The Federal Maritime Commission proposed liberalizing the self-insurance procedures in regulations governing passenger vessel financial responsibility.
Instead of requiring operators to meet both net worth and working capital standards to qualify for self-insurance, existing net worth would be the sole test under the proposed rule.The five-member commission voted unanimously to put more flexibility into its regulation of the cruise ship industry during a meeting last week.
The proposal follows an information-gathering inquiry begun last year by the agency.
Under shipping law, cruise operators must show they are financially solvent and can fulfill their commitments to customers who make deposits for travel packages.
In addition to the self-insurance change, the commission's proposed rule includes:
* Retention of the $15 million maximum coverage required to ensure against non-performance of a voyage.
* A "sliding scale" formula up to the $15 million ceiling for cruise companies with a five-year history of claim-free operations.
* Permission for cruise ship operators to exclude "whole-ship" arrangements from unearned passenger revenue calculations, the basis for calculating performance coverage.
Whole-ship contracts are sold to corporate sponsors who purchase all of the passenger accommodations on a ship for non-resale purposes such as for incentive awards or business meetings.
The proposal also seeks further information about the use of escrow accounts to meet financial responsibility requirements.
Christopher L. Koch, FMC chairman, said that while the commission ''continues to work to make sure cruise ship operators are financially responsible, we also recognize that these regulations impose costs on operators and the public, which deserve periodic reexamination."