carry. For instance, businesses that operate near or on navigable waterways may need USL&H Workers’ Compensation insurance.

What Is USL&H Coverage?

USL&H falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S.Department of Labor. Coverage refers to a form of Workers’ Compensation for businesses working adjacent to or near the navigable waters of the United States.  Businesses may be required to carry this additional insurance coverage under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act of 1927.

How Is USL&H Coverage Different from Traditional Workers’ Compensation?

The USL&H coverage extends beyond the standard Workers’ Comp to cover workers working on navigable waters, some examples include:

  • Terminals
  • Bridges
  • Adjacent piers
  • Marine railway
  • Any other adjacent area that is used for unloading, dismantling, repairing, or building a vessel

The claims have higher benefits, stricter legal ramifications, and harsher penalties than traditional Workers’ Compensation policies.

What Does USL&H Insurance Cover?

Because this coverage is federally mandated, it supersedes the Workers’ Compensation laws enacted by different states.  In many cases, USL&H benefits are more liberal than state-mandated Workers’ Compensation requirements.  USL&H benefits include:

  • Maximum weekly disability and death benefits equal to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum of 200 percent of the national average weekly wage
  • Loss of wage-earning capacity of injured workers with certain non-scheduled permanent partial disabilities
  • Elimination of the three-day waiting period if disability exceeds 14 days
  • Weekly allowance payment to those undergoing approved rehabilitation programs
  • Benefits paid to those who are totally and permanently disabled, to a surviving spouse until death or remarriage, and to other eligible survivors who can prove dependency, subject to certain limits
  • Attorneys’ fees for claimants who successfully challenge a denial of benefits

Who Needs USL&H Coverage?

Businesses that have workers engaged in full or part-time maritime employment are required to carry USL&H coverage.  This includes:

  • Longshoremen
  • Harbor workers
  • Ship repairmen
  • Shipbuilders and painters
  • Casual visitors on vessels (including representatives of longshoremen’s unions, customhouse brokers, insurance adjusters, cargo handlers, and steamship company employees)
  • Workers involved in dredging operations
  • Workers involved in maritime construction

Please note that employees who work on the navigable waters of the U.S. are protected under the Jones Act of 1920 and may have different coverage requirements than those laid out by the USL&H Act.

Who Is Not Covered by USL&H Coverage?

Some instances where individuals would not be covered by the USL&H insurance include:

  • Individuals employed exclusively to perform office clerical, security, or data processing work
  • Individuals employed by a club, camp, recreational operation, restaurant, museum, or retail outlet
  • Individuals employed by a marina and who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of a marina
  • A person engaged by the master of the ship to load, unload or repair any vessel weighing less than 18 tons
  • A person engaged in the construction, repair, or dismantling of any recreational vessel that is less than 65 feet in length
  • The employee of the U.S. government or any state or foreign government

Note that this is not an exclusive list as the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides for additional exclusions, including seamen who are covered under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law.

FAQs Related to USL&H Coverage

  • Who is regarded as an “employer” under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

Any person who employees workers in maritime employment, full-time or part-time, upon the navigable waters of the U.S. will be regarded as an employer under this Act. Here navigable waters include any pier, dock, terminal, marine railway, or any adjoining area that is used for the purpose of loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel.

  • Are sole proprietors exempt under this Act?

An individual who works without any employees will be regarded as a sole proprietor under Longshore and will be exempt under this Act. However, a business that works “at the direction of another” will not be considered a sole proprietorship and won’t be exempt.

  • Does a restaurant with docks over navigable waters require USL&H coverage for its employees?

No, this coverage doesn’t apply to workers employed by a restaurant, museum, retail outlet, club, camp, or other recreational operations.

  • What is the penalty for not covering eligible employees under the Longshore Act?

Any employer who fails to secure compensation for employees entitled to the USL&H coverage will be guilty of a misdemeanor and liable for a penalty of $10,000, imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both. If the employer is a corporation, the president, treasurer, and secretary of such corporation will be severally liable for such fine and imprisonment jointly with the corporation.

PMC has a USL&H Workers’ Compensation program to help independent insurance agents deliver more options and solutions to fit their clients’ needs. For more information or help with a submission, contact our experts at PMC Insurance Group or (877) PMC-COMP.

By PMC Insurance Group

Since 1996, PMC Insurance Group has worked to help independent agents grow their client base by offering workers' compensation solutions for a wide array of businesses. As one of the most distinguished workers' compensation wholesalers in the country, we have the tools and resources to help you create coverage programs for both small businesses and large accounts.