No insurance, no problem.
Recent changes from the Ministry of Commerce aimed at cutting red tape for small business have lowered licensing requirements for watersports operators.
At the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s Watersports Forum Wednesday night (3 October,) the Department of Commerce and Investment revealed that watersports applicants need little more than an application to set up shop.
Many of the four dozen or so in attendance at the CITA Watersports Forum reacted with varying degrees of shock and horror to learn that few requirements exist in obtaining a trade and business license for watersports. Some worry the streamlined process and lack of insurance requirement could turn the watersports industry into a free for all.
“Am I to understand that hey could actually just be there with no insurance and not really knowing the rules or anything, just sort of, once they have their business license they can just kind of go ahead?” said Leroy Jordan of Watercolours.
The short answer to that question is yes, insurance is not a licensing requirement for watersports operators.
“The only thing you will need to come with is an application to start that business, and pretty much nothing else,” said DCI Head of Compliance and Enforcement Claudia Brady.
Ms. Brady said recent licensing changes from the Commerce Ministry aimed at helping small business have eased requirements.
“Prior to two months ago we required police clearances, we required landlord approval for where you are going to operate, but those things have changed,” she said.
Ms. Brady said that regulating the watersports industry or any other industry is not within the DCI’s remit.
Appalled panelists and attendees reacted with concern.
“Where all of the actions have been changed, I’m going to say that it’s not right,” said Clinton Jackson of the Port Authority.
“I am absolutely horrified that you don’t need a license or insurance to drive a boat, I am actually horrified about it,” said Kathryn Wilman of Pink Duck Publishing.
“It seems there’s not a whole lot of hoops that people have to jump through for better or for worse,” said CITA Watersports Association representative Rod McDowall.
“When you make it that easy for anybody to get a license, then what you’re saying is it is a free-for-all, there’s no regulation, because you can’t afford it will still give you a license to operate. Are we trying to protect the industry?” said CJ Moore of Cayman Islands Boat Rentals Company.
Caribbean Club Operations Manager Danielle Wolfe said the risks of working with uninsured vendors are too great in this litigious age.
“Whether it is water sports or any kind of activity, we have now gotten to the point where we can actually not recommend people anymore,” said Ms. Wolfe.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne, in his closing remarks, said with the right team in place, police and other stakeholders can look to identify the gaps that exist where law, licensing, rules, regulations, and industry best practice intersect.
Cayman 27 reached out to Commerce Minister Hon. Joey Hew who said that no category of business is required to have insurance under the Trade and Business Law.
However, Minister Hew said that if they are on government property and licensed by the public lands commission, they do require insurance.