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Published: Thursday, 2/23/2006

N.Y. boat victims' kin to pay funeral costs

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - An insurance problem means that the families of 20 elderly tourists who died and others who were injured in a tour boat accident on a New York lake are stuck with the funeral and medical bills, the boat's owner says.

The 40-foot Ethan Allen had 48 people aboard when it capsized Oct. 2 on Lake George. Nineteen of the 20 people who died were from Michigan.

Jim Quirk, whose company owns the Ethan Allen, said he thought the boat's $2 million insurance policy with the Miami-based Global Property Owners Association covered marine accidents.

The insurance company said the Ethan Allen was insured only for accidents on land, not on the water, and said Mr. Quirk knew it.

Insurance agent Charles H. Wegman said the exclusion of marine accidents was placed in the policy because Mr. Quirk wanted it that way. Global Property offered him marine insurance, but he declined it, Mr. Wegman said.

Survivors who filed claims with Shoreline Cruises received a letter in January from company lawyer Michael Allweiss, explaining the insurance problem.

"In the meantime, there is very little we can do on your behalf," one letter said. "Thank you for your patience and please accept our deepest sympathies for your loss."

Michael Barry, a spokesman for New York's Insurance Department, said the agency has been looking into the status of Shoreline's insurance but did not yet know exactly what the company's policy covered.

New York has no statutory or regulatory requirement that tour vessels have liability insurance. Nor are there federal regulations requiring liability insurance, Mr. Barry said.



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