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NMMA seeks guidance on Gulf oil spill claims process

The National Marine Manufacturers Association on Monday submitted a letter to Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator Kenneth Feinberg requesting clarification of the claims process for pending and future claims from marine businesses that have experienced economic damage from the oil spill.

The letter also shares the results of the NMMA's recent survey on the impact of the BP spill on boating businesses. The survey showed that three out of five recreational marine businesses have been affected by the spill and that nearly four out of five companies anticipate effects from the spill through the remainder of the year.

Click here for the full text of the letter.

"[We wanted to] make sure that they understood that our industry is really dependent on the health of the waters in the Gulf and not having access to those waters for a long period of time and having uncertainty surrounding [the situation] has a direct impact on sales," Cindy Squires, the NMMA's chief counsel, told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

Not many members have filed claims yet, she said, but businesses are still tallying losses from the spill. It's important for manufacturers, as well as dealers, marina owners and others in the industry, to be able to document their losses.

For example, if a marina owner typically rents a specific number of transient slips and this year has rented fewer slips, that should be noted. Or if a customer cancels an order from a dealer, the reason for the cancellation should be recorded, Squires said.

"We don't really know how difficult they're going to be in terms of proving claim. That's still to be determined," she said, adding that's part of the reason the NMMA did the survey - to show that the industry has suffered losses from the spill even if the businesses are not in the Gulf region.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was recently established as a neutral fund responsible for all decisions related to the administration and processing of claims from the oil spill.

The NMMA said it anticipates that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was officially up and running Aug. 23, will streamline the claims process and improve the flow of information to claimants.

"We stand ready to try and help the industry through this process. It's important that we let people know ... the impact this has had on the recreational boating community," Squires said.

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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